What Is More Important than the Super Bowl?

Yesterday marked a very important day in America. Unless you completely left the planet, you are probably aware that yesterday was “Super Bowl Sunday.” The Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Santa Clara, California. With the win, the Broncos franchise won their third Lombardy trophy. “Super Bowl Sunday” is now considered by some to be a de facto national holiday. It is the second largest day for U.S. food consumption (after Thanksgiving) and the game is the most watched American television broadcast each year. Due to the high viewership, advertisers are willing to pay an average of $5 million for a 30 second commercial!

Our culture certainly takes this game seriously. But as we take a step back and look at the big picture of life, how important is the Super Bowl really? Consider a few things that God says are more important than the Super Bowl:

  1. Jesus is more important than the Super Bowl. Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16). He has authority over man’s greatest fear – death (Revelation 1:17-18). He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 17:14). The sacrifice He made on the cross positively impacted mankind’s sin problem and relationship with God.
  1. Worshipping God is more important than the Super Bowl. Since God is awesome and perfectly holy, He is worthy to be praised (Psalm 96:4; 145:3). Unfortunately, there were probably many people who forsook an opportunity to worship God on the first day of the week because they wanted to catch the start of the Super Bowl. How do you think that made God feel?
  1. The Bible is more important than the Super Bowl. The Bible is the only book in the world to come from the very mind of God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Through the Bible we learn the complete will of God for our lives (2 Timothy 3:17). It is a shame that some people can tell us who won the last ten Super Bowls, but they can’t tell us the names of 10 books in the Bible or the names of 10 important Bible characters.
  1. Teaching the Bible to the lost is more important than the Super Bowl. Jesus has given us the mission of going into the world and teaching the gospel so that people can have an opportunity to become His disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). When we are excited about the gospel we will naturally be inclined to teach it to others. If we find ourselves more willing to talk about a football game with others than the Bible, we have a serious problem!
  1. Eternity is more important than the Super Bowl. When people stand before Jesus on the Judgment Day, He is not going to care about who won the Super Bowl. Society may put men like Peyton Manning and Cam Newton on a pedestal because of their great athletic ability. But in the eyes of Jesus they are just fallible and sinful men who have souls and need the free gift of salvation that Jesus offers to all (Romans 6:23). Watching the big game may bring us some satisfaction in this life, but that satisfaction is limited and fleeting. It doesn’t begin to compare to the satisfaction of being right with God and preparing to be in eternity with Him (Philippians 1:21)

Let’s be clear: it is NOT a sin to watch the Super Bowl. But in the big scheme of life, its significance is very small. Its seriousness should be taken with a grain of salt. It is just a game that has no bearing on where we will be in eternity. Let us always strive to put spiritual things first (Matthew 6:33). Doing that will keep us focused on what is really important in life.

– By Shawn Jeffries

 

The Eyes of the Lord

 

The human eye is a fascinating object. The eye is basically a camera that allows the brain to get a picture of the world around us. It takes a picture (actually two pictures) and sends that picture to the brain for processing. The brain then uses that picture in various ways.

Without that picture, our world would be very different. We could not be able to read a book or drive a car. We could never throw a football with a friend, or shoot a basketball in a hoop. We could never see the precious cheeks of a little baby, or appreciate a beautiful sunset. We could never know what the colors blue or green look like. We could never see the proud look on our parents’ faces when we graduated from high school, or the tears in their eyes on the day we got married.

Thank God for our eyes! We use them all the time, and they work so well that we give little thought to them and even take them for granted. They are wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and they do wonderful things!

But despite all we can see with our eyes, there are limitations we must consider.

a. For example, with our eyes we can only see what is before us. Despite what our moms may have told us growing up, no person has eyes in the back of their head. I cannot see where you are or what you are doing right now as you read this article. I cannot see what you do behind closed doors, and neither can you with me.

b. Sometimes our vision is not as good as it should be and we need corrective lenses (glasses or contact lenses).

c. Typically as we grow older in our life our vision gets weaker and we can’t see like we once could (Ecclesiastes 12:1-4). Maybe we begin to need reading glasses.

Our eyes are powerful objectives but they are by no means indestructible. They certainly don’t begin to compare to the eyes of God. Unlike us humans, God’s vision is not limited. God can see everything going on with us all the time (Proverbs 15:3; Hebrews 4:12). There is not place we can go to escape the all-seeing eyes of God (Psalm 139:7-12). God doesn’t need corrective lenses because His vision is always perfect. His vision never weakens because He is perfect and eternal (Psalm 90:2). He is even able to see and read our hearts (1 Kings 8:39; Acts 1:24; John 2:24-25)!

In your prayers today thank God for your eyes because without them you would not be able to gaze upon the wonderful things He has made. Also, ask God to help you be more mindful of His all-seeing eyes. Ask God to help you be more like Joseph. Joseph understood that God could see everything and this led him to avoid having an affair with Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:9). When we are more aware of God’s ability to see all, it will help live godly lives all the time because we understand God is always holding us accountable for our actions.

As God observes your current life, what does He see? Does He see someone who loves Him and is striving to serve Him with all their heart? Or, does He see someone who is consumed with the world and has put Him and His will on the backburner? Let us always make it our ambition to be found pleasing in the eyes of our Creator (2 Corinthians 5:9).

– Shawn Jeffries

 

 

The Temptations of Jesus

After being baptized by John, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and nights (Matthew 4:1-11). Fasting is when a person makes a choice to eat no food (the only thing he would consume was water). It was often done to show devotion to God and was often accompanied by prayer and Bible study.

Most fasting was only done for a short period of time (a day or even part of the day). But Jesus fasted for forty days! That was an incredibly long period of time. Jesus was not trying to set a world record for the number of days He could go without eating. Instead, He was beginning His ministry and this was a time to think about His work and devotion to God.

Since the Lord was also fully man while on this earth, it was at the end of the forty days of fasting that He became hungry. The devil (or tempter) then came to test Him. He knew that if he could persuade Jesus to sin, then God’s entire plan to save us would be destroyed. Jesus as a sinner could not die for the sins of the world (2 Corinthians 5:21). But instead of giving in to Satan’s temptations, Jesus resisted every one of them!

I want to encourage you to read Matthew 4:1-11 this week. As you do consider the following points:

  1. The things Satan offered were not wrong within themselves.  The first temptation involved turning stones into bread, thus satisfying hunger (certainly there was nothing wrong with eating!). The second one involved jumping off the highest point of the temple and letting God save Him. The third one involved Jesus ruling the kingdoms of the world.
  2. Yielding to these temptations would have demonstrated a lack of trust in God.                                                                                                                             a.  In the first temptation, Jesus could have easily turned those stones into bread. But He knew that God had a plan to provide for Him, and submitting to Satan’s suggestion would have been a failure to trust in God’s plan. Even though He was extremely hungry, Jesus humbly resisted Satan’s idea and once the temptation ended, angels came and ministered to Him (Matthew 4:11). It is likely that these angels gave Jesus the food He needed. Satan wanted Jesus to think “God will not take care of you.” He was wrong!                                                       b.  In the second temptation, Jesus could have thrown Himself off the temple and commanded angels to save Him. But again, He trusted that God would come to His aid once this ordeal was over. In fact, it is interesting that Satan misapplied Psalm 91:11-12 to persuade Jesus. These verses are about trusting in God’s care, but Satan tried to use them to teach the opposite! Jesus certainly recognized this and refused to let Satan put God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16).   c. In the final temptation, Satan promised Jesus that if he bowed down and worshiped him, he would then give Him all the kingdoms of the world. This temptation failed because Jesus knew that was God’s plan anyway (Revelation 11:15). God was going to give His Son all the kingdoms to rule over as Lord, but it was going to be accomplished through Him suffering and dying on the cross. Satan wanted Jesus to take the shortcut! Jesus refused to worship Satan and trusted His Father.
  1. Jesus defeated Satan by doing two things:                                                               a.  He answered each temptation by using scripture (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). He knew the scriptures and accurately applied them. Let’s follow His example (Psalm 119:9-11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hosea 4:6).                                                                        b. But beyond quoting and using scripture, ultimately Jesus defeated Satan because He trusted His heavenly Father. He trusted in what the scriptures promised and God took care of Him. In God’s time Jesus received food, strength, and the kingdoms of the world. Trusting in God the Father led to the best outcome, and the same will be true in our lives today (Proverbs 3:5-8).

From this account we see that the devil is a ferocious enemy. He was alive and active in the time of Jesus, and the same is true today (1 Peter 5:8). But when we know and trust in God’s word we too can defeat him! Always remember that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is always a way out of temptation. As James 4:7 says, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Did not these very things happen in the case of our Lord (Luke 4:13)?

– Shawn Jeffries

The Names of the Lord

Search your Bible carefully and you will discover that the Holy Spirit intentionally uses many different names to describe the Son of God. Each of these names tells us something special and unique about the Lord. In fact, several of these names can be found in Peter’s sermon preached in Acts 3:11-26. After healing a beggar (lame from birth) at the gate of the temple, Peter used the miracle to draw a large crowd of people and teach them some important lessons about the Savior. In fact, in the sermon he list six names for the Lord that solely are to be applied to Him. Most of these words may be already familiar to us, but perhaps their meanings are not.

  1. Jesus (Acts 3:13, 16, 21) – This is probably the most common name to us. It is used 970 times in the Bible. Unfortunately, some would say that this was just His fleshly names given by His earthly parents, but the Bible teaches otherwise. In Matthew 1:21 we learn that the name “Jesus” was not given to Him by Mary and Joseph. Instead it was a name specified by an angel of God the Father. It is, of course, a Hebrew word that means: “God is Salvation.” Jesus would indeed to live up to that name! (See Acts 3:19; 4:12)
  2. Christ (Acts 3:18, 20-21) – This is term is used to describe Jesus over 560 times in the Bible. The words “Christ” and “Messiah” are the same. In Matthew 1:1 some translations say “Christ” (KJV), while other says “Messiah” (NASB). The word simply means, “Anointed One.” It represents the idea that God specially chose Jesus to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world! We need to live in appreciation of God’s choice!
  3. Prophet (Acts 3:22-23) – A prophet is a messenger of divine revelation from God (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-22). Jesus certainly met that criteria. All He spoke was confirmed (including prophecy about His own death and resurrection from the dead). In fact, He is not just a prophet, but The Prophet all prophets preached about (Acts 3:24-25). Will you listen to the words of the ultimate prophet? Will you obey His every command (Luke 13:3; Mark 16:16; Matthew 28:19)?
  4. His Servant (Acts 3:13, 26) – This phrase is used twice here and later in a prayer in Acts 4:27-28. It says something about, not who, but whose He is. Jesus belongs to His Father and serves His Father. He came to the earth to do the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39; John 6:38). He is not our genie in a bottle to perform for us whatever we ask. His mission from God was to lead people to turn away from sin and wickedness (Acts 3:26). He never let anyone deter Him from accomplishing the mission given by the Father. We need to follow in His footsteps (Matthew 6:33).
  5. Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14) – The word “holy” means to be set apart. The word “righteous” means to be good and upright. Without a doubt Jesus was both of those things to the highest degree! He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Even a demon said to Him, “I know who you are, the Holy One of God!” This phrase that Peter uses is meant to bring shame to the Jews for putting perfection to death and it is also meant to humble us before God. Like those Jews in Jesus’ time, will we also disown the Holy and Righteous One of God? How we respond to His teachings will determine the answer to that question (Luke 6:46; John 14:15).
  6. Prince of Life (Acts 3:15) – A prince has rule and authority. Jesus certainly has that (Matthew 28:18). He is the “author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:2). He is also the giver of not just spiritual life, but ALL life. He is the Creator and Sustainer or ALL things (Colossians 1:13-18). Have we submitted ourselves completely to the Prince of Life?

These are six specific names that the Holy Spirit gives to our King in Peter’s second sermon in the book of Acts. The question is: what must this information cause one to do? Peter also provides the answer to that question in the sermon.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

– By Shawn Jeffries

 

 

The Value of Water

If you were to a make a list of some vital things you need in life, what would you put on it? Would it be a cell phone, T.V., or computer?  What about water? How often do you consider the vital role water plays in your life?

  1. Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water.
  1. Somewhere between 70 and 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water.
  1. Nearly half of the water used in America is used in producing hydroelectric power.
  1. About 6,800 gallons of water is required to grow a day’s worth of food for a family of four.
  1. In the United States there is more than 20 times more water underground than in all the lakes and rivers in the country.
  1. Forty percent of the atmosphere’s moisture falls as precipitation each day.
  1. On average, Americans use 183 gallons of water a day for cooking, washing, flushing, and watering purposes. The average family turns on the tap between 70 and 100 times daily!
  1. Flushing the toilet requires two to seven gallons of water. About 2 gallons of water is used to brush our teeth.
  1. Forty trillion gallons of water a day are carried in the atmosphere across the United States.
  1. People need about 2.5 quarts of water a day to maintain good health. A person can live about a month without food, but only about a week without water.

In the Bible we learn that God has used water at various times to accomplish His will.

  1. It was through water that God brought judgment on a sinful world in the time of Noah. For forty days God used rain to cover and destroy the world in a global flood (Genesis 6:5, 17; 7:10-12).
  1. It was through water that God saved Noah and his family. While much of the world was wiped out in the flood, one man found favor in the eyes of God. This man was Noah. God told Noah to build an ark and while the flood covered the earth, he and seven members of his family “were brought safely through the water” (1 Peter 3:20).
  1. It was through water that God blessed Israel and punished Egypt. After their exodus from Egyptian slavery, God miraculously parted the Red Sea for His people, while drowning the Egyptian army that was pursuing them (Exodus 14:13-31).
  1. It was through water that God healed Naaman of his leprosy. Despite initial resistance, after dipping seven times in the Jordan River the Syrian army leader, Naaman, was cleansed of his terrible disease (2 Kings 5:8-14; Luke 5:7).
  1. God also uses water in His plan of salvation. The following verses make this point crystal clear.

“Jesus answers, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”’ (John 3:5).

“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47).

Going back to the example of Noah, Peter says, “…eight persons were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you” (1 Peter 3:20-21 RSV).

The Bible is clear. Water baptism does play a critical role in our salvation. Contrary to what many believe, a person cannot be saved by faith alone (James 2:24). After believing in Jesus, he must be baptized (immersed) in water to come into contact with the blood of Jesus (Romans 6:1-4; Mark 16:15-16). Only then can he get his sins washed away (Acts 22:16)!

Have you obeyed God when it comes to this? If not, what are you going to do? Will you harden your heart to this truth? Or, humbly submit to the will of God?

By Shawn Jeffries

 

How to Make Good Use of our Time

              What is time? Time is one of the most valuable things we possess. It is a precious, fleeting commodity that must be used with wisdom. Each day we are blessed with 24 hours to do whatever we choose. That is 86,400 seconds! This means that unless we die, we are all given the same amount of time. But what are we doing with that allotted time?

            The Bible certainly speaks of the need we have to use our time wisely. In fact, Paul says we need to be constantly “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16). The word rendered “redeeming” implies that we must rescue our time from waste; we must use the time God gives us to accomplish important things. Unfortunately, we live in a world that constantly tempts us with bad ways to use our time. This is one of Satan’s tactics to draw us away from God. But, thankfully, through the Bible we learn of good and wise ways to use our time.

Here are some practical ways to make good use of our time.

  1. Make time to spend quiet moments with God. This means making time to do two things. First, it means making time to allow God to communicate with you through His word. It doesn’t matter if it first thing in the morning, on our lunch break, before we do our homework, or go to bed, we need to never neglect carving out a few minutes to read God’s word. The Bible is God’s final and complete revelation to mankind (Jude 3). Through the Bible God tells us about His love, nature, and how to live in such a way that will bring Him glory (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3; John 3:16). Second, it also means we will communicate with God through prayer. God talks to us through His word, but we talk to Him through prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Like many of us today, Jesus was also very busy in His life (Matthew 4:23-25). And yet, despite His extremely busy schedule, He always made time for prayer (Matthew 26:36; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12). Through prayer we are able to pour our hearts out to God, express thanksgiving, and demonstrate our total dependence upon God (1 Peter 5:6-7; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2). We can’t expect to have a healthy relationship with God if we don’t communicate with Him.
  2. Make time to invest in our children’s spiritual future. Our children are great blessings from God (Psalm 127:1-5). In return God expects us to do all we can to train and equip them in His ways (Ephesians 6:4). How can we accomplish this? By making time each day to do spiritual things with them. By carving out time to pray, read scripture, and discuss practical ways in which they can make good choices in their lives. So often, we can become so consumed in raising the next Lebron James or Peyton Manning that we neglect do our best to raise the next faithful Christian! Let’s not waste the limited time we have now to influence our children to serve God and go to heaven.
  1. Make time to serve others. So often, we can become absorbed in our wants and needs. We fail to take advantage of the multiple opportunities we have in a 24 hour period to make the lives of others better. It could be practicing hospitality, visiting an elderly person in the nursing home, sending a family member an encouraging text message, or offering an open ear to a friend who is discouraged. We can never go wrong when we make time to help others. In fact, Jesus says that a life dedicated to service leads to greatness in the eyes of God (Mark 10:42-45).
  1. Make time to get right with God. In the book of Acts we find people making time to obey the gospel through belief in Jesus, repentance, and baptism. The 3,000 on Pentecost, Cornelius, Lydia, and the Philippian jailer are great examples of this (Acts 2:36-37; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 25-34). So often people can easily put off getting right with God to another time. That is never a good thing! Paul says, “Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

What will we do with the time we have been blessed with today? Will we redeem and make the most of it? Or, will we squander and blow opportunities to do important things that will please God?

Today will never come again. The clock is ticking. The choice is ours.

By Shawn Jeffries

5 Great Things from 1 Peter

5 Great Things from 1 Peter

                How do you typically use the expression “That’s just great?”  Like most people I typically use this expression not to convey truth, but rather irony and sarcasm. I use it to convey the opposite of what I say. For example, if my wife says to me, “Honey, our son just spilled his milk on the kitchen floor,” I will say, “That’s just great!” What I really mean, “What just happened is bad and now I am upset!”

This is an expression that we often use in our culture, but let’s apply it to the Bible and make it one of truth.  In fact, let’s take the statement and apply it to the things that are found in the wonderful little letter of 1 Peter. In each of the five chapters of 1 Peter you can find some things that truly are great for God’s people.

  1. God’s people have a great salvation in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12). This great salvation was foretold by the Old Testament prophets (verse 10). It was something that God’s angels desired to look into (verse 12). It is something that has been secured by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-20). Do you have this great salvation in Jesus? Have you believed in Jesus as God’s Son, turned away from sin, and been immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins? If not, then you have yet to receive this great salvation found in Christ. You need to change the course of your life (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38-47).
  1. God’s people have a great example to follow in the Lord Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-23). Keep in mind that Peter initially wrote this letter to Christians in the first century who were suffering for the cause of the gospel. These saints were being arrested and even killed for what they believed. Why would they be willing to endure these things? Because Jesus suffered first (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus is the great example and high priest who stands in the presence of God for disciples. As His priesthood Christians do as He did. They boldly proclaim the majesty of God and abstain from things that are sinful (1 Peter 2:9-11). Are you doing that?
  1. God’s people have been given a great command (1 Peter 3:15). Peter says disciples have the responsibility, duty and privilege to always be ready to give an answer for the hope they have in Christ. Unfortunately, because of a lack of knowledge many of God’s people have no answer at all for their faith (Hosea 4:6). They have neglected to add to their faith “knowledge” (2 Peter 1:6). They are unable to adequately explain what the Bible says about salvation, the church, worship, or godly living. This problem can only be solved by daily reading and studying of the scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15). Will you make time to diligently learn God’s will each day (Psalm 119:97)?
  1. God’s people have been given a great name (1 Peter 4:14-16). That great name is Christians. This is a name so great that it is worth suffering for it (1 Peter 4:16). It is a noble name (James 2:7). It is the name that disciples wore in the first century (Acts 11:26). It is the name that Paul persuaded men to wear when he taught them the gospel (Acts 26:28). It is not a name to be hyphenated. It is not a name to be worn by Saturday night sinners who are Sunday morning church-goers. It is a name that is to be protected with honor. Followers of Jesus are to thank God every day that they are able to wear the name Christian.
  1. God’s people have a great enemy (1 Peter 5:8)! His name is Satan! Whether you know it or not, but every day you are being hunted by Satan. He knows how much God loves you and that is why he is seeking to devour you spiritually. In fact, he is strong and ferocious that Peter called him a “roaring lion.” He will stop at nothing until he completely separates you from God. How do you defeat him? By being “sober” and constantly on the “alert” (verse 8). By resisting him firm in in the truth of the gospel (verse 9). By always trusting God to do exactly what His word says! Only when you do these things will you be able to defeat this great and terrible enemy.

There are many other great things that can be found in 1 Peter. But here are just five that I hope will bless and help you this week. Always be mindful of these great things. Pray about them. Mediate on them. Allow them to humble you. In the midst of all you face in life, allow these things to motivate you to cast your cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7).

BTW: If you are looking for a place to learn more about the word of God, I want to invite you to visit the Jackson Heights Church of Christ. We are located at 1200 Nashville hwy in Columbia. Our website is http://www.thebibleway.org

Please feel free to visit and learn more about the word of God with us!                                                                                          – by Shawn Jeffries