Saturday, October 30, 2010

Who is my neighbor?

The animosity between Edom and Israel goes back to the origins of the two nations, in the hatred of Esau for his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:40-41). The hatred reared its head at several points in the history of the two nations. One occasion, which served as the reason for Obadiah’s prophecy, was the attack on Jerusalem during the days of Jerhoram by the Philistines and Arabians (2 Corinthians 21:8-10, 16-17). In Obadiah 10-16, because of the Edomites’ treatment of Israel, the question arises regarding who really is my neighbor?

First, my neighbor is someone I love. The law of Moses commanded the Israelites to love their neighbor (Leviticus 19:18). The Lord repeated the command in Matthew 22:39. Love is the greatest commandment because it is selfless (Philippians 2:4) and eternal (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Second, my neighbor is someone I serve. Feeling as though you love someone is not enough. You must act for their benefit (1 John 3:17-18). After teaching the lesson of the Good Samaritan, the Lord made the application to all of us: “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:25-37). We need to make sure that we remember that serving our neighbor is more than physically giving them money, feeding them, etc.; it is also teaching them the gospel and restoring them back to God (Mark 16:15; Galatians 6:10).

Everyone is my neighbor, even my enemy (Matthew 5:43-44). Edom despised Israel, and stood condemned. They were happy over the misfortune of their neighbors, but they should have felt sympathy. Nothing shows hard-heartedness more than a refusal to help your neighbor.

Kyle Campbell

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Apocalypse postponed?

For a few years, all of us have been hearing about how the Mayan calendar predicts (by virtue of the fact that it ends) the end of the world on December 21, 2012.

A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook “Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World” (Oxbow Books, 2010), argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. That would throw the supposed and overhyped 2012 apocalypse off by decades and cast into doubt the dates of historical Mayan events.

Sadly, too many people have been deceived and have spent way too much time worrying about the end of the world. So many predictions of the end have failed to occur through the years. Jesus said in Luke 17:26-30, “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” The Bible consistently teaches that no one can predict the end of the world. That knowledge was not in God’s plan; therefore, we should no go trying to alter that plan and speculate on the end of the world.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An evil and adulterous generation

Matthew 12:38-39 says, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas.” Just as the generation in our Lord’s time was seeking what was wrong, so it is today. An issue of Focus on the Family Magazine states that baby boomers (someone born between 1946-1964) expect six items in a church: “good music, social groups, big meeting rooms, a quality kitchen, ample parking, and clean restrooms.”

What do most people seek? Did you notice that none of the items the baby boomers seek are what God Himself requires? This reminds one of the principle of Isaiah 55:7-8. What man desires often is different than what God desires. One must make the decision as to what they will seek. One may immediately think that seeking a good parking space is far superior than seeking after something wicked, such as an opportunity for immorality. However, this is not how God operates. If what one is seeking after is not in God’s will, it will not please Him, no matter how morally good we may decide it to be.

Instead of those items which satisfy fleshly desires, we should seek a church with the correct characteristics. Some of which are as follows: Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11; Matthew 16:18); law (1 Corinthians 14:37; 2 Timothy 3:16-17); name (Acts 11:26; Romans 16:16); organization (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1); worship (Acts 2:42; Ephesians 5:19; Acts 20:7); love toward one another (1 Peter 1:22; Hebrews 13:1; John 13:34-35); and, membership (Acts 2:38, 47; Galatians 3:26-27). Some consider differing denominations to be the different branches that Jesus spoke of in John 15. However, this is not correct for that illustration would demand a tree which bears different kinds of fruit. Not only is this impossible based upon natural laws but it is also impossible because the context indicates that individuals are the branches (John 15:5).

We are not on a hunt for a church “close” or “just about like” the church of the New Testament; we are looking for the church itself. The same can be said for the gospel. I do not want to obey the gospel in a way that is “close” to the New Testament; I want to obey just what people obeyed in the New Testament. Truly, we, too, are living in an evil and perverse generation. Let’s do what we can to seek the simple gospel of Christ. God said, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Kyle Campbell

Friday, October 15, 2010

A diamond in the rough

One spring, sometime before the Civil War, a boy in search of work came to Worthy Taylor’s prosperous Ohio farm. The farmer knew nothing much about the boy except that his name was Jim, but he gave him a job anyway. Jim spent the summer cutting stovewood, bringing in the cows and making himself generally useful. He ate in the kitchen and slept in the haymow.

Before the summer was over, Jim had fallen in love with Taylor’s daughter. When the farmer refused to let him marry her -- telling him bluntly that he had no money, no name and very poor prospects -- Jim put his belongings in his old carpet bag and disappeared.

Thirty-five years passed before Taylor one day pulled down his barn to make way for a new one. On one of the rafters above the haymow, he discovered that Jim had carved his full name -- James A. Garfield. He was then President of the United States. When Jesus looked at Simon Peter, He saw a fiery impulsive person. He made promises that he could not keep and began activities that he could not finish! He thought he could walk on the water to meet Jesus without any problems (Matthew 14:30). When they captured Jesus, Peter cut off Malchus’ ear (John 18:10). Peter did not stop to ask, “Is this what Jesus wants?” Peter even went so far as to deny Jesus after boasting that he would die before he would deny the Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). However, in spite of all these weaknesses, Jesus could see Peter as a diamond in the rough, and after Christ’s resurrection, He called upon Peter to love Him and tend His sheep (John 21:15-17). From this time forward, Peter lived and died for Jesus (John 21:18-19).

Jesus offers salvation to all that will come and obey Him. Some have gone so deeply in sin that they feel that He will not accept them, but to those that will believe in Jesus, will repent of all their sins, confess Him to be Christ and put Him on in baptism to walk in newness of life, He considers them a diamond in the rough. All sins are forgiven and the opportunity is given to live a dedicated life for the Lord. No, we may never become a president, but we can become something even greater -- a Christian!

Also, when we go astray as a Christian, we may be tempted to give up, feeling that the Lord has given up on us, but this is not true. It was Jesus that gave the parable of the prodigal son that left his father for a sinful life, but returned confessing his sins, repenting and asking his father for forgiveness. The same forgiveness awaits those who are away from the Lord today, if they will return with the same attitude! As you make your decision to respond, remember that Christ sees you as a diamond in the rough and awaits the opportunity to forgive your sins if you will obey Him.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The sin of binge drinking

An online news story reported today that one in four high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in binge drinking in the past month, putting themselves and those around them at risk. The researchers said that among high school students who drink, 60 percent say they binge drink, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men over the span of a few hours.

Men in the study were more than twice as likely as women to binge drink, with 21 percent of men reporting binge drinking, compared with 10 percent of women. And binge drinking was more common among whites than blacks, with 16 percent of whites reporting binge drinking compared with 10 percent of blacks. Overall, a quarter of high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 engaged in binge drinking. Drinking too much is the third-leading cause of premature deaths and disabilities worldwide.

Of course, we know that drinking will damage someone’s health, but more importantly, it is the against the will of God. Proverbs 23:29-32 says, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.” Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.” In the New Testament, the drinker will not make it to heaven, but instead will be condemned to hell (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). One must certainly not drink because of all the possibilities of health problems, but also because of the greater danger -- spiritual death.

Kyle Campbell

Friday, October 1, 2010

Archaeology: The “Temech” seal

The 2,500-year-old black stone seal, which has the name “Temech” engraved on it was uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem in 2008 near the Dung Gate. The elliptical seal is engraved with two bearded priests standing on either side of an incense altar with their hands raised forward in a position of worship.

According to Ezra and Nehemiah, the Temech (spelled as “Thamah” [KJV], “Tamah” (NKJV] or “Temah” [NASB]) family were servants of the temple and were sent into exile following its destruction by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. The family was among those who later returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:53; Nehemiah 7:55).

Kyle Campbell