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.
How are you handling the election results???
I am writing this before the 2020 presidential election results. There is quite a lot of uncertainty in our nation. People are on edge. One voter, who first voted in the early 1960’s, commented that he has never seen an election in which the nation was so sharply divided.
By the time you read this it is likely that the results will be in and a decision settled. Do you think God has been pleased with your attitude? Do you think God will continue to be pleased with your attitude?
Regardless of the outcome of the election, we who are Christians have an obligation to our sovereign God. Let me be clear: I am not thinking about Peter’s statement, “We must obey God rather than men.” That is true and something we must abide by if our government or governing officials turn against God’s people. I am thinking more about our attitudes, our speech and our and behavior when political decisions don’t turn out like we want...and even when they do.
Let me share three absolutes from God’s word that may help us keep things in perspective.
1. Citizens of the kingdom of God: The Apostle Paul reminded Christians of their forgiveness in Christ Jesus. He then said that God…
Rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son. —Colossians 1:13
2. The Rule of Christ: Paul goes on to tell about Jesus saying that He is “the image of the invisible God,” and that “by Him all things were created” including things in heaven and on earth; including visible and invisible thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. Then Paul wrote…
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. —Colossians 1:17-18
3. Government exists by God’s authority: God set government in place for the benefit of mankind. We should not think that God was naïve in doing so. He knew that there would be good rulers and evil rulers. He knew that there would be benevolent governments and oppressive governments. He also knew that a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” would ultimately become evil if the people turned away from God and His word. Yet, we still read…
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. —Romans 13:1-2
Sometimes we are sucked into the myth of the separation of church and state. When you read what our nation’s forefathers intended, that was a good thing. But we must understand that it is not found in the Bible. I make that point to punctuate the fact that, as Christians, we are first citizens of the kingdom of God.
There are Christians who are Americans; Christians who are Chinese; Christians who are Russian; Christians who are Nigerian. You may have your opinion as to which form of government is the best. Just remember that you are first, a citizen of an absolute monarchy!
November 8, 2020
God hates division.
Yet, there is one kind of division that is more subtle and, in comparison, seems mild, perhaps even tolerable. Two or more people stand in agreement, but look down on those who do not agree with them. Everyone still meets together, worships together, works and eats together, but there exists an attitude of superiority on the part of some. Christians judge other Christians.
That was the kind of division that the Apostle Paul addressed in the church at Rome. (See Romans 14.) The issue in was about eating meat that was unclean.
I don’t think we have judgmental attitudes in our day when it comes to food. However, Paul’s teaching can be applied broadly whenever an “Us & Them” attitude develops. Consider Paul’s teaching and think about areas in which it might apply in your life or in our congregation.
Paul addressed the meat issue in verse two:
One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.
The one “who is weak” is not an immature Christian or someone about to turn away from Christ. The weakness refers to his conscience that causes guilt feelings if he eats the meat. However, others in the same congregation felt that they had the liberty to eat meat; no guilt.
For illustration purposes I'll use the terms carnivore and vegetarian, though they do not fit precisely. So, the carnivores looked down on the vegetarians thinking that they should just ‘get over’ their objection and join them in eating meat. However the vegetarians could not eat the unclean meat as a matter of conscience. Of course, the vegetarians, because of their strict moral belief, judged the carnivores, thinking the carnivores should give up meat to be righteous. Paul instructed:
The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.
An “Us & Them” atmosphere had developed in the church at Rome. It was a mild kind of division, but it was division and it was destructive.
Division diverts all attention to the problem. It causes a church to stagnate and lose effectiveness. Often outsiders know there are problems.
How did Paul resolve the problem in Rome?
He acknowledged that eating the meat was OK (v. 14). (Those silly vegetarians now know what is correct.) Problem solved, right? Wrong!
Knowledge was not the issue, but rather a moral conviction, i.e. the conscience. So in verse 21 Paul instructed:
It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles.
Paul instructed Christians that they must not violate their conscience. To do so is sin (v. 23). So, there is a responsibility for every Christian to insure that he does not cause a fellow Christian to stumble by violating his conscience.
Our elders need to be watching out for early signs of division. As a preacher, I want to keep us alert as a congregation so that we can each guard against division. Do you know where division starts???
Paul answered succinctly in a companion passage that also deals with division:
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
—1 Corinthians 8:1 (NASB95)
November 15, 2020
A made-up Illustration:
I was at a small pond fishing and a raindrop fell to the pond. I noticed ripples from where it landed. I was at a large lake fishing and a raindrop fell to the lake. I noticed small ripples from where it landed. I was at the seashore and a raindrop fell into the sea. It disappeared into the calm sea.
My illustration is about my perception of my individual vote on any issue or candidate at election time. The pond is my local community. The lake is my state, and the sea, my country. The raindrop is my vote, my voice.
Whether it is our nation, a state, a local community, people want a voice. People want to be heard when it comes to decisions that affect taxes, the education of children, pollution, changes to the land and so on. People want to have a say in who governs over them. People want to have a voice at their workplace, where they shop, and even where they worship.
I can write a letter, sign a petition, cast my vote. Yet, I am still (at least in my mind) one single raindrop.
To carry my illustration further, I think about my place in the world. And going on one more step, where is my voice heard within the span of time, in the history of the world???
(In comparison, that raindrop in the sea is making quite a splash!)
What do you think would happen if I tried to phone the President of the United States? Do you think I could get through to my state governor? What if I wanted to speak with my city’s mayor...right now!? We know the answers.
Now, what if I called you at your workplace?
Even my wife is not always available when I call.
This is what the Lord says who made the earth, the Lord who formed it in order to establish it—whose name is the Lord—“Call to me and I’ll answer you, and will tell you about great and hidden things that you don’t know.”
—Jeremiah 33:2–3 (ISV)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
—Matthew 7:7–8 (ESV)
Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
—James 1:5–8 (ISV)
“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he told me, “because from the first day that you committed yourself to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I’ve come in answer to your prayers.”
—Daniel 10:12 (ISV)
“Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your gifts to the poor have been noticed by God!”
—Acts 10:31 (NLT)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
—James 5:16 (NLT)
I don’t give a lot of thought to that raindrop because...
The Creator of time and universe listens...
To one voice…
November 22, 2020