The week of our ice and snowstorm was an extremely tough week. Temperatures dropped to single digits and Texas was struggling to survive. Texas was simply not prepared for what was coming.
In general, many homes were not built to handle and maintain a prolonged cold spell. Homeowners were dealing with no power, no water, and busted pipes both inside the home and outside as well. In Texas, both ERCOT and the Governor expressed that we simply were not prepared for what happened.
For example, Dallas experienced the second longest cold weather streak with temperatures at or below freezing and at or below 20 degrees as well as reaching its coldest temperature at -2 degrees. In Houston it was -1 degree for windchill, which was its lowest since 1990 (the year I graduated High School). Across our great state the conditions experienced were unprecedented and we were not prepared for it.
Many of us knew the cold weather was coming but many were simply caught unprepared with inadequate food and water supplies. Many people were in a desperate condition and in immediate need of necessities. In some cases, being prepared was either not a priority or simply not taken seriously.
Being prepared for eternity must be a priority! Many people know it is coming, and we know we must be prepared for it, but many are simply not ready.
I am reminded of the hymn by James Stanley, “Careless soul, why will you linger, Wand’ring from the fold of God? Hear you not the invitation? Oh, prepare to meet thy God. Refrain: Careless soul, oh, heed the warning, For your life will soon be gone; Oh, how sad to face the judgment, Unprepared to meet thy God.”
The Apostle Paul stated, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you. ”Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Are you Ready to Meet your Creator and stand before Him in Judgement? If not, why not? We know the time is coming but the question is … ARE YOU READY FOR THE JUDGEMENT DAY?
“Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” - Corinthians 14:7-8
The men who wrote the word of God were concise, clear, and effective in sharing, teaching, and preaching the word of God. As a result, people were taught faith, grew in faith, and obeyed the faith.
Today, we must be just as clear, concise, and consistent when proclaiming the truth and for the same reason! The Lord is depending on us to preach the truth in love so that others will come to know, understand, and obey the truth! If we are unclear, confusing, and vague in our teaching and preaching of God’s Word then we have missed the heart of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.
Listen to what Peter said about some of Paul’s writings (2 Peter 3:14-16). Peter says that few of Paul’s teachings were difficult to understand which is certainly true. I do believe that even though they were difficult to understand they were nonetheless understandable. A little more digging and studying would certainly reveal the truth that God intended and therefore be understood. The meat and potatoes of the Word take a little longer to prepare, serve, and eat. While it might take a little longer to get, to eat, and digest it is certainly worth it.
However, don’t miss the fact that Peter says there are the rest of the Scriptures. Scriptures that are easy to understand. Peter was referring to scriptures like 1 Corinthians 14:7-8 to emphasize teaching a clear and concise message. Preaching and teaching should always be understood and simple in order to produce obedient faith!
As we move forward and grow in Fulshear we are determined that our message will be easy to understand so that we aren’t only speaking into the air.
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” — Romans 10:17
Today there are thousands of different denominations. Imagine a head that has 1000 different bodies … sounds like SciFi doesn’t it? Jesus said He would build His church in Mathew 16:18-19). Paul talks about the church as being a body (Ephesians 1:22-23) and then says there is only body (Ephesians 4:4).
So it is an entirely appropriate question to ask if the church of Christ is just “one” among many, or is it the church of our Lord, “the one” among many.
Before we go any further in this article it is important to note that during the ministry of Jesus there were groups of people who thought they belonged to God but had chosen to do what they wanted instead of what God wanted. Listen to Jesus, “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matthew 15:7-9). Not true people offering true worship.
Remember, it was Jesus who prayed for unity, (John 17:20-21), gave His life for unity, (Ephesians 2:16), begged for unity, (1 Corinthians 1:10) affirmed unity, (Ephesians 4:1-6), and yet He refused to unify with any of the known political/religious factions of His day. Therefore the only conclusion we can come to on this is that Jesus was not denominational, therefore His church cannot be either.
A prominent denomination came about starting in the early centuries (not the first century) which saw the rise of Catholicism and is certainly unlike any church we read of in the New Testament. Catholicism contradicts the sacred scriptures of our Holy God, i.e., praying to Mary and to the saints, the infallibility of the papacy, transubstantiation, indulgences, original sin, purgatory, just to name a few. The protestant denominations started showing up in the 15th and 16th centuries which all started by men with their own slant on scriptural truth and mainly in opposition to the Catholic Church.
By comparing the church of Christ today to Christ’s church in the New Testament, one can identify whether the church that bears Christ’s name is just another denomination or not. The first century church was designated as the church of Christ, (Romans 16:16), the church of God, (1 Corinthians 1:2) and the church of the firstborn, (Hebrews 12:23), etc.
The first century church was organized with elders, deacons, evangelists and members in the local congregations, (Philippians 1:1). Today, the Lord’s church is organized with elders, deacons, evangelists and members in the local congregations. Both the first century church and the church today (We, the Fulshear church of Christ) recognize Jesus as their sole authority, (1 Peter 3:22).
The first century Christians met on the first day of the week, (1 Corinthians 16:2), and engaged in acappella singing (meaning “in the way of the church “ referring to without instruments because that was the way of the church), (Hebrews 2:12), praying to God through Jesus, (1 Corinthians 14:15), teaching sound doctrine, (1 Timothy 6:2), eating the Lord’s Supper, (Acts 20:7), and giving financially, (1 Corinthians 16:2). We, the church of Christ in Fulshear do so as well. We follow the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
Both the first century church and the Lord’s church today are guided by the apostles’ doctrine (what Jesus gave them to teach) and is our only rule of faith and practice, (Acts 2:42; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 Timothy 1:3; 1 Peter 4:11; Jude 3). All teachings of men were then, and are now, disregarded in favor of (the New Testament scriptures) the inspired word of God.
The first century Christians entered into the body of the saved by hearing and believing, (Acts 15:7), repenting of their sins, (Luke 13:3), confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, (Acts 8:37), and being baptized into Christ, (Galatians 3:27) for the forgiveness of their sins, (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Those who are in the church today enter by the exact same way.
The mission of the first century church was to evangelize the world, (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47) and to support the truth, (1 Timothy 3:15). This mission has not changed since the beginning.
Why not strive to be exactly what Jesus built...NOTHING MORE & NOTHING LESS! You can become a part of the one body of Christ today by obeying Jesus and His teaching! If you have obeyed the teachings of Christ then you can place your membership with the Fulshear Family and under the oversight of our eldership. This is a great place to be because WE ARE FAMILY … RELATIONSHIPS BUILT FOR ETERNITY.
Paul gives us some of the most challenging words in his letter to the Philippians in 3:7-17 to stir disciples to a deeper and more meaningful faith and discipleship. As Paul wrote to Titus, that we must focus on Jesus Christ in order to move us to be a people who are “zealous for good works” (2:14). We must be active in our love, work, and witness for our Lord. We must be moving forward each today as we grow closer to Him. Paul says, “that we may know Him and the power of His raising.” (Philippians 3:10). Knowing Him better everyday will help us in our relationship with Him and with other disciples as well.
Last week, in the sermon we began to look at Philippians 3:7-16 and we talked about the fact that in order to be a NEW version of ourselves in a NEW year then we must PRIORITIZE (7-11). We must recognize what is the FIRST and most important in life. The Lord said that we must “seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). It was Keith Park who said that in order to put first things first we must...Focus Income Relationship Security Time.
This week we will look at the rest of the verse and consider…
There are things that we must PUT AWAY (vs. 13) or get rid of in order to move forward and be successful as followers of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said in Luke 9:62, “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” We can learn by looking back but we cannot live in the past or dwell on the past. It keeps us stuck or allows us to stay in a rut. Holding on to past sins, offenses, or wrongs keeps us from being a forgiving and faithful people.
Paul says that we must be in a hot PURSUIT (12, 14) to do things that are beneficial to our faith. We will look at two motivational stories that help us to pursue what matters in order to be new. The stories of Glen Cunningham and Wilma Rudolph help us to notice that NOTHING can keep us from pursuing those that thing to help us spiritually in Christ through whom we can accomplish all things (Philippians 4:13).
And finally we will consider that we must PRACTICE (15-16) what we preach! We must be MATURE and MODEL the life of Jesus Christ before a volatile and dying word.
I look forward to seeing you this coming Lord’s day and encourage you to be a NEW you. I need you to come and encourage me. You (and the Lord) are the reason that I will be there this Sunday!
“ Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Are you ready to start the New Year? I am! What are you wanting to accomplish out of this new year? 2021 is going to be a great year for our Fulshear Family.
All things are new in Jesus and that is hope for you and me. Consider for a moment how it all began.
According to Matthew, history puts things into perspective. It is also a confirmation of TRUE EVENTS.
Ancestral history (in the story of Jesus) places things in proper order biblically. In Matthew chapter one we get to see the lineage of Jesus. This is how “THE WORD BECAME FLESH” (John 1:14). Matthew and Luke describe in greater detail how it happened.
When you and I open the pages of the New Testament, we begin to see the earthly story of Jesus. Four separate accounts of the one gospel of Jesus Christ with 89 chapters/3779 verses (only 4 of those chapters/180 verses deal with Jesus’ birth/childhood) that tell His beautiful story from the cradle to the cross. John tells us there could have been much more written about Jesus (John 21:25) but what has been written is sufficient (John 20:30-31).
It all begins with genealogy. One might think that the beginning of His life is not that significant because little information is given (again only 4 chapters and 180 verses). However, that thinking would certainly be a false assumption. It is important for us to understand that the focus is mainly on His redemptive work on the cross and His commitment to God’s plan for saving all of humanity.
We read the names, which represent individual lives and stories of imperfect people but find their connection with HIS-STORY, the perfect Savior of the world. Matthew shares the good, the bad, and the ugly in the lineage of Jesus by telling of men like David and a woman like Rahab and their connection to the beautiful story of Christ.
This is a new year and it can be a new you. Decide now to live in Christ faithfully by loving and serving Him in full assurance with a living hope. “...Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)