Bible Lessons, Inspiration, Minister, Uncategorized

What a Difference a Few Days Make

“Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado” is a Spanish song originally written by Maria Grever in 1934. The song is also known in English as “What a Difference a Day Makes,” which was popularized by Dinah Washington in 1959. The title of the song is an expression stated when there is a dramatic and striking change within a short period.  In like manner, I wonder did Saul state a similar expression to “What A Difference A Few Days Make” following his dramatic and striking conversion to Christianity.  It’s plausible he did!

Saul is initially introduced to Bible readers in the Book of Acts, chapters 7-9.At the time of his introduction, several things were made obvious in scripture. First, we are told Saul’s general age; “a young man” [Acts 7:58]. Second, we are told of Saul’s opposition to Stephen and others; “consenting unto death…made havoc of the church…committed unto prison” [Acts 8:1; 3]. And third, we learn of how zealous Saul was toward the Law of Moses; “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” [Acts 9:1]. What was not obviously known at that time would be Saul’s dramatic and striking conversion to Christianity seemingly in close proximity with the events of chapters 7-8.

Consider how certain events in chapters 7-8 ran concurrent. As the Jews were stoning Stephen to death in chapter 7, chapter 8 opens with Saul consenting unto Stephen’s death.  Stephen was not stoned with one stone an hour until he gave up the ghost, but repeatedly until he succumb to death [Acts 7:58-8:2].  Now admittedly, the remainder of chapter 8 is a longer period of time for two reasons. One, Saul continued his assault on the church. And two, because of the Jewish persecution many believers scattered out of Jerusalem and the gospel spread to many foreign countries [Acts 8:3-8:40]. Logically speaking, this process had to take some time. But as we investigate Saul’s conversion, the internal and external evidence suggests Saul’s conversion took just a few days.  Let’s examine the text.

The internal evidence suggests that Paul had gained permission from the Jewish leaders to journey from Jerusalem to Damascus to apprehend any Jewish convert to Christianity. The external evidence establishes the distance between the two cities is approximately 120-140 miles which is 5-6 days on foot [Acts 9:1-9]. Furthermore, the internal evidence also reveals that upon reaching Damascus, Saul remained blinded three additional days until he received his sight and was baptized totaling 8-9 days [Acts 9:10-18]. Following his dramatic and striking conversion to Christianity, it is plausible that Saul said, “What A Difference A Few Days Make” realizing the brevity of his actions prior against God, Christ, the church, and his own soul. Thus, he became obedient to the gospel by putting Christ on through baptism!

If you have not given your life to the Lord during the course of this past week, please visit with us at the Beltway Church of Christ that you might know, “What a Difference a Few Days Make.”

Markus Martin

Bible Lessons, Minister

Why Christians Should Obey Civil Authorities

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Christian Obedience and Civil Obedience

Christians should be the first people willing to obey civil laws and authorities.  Obeying the laws of the land will allow Christians to do greater works for the kingdom.  As Christians are directed to obey the civil law and authorities where applicable, the world is encouraged to obey the law of Christ as Christians in the church.

Christians have a greater purpose for obeying the laws and civil authorities in society.  According to scripture, Christians are to be subject to the ruling officials [Tit 3:1-2].  And Christians know that all authority is …ordained of God[Rom 13:1].  But Christians should obey the laws and civil authorities for the opportunity to perform good (spiritual) works for the kingdom of God.  When Christians are found breaking the laws of the land, it can weaken God’s influence in the world among mankind.  When that happens, non-believers will take occasion to point their fingers at the church as being a hypocritical organization.

Another reason for Christians to obey the laws and civil authorities in society has to do with our past.  Some Christians have records and past lifestyles that they are not proud of [Tit 3:3].  The apostle Paul as a sinner acknowledged his past when he wrote of whom I am chief and as one who wasted the church [I Tim 1:15, Gal 1:13].  Even though some Christians have checkered-pasts, they can still be effective in the work of the Lord reaching a segment of society that most cannot identify with such as addicts, prostitutes, and imprisonments [Tit 3:4-8].

A third reason for Christians to obey the laws and civil authorities in society; to strengthen us to obey Christ in the church.  Just as we are to obey the laws in society, the law of Christ must be obeyed at all times in the church [Tit 3:9-11].  Paul instructed Titus of things to avoid in the church; But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and striving about the law (of Moses)[vs. 9], because such things were unprofitable and vain”, i.e. the law was no longer required for admission into the kingdom of God [vs. 9].  However, no matter the amount of encouragement, some men and women disobey the law of Christ in the church and prove they are incorrigible, a heretic after the first and second admonition reject.  Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” [vs. 10-11].

As we watch the road while we are driving, let’s be prepared for the Son of Man at his appearing.  Fair if fair!

Markus Martin

Uncategorized

Taking God at His Word

When I was a young child I took people, namely adults, at their word. To a child, adults are authority figures and what they say goes. As a young adult I took my friends at their word.  My friends did not possess authority in my life like adults; they were my peers whom I trusted. Now that I am a more mature adult I have learned to take people in general at their word.

What does it mean to take a person at their word?  It means to believe exactly what someone tells you, and to be convinced of another’s sincerity, but not with bated breath. Bated breath means to be eager, excited, or anxious while you wait. As a child I once waited with bated breath for a brand new bicycle promised to me by an elder cousin (of my parent’s age) that never came.  As a young adult I once waited with bated breath for a friend’s invite to a social gathering at their home that never came. Now that I’m a more mature adult I have learned to take people in general at their word without bated breath.

In scripture, there was an occasion when even Jesus did not wait on men with bated breath. In fact, it took place during the first of three Passovers that Jesus attended during his ministry: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” [John 2:23-25].

Let’s consider from scripture why Jesus did not wait on men with bated breath on this occasion. The answer: superficial faith.

Take note that during the Passover, many people believed in his name. This phrase generally expresses those with saving faith in Jesus. However, a careful reading of verses 24-25 indicates that those who believed in his name had a superficial faith. On the surface their faith appeared real, but in all actuality it was not. The Bible reveals that those who believed in his name only believed because of the miracles that he performed, but not with full acceptance of his claim [John 2:18-22]. And even today, many do not fully commit to Jesus because they are looking for a miracle to happen in their life, which is no guarantee that they will follow him. The Biblical reason for every Biblical miracle defined in the scriptures was to confirm (to cause men to believe and to commit) to Jesus’ word [Mark 16:20].  However, because their belief was superficial, Jesus did not wait on them with bated breath (i.e. he did not commit or place his trust in them). Although some will never believe, and others will believe only to a point (miracles), the Lord wants every person to Take God At His Word.  For God has said he will perform it [Jeremiah 1:1-12, Ezekiel 12:1-25, Acts 17:30-31]!

Markus Martin

 

Bible Lessons, Inspiration, Life Challenges, Minister

Enough is Enough

There are times in our lives when we find ourselves pushed to the brink of our breaking-point.

Our breaking-points are sometimes reached because of the unrelenting pressure imposed upon us willingly by others. Some natural reactions to such pressures would be to break down and cry; to yield to the pressure and simply give in; to throw your hands up and walk away, or to make a defense and say “Enough is enough.” We learn from scripture that Pontius Pilate reacted similarly on the day of Jesus’ death following Jesus’ crucifixion when he stated by permission “Enough is enough.” Here is why!

Pilates’ response is based upon the unrelenting solicitations imposed upon him by the Jewish leadership. First, they accused Jesus of being a malefactor or evil doer, but Pilate refused to consider their accusation – John 18:28-31.  Second, the Jewish leadership took advantage of the legal system to attempt to put Jesus to death.  Still, Pilate found no fault with Jesus – John 18:32-37.  Third, Pilate reminded the Jewish leadership of their own custom of releasing prisoners at Passover, rather they sought the release of a true criminal over that of an innocent man – John 18:38-40.  And fourth, Pilate became increasingly concerned that the Jewish leadership could accuse him of disloyalty to Caesar as being King – John 19:1-15.

However, the final straw in the unrelenting solicitations imposed upon Pilate by the Jewish leadership is understood by their objection of him proclaiming “JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS” following Jesus’ crucifixion. They asked Pilate to write “that he said, I am the King of the Jews.” Pilate being tired and wearied, and having yielded to the pressure far too long, was no longer willing to go against his conscience. Thus, he said “Enough is enough.”  To put it exactly, he responded, “What I have written I have written” – John 19:16-22. Pilate was neither a believer nor follower of Jesus Christ.  However, God used him in a powerful way to prophetically proclaim “Enough is enough.”  In the 1,984 years since John 19, much has been falsely written concerning God and his church, which cannot be supported by scripture.

If you are at your breaking-point, tired and wearied, and are no longer willing to go against your conscience religiously, proclaim today “Enough is enough. What God has written he has written.”

Markus Martin is the Senior Minister at Beltway Church of Christ

Bible Lessons, Inspiration

Decisions Decisions

Joshua 24:15

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If I were to ask you what does 600, 4284, and 222768 represent, immediately your minds would go into think-mode for an answer.  Was there a major world event 600 years into human history? Does 4284 represent a famous person’s birthdate?  Or could $222,768 be the average weekly salary of a top professional football player in the NFL.  Whereas, all of these are possibilities, none are the correct answers.

 

Rather, the real meaning of these numbers has to do with “decisions”.  What is a “decision”?  A decision is a choice that you and I make about something after thinking about it, the act of reaching a conclusion or making up one’s mind.

 

According to studies, the average human makes about 600 plus decisions a day.  That equals 4284 decisions in a week, and 222,768 in a year.  As human beings, we are constantly in a decision-making frame of mind.  Consider the number of decisions you have determined for yourself up to this very point; to get out of bed, to pray, to bath, what clothes to wear, to have breakfast, to stay home, to go out, to check your social media, to walk your pet, to exercise, to or not to warm your car and pull off, the direction to drive your car, to allow a motorist to merge into your lane, to take lunch to work, to go to church, etc.  I just named 15 things that you probably made a decision on this thus far!  Those capable of making decisions are privileged to have the power of choice.  The power to choice includes making wise and foolish decisions.

 

Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.  God affords the rational mind the ability to gain wisdom, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” – Jam 1:5.  And God expects every person that ask for wisdom to know how to use it because it is he who endows us, And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office” – Exodus 28:1-3.  The power to make a good decision should be evident through our experiences and knowledge which produce our choices!

 

A foolish decision lacks good sense or judgment; unwise, and is a reasonable alternative to wisdom.  Consider the foolish choice of a man who decides to make the acquaintance of foolish woman, “A foolish woman is clamorous:  she is simple, and knoweth nothing. 14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, 15 To call passengers who go right on their ways: 16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, 17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. 18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell” – Prov 9:13-18.  Those who are normally right in their thinking are sometimes drawn away through unsuspecting allurements.  Thus, when they make such foolish choices, the end is often destructive!

 

At the Beltway church of Christ; Sunday’s, mid-week, and every day provided to us, we have made the same wise decision that Joshua made in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve…”   You are cordially invited to be with us and to do the same!

 

Markus Martin

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Markus Martin is the Senior Minister at Beltway Church of Christ
Bible Lessons, Inspiration

The Opposite Ends of Life

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

An argument can be made that everything in life has an opposite end.  Natural law requires that all things that go up must come down, and what goes around must come to a complete stop.  By principle, law permits things that go in to come out, and things established wrong to be settled right.

Based upon the argument, it can be assumed that all human activities in this life have an opposite end, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Eccl 3:1-8).  From verse one through verse eight; Solomon realized that the human activities of life have an opposite end, which resulted in a very profound question that is worthy of our consideration even today, “What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?” (Eccl 3:9).

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Work in and of itself is not a bad thing.  Before God created the earth, he fully intended that a portion of our time would be spent at labor, “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground” and “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen 2:5; 2:15).

Like all other examples, work and labor has an opposite end.  First, our work and labor is established according to God’s timetable, “I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. 10 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:10-11).  Continue reading “The Opposite Ends of Life”

Bible Lessons, Inspiration

Can We All Get Along?

Isaiah 1:18

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He stood before the press with a quivering voice to ask what has now become a well-known question, “Can we just all get along?”  Rodney King’s question was in all actuality a passionate plea for peace in Los Angeles in the wake of riots and the police acquittal resulting from his case.   In their 2nd Presidential debate, a “Can we all get along?” question was somewhat ask of the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by a town hall panelist, “Do you feel that you are modeling appropriate and positive behavior for today’s youth?  To ask or to insinuate such questions suggest that the opposing sides would come together amicably to resolve the issues.  Can this question be asked in the church as it relates to matters of doctrine, faith, and righteousness?   The Bible supports the idea that every man and every woman can in fact “get along” spiritually.

First, every man and every woman must reason in accordance with the facts.  Reason is the power of the mind to think, understand, and form judgments by a process of logic.  The Lord does not reason with HIS people as a business partner on the basis that they have equality at the table with HIM.  Rather, the Lord is willing to “get along” with all who are willing to forsake sin, Continue reading “Can We All Get Along?”

Bible Lessons, Inspiration

Why Men Are Unable To Say “Amen”

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In an effort to make a strong point in a sermon, identifying the number of times a word appears throughout the scriptures can have an impact.  With the exception of simple words such as and, as, that, the, to, etc., the word Lord appears 7,365 times, more than any other word in the Bible.  Certainly this is impressive.  But when compared to 783,137 total words in the Bible, Lord appears only at a rate of 0.0094%.  Yet, the word to be identified in this article is amen which appears 73 times.  Mathematically, that’s only at a rate of 0.0000932149%.  So, with identifying the number of times the word amen appears throughout scripture, how does this prove it has impact?

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First, consider the number of times you hear the word amen stated during worship service.  Seemingly, it is done without coercion among the pews.  At other times, ministers instruct the audience to say amen that they might be in agreement with their statements.  The impact of this word is synonymous with the quote un-quote Christian worship service.  Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not against the body of Christ saying amen during worship.  In fact, when a person agrees with God’s word and not man’s word, I welcome it.  However, there are Biblical examples “Why Men Are Unable To Say Amen”.

Second, understand the meaning of amen.  In Hebrew, it means sure, faithfulness, truly, so be it.  It was properly used when a person or a group of people confirmed the words of another.  Under the Law of Moses, the law of jealousy existed, that when a husband suspected his wife had committed adultery, he was to take her before the priest who would have her to drink dirty water to prove her guilt or innocence.  And this happens to be the first occasion that amen is found in scripture, “And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen (Num 5:22).  Submitting unto the law, the women would state her innocent twice by answering “Amen, amen”.  Continue reading “Why Men Are Unable To Say “Amen””

Bible Lessons, Inspiration

God’s Providence

Esther 4:13-14

It has been stated that providence cannot be explained, but you will know it when you see it!  According to Dictionary.com, providence means having or showing foresight; providing carefully for the future.  I suppose Webster’s New World Dictionary offers a better definition for providence defining it as the benevolent guidance of God or nature.   However, I’m more inclined to agree with the theological term for providence to mean God’s continuous activity where he makes events work out according to his purpose.

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David proclaimed God providentially rules over the physical universe.  In Psalms 103:19 we learn “The LORD hath prepared his throne on the heavens; and his kingdom over all”.  The throne depicts God’s seat or stool in which he sits upon in heaven.  The heavens define that which is lofty such as the sky and the celestial bodies.  And kingdom represents an empire, a realm, or reign.

Job made known God providentially rules over the animal world.  Job 12:7-10, “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. 9 Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? 10 In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.”  Many people are pet lovers, and oftentimes are seen holding conversations with their pets.  If the personification of the animal world were characteristically possible, how many would take Job at his word and ask their pet(s) if God rules over the animal world, and the answer be yes?  Surprise, surprise, surprise!  Continue reading “God’s Providence”

Bible Lessons, Inspiration, Minister, Sermons

WOULD WE HAVE BELIEVED THEM? The Gospel of Christ

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How many of us, while living during the first century, can honestly say that we would have been receptive to the preaching of the gospel? I would venture to say our responses would have been either yes, maybe, or no. On the basis of a professing Christian-faith today, some in retrospect would say yes. Others, would respond maybe because Christianity is socially acceptable in society. The latter, no, because there are other spiritual teachings to believe in besides the gospel of Christ. The argument that I seek to delve into is “Would we have believed them?”

 

The Bible makes known this fact, that the gospel is to be preached from the mode of love, “But speaking the truth in love…” (Eph. 4:15). The Greek word for love is agape which means affection and benevolence. Therefore, the gospel of Christ must always be presented with gentleness and kindness. The Bible also reveals other facts, that the preaching of the gospel bares human characteristics. Would we have believed them, those who were a harsh hermit, a harden hypocrite, and a notorious nerd?

A harsh hermit is a person who lives in some form in seclusion from others. This would be John the Baptist who did his preaching in the wilderness causing those in the city to come out to hear him preach (Matt 3:1-2). Continue reading “WOULD WE HAVE BELIEVED THEM? The Gospel of Christ”