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 1969 song Born to be Wild suggests that some people are born into a specific way of life, and that is, according to the song, to be wild. It suggests that the nature of wildness is simply encoded into their being at birth. “It’s in their DNA,” or “They are just wired that way.” For them to be anything different is to suppress the way things were meant to be.
- Jesus was born to save the world.
- John the Baptist was born to prepare the way for the Messiah, Jesus.
What about you? You were born to _____________?
Did you know that Adam and Eve were created to live, not to die? Death was never God’s purpose or intention in creation. Yet, the sin of Adam and Eve brought death into the world. Their sin separated them from God, a spiritual death. That is why the Psalmist wrote that no one does good (Psalm 53), or as the Apostle Paul quoted,
There is none righteous, not even one.
In dealing with man’s death relationship (think about that phrase), God intervened to give life. We use words from the Bible like salvation, redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, forgiveness, and others. They are all ultimately linked to life. God wants us to live.
Sadly, the phrase born again has become almost cliché. Yet, when Jesus first told the prominent Jewish teacher Nicodemus that he could not enter the kingdom of God unless he was born again (John 3), He was referring to mankind’s death from God and need for new life. Jesus was emphasizing God’s intention for man to live...and that is just the beginning.
Reconciliation is the restoration of a friendship relationship. When writing about our reconciliation to God, the Apostle Paul said:
He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
—2 Corinthians 5:21
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus also spoke of righteousness. He described a standard for righteousness; warned about false righteousness; and spoke of a reward for righteousness while in this world. Yet, the verse quoted above tells us that our reconciliation to God had purpose. We were reborn for righteousness.
In the next chapter of 2 Corinthians Paul described his ministry in Christ: his labors in the Lord and his service in Christ. He was not boasting, but simply describing his ministry of reconciliation. He went on to say that it was accomplished “by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left” (6:7).
Now, there is something else that you should know about righteousness. When explaining the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus said:
So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.
Jesus later described the final judgment by saying that God, the King, would send unrighteous souls away into eternal punishment, yet the righteous would enter into eternal life.
God wants you to live. Just remember that in your rebirth in Christ, you were born for righteousness. It’s in your spiritual DNA; you’ve been rewired. How can you do anything different?
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
April 24, 2022
What a struggle we must overcome. Just up the road is that neighborhood, and we think...
“I wish we could afford that kind of property. It would be great to get to know those people. Perhaps they could provide some good contacts for my business. I’ll bet we could get our kids on their ball team, one of the best in the area.”
Or perhaps we think…
“I don’t know why they have such a large house with only two kids. They are no better than my family. In fact, I know that they have a rather ungodly lifestyle.”
Or perhaps we think…
“I know for a fact that he is unethical in his business dealings. He may not break the law, but he treats his employees harshly. He puts on a glad face for his clients, but then he talks about them behind their backs.”
Those are all made up, but not unrealistic in the way we may sometimes look at others.
It may be tempting to look at folks around us and wish we had what they had: possessions, position, lifestyle, etc. It may be tempting to wish we could rub elbows with those who appear to be important. Yet, to what end?
Do not be envious of evil men,
Nor desire to be with them;
For their minds devise violence,
And their lips talk of trouble.
Now, I am not suggesting that anyone in particular is evil. Success is not equivalent to evil. Yet, we may become envious of others without knowing their character.
It is also important not to read this proverb as a means of defining evil people. What I mean is that we might think that we can evaluate whether a person is evil on the basis of whether we know them to ‘devise violence’ or know that their ‘lips talk of trouble.’
The proverb was not written as a means of defining evil. Rather, it is meant to illuminate the way of evil people. (Proverbs 2 describes the evil man as one who leaves the paths of uprightness.) The reality is that an evil person will ‘devise violence’ and will ‘talk of trouble.’ That is the nature of an evil person.
What we need to consider is whether that is the kind of person that we should desire to be like or desire to be with?
In our culture we are careful to not be judgmental. We are careful not to be critical of the choices of others. We like to get along. Yet, there is such a thing as an evil person and that person is described by God in a certain way. Have you ever thought about God’s view of those who are evil?
For the crooked man is an abomination to the LORD;
But He is intimate with the upright.
Whenever you envy an evil person and desire to be with him, your desire is to embrace something that is an abomination to God, that is, something that is repulsive to God. Is that the kind of person you really want to desire and embrace???
Let’s resolve to keep our mind and heart focused on the righteousness of God.
May 1, 2022
Legs dangling off the edge of the roof, his dad urged him to slide off the roof into his arms. The distance from the boy’s feet and his dad’s reach was no more than a foot, but it might as well have been a mile. “Just drop off the roof and I’ll catch you,” his dad kept saying. The boy was unable to climb up, but too afraid to drop.
Minutes passed and he finally pushed through his fear and dropped off the roof...into His dad’s arms. Fearfully vulnerable; ultimately confident.
Fear is the opposite of faith. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to faith. The Bible is full of testimonies of faith, but faith is sometimes misunderstood.
For some people faith is a belief conjured up in the mind with no reason to believe other than desire. It is as if to say, “I want to believe, so I will believe.” It is the boy with legs dangling, but only imagining that someone will catch him.
Faith in God is not that way.
In the book of Joshua a number of remarkable faith events are recorded:
- Encamped a few miles from Jericho, the Israelites were instructed by God to circumcise all the males, the sign of the covenant between God and Israel’s forefather Abraham. Yet, Israel’s army would be incapacitated. Vulnerable!
- Afterward, Israel was instructed to celebrate the Passover which was followed by a seven-day feast; a celebration while unprotected and in full view of the enemy. Vulnerable!
- Israel traveled to the heart of enemy territory, out in the open and unprotected, to hear a proclamation from God. Vulnerable!
- The Israelite tribes of Reuben, Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh wished to settle in the desirable land to the east of the Jordan River. The arrangement was agreeable, but only if their fighting men would join forces with their fellow Israelites against the enemies in Canaan.
- The conquest of the land of Canaan under Joshua’s leadership took 5-7 years and there is no indication that the men of the tribes east of the Jordan went home to check on their families. Their families: Vulnerable!
Why? Why did Israel comply with the circumcision, with the Passover, the public reading of the blessings and cursings? Why did the men of the tribes to the east of Jordan leave their families behind for 5+ years? Why did Israel leave themselves vulnerable time after time?
Faith. But what kind of faith did Israel possess?
Israel did not enter Canaan with a made-up desire to believe. They were not motivated by blind faith. They followed their God in genuine faith.
The voice of God that left them in what seemed to be extremely vulnerable situations was the same voice that had commanded the plagues of Egypt; the same voice that commanded Moses as he parted the Red Sea; the same voice that commanded the destruction of the army of the Pharaoh of Egypt; the same voice that provided food and water in the wilderness for forty years; the same voice that defeated the Amorite kings east of the Jordan; and the same voice that parted the waters of the Jordan.
Israel believed in the voice of God who had been their protector and provider. He had kept His promises to them and their forefathers.
This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
—1 John 2:25
Fear turns our hearts to the world we see; faith keeps our eyes focused on His promise.
When you feel vulnerable and cannot see, trust His voice.
He has promised!
May 8, 2022