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 beginning of the list. Mark has archived all of his articles on his personal blog 'MicroMarks' which can be accessed at: micromarks.blogspot.com.
Does the Bible fit with your opinions?
Some people have a mixed up approach to the Bible. They start with their own set of beliefs. Then after reading a passage of Scripture they evaluate the text based on their opinions.
For example, think of an occasion when you were hurt by something a friend said about you. Even worse your friend didn’t seem to care; he/she never offered a simple apology.
What do you do when you read a verse of Scripture encouraging forgiveness? Do you accept the teaching and forgive or do you explain…
- “You really don’t understand how badly I was treated.” (In other words, the offense was so bad that it is really unforgivable.)
- “They don’t know how badly they hurt me.” (In other words, before forgiving the person, he should be required to feel similar pain so he will understand.)
- “They don’t even care that they hurt me.” (In other words, because he showed apathy, you are not obligated to forgive.)
- “They didn’t even repent.” (In other words, there was no show of remorse and promise of change. So, forgiveness is not required.)
If a person approaches Scripture with a predefined view of the requirements of forgiveness, he will either ignore biblical teaching or justify his point of view. The glaring flaw in that kind of thinking is in starting with human definitions and applying human reasoning. That is nothing less than evaluating God’s word by personal opinion or human standards.
As another example think about your anger.
- Do you believe that it is emotionally healthy to vent your anger? If so, how did you arrive at that conclusion?
- Do you believe that your anger is generally justified? In other words, your anger is reasonable and proper, a good thing. Or, said another way, you should be angry because of the circumstances. If so, how do you know that your anger is justified?
How are these questions to be answered?
These are only two examples in which human reason butts heads with biblical teaching. The difficulty comes when human reasoning is favored because it appears to be reasonable, and/or appears to be backed by human research.
Perhaps we should be asking...
Do you want to be like God?
Do you want to have fellowship with God?
When God revealed His divine character, He declared that He forgives iniquity, sin and transgression. In the same statement God declared that He was slow to anger. (See Exodus 34:6-7.) For us to be like God we must also be forgiving and we must control our anger.
Regardless of the issue, rationalization and self-justification come from immaturity and selfishness. If you recognize that you sometimes turn to human thinking to evaluate God’s word, what can you do?
First, recognize that you are not a piece of equipment that can be repaired with the right parts and the right tools. Rather, the problem is in the heart; a faith problem. You will need outside assistance. There is no switch to flip and no magical verse that will make everything better.
You must be serious about change. So, start on your knees in earnest prayer asking God for a change of heart. Rise up trusting that He will act. Then, commit yourself to listen eagerly to His word.
January 29, 2023
Before it was called a bucket list people would just say things like, “Before I die, I’d like to visit Rome,” or “I’ve dreamed of skydiving all my life.” I don’t know who came up with the expression or when, but it boils down to the list of things you’d like to do before you ‘kick the bucket’; your bucket list.
People put things on their bucket list that are often adventurous, exciting, unusual or extreme. Yet, they are things that are actually affordable and achievable. No one ever places on his bucket list, peace on earth or pay off the national debt of the U.S. Those are unachievable dreams. Rather, you might want to, wade the headwaters of the Mississippi River, hike in the Appalachian Mountains, ride in a gondola in Venice, or juggle bowling pins.
Some bucket list dreams might be more noble, but the things generally shared by people are personal and self-centered. I wonder if anyone in Bible times had a bucket list.
I read the following about Abraham:
By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
King David had his eyes set on building a permanent dwelling for God to replace the tabernacle. Because of the blood on his hands, God would not allow it. So, David passed the task down to his son Solomon. (1 Chronicles 28)
The Apostle Paul had a keen focus:
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. —Philippians 3:8–11
And then, of course, Jesus...
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it up again.”
Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me.”
The bucket list dreams of my friends and family pale in comparison to the visionary goals of these righteous men. Whether or not you have a bucket list is immaterial. All that really matters is whether you have your eyes set on obtaining eternal life. That is ALL that matters.
January 22, 2023
Did you know that God wants you to offer yourself as a sacrifice? In the Bible a sacrifice was not always burned up. For example, precious metals that were devoted to God were kept and used in the treasury and, from that time forward, used in service to God. They were no longer available for common use. (That’s what got King Belshazzar into trouble. —Daniel 5.)
The Apostle Paul reminded us that we are to offer our bodies to God as a living and holy sacrifice (Romans 12:1). What that means is that God desires for you to devote your life to Jesus, and you are no longer suitable for common use.
To punctuate this idea consider the Old Testament animal sacrifices. I want to draw your attention to one of the ugly tasks often involved. When a bull was killed and offered for the consecration of the priests not all of the animal was burned on the altar.
But the flesh of the bull and its hide and its refuse, you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering. —Exodus 29:13
Similar instruction applied to other offerings.
So, not all of the animal was suitable for the sacrifice. Some parts of the animal simply had to be taken outside the Israelite encampment and destroyed.
When we think about God’s expectation for us, we understand that He wants our whole life. Yet, when you think about it, there are some things in our lives that are simply not suitable as a sacrifice to God. These are what you might call the refuse of our lives.
As an example, God has no use for man’s pride. We cannot offer pride to God and ask him to use it for his glory. Pride elevates man by supposing that man is wiser than God and His word. So, pride is something that could be called refuse. It simply needs to be eliminated.
A person might have bad habits. I’m not thinking about belching in public, rather, bad habits that interfere with one’s spiritual well being. For example, sleeping in on Sunday or staying home when relatives visit instead of making fellowship with Christians a priority is a bad habit.
Other refuse might include ungodly attitudes, prejudices and any other kind of sin. In our day people sometimes make light of sin. They laugh about sinful pleasures, as if sin will bring joy into one’s life. Others would never admit to sin, but protect it by hiding it (secret sin). In whatever way it is worded, sin in one’s life cannot possibly be offered to God as a sacrifice. Sin of all kinds is refuse that must be eliminated.
We also need to have the right attitude toward the things of this life that are not refuse. A person can offer his education, job, house, money, etc. as a sacrifice to God by using these things for God’s glory and in advancing the kingdom of God. And yet, love of these things can stand in the way of following Jesus.
The rich young ruler had wealth in property. It stood in the way of following Jesus (Matthew 19). To deal with the things of this world the Apostle Paul adopted a life-changing attitude. In comparison to the surpassing value of knowing Christ, he considered the achievements and things of value in this life as rubbish, that is, suitable only to be flushed. (Philippians 3:1-8)
We must adopt a proper attitude toward the things of this life. Let’s resolve to eliminate the refuse, and to view the rubbish for what it’s worth. Then our sacrificial offering of ourselves to God will be accepted.
January 15, 2023