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Showing posts from November, 2018

“The Purge”

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 5-8 DISCUSSION Over the last few years there has been a series of movies and now a television series that is called “The Purge”.The premise of the show (as I understand it) is that in the future, the American government has declared that every individual is capable of evil.Therefore, to control this evil there has been designated one day a year in which there is no law.Murder, rape, stealing, and the such like are all legal and in fact glorified and encouraged so that they can “purge” the evil from themselves.The thought behind this is that it somehow releases a drive that everyone has within themselves for one night, making the crime rate for the rest of the year be lower.The Apostle Paul discusses the concept of a “purge” in 2 Corinthians 5.13, but that was not what he meant.To “purge” means to “lift up, remove or take away”.In context of Paul’s writing, he is discussing some issues of sexual morality that was going on among the brethren at Corinth.Paul en…

“Christ Crucified”

BIBLE READING: 1 Corinthians 1-4 DISCUSSION I will have to be the first to admit, preaching is hard work!I hear all the jokes and comments about how preachers only work one day a week for about three hours and during the rest of the time they play golf, drink coffee with each other and come up with corny preacher jokes.I hope that most of you already know that is just simply not the case, except for the coffee and joke thing!Seriously, the more society is changing, the more difficult preaching has become.The reason it has become so difficult is because our attention spans are so short.The person in the pew has a super computer at their fingertips and the moment they get bored…it is off to social media or the most recent trendy game.Preachers must be on their A-game to develop compelling, interesting sermons that are at the same time relatable and above all Biblical.Sadly, there have been so many preachers that have given in to the compelling and interesting while compromising the Script…

“Just Who Was Apollos?”

BIBLE READING: Acts 18. 19-28 DISCUSSION In Acts 18, we are introduced to a new character in God’s story of the growth of the church.There isn’t a great deal of information we know about Apollos.We know that he was from Alexandria, which was the intellectual center of Egypt and is most noted for its Library that later burned in 48 BC when Julius Caesar besieged the city.At its height it was said that the Library of Alexandria may have contained over 400,000 volumes of scroll.Apollos must have been a very educated man due to his “eloquence and competence in the Scriptures”.Maybe he studied some of the ancient Scriptures when he was a child at Alexandria’s library.Regardless of how he knew the Old Testament Scriptures, we know that he was not completely versed in the teaching of Jesus Christ.At the time, he had only been acquainted with the baptism of John and had only taught what John had presented.Thankfully, we have in the audience of one of his lessons, Pricilla and Aquila.One day aft…

“Blessing vs. Warning”

BIBLE READING: 1 & 2 Thessalonians DISCUSSION Both First and Second Thessalonians are dominated by the theme of the second coming of Jesus Christ.It seems from the writing that they had several questions concerning the Day of the Lord, like when it would happen, what about those that had already died, and what about those that were unprepared. These are some of the same questions that Christians have been asking for centuries.As Paul writes he had a two-fold purpose, first to assure them of their salvation, but also to warn those that were not prepared.Isn’t that what we are all in need of today as well?We all want an assurance of salvation.We all want to be bragged on when we do something good and right, but what about when we are not doing as we should?Are we okay with be being scolded and warned when we are not living in a right relationship?We better be, because according to Paul’s letter, he makes no bones about this warning.Notice just how stern of a warning he issues in 2 The…

“My Dream Job”

BIBLE READING: Acts 17, 18. 1-8 DISCUSSION I love my job!I love my church family and I hope to be able to spend the rest of my life here at the Woodlawn Church of Christ.With that being said, everybody has a dream job…a fantasy job if you will.If I could work anywhere else in the world…at any given time…it just might have been being the Minister of the Church of Christ in Berea around the time 54-55 A.D. When Paul visits them on his missionary journey, he has one of the greatest compliments that could be given to a church, “…they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if those things were so” (Acts 17.11).Imagine an entire congregation that were daily involved in the study of the Scriptures to make sure things were right.Their spiritual diet had to be one that consisted on more meat than milk.Now I know that I will never be able to work at the Church of Christ in Berea.I am more than happy to spend the rest of my days here at Woodlawn, but we can be …

Sunday

Bible Reading: Galatians 4-6

“Father Abraham”

BIBLE READING: Galatians 1-3 DISCUSSION “Father Abraham…had many sons…had many sons had Father Abraham…I am one of them and so are you…So let’s all praise the Lord….”                 That song haunted me as a Youth Minister for years.  How is it, that the one song you can’t stand the most is the one song the kids always want to sing?  It was redundant, it was annoying, and you always seemed to lose control after it.  Although the song is not one of my favorites, the concept of the song is.  Ever since the first grade I became infatuated with the Promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 12.  In that Promise, God had told Abraham that every nation of the earth would be blessed through him.  He promised him, in a vision, that he would have descendants that would number the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore.  As a kid I never understood how that would be possible; it would be impossible for one man to have that many children.   Well, just as Jesus said in Matthew 19.26 "With…

“Commitment”

BIBLE READING: Acts 15-16 DISCUSSION At midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing to the Lord and while the other prisoners listened, a tremendous earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. The door to their jail cell opened, and they were free men -- but they did not leave because they knew it would mean death for the jailer who had been given the charge to watch over them. The jailer was amazed by their commitment to God and accepted Christ as his Savior. Not only that, but the jailer's entire family was saved and then baptized, and the next morning Paul and Silas were freed. Had they been murmuring and grumbling about how a loving God could let them land in such a place, they would have missed an opportunity to lead a man and his entire family to the Lord. But because of the way they perceived God, they were joyful in the midst of devastating circumstances. How you see God will directly affect whether you are a praising or a complaining person. If you see God as …

“To Do Lists”

BIBLE READING: James 1-5 DISCUSSION I am a list maker.If I am given a job, I break it down into smaller tasks and list them one by one on my to-do list.I know that when I check off all the small tasks on my list, my goal is accomplished.There are a lot of to-do list people in the world.People like lists.I even have one friend that says she wished she had a checklist of things God would like her to do every day. Without knowing it, many of us have this unwritten to-do list from God in our minds to aid us in our daily walk.The only problem is that we often only put the “obvious items on our list:don’t lie, don’t cheat on your spouse, don’t murder, etc.There are many other “items” that should be on our to-do list and we even know what these items are, but those may be too difficult for us to do, so we leave them off.Things like don’t gossip, give someone a 2nd chance, or love the friend that stabbed you in the back last week, etc.James 4 addresses this in verse 17 when it states:“So whoever…

“Christian Persecution”

BIBLE READING: Acts 13-14 DISCUSSION                 It is hard being a Christian isn’t it?  As Christians we must face so much persecution in this world.  There are times when we are laughed at because of the way we act, dress, or how we talk.  Since we are to be different from the world, the world has decided to criticize, mock and at times, verbally abuse us.  It is no wonder the church isn’t growing like it did in the first century, because people just don’t want to be part of a movement that faces so much persecution.  It is just so much easier to quit living the Christian life, rather than face all the harsh criticism we must face.  Of course, I am being facetious!   Yes, we do in fact face criticism and persecution for our faith, but it is nothing like what is around the world.   Even today, in some countries it is against the law to have a worship service or to even have a Bible out in public.  There is also no comparison to the persecution we face today and the persecution the …

“Nicknames”

BIBLE READING: Acts 11-12 DISCUSSION                 Did you ever have a nickname? Ever since Jr. High, I have been known by my school mates as Jeupie.  Now my real name is Matt Heupel, but for short, people began to call me “Heupie”, which for some reason or other transformed into “Jeupie”.  Nicknames are fun, because they allow us to be called by something that is not our real name.  As the church began to grow, evidently the people of Antioch believed that the followers of Jesus needed a nickname, so they began referring to them as Christians (Acts 11.26).  Up until this point people had been referring to them as people of “the Way”, but for some reason people wanted to give them the designation, Christian.  After all, it did fit in that “Christians” referred to those who were followers of Jesus Christ. In fact, Isaiah even prophesies that the people of God will be called by a “new name” in Isaiah 62.2.  Over the years however, I have noticed how the term “Christian” now has a looser…

“Conversion”

BIBLE READING: Acts 9-10 DISCUSSION The story of Cornelius’ conversion in Acts 10 is one of the most important conversion stories of the New Testament.  Now I am not suggesting that Cornelius was any more important to the New Testament church than any of the conversions that had happened before, but his conversion did change things significantly. Cornelius was the first person who was not a Jew that was able to be washed in the blood of Jesus.  Up until his conversion, the Gospel had only been available to Jews.  After all, the promise that was made to Abraham was made for him and his descendants. For at least two thousand years Jehovah was the God of only the Jewish nation, but now with the death and resurrection of Jesus, the kingdom was going to be available to all nations.  God saw something in Cornelius. Let’s just be honest, it must have been easy to see because the Bible describes him as a “devout man who feared God…did many charitable deeds…and always prayed to God” (Acts 10.2).…

Sunday

Bible Reading: Acts 7-8

“The Wisdom of Gamaliel”

BIBLE READING: Acts 4-6 DISCUSSION Even though Jesus had been resurrected and the church had been established, that did not stop the Jews from seeking to put a stop to this new movement of disciples.In fact, after Peter and John heal the man at the gate, called Beautiful in Acts 3, Peter and John are arrested.After being scolded rather harshly they commanded the men to not teach anymore in the name of Jesus Christ.After their release, the disciples continue following the Great Commission and are arrested again for teaching in the name of Jesus.This time they are placed in prison to ensure they would not continue their teaching.However, during the night, an Angel of the Lord opens the prison doors and Peter and John continue doing what Jesus had commanded them to do.When word had reached the Council as to what they could do to stop them, Gamaliel offered up some sound advice.Gamaliel was a highly respected doctor of Jewish Law and was esteemed very highly by the members of the Sanhedrin.…

“A Trip Back in Time”

BIBLE READING: Acts 1-3 DISCUSSION Have you ever just wished you could be like Marty McFly and climb into your supped-up DeLorean and use that flux capacitor to take you back in time to witness events in history as the happened?If I could, the Pentecost of Acts 2 would be one of my first trips.Can’t you just see the looks on everyone’s face as Peter stands up and preaches that first Gospel sermon declaring the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ?Not only would you be able to sense their shock and guilt, but you would also be able to see true repentance at its finest as three thousand people become pricked in their hearts to the point of obedience to the Gospel.Just like that, without even one single verse of “Just As I AM” you were able to see the birth of the New Testament Church.Who was first, was it Barnabas, Silas, Mary Magdalene? Or maybe it was Barabbas or Simon from Cyrene?We will never know in this life, but what we can know for sure is on that day over two thousand y…

“The Theme of John’s Gospel”

BIBLE READING: Luke 24, John 20-21 DISCUSSION “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30-31).As John closes out His account of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, he wants us to know a few things.First, there are many other things that Jesus did in His ministry to show that He was the Messiah that he did not include in his account.In fact, not even a compilation of all the Gospels include everything that Jesus did. Could you imagine the size of the book that would have included every move that Jesus made during the three and a half years of His ministry?Although it would be an interesting read, that was not the writer’s, nor God’s, intent.Secondly, we see the things that were included were intended to be enough by their power to prove that Jesus was the Son of God.Notice the specific d…

“The Great Commission and Me”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 28, Mark 16 DISCUSSION As Matthew closes his account of the Gospel of Jesus, he leaves us with what has been called the Great Commission.A Commission is an instruction, command, or duty given to a person or group of people.In this case, the instruction is given by Jesus and the group of people who are commissioned are His disciples. It is referred to as “Great” in the sense of how important this command is to the culmination of God’s plan. Jesus, as the risen Savior, has the authority of all heaven and all earth and now commissions His Disciples to open the doors to His Kingdom. Specifically, Jesus is directing this towards His eleven disciples. So, does this passage have any value or authority to me today?Several years ago Ivan Stewart authored the book “Go Ye, Means Go Me” which dealt with that exact issue.Within that book lies the idea that as long as the church is in existence and as long as Jesus has all authority, then the commission is expressive to all of …

“The Compassion of Jesus”

BIBLE READING: Luke 23, John 18-20 DISCUSSION Jesus must have had a good relationship with all His disciples, but there was really something special about John.The Bible describes him and his brother James as “the sons of thunder”. That gives us reason to believe that he must have been very bold in his behavior and demeanor.We do know that at least on one occasion he is arguing with the others about which one of the disciples is greatest; yet when we read his account of the Gospel, we see more of a quiet disciple, one who even feels uncomfortable with naming himself in his own book.Throughout his account of the gospel he refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved”, instead of using his own name.There must have been something to this designation, because as we see Jesus hanging on the cross, the only disciple He reaches out to is John.In John 19.26-27 as Jesus is breathing His last breaths, He reaches out to His disciple John and asks him to care for His mother.Mary, the mother …

“Is It Possible to Stop Jesus?”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 27, Mark 15 DISCUSSION In Matthew 27.1-2, the chief priests and the elders have taken counsel against Jesus to put Him to death.Something very interesting happens before they lead Him away to Pilate the governor. The text says that they “bound” Him.The word “bound” simply means to “tie up” or to “put in chains”.I guess the idea was that they were going to tie Jesus up so that He would not be able to escape or break free and run away.Don’t you think it rather strange for them to do this?After all, they had all been around Him and seen some of the magnificent things that He was able to do.They had just witnessed Jesus reattach Malcus’ ear that had been severed by Peter.What was it that entered their minds that allowed them to think that they could contain the Almighty Son of God with a few ropes or chains?On the surface it sounds rather ludicrous to believe that mere ropes or chains would be able to prevent the Son of God from doing something.However, there is only …

Sunday

Bible Reading: John 14-17

“Satan’s Desire is for You ”

BIBLE READING: Luke 22, John 13 DISCUSSION                 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (Luke 22.31).  We have all understood how those words must have haunted Peter for the rest of his life, but have we ever thought about how difficult it was for Jesus to say them to Peter?  Imagine this scenario, your child is about be faced with a temptation.  This temptation is so great that you know there is a strong chance that your child will fail this test.  Your child’s entire future is riding on this one test of their faith and in your heart of hearts, you know that your child is not strong enough to handle it.  You are now faced with the reality of it; are they capable of bouncing back after such a failure, or will they drift off into the world.   I don’t know any parent that would want to be placed in a situation such as that, but that may be just how Jesus felt.  He knew the power that Satan had.  He knew the lure that his temptat…

“The Last Supper”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 26, Mark 14 DISCUSSION The disciples of Jesus had not been strangers to the Passover meal.  In fact, they were all good Jews and had taken part in the Passover feast ever since they were children.  However, this Passover was different.  It was different in the fact that this would be the last Passover they would share with Jesus in the flesh.  This was also different because Jesus was going to use this Passover to institute a new feast that would be partaken of later by New Testament Christians from now until His return.  Why?  Why would Jesus institute such a feast?  There are several reasons but let’s note a few of the obvious ones.  First, Jesus wanted it to serve as an explanation about what was to happen, “This is My body” …” this is My blood”.  Jesus needed a way to explain to them what was about to happen so that when it did, it would serve as a reminder to them about the importance of what was taking place.  Secondly, these feasts in the Old Testament were…

“Do Your Job”

BIBLE READING: Matthew 25 DISCUSSION Last week I heard a preacher give a lesson on his favorite person in the Bible.  He gave people an opportunity to guess who it could be, of course you got the standard answers like: Jesus, God, Moses and Peter.  However, none of these possibilities were even close.  His favorite Bible character was a man that did not even have a name; we simply refer to him as the two-talent man. You see, he wasn’t as blessed as the five-talent man, but he was blessed more than the one talent man.  What makes him so special is just as much about what you don’t see as it is what you do see.  You don’t see the two-talent man complaining about not getting as much as the five-talent man, you simple see him using the gifts that he was given to gain more.  What if we were more like the two-talent man?  Would we begin to question as to why we did not receive as many talents as the five-talent man? Why not four-talents, or three, why only two? Are we not just as good as the …