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 the righteous increase, the people rejoice,
But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
Those who are righteous are the people in this world who are in pursuit of God. Righteousness is ultimately defined by the character of God. And to sum up God's character, we might simply say, "God is good."
Doing what is right is doing good.
Doing good is being like God.
God stands for peace, offers assistance to those in need, treats people fairly, gives people a second chance. God walks in uncompromising justice, perfect purity, complete honesty, unending kindness, and boundless love.
Many people misunderstand the righteousness of God. They twist the love of God into a license to sin thinking that righteousness is restrictive. Yet, the increase of righteousness marks the increase of the influence of the character of God...and that is truly good for all people. What if people possessed the character of God. Imagine how that would change the world.
How would you feel?
What would you do???
The wicked man lives by his own wisdom. Please do not politicize this proverb and assume the wise man was thinking about the presidential candidate for whom you did not vote. After all, if a nation no longer reveres God, then what is the virtue of a democracy where 'people rule'?
The wicked man's best quality is defined within himself because he has no regard for God. His standard is himself. Ultimately, he does not look out for the good of others, but only himself, even if he seems to be philanthropic or benevolent or just. Ultimately no one benefits under the rule of the wicked ruler unless he first receives a benefit. The wicked man uses people and abuses people. And that makes us...
The righteous increase in number because there are people who choose the path of righteousness. Even though good laws can be enacted, the heart of man cannot be legislated. So, we must each individually do our part to increase righteousness in our land.
Stand up for good.
Stand up for right.
Stand for God.
February 16, 2020
I like bacon! I am so glad Jesus “declared all foods clean.” (Mark 7:19)
Do you think that was God’s expected response, “Yippee! I like bacon!”?
The laws about food in the Law of Moses can seem puzzling, especially since Christians are not restricted in their eating choices, at least, not restricted morally or religiously.
Pages and pages have been devoted to explanations of God’s imposed food restrictions on the Israelites. Some have explained the health benefits associated with God’s laws of cleanliness. One scholar, reasoning that pork is the finest of all meats, suggested that it was a test that God devised to see if Israel could refrain from such a delicacy. He failed to recognize that pork was not the only prohibited food. Not only that, not everyone would agree with his subjective assessment about pork.
It is really about food???
Perhaps we’ve missed something.
In many ways the Law of Moses seems to have been behavior-oriented while the teachings of Jesus were different. Yet...I wonder...
When Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount He would say, “You have heard it said...but I say to you….” Many people today have mistakenly thought that Jesus was teaching something new. That is not the case. He had just said…
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law of the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. —Matthew 5:18
He went on to say that the righteousness that God expected was not like the teachings of the Pharisees. They were so exacting in literal obedience to the Law of Moses that they created more restrictive laws, precise and incredibly demanding. They had missed the point.
Paraphrasing what Jesus then taught: You have been taught, ‘Do not commit murder,’ but I tell you that whoever is angry with his brother is guilty.
Jesus was not creating a new ‘anger law’ in place of the old commandment about murder. Rather, He was teaching the people that anger was the root of murder in the first place. If they had stopped to pondered the command, “Thou shalt not murder,” they would have reasoned that to avoid murder they must first deal with the anger of the heart. Murder is the result of something that begins in the heart: anger. Deal with the problem of anger and you’ve solved the murder problem.
The same path of thought applies to the other laws that Jesus addressed in Matthew 5:21-47.
- Adultery: Begins in the heart as lust. It is a desire in the heart that treats a person as a mere object of sexual satisfaction with little or no consideration for his/her humanity.
- Divorce: Begins in the heart with an unwillingness to sacrifice. It is a desire in the heart that makes selfish demands without consideration for commitment and relationship.
- Lying: Begins in a heart that fears or hates truth. It is a desire to manipulate circumstances by creating a false sense of reality. Lying is never sacrificial. Even when it protects another person, it is a purely selfish means of satisfying oneself.
- Vengeance: Begins in a heart refusing forgiveness. It is a desire to exact justice, yet ultimately justice on one's own terms. It fails to consider others as souls in needs of a Savior. It fails to consider God's justice.
- Hate your enemies: Begins in a heart of arrogant selective love. It is a desire to keep others out of one's own circle of acceptance. It fails to consider God's boundless (boundary-less) love.
Israel should have looked at the laws of God and found the core issue that made these things offensive to God: A heart in opposition to the very character of God.
How do I know this?
Jesus taught that whatever comes out of the heart condemns a person. Go ahead, take a couple of minutes and look it up. It is in Mark 7:20-23. It is right after Jesus “declared all foods clean.”
So, what about all the food laws and laws about cleanliness? God was teaching Israel about His own purity. To have a relationship with God, a person must be pure, just as God is pure in His divine character. And purity begins in the heart.
When you read the Bible, do you see God, or do you see rules...or just bacon???
February 23, 2020