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.
The last four blog entries have been about the Greatest Command:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
—Mark 12:30 (NASB95)
As a teen we had a few cliché answers when asked about heart, soul, mind and strength:
- Heart = Emotions
- Soul = Inner being (whatever that is)
- Mind = Intellect
- Strength = Physical
Those associations might carry an element of truth, but they didn’t translate to daily life. I wish someone had pointed us to the example of King Josiah! (See last week’s blog entry.)
Now, did you notice the extreme repetition?
Jesus could have given us the short list: heart, soul, mind and strength. Yet, the repetition of and places emphasis on every single element in the list. Love God with all your heart…
...and that’s not all; there’s more...soul…
...and that’s not all; there’s more...mind…
...and that’s not all; there’s more...strength.
And it is not just that you love God with your heart, soul, mind and strength, but...
- ALL your heart and...
- ALL your soul and...
- ALL your mind and...
- ALL your strength.
So, how does that translate to daily life?
First, love is not a mere emotion. Love is a conscious choice desiring a relationship.
The one who loves God has made a conscious decision to pursue a relationship with God. He will do whatever it takes to initiate and maintain that relationship. It is an intentional decision that becomes the filter through which all perceptions, thoughts, life decisions, purpose, daily choices, speech and behaviors pass. It is a resolute and determined choice that generates a deep conviction that cannot be shaken.
Your love for God governs your relationship with family, not vice versa. God rules in your choice of career and the individual jobs you take, the friends you make, the way you spend your money, and even the way you vacation.
The threat of losing your relationship with God keeps you from being lax about sin. It cools your anger, encourages patience, curbs coarse language, removes envy and jealousy, dampens temptations to lie, steal, cheat, gossip and lust.
Your love for God gives you energy in life. He motivates you to get out of bed, to look at each new day with awe and wonder, to enjoy life in contentment without coveting the lives and possessions of others. Your love for God gives you purpose in your dead-end job, in your unfulfilling relationships, and in your mundane life.
Your love for God turns your listless daydreaming into thoughtful actions for others. Your love for God doesn’t let youth hold you back, doesn’t let the busy years exhaust you, and doesn’t let age wear you down. Regardless of your age, health, income, position, education and all else, your love for God moves you to love others.
Your love for God compels you to bow in awe and to stand in praise. You listen to Jesus because you love God. You embrace God’s people because you love God and they love God. Your love for God defines you, and you don’t worry about what other people think or how you look.
Your love for God gives you insight into this life and a vision of hope that peers into eternity!
April 25, 2021
Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenged Moses’ leadership. They were instructed to take firepans and put incense in them and bring them before the Lord. They, along with 250 of their supporters, did so. Moses then declared that if they died a natural death, the Lord had not chosen him. Yet, if the earth opened up and swallowed them, then Moses was God’s chosen.
God caused the earth to open up and swallow Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their families with all their possessions. Then fire from heaven destroyed their 250 supporters. Aaron’s son was then instructed to collect the censers (firepans for incense) and hammer them into sheets “for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the Lord and they are holy.” The plating on the altar was declared a sign.
Think about the symbolism. Whenever the plating on the altar was seen, it carried a message. I want to share some things we can learn from this event, all of which would have been represented in the censers that were hammered into sheets for a covering for the altar.
First, things that are presented to God belong to God, even if ungodly men present them.
Second, the censers that were made into plating were held by men who risked their lives for what they believed. However, the thing they believed was wrong. So they forfeited their lives for a false belief, for nothing.
Third, it is unwise to challenge those whom the Lord has chosen. Though Moses was a reluctant leader, he was God’s choice, and he knew God had chosen him. So, when God chooses someone, man should accept it and not challenge God, even if he does not agree or understand.
Fourth, the 250 men did not merely lose their lives; their loss was far greater.
As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets…. —Numbers 16:38
The word lives in the verse above is literally souls. It is not that their sin resulted only in their bodies dying on that day; they lost their souls, the very essence of their being.
The soul is that aspect of the human being that has intent, will and desire. It is the part of one’s being that makes choices and that comes to know and understand things based on personal experience. It is that unique aspect of your being that makes YOU who you are.
By choosing to follow Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the 250 souls placed their entire beings into the hands of the three men they followed. They trusted in their leadership and in their perception of justice. Their point of failure is contrasted by the actions of Moses.
Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company and put fire in them and lay incense upon them in the presence of the Lord tomorrow; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the one who is holy. —Numbers 16:6-7
Moses relied on God to answer the question. Instead of challenging leadership, Korah and those who made their stand with him should have consulted God. They were not merely jealous of Moses; they didn’t like God’s choice.
Leadership in God’s church is by God’s design. It does not mirror leadership in the secular world. Moses was not a perfect leader, but he was God’s choice. So are elders in the church today.
What do you think is the best way to handle your complaint against God and His design?
Acceptance is important to everyone. Most people love family because families are usually a little more tolerant and understanding, a little more accepting. Yet, when that is not the case, we associate with a circle of friends who accept us for who we are, warts and all.
Acceptance comes through positive affirmation: tangible rewards, special favors, verbal affirmation, overlooking mistakes, ignoring personal weaknesses, etc. We know when we are accepted because of quantifiable affirmations. What I mean is that we can actually refer to something said or done to us or done for us that validates our acceptance. For example:
- A person pays you a compliment.
- A grandparent sends you a birthday gift.
- A friend invites you to a party.
- Coworkers laugh at your witty remark.
- You receive a firm handshake that goes beyond a casual, “Hey, how ya doin’?”
- You get a genuine pat on the back for your efforts.
- Someone goes out of their way to do a favor for you, whether you need it or not.
- Someone stands up for you and supports you when you are at a disadvantage.
And the list goes on and on.
Are you accepted by God? How can you know? How does God give you positive affirmations? Some people live by the thinking that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. Yet…
He [God] causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good,
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
And don’t forget Job. He was a blameless man, yet he suffered catastrophic loss.
I think we need a different way of thinking…
- God gave His only begotten Son as a sacrifice to pay your sin debt. (John 3:16)
- Jesus said that He was leaving to prepare a place for His followers and that He would return to take them home. (John 14:3)
Those are amazing promises of acceptance. Yet, they deal more with the future. What about now? Can I know that God accepts me now?
- Faith: “He who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
- Character: The beatitudes of Jesus describe godly character and behaviors for which we are assured divine acceptance and blessings. (Matthew 5:3-12)
- Pursuit of God: By putting God first in life, He has promised to take care of our physical needs in this life. (Matthew 6:25-34)
- Service: When a disciple of Jesus looks after the needs of a fellow believer, he is actually serving the Lord and is assured a reward. (Matthew 25:31-40; Mark 9:41)
- Sacrifice: Those who have sacrificed possessions and even family for God are promised blessing in this life and in the life to come. (Luke 18:29-30)
- Godliness: “Godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
- (1 Timothy 4:8)
God has made promises. We can respond by adjusting our attitudes and behaviors to conform to His instruction. When we do, we can know by divine promise that we are accepted.
But to this one I will look,
To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,
and who trembles at My word.
May 9, 2021