A Year of Jubilee

Year of Jubilee

The start of a new year is seen by many as a time to restart – enact changes, make resolutions, set goals, and so on. Obviously, these things can be done any time of the year; but the start of a calendar year makes a natural break that can be used to spur us on to start anew in some way.

In the Law of Moses, there were instructions about a time to “restart” or begin again. It was the year of jubilee that occurred every fifty years.

You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land.

You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field” (Leviticus 25:8-12).

As we begin a new year, there are several lessons that are good for us to learn from this year of jubilee.Continue Reading

The Church as a Self-Edifying Body

Legos

When we read through the New Testament, we find the church being described in several different ways. In the passage below, the church is depicted as a self-edifying body.

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

In these verses, Paul indicated that when the church functions according to God’s design, it causes itself to grow and be built up. What does this mean? How did God design the church to do this? How are we to act in order to help accomplish this?

Let us consider these questions as we learn how the church is a self-edifying body.Continue Reading

Where Do Sermon Ideas Come From?

Man studying the Bible

There are times when the most challenging part of preaching is deciding what to preach. Just as writers sometimes suffer from “writer’s block” and have difficulty creating content, preachers can also suffer from what we could call “preacher’s block.”

One who preaches full-time in a local congregation may preach up to 100 sermons in a year. That means writing two sermons every week. Often he will also have to decide what to preach each time. One who preaches less frequently can still experience the same challenge because he often has full-time secular work and other responsibilities in addition to the sermons he prepares from time to time.

It is a great privilege and blessing to have opportunities to preach the word before an audience. Yet it can also be frustrating when it seems difficult to decide what passage or topic to discuss before the congregation. It is not that the Bible contains a shortage of important messages, but it is sometimes hard to decide what would be best to preach during a particular sermon. So where can we find sermon ideas when we are having difficulty deciding what to preach?Continue Reading

Pay Attention

Attention

We receive reminders throughout our lives to pay attention – to our spouses, children, parents, teachers, employers, etc. The Bible also emphasizes the importance of paying attention. In this article, we are going to see what we are – and are not – to pay attention to and why it matters.Continue Reading

Why It Is Important to Study the Bible

Bible Study

Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12).

The verses above affirm that the Bible contains the truth and reveals to us the mind of God. Yet it is important to understand that it is not a private diary of God’s thoughts that mankind just happened to discover. The Bible contains revelation. God has not revealed all that He knows, but He has revealed everything He wants us to know. Moses said, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Since God revealed His word for us, what are we to do with it? Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of studying God’s word: “Be diligent [study, KJV] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). This is one of the things we must do with the word of God. In this article, we are going to consider seven reasons why studying the Bible is important.Continue Reading

Measuring the Love of God

Measuring

Midway through Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, the apostle described a prayer that he offered to the Father (Ephesians 3:14-21). Part of this prayer emphasized the greatness of the love of God.

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Paul began this chapter by describing what God has given – His grace in the gospel (v. 2-3), a way to understand His will (v. 4), salvation to the Gentiles (v. 6), His wisdom revealed (v. 10), the church (v. 10), and His eternal purpose carried out in Christ (v. 11). All of these were part of the demonstration of the love of God. As Paul said, God’s love “surpasses knowledge” (v. 19).

Paul described the greatness of God’s love in terms of measurements – breadth, length, height, and depth (Ephesians 3:18). What do these measurements mean? Some commentators suggest that God’s love is described in this way simply to emphasize the fact that it cannot be quantified. However, each of these terms mean something and the New Testament shows how they apply to the love of God.Continue Reading

Why Would Anyone Be a Christian?

Sitting and Looking at SunsetIn the previous article, we discussed the demands of discipleship. We saw that in order to be one of Jesus’ disciples, we must be willing to surrender earthly homes and family relationships and make a lifelong commitment to Him. Many are unwilling to do this. Others are not only unwilling, but they also do not understand why anyone would do this.

The fact that people would question the reasonableness of being a Christian is understandable. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). For one who is only looking at things as they pertain to life here on the earth, it does not make sense for anyone to be a disciple of Christ.

Yet there certainly are reasons for being a disciple despite the demanding nature of that life. In this article, we are going to consider four reasons why we are Christians and why we believe others should be as well.Continue Reading