Times Like These

Times Like These

With all of the Coronavirus separation and social distancing currently occurring, many of you may think that stressing evangelism in “times like these” is peculiar, if not perhaps even pointless. But… might I humbly suggest that it was exactly ‘times like these’ – times when the Lord’s church was scattered and life was even more difficult for His disciples than it is for us today – that God used to get His people to go spread the word like He’d told them to do?

scattered road

Christians may be separated by distance and scattered, but they are strong.

The resurrected Christ had informed His Apostles that they would be His witnesses throughout all the known world (Lk. 24:46-48; Acts 1:1-8). However, they apparently had other ideas and remained in Jerusalem. It took a drasticlife and death situation – apersecution whichscattered the church, to finally get both the members,as well as the Apostles, to go everywhere preaching the words He’d told them to do(See Acts 8; and 11:19-26).

Some may additionally wonder how we can possibly effectively evangelize while practicing social distancing and/or observing shelter in place orders. But the fact is that the very same technology that allows so many of us to learn from home, work from home, and worship from home, can also be used to just as effectively evangelize from home, by utilizing social media, church websites, and online Bible studies and the like.

Today, let’s consider a few reasons why right now – exactly in ‘times like these’ – that we just might have the best chance we’ve ever had,of reaching people with the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

1 – People are the most reachable when they feel the most vulnerable; when they feel the most fearful, hopeless, helpless and powerless; when they are forced to really stop and consider the incredible swiftness and fragility of their own human life.

2 – Most people have far more free time than they’ve had in a long time. With no school, sporting, or other such social events occurring; with movie theaters, shopping malls, and other recreational and dining facilities closed to the public; and with so many people seeking to escape their current isolation and boredom through internet learning and virtual reality activities, what better time to engage someone in an on-line discussion or Bible study about the life and hope that you have in Jesus?

3 – Thirdly and lastly, folks shouldn’t be so prone to turning down your invitation to have them study or worship with you because they might be intimidated at the idea of walking into a new church building full of total strangers; they can watch worship and attend Bible studies with you online – both of you at the same time, but only from the comfort of your own homes. Neither will they be able to turn down your invitation due to attending “their church” or because they are “too busy” at that time, because most of these services, once conducted and posted online, can be watched anytime, 24/7.

The fact is, that we currently have the personal capability to reach far beyond our homes, church building walls, and local communities with the gospel message. It has never been easier – nor might we have ever had a greater chance of success – to effectively evangelize our friends, and neighbors,and even complete and total strangers, than we do right now during our current crisis, “in times like these.”

We know that God causes all things (and that includes the worst of things … like the Coronavirus) – to work together for good, according to Romans 8:28. Perhaps the good to come out of this is the doors He has opened for the more effective spread of the gospel (1 Cor. 16:9; Col. 4:2-6). If so, then it is you and I who must get going(Ex. 14:15). For, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for [just] such a time as this?” (Est. 4:14).

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Peter, Simon, Aeneas, Tabitha and You

Peter, Simon, Aeneas, Tabitha and You

In Acts 9:43, we have a short statement about Peter: “So it was that he stayed many days in Joppa with Simon, a tanner.” In Acts 9:32-35, Peter healed Aeneas—who had been bedridden for eight years—in the town of Lydda. Some asked Peter to come to Joppa because Tabitha (Dorcas) died. Peter raised her from the dead. After these events, Peter lodges with Simon, a tanner.

unclean people

Aeneas, Cornelius, Tabitha, Peter, You and I… all unclean at one point in our lives.

The Holy Spirit intends to communicate a progression here. First, Aeneas was paralyzed and bedridden for eight years. He was likely ritually unclean (Leviticus 15). Peter enters his home and heals him anyway. Second, Tabitha was a dead body and ritually unclean (Numbers 19:11), but Peter went into her room. Third, Simon, a tanner, was a man who worked with dead animals by trade. He and his house were frequently ritually unclean (Leviticus 11:39; Numbers 19:11-22; Haggai 2:13). Peter stayed in his house anyway.

In Acts 10, Peter still struggled with ritual uncleanness. He objects three times about eating unclean animals. The Lord’s response is, “What God has cleansed you must not call common” (Acts 10:15). When the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, God touched what Peter and the Jewish men with him would not! Peter then asks, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). Ritual impurity was no longer a barrier to doing God’s will, and the church put its hands on the “dirty.”

Do we hold back from teaching the gospel to those who don’t look, smell, act, or live like us because they are “dirty”? God didn’t accept Peter’s reticence, and He won’t accept ours either because He wants everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

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Would You Recognize Him?

Would You Recognize Him?

Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone you knew, but because they were the last person you ever expected to see in that particular place or under those particular circumstances, you completely failed to recognize them? That happened more than once with Jesus’ disciples when it came to Him.

From Matthew 14:22-33 and Mark 6:45-51, we learn that Jesus had sent His disciples away so that He could have some time to pray. A terrible storm arose and threatened to sink the little boat that they were in. After their straining at the oars for hours, fighting the storm throughout the night, in the early pre-dawn hours Jesus came to them walking on the water. At first they didn’t recognize Him. (Let’s face it, they did not expect to see anyone walking across the waves; would you?). In fact, Mark says something that might surprise many people. He writes that Jesus “would have passed them by” (vs. 48) – a strange statement indeed… unless of course one recognizes the reason why Jesus was there in the first place. He wasn’t there for Himself; He was there for them. Remember, it was He who made them get into the boat in the first place. He knew the storm was coming as well – He is God! So why this event anyway? Most likely because they had to have impressed upon them, their sheer helplessness to overcome and save themselves from such storms, versus His infinitely powerful authority over such storms, and His complete and total ability to save His disciples even in the very midst of all such.

From Luke 23 and 24 we learn that there had been a horrible political and spiritual upheaval; a terrible storm of chaos, controversy, and crucifixion,tearing through the very heart of Jerusalem. That Sunday afternoon, as a couple of His disciples were walking towards Emmaus, Jesus joined them, but they did not recognize Him. How could they have? He was the last person on earth they expected to see in that situation. After all, they knew He was dead – and as you read their report of that you can sense their sheer hopelessness due to it. However, when they finally did recognize and understand that it was Him that was there with them, their excitement could not have been greater! We see this same sequence repeated in other places with other disciples as well (Lk. 24:36-49; Jn. 20:11-29, 21:1-7): A storm-driven time of hope and despair, until Jesus is seen and recognized there!

As you walk through the Coronavirus or whatever other storm you may be experiencing today, don’t miss the all-powerful person, presence, authority and providence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is there. And the sooner you see and recognize His presence, the sooner your joy and excitement will overpower your hopelessness and despair.

Have you seen Jesus My Lord?

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Jenkins’ Way of Looking at the Devil

Jenkins’ Way of Looking at the Devil

My grandfather, John Acel Jenkins, was an amazing person. He preached the gospel for over 50 years while supporting himself as a wallpaper hanger and a barber. As far back as I remember, he and my grandmother lived about a block away, and I spent lots of time with him in my early years. His great spirituality is reflected in the heritage of “Jenkins” preachers who have carried on his spiritual values.

I remember when I was beginning to be able to read that I loved reading the Bible. He would often give me something to discover in the Bible and even though I found the right answer, he had another “answer” based on his personality. For example, I remember him asking me who the first farmer was in the Bible. Because of the Bible classes at the West Huntsville church, I likely knew the answer, but he told me to go to the Bible and find the answer. It did not take long to read those first four chapters of the Bible and learn that it was Cain. So, with my Bible opened to Genesis 4:2, I went to him. His reply, “Wrong answer.” I read those chapters again, and I went back to prove he was wrong. I finally gave up, and his witty answer was, “Adam was the first farmer. He raised ‘Cane.’”

He once asked me where baseball was found in the Bible. I tried to find it but finally gave up. He told me it was mentioned first in Genesis 1:1. I read it but did not see it until he said, “Baseball is mentioned in the first verse when it mentions ‘the big inning.’” He helped me learn how to research things in the Bible.

One other lesson he taught me was to think about how you spell devil. It was obvious, so I spelled it correctly to him. He then asked what I would have if I took the first letter off the word devil. I got that one right. The word devil without the “D” is evil. He spent some time talking about evil and how it is all related to the devil.

“What would you have if you took the first two letters off devil. His answer (using his unusual wit) was, “Remove the ‘DE’ from devil, and you have ‘vile.’” He then spent time reminding me that is what Satan is and what he brings to us and you must never forget it. What if you remove the “DEV” from devil? You have “ill” and all the spiritual sickness there is in the world comes from Satan. Remove “DEVI” and what do you have? When I said, “L,” he asked what that rhymes with, and it did not take long for me to guess, “It rhymes with hell.” He reminded me that place is prepared for the devil and his angels.

He also asked me where football and tennis were found, but I will leave it up to you to find. Thank God for my grandfather teaching me the joy of discovering things in the Bible. I hope all grandfathers can do this for their grandkids.

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The Whole Counsel of God

The Whole Counsel of God

Debates are raging.  Frustration is abounding.  Accusations are being hurled. Wise counsel is being rejected. There will always be new strains of illnesses upon the earth.  There will also be different theories as to what the best approach to them should be.  Most people want everyone to stay healthy and live well regardless of their age or social status.  So if most people want others to be safe and healthy, even though they hold different views regarding the treatment to achieving this result, why is such viral anger flourishing at this time?  The issue has to do with truth.

counsel ears

Are you covering your ears to information not presented by the loudest voice in the room?

The apostle Paul declared in Acts 20:27for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”  Paul had the obligation to share all the revealed truth of God (Acts 9:15-16).  He didn’t share only the parts he wanted to share.  The Judaizers were happy to share only part of the truth and mix it with their own beliefs as well.  Many religions today are glad to share only a part of the truth declaring one is saved by “Faith only” (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, I Peter 3:21).  Portions of the scriptures have long been taken alone or out of context.  Satan did this himself in Matthew 4.  Jesus presented a fuller view of the truth.  Apollos was a mighty minister of the Old Testament scriptures, yet he needed exposure to all of the truth to be pleasing to God (Acts 18:26).  Context and the full truth are necessary to make proper decisions.

The current situation, specific to America in this examination, is enflamed due to the suppression of truth in the media at large and its manipulation by those in political power.  This was true long before the current spread of a new strain of an illness.  It is very easy to be suppressed into a life of fearful delusion or even be enraged when you are not receiving the full truth.  It is also easy to get exasperated when others won’t accept additional facts into their viewpoint, but blindly move forward with a limited amount of information to guide their life.  They will not just fail to listen, but actively try to suppress any other consideration offered to themselves or others.  Ever have a religious conversation like that? In America, this is resulting not only in further harm to the country, but loss of freedom which will last well into the future.

The bottom line to all of this is summed up in John 8:31-32So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”  There are great number of people in the Bible who closed their ears to the truth and hardened their hearts.  They would not hear or accept the truth.  They did not want the truth shared and wanted to stop anyone who tried to share it.  Ultimately, this led to their destruction.  Therefore, let us take time to consider all the facts.  There are concerned voices of opposition to the bottlenecked flow of information.  Stop!  Take a moment to legitimately consider not just what the loudest voice in the room is saying, but what other informed and wise individuals are saying.  The suppression of secular and spiritual truth will only result in pain and the loss of freedom.

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