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TRUTH OR TRADITION?  – #319

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Discipleship #1- The Meaning

Followers of Jesus.

There are a number of terms by which the followers of Jesus are identified.  Terms like:  Believers. Brethren. Children. Saints. Christians. etc.  These terms are descriptive and show various relationships.  Believer – relationship to Christ as one who accepts Him as God’s son.  Brethren – relationship to each other within the Family of God.  Children – relationship to God as part of His Family.  Saints – relationship to God as separated from the world.  Christian – relationship to Christ as one who is Christ-like or one who belongs to Christ.


Term Most Frequent.

The term by which followers of Christ are most often called is the term “brother”, which is found some 346 times in the New Testament, and its counterpart “sister” which is found some 24 times.  The second most frequently used term is the term “disciple”, which is found some 269 times.  The Greek word for disciple is MATHETES, and means “a taught or trained one”.  So a disciple is a student, a pupil, a learner, or one who is taught.


God’s Classroom – The Teacher.

Jesus is often called a teacher and is God’s only teacher today.  “God…Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” (Hebrews 1:1-2).  On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, and God said, “This is my beloved Son…hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5).  No longer listen to the Law nor the Prophets, rather listen to Jesus.


God’s Classroom - The Students.

There is a great variety of students in every classroom.  Some are poor students:  indifferent, stubborn, lazy, tardy, cheater, tattler, trouble-maker, etc.  On the other hand some are good students:  peaceable, industrious, resourceful, inquisitive, prompt, dependable, neat, etc.  Every student has certain interests and characteristics.  Some have an interest in reading, others in math, and others in history.  Students usually excel in the subject of their interest.  Some are a great asset in any classroom, others a detriment.  In God’s Classroom, where do I fit in? What kind of student am I?


God’s Classroom – The Purpose.

The purpose of schooling is preparation for life. Students who keep that end in view enjoy schooling more,  do much better work, and profit much more from their education.  Students who live for the week-end, or summer vacation, do not profit as much from their studies,  and, to them,  going to school every day is a drag.

Students in God’s Classroom (Christians) who view this life as preparation for eternity, and keep that end in view, profit much more from worship and service.  Those who view Bible study and prayer as something they ought to do, Sunday as a time when theymust get up and go to worship, and serving others as something that needs to be done,  miss the joy and the abundant life Jesus came to provide.  To them Christianity is a drag.

Steer Creek Church of Christ,  3466 Rosedale Road,  Stumptown WV 25267
Minister: Gene H Miller, 3281 Rosedale Road, Shock WV 26638-8410.
Phone:  304.462.0384     E-Mail:  “ghmiller@frontier.com”  Web Site:  steercreekchurchofchrist.org

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G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150503

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


Psalm 2:10-12

Now therefore, be wise, O kings;
Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
Serve the Lord with fear,
And rejoice with trembling.

Kiss the Son, lest He be angry,
And you perish in the way,
When His wrath is kindled but a little.

Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.


Exodus 23:20-33

Conquest of Canaan Promised

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him.

But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.

When my angel goes before you and brings you to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, you shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do as they do, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their pillars in pieces.

You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.

And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.

And I will set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River [Note: the Euphrates], for I will give the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.


Notes on the Scripture

Much of this is familiar territory for anyone who has followed the story of the Hebrews from Abraham to the gathering at Mount Sinai, but it is the best and most thorough statement of the old covenant in Exodus, and adds several elements people often overlook or forget.

There are really three ideas introduced here, following the timeline of Exodus. We associate the exodus with God appearing as a pillar of fire and smoke, and as a cloud over Mount Sinai. But here, He announces that He is going to withdraw in His present form, as a mighty presence atop the mountain so powerful that, for most men, merely coming close to Him will result in death. He will, instead, send an angel to go before the Israelites on their journey.

The actual angels in the Bible are never sweet, innocuous pink children with wings and harps. At their most friendly, they might appear as men (as with Abraham) or a blazing light with a semi-human form, as to Mary before Christ’s birth and at his tomb. But just as often, they are terrifying creatures of enormous power, with a capacity for destruction.

The angel in this case is more akin to the latter category, for he is the instrument of God’s wrath against the idol-worshipping tribes of Canaan. Whether they are manifestations of God himself, or always separate beings (messengers), we are often not certain. Most likely, we simply lack the the capacity to understand fully the nature of their existence.

Secondly, God promises not only land and prosperity, but good health, and especially fertility for the women. This hearkens all the way back to Abraham, for the bloodline of the entire race comes from Isaac, a man whose mother was barren and aged when he was born.

Finally, we learn that the conquest of Judea is to be gradual. God will not lead the Israelites to simply depopulate Canaan, for they are still a small people, perhaps roughly 20,000 (estimates vary enormously, some in the millions). In fact, as it turns out, it will be many centuries until they actually control the mass of land described — the time of Kind David — and even then, they will not follow God’s clear directions. The Hebrews will never drive out the numerous heathen tribes and will, as a result, constantly fall into the worship of idols and every other practice forbidden by God.

G-MM™: Meditation Moment   150502

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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.


James 4:7-10

Draw Near to God

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.


Notes on the Scripture

“Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy to gloom.” (Jas. 4:9). These are stern words! Nowhere does James sound more like an Old Testament prophet than in this verse. What does he mean, and how does this relate to the joyful and abundant life promised to believers elsewhere in the New Testament?

In the context, the apostle has been exposing the profound influence of the world system on the belief and behavior of his readers. Many of them had succumbed to the mentality of grabbing and self-gratification, and James warned them that this was the path to foolishness and futility.

The solution to adultery with the world is allegiance to God. We were created to serve, but we have been given a choice: serve the world as slaves of sin and selfishness or serve the Lord as “slaves of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:18). It is only as we submit our desires, plans, careers, and hopes to Christ that we will find the freedom and fulfillment that we seek. By taking His yoke upon ourselves we become free to realize His high calling for our lives.

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light (Matt. 11:29-30). Any other yoke is a burden we were not designed to bear.

James takes a serious view of sin because of its devastating consequences. After appealing to his readers to submit to God and draw near to Him (4:7-8), he exhorts them to turn away from their compromises with the world and bear the fruits of repentance. But his words are so strong that we are tempted to dilute them.

Certainly James is not opposed to Christian joy; he speaks of it in positive terms in 1:2 and 5:13. Nor is he saying that believers should walk about with sour faces, rebuking the sound of laughter (cf. Job 8:21). Yet we must not gloss over what he is saying, because it is a message too seldom heard.

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