The One Another Commands of the Bible

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. (Romans 12:16)

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. (Romans 14:13)

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. (Romans 15:14)

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings. (Romans 16:16)

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Galatians 5:13)

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:18-19)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13)

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. (James 4:11)

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22)

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)

And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. (1 John 3:23)

14 Reasons Why I Love Vacation Bible School

  1. The Gospel is shared each day!
  2. The Bible is the focus of every lesson!
  3. Kids memorize Bible verses!
  4. Kids have lots of fun!
  5. Church members eagerly serve!
  6. Music makes the lessons memorable!
  7. Kids get 5 days of more intensive teaching (rather than just once on Sunday like most weeks)!
  8. Our community engages: children come from non-church families and families that attend other churches, as well as kids who are in visiting for the summer!
  9. The church body serves the community: giving kids and parents a break in a safe and encouraging environment!
  10. Cool crafts and fun games!
  11. Older Christians are teaching younger Christians the faith!
  12. Teenagers serve!
  13. Cool themes and decorations!
  14. Everyone loves the Family Pool Party on Friday!

What is Advent?

I grew up knowing the time after Thanksgiving but before Christmas as the “Christmas Season.” It was always a mixture of Santa, reindeer, Jesus in a manger, and presents galore.

In more recent years, I have come to celebrate a slightly different season at this time of year. One known as the Advent Season. Let me tell you a little about it.

What is Advent? Advent simply means “coming” or “appearing.” If I take a trip to attend a 3-day conference and then return home to my family, the day I get back is the day of my advent. Or perhaps a fitting illustration is that Christmas Eve night is the time of Santa’s advent for many a boy and girl.

What is the Advent season? For generations, God’s people waited for the coming of the Messiah. These were long, dark, cold years. At times, God would speak through a prophet, reassuring the people once again that He would one day make good on His promises. But as the decades turned to centuries in waiting, we can hardly be surprised that many gave up hope of this future coming one.

Then, just like that, He was here. Born in a barn. Laid in a feed bin.

Advent begins four Sundays prior to Christmas day. It is a season of anticipation and preparation for the celebration of the coming of the Messiah. Advent reminds us of the longing that our fore-fathers experienced as they anticipated the first coming of the Messiah.

Just like them, we also share in their longing during the Advent season as we await the Christ’s second advent. Yes the days may seem long, the heart-ache great, and the night dark and cold, but just as before, He will come again. Of that we rest assured.

So what is different about Advent? For me and my family, we have found Advent to be a richer and fuller expression of what this season entails. Rather than simply being “the most wonderful time of the year” as we are encouraged to merrily bounce through the season, Advent makes room for the richer expression of what the season entails.

Yes there is longing for Christmas day, and presents bring extra joy to that celebration, but there is a deeper longing. It is a longing for a day when the sorrows of this world will pass. When the joy of His coming will surpass the scars and wounds life by this life. When “Joy to the world, the Lord is come” will not seem out of tune with the realities we see around us in broken families, communities, and lives.

The longing of Advent is really aching for the day when the world’s true king will come to set everything straight and make everything right.

What do you do to celebrate Advent? Well, there are no set rules. Since we celebrate this with our church family as well, the services, Scriptures, songs, and sermons help to prepare our hearts this time of year. There is a traditional candle lighting in the service each Sunday that marks the passing of the weeks and the drawing near of Christmas.

In addition, we have nightly family devotions that reflect on Christ’s first and second advent. There are lots of good devotional books for this that you can find online.

This may seem like nothing all that special. But for us, it has helped us to re-focus on what this season is truly all about.

The Whole Counsel of God: Parts and Pieces

“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”  – Acts 20:26-27

Have you ever told a partial truth? You know, one where nothing you say is a lie, but you just don’t say everything you know? It is a lie of omission. It’s the art of politicians. We think that we technically haven’t told a lie because we haven’t said anything untrue.

But truth isn’t a buffet that you can pick and choose from. Two scoops of dressing and a pass on the carrots, thanks. No, truth is either “the whole truth” or a lie.

As a people who have in our hands the words of truth in the Bible, we should find delight in “the whole counsel of God.” And yet…

Perhaps, we should examine ourselves. What is your relationship with the whole counsel of God? Here are some probing questions to consider:

  • Do you neglect the Old Testament in preference for the New? Do you know the Old Testament as well as you do the New?
  • Do you tend toward a few favorite passages while leaving out ones that you dislike or are less familiar with?
  • Do you see Scripture as bits and pieces, or as one cohesive, coherent story? Could you tell someone the main storyline of the Bible?
  • Do you know who Balaam, Gideon, Jeroboam, Hezekiah, Haggai, and Agrippa are?
  • Do you park out in passages that fit comfortably with our culture (“turn the other cheek,” or “help the poor”) while tuning out passages that do not sit comfortably in our day (homosexual actions as sinful, salvation as only through Jesus), or vise versa?
  • Have you read the whole Bible? Lately?
  • Do you think the red words in your Bible (Jesus’ words) are more powerful authoritative, or significant for your life than the rest?
  • Have you wrested with Paul’s arguments in Romans, pondered David’s poetry in Psalms, traced the timeline of events in 2 Chronicles, consulted an atlas to locate the nations condemned in Isaiah, enjoyed the narrative of John and Esther, and stood in awe of the imagery of Daniel or Revelation?

Great Quotes from “The Greatest Fight in the World”

Over the weekend, I read The Greatest Fight in the World by Charles H. Spurgeon. It was sheer gold! Every page has passages underlined. I’ve read a decent amount of Spurgeon, but in this, his last address to his fellow pastors, he’s on fire! Every pastor, indeed, every Christian should read it. Here are just a few of the passages I marked:

On his knees the believer is invincible.

Brethren, the truth of God is the only treasure for which we seek, and the Scripture is the only field in which we dig for it.

Anything more than the Word of God sets before us, for us to believe and to preach as the life of men, seems utterly absurd to us; yet we confront a generation of men who are always wanting to discover a new motive power, and a new gospel for their churches. The coverlet of their beds does not seem to be long enough, and they would fain borrow a yard or two of linsey-woolsey from the Unitarian, the Agnostic, or even the Atheist. Well; if there be any spiritual force or heavenward power to be found beyond that reported in this Book, I think we can do without it: indeed it must be such a sham that we are better without it.

The Word of God is quite sufficient to interest and bless the souls of men throughout all time; but novelties soon fail.

That which is worthy of God’s revealing is worthy of our preaching.

Conversions through the doctrines of universal restitution! Conversions through the doctrines of doubtful inspiration! Conversions to the love of God, and to faith in his Christ by hearing that the death of the Saviour was only the consummation of a grand example, but not the substitutionary sacrifice! Conversions by a gospel out of which the gospel has been drained! They say, ‘Wonders will never cease’; but such wonders will never begin.

Our own words are mere paper pellets compared with the rifle shot of the Word.

We ought to prepare the sermon as if it all depended upon us, and then we are to trust the Spirit of God knowing that all depends upon Him.

Get this little jewel of a book and read it! Here is the version I read with a great forward by Tom Nettles explaining the setting of this message. Here is a inexpensive Kindle version.

How Early Christians Worshipped

Yesterday during Wednesday Worship, I read a portion of Justin Martyr’s 155 A.D. defense of Christian practices and worship to the Roman emperor. I was drawing particular attention to the early Christian’s practice of worshipping on Sunday.  Here is an excerpt from his First Apology where he describes how early Christians worshipped.

How we dedicated ourselves to God when we were made new through Christ I will explain, since it might seem to be unfair if I left this out from my exposition. Those who are persuaded and believe that the things we teach and say are true, and promise that they can live accordingly, are instructed to pray and beseech God with fasting for the remission of their past sins, while we pray and fast along with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are reborn by the same manner of rebirth by which we ourselves were reborn; for they are then washed in the water in the name of God the Father and Master of all, and of our Savoir Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. For Christ said, “Unless you are born again you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.”

Now it is clear to all that those who have once come into being cannot enter the wombs of those who bore them. But as I quoted before, it was said through the prophet Isaiah how those who have sinned and repent shall escape from their sins. He said this: “Wash yourselves, be clean, take away wickedness from your souls, learn to do good, give judgment for the orphan and defend the cause of the widow, and come and let us reason together, says the Lord. And though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them as white as wool, and though they be as crimson, I will make them as white as snow.” . . .

After thus washing the one who has been convinced and signified his assent, [we] lead him to those who are called brethren, where they are assembled. They then earnestly offer common prayers for themselves and the one who has been illuminated and all others every where, that we may be made worthy, having learned the truth, to be found in deed good citizens and keepers of what is commanded, so that we may be saved with eternal salvation.

On finishing the prayers we greet each other with a kiss. Then bread and a cup of water and mixed wine are brought to the president of the brethren and he, taking them, sends up praise and glory to the Father of the universe through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and offers thanksgiving at some length that we have been deemed worthy to receive these things from him. When he has finished the prayers and the thanksgiving, the whole congregation present assents, saying, “Amen.” “Amen” in the Hebrew language means, “So be it.” When the president has given thanks and the whole congregation has assented, those whom we call deacons give to each of those present a portion of the consecrated bread and wine and water, and they take it to the absent.

This food we call Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake except one who believes that the things we teach are true, and has received the washing for forgiveness of sins and for rebirth, and who lives as Christ handed down to us. For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink; but as Jesus Christ our Savior being incarnate by God’s word took flesh and blood for our salvation, so also we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer which comes from him, from which our flesh and blood are nourished by transformation, is the flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus. For the apostles in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, thus handed down what was commanded them: that Jesus, taking bread and having given thanks, said, “Do this for my memorial, this is my body”; and likewise taking the cup and giving thanks he said, “This is my blood”; and gave it to them alone. …

After these [services] we constantly remind each other of these things. Those who have more come to the aid of those who lack, and we are constantly together. Over all that we receive we bless the Maker of all things through his Son Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

And on the day called Sunday there is a meeting in one place of those who live in cities or the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the reader has finished, the president in a discourse urges and invites [us] to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And, as said before, when we have finished the prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgivings to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution, and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one, takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons.

Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in want on account of sickness or any other cause, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need.

We all hold this common gathering on Sunday, since it is the first day, on which God transforming darkness and matter made the universe, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturday, and on the day after Saturday, he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them these things which I have passed on to you also for your serious consideration.

If you are interested in reading further, you can read Justin Martyr’s entire First Apology here.

A Smattering of Thoughts on Women’s Issues

Of late, I have been reflecting often on (and often confronted with) the culture’s of exploitation young girls and women. Much has been said in recent years about the need to confront sex trafficking and the like, and while I whole-heartedly agree, I’m troubled that very little is said about the bigger and broader issue. So in no particular order, I offer a smattering of thoughts on women’s issues.

  • We hear a lot about women’s rights in connection with access to birth control and abortion, but perhaps it would be much more in the women’s best interest to speak of women’s rights as the right not to be in a sexual relationship until a man promises to “love and cherish, have and hold…for richer and poorer…till death do us part.” That type of right seems to value the woman and not the man’s unfettered access to sexual gratification.
  • Another word for cohabitation (a man and woman living together outside of marriage) is exploitation. The man gets sexual gratification, the woman gets no promises of permanence, meaning in that intimacy, willingness to remain with faithful, or father to a child that might come of that union.
  • Apart from a marriage commitment, men simply use and cast aside women when the grow tired of them or find one that is better. This is true despite their polite overtures and promises. Ladies, don’t let him take advantage of you in this way.
  • Marriage is perceived as a failure largely because it has been allowed to be less than a lifelong commitment and easily escaped. When a promise has little cost to break, don’t be surprised that people taken the easy road out. Contrary to popular perception, it has not improved marriage, treatment of women, or society as a whole to make marriage a small promise, easily broken.
  • Those who advocate women’s rights actually advocate male domination. Their implicit message is “Women, use your sexuality to get what you can from men.” But men always get the better end of the deal in this arrangement.
  • A casual walk through the swimsuit section of any store will reveal what the culture thinks a woman is good for. That “cute” lingerie for your pre-teen girl sends her a message as to what she is to be, and for who.
  • There is a place for revealing clothing – when a woman is with her husband, a man who has promised not to exploit her for it.
  • As Christians, we must tell and teach women and young girls that they are more than their sexuality. Our culture says their whole identity is their sexuality.