Our preacher, Mark Stinnett, publishes articles for the church bulletin each week. These articles are designed to teach, encourage and challenge the members of our congregation. His latest articles can be found below with the most recent at the end of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
When you see the word discipline in a religious context, what comes to mind?
You might think about how the Bible can be used to correct a fellow believer. You might think about how the Bible instructs parents in the discipline of children. You might think about self-discipline. My starting point is the verse:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness….
2 Timothy 3:16 (NASB95)
The word discipline does not appear in this verse, but that is exactly what the Apostle Paul described. His description mirrors the meaning of an Old Testament Hebrew word, musar. It was used for the full breadth of discipline, including instruction, training, correction, rebuke (strong verbal correction), as well as physical discipline. So, Paul wrote that the inspired word of God is beneficial for musar.
Now, was Paul addressing parents, church leaders or Christians in general? The next verse tells us the purpose of the discipline that God’s word provides, even though the application may be broader.
...so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:17 (NASB95)
The overall idea is that of a finished work. God’s word is able to make you a finished work. I might be behind the times, but I think one of the buzz words of our day is spiritual formation.
The point is this: God’s word is able to transform you into a finished product that He will be satisfied with. His expectation is that you will be capable of doing good works. And how does He bring about a finished work in you?
God’s word provides instruction (doctrine) which tells us about God, His identity, His values, and His character. Biblical doctrine also tells us about ourselves in relation to God. Where else will you find instruction about salvation, the afterlife, moral conduct, and the soul?
And don’t overlook the mind of man. God’s word has been dealing with emotional and mental issues for centuries while modern research is only now catching up.
Even with the best instruction, we sometimes misunderstand. We try to implement God’s word in our lives, but sometimes fail. We need correction. We need someone to tell us where we went wrong and to point us in the right direction. Correction, reproof, and training all present varying levels of corrective discipline. God’s word is the best source.
We might find correction on our own as we read the Scriptures. At other times a friend or family member may love us enough to help us back on the right path by applying God’s word.
The Scriptures discipline us…
- To live righteous lives;
- To love sacrificially;
- To control our tongue (and typing fingers);
- To mature from childhood into adulthood with dignity.
The Scriptures instruct and discipline us in our different roles and circumstances:
- How to be husbands and wives;
- How to be parents & children;
- How to be bosses & employees;
- How to be Christian leaders & servants.
Don’t be caught off guard regarding discipline. God’s word is the key. God’s word is sufficient.
September 5, 2021
In whatever way you may think of spirituality, it clearly contrasts the physical. Interestingly, sometimes there are direct parallels between the physical and spiritual. At other times the contrast is striking. For example...
The Apostle Paul used a farming/gardening illustration to teach a spiritual truth. Consider:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. —Galatians 6:7 (NASB95)
You really do not have to be a farmer or gardener to know that sowing apple seeds produces apple trees and ultimately, apples. Corn seeds produce corn. Daisy seeds produce daisies.
Yet, Paul drew a spiritual parallel:
The one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (verse 8)
Sowing to one’s flesh is the idea of satisfying one’s evil fleshly cravings. Sowing to the Spirit is the idea of living godly according to the Spirit of God. So, the physical principle of sowing and reaping applies the same way spiritually.
Consider a teaching of Jesus.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
—Matthew 13:45–46 (NASB95)
Apply this literally to the physical world? Absurd! To literally sell all of one’s belongings for the pearl makes no sense. That person would have no food, clothing, shelter, etc.; just a pearl. So, possessing only his valued pearl, he would soon die. However, it makes perfect sense if the part about selling out applies to one’s earthly possessions while the pearl applies to spiritual things, such as, the kingdom of heaven.
Next, consider Solomon’s advise to the young:
Follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. —Ecclesiastes 11:9 (NASB95)
Whether physical or spiritual advice, does that sound wise? Wisdom, however, IS found in the remainder of the verse:
Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things.
Choices have consequences. That makes sense in the physical world, but, according to Solomon it is also a sobering spiritual truth.
When Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount He reminded the people of the moral law about murder, “You shall not commit murder.” He then said:
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. —Matthew 5:22 (NASB95)
Jesus was not saying, “Murder used to be morally wrong but now things are stricter; anger is morally wrong.” He was actually trying to get the people to see that murder is rooted in anger. So, instead of focusing on the behavior, first deal with its cause. Address the attitude.
A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. —1 Corinthians 2:14 (NASB95)
God expects His people to understand spiritual truths and to use spiritual discernment. He expects us to walk by the Spirit. There is only one source for spiritual truth and instruction. God’s word alone is the key to spirituality.
September 12, 2021
A non-believer once explained that prayer is a good thing; it is a way for a person to get things off his/her chest. For the non-believer I suppose you could achieve the same psychological release by talking to your dog, or the fire hydrant your dog is so fond of.
Yet, we know that God is real. Prayer is not just a psychological release. God really listens. But does He always listen???
In John 9:31 someone said, “God does not hear sinners.” Yet, there are examples in Scripture that seem to counter that statement. How do we make sense of the exceptions?
The sinner in John 9:31 is not simply that person whose life is marred by sin, but the one who has turned away from God and who refuses to listen to His instruction. That is also the sense of a proverb of Solomon:
The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
—Proverbs 15:29 (NASB95)
There was an occasion in Israel’s history when they were oppressed by a foreign power. They cried out to God and He all but taunted them with their past. He reminded them that he had delivered them from many foreign enemies and then said…
“Go and cry out to the gods which you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” —Judges 10:14
God did not respond with assistance until Israel put away their foreign gods. We should learn that unless we step away from evil and turn toward God, He will not respond favorably.
Jesus taught that when a person prays with wrong motives (to grab attention from other people), he will receive nothing from God. The attention is all he will receive. (Matthew 6:5-6)
Husbands, did you know that the way you treat your wife affects your prayer life? You can actually block your prayers from God’s ears if you do not treat your wife as God expects! (1 Peter 3:7)
Did you know that selfishness gets no response?
You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. —James 4:3
These important Scriptures help us to understand that our prayers can be hindered. The last thing you would want is for God to turn a deaf ear when you are at a critical time of need.
It is important for us to be confident as we approach God in prayer. We need to have confidence that God is listening, that nothing is getting in the way of our prayers.
We know that God IS compassionate. God IS gracious. God IS Love. So, we can approach God with our joys and disappointments. We can approach Him when we have overcome and when we have failed. We can share with Him our anxieties, our dreams and even the simple daily happenings of our mundane lives. He cares.
Yet, God IS holy. God IS mighty. God IS Creator. Man is dust. We must approach God with awe and reverence. We must approach in humility.
But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.
Finally, Jesus told a parable about a widow who bothered a judge over and over in order to obtain justice. His purpose in telling the parable was “to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
Do you want God to listen to you?
September 19, 2021