The story of Abraham, by Phil Barnes (01/04/2015)

January 4, 2015 by  
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Phil Barnes shares lessons from Abraham’s life and how it pertains to our walk with God. He also uses this time to share – as one of our shepherds of the flock – the work of the Lord with our church family.

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No Retirement In The Lord’s Work

Our culture in the USA has taught us that you work hard until 65 or 70 and then it’s time to retire from everything, relax, and do whatever your heart desires or in other words, nothing at all, including spiritually.  That’s not what we read in the Bible.  Take the story of Caleb.  Caleb stands as an inspiring and encouraging example of having enormous spiritual energy at the age of 85.  He first appears as one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout the land of Canaan.  Upon returning, all 12 men confirmed the land’s beautiful layout, but 10 of the scouts focused on the land’s fearless inhabitants (Num. 13:31-33).  Joshua and Caleb believed that God would find a way for Israel to conquer the Canaanites (Num. 14:6-9), telling the Israelites to immediately take the land (Num.13:30), but the people wanted to stone both Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:1-4, 10).  God protected them and punished the people (Num. 14:11-38).  Later, God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faithfulness.  Among all those who left Egypt, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to enter the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.

I’m sure that Caleb witnessed many people die over the 45 year period of wandering in the wilderness, but his faith did not diminish in that time (Josh. 14:6-15).  In (Josh. 14:10-11), Caleb states, “ today, I am 85 years old.  I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.”  (NLT version)

WOW, 85 years old and Caleb still had the spunk of a 40 year old.  I’m sure that Caleb helped preach over several funerals too, over that 45 year period in the wilderness, and he still had a great attitude and faith in his creator.  I’m also impressed with the fact that since Joshua was in the spotlight after the death of Moses, Caleb was not jealous, but faithful in serving God in whatever situation he was in, to the fullest, and didn’t lose his spiritual energy or zeal for serving God.  He never made an excuse because of his age either.  His testimony reveals his character and rock solid faith in God and his promises.

We need to overcome the obstacles, including the doubts and fears in our lives, as Caleb did, and accept the reliable promises of God with staunch faith and courage even in our golden years.  It’s very encouraging to see older men like Ward Hogland, preaching Christ at 87, as strong as he did in his 40’s, with the courage and conviction to preach the truth.  When I see men like Bill Cavender, who preached the gospel up until a few months before his death, whose faith never wavered, and he looked so forward to being with God, even though he’d miss his earthly family here; that is encouraging and teaches us what Biblical faith is all about.  As we approach our later years and are rounding 3rd base, let’s serve God with unabated vigor, serving God faithfully and believing in his promises, trusting his grace, until our last breath, just like Caleb did.

– Phil Barnes

 

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Our Hope because of the Unchanging Nature of Christ

Last weekend, Franklin, Tennessee had over 15 inches of rain within 30 hours.  In my 53 years, I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed as much water in such a short period of time.  There was flooding all over the Middle Tennessee area causing death and devastation affecting so many people.  With it comes so much uncertainty about life on earth. Relatives and friends are sick and dying, people losing jobs, children and spouses abused, divorce all over the globe, and I could go on and on.  You can get so easily discouraged if you let this world fill your thoughts with all the suffering and misery that goes with it.

One thing is for certain and for sure, God loves mankind and proved it by sending His one and only begotten Son to the cross.

Although people change over the years and relationships come and go with friends and family members , Jesus hasn’t and doesn’t change, and never will.  Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.”  Is there anything more comforting than the thought of God never changing!  Man has always been able to count on God for every situation in life.  That is such a comforting thought in this day and time.

Even though we have been blessed in this country and have so much, life is a challenge and we are constantly facing the temptations of life.  We have decisions to make every day, and God is the only one that we can count on daily, 100% of the time, to be there with us and for me as I trust in him and serve him.  No matter what I encounter in this life, through today’s challenges and victories, and tomorrow’s losses, the Bible tells me there is a foundation and anchor in my soul whom I can count on. That person is Jesus Christ, who is  with me, and getting me through every situation and temptation in life.

So, as the Hebrew writer encourages the Christian in chapter 13, and verse 6, by writing, “so that we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.  What shall man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).   I can’t state it any plainer than the Bible.

–Phil Barnes

P.S. The house pictured above is David and Jennifer Barlar’s. They are members at Franklin. If you would like to help the Barlars, contact Ryan Thomley at rdthomley@gmail.com. You can also go to the Facebook page he has set up to find out more info about how to help– A Flood of Love. (ELC)

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God’s Grace in Time of Troubles

I Peter 5:6-10 has always been one of my most comforting and favorite passages, especially as I grow older.  There are times in our life when things kind of seem unbearable.  During those times, we often feel like we’re the only ones going through this type of mental anguish and pity ourselves.  Peter warns and encourages us by stating, ” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time” (I Peter 5:6). God’s help will come at just the right time. “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).  

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us the same thing.  Take your cares and worries to God. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).  I Thessalonians 5:6,8 also warns us to be alert and sober.  

Perhaps Peter remembered his own difficulty in  keeping awake during Christ’s agony in Gethsemane.  (see Matt.26:36-46)  “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (I Peter 5:9).  How comforting to know that there are others who are going through the same trials as we have to endure, and they have not wavered under the storms of life.  

God has always provided a way for us to handle any situation in life. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, and strengthen and establish you” (I Peter 5:10).  God has always provided a way for us to handle things in this life through his grace and providence.  We must be patient and endure the storms of life in order to make it to heaven.  

Life is short and eternity is forever. We can prevail by the grace of God. 

–Phil Barnes

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Summary of Ephesians, by Phil Barnes (01/24/10)

January 24, 2010 by  
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6 Things God Hates

Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)  “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”
 
I’m going to key in on the “heart that devises wicked plans”.   This is a total self serving attitude with evil motives toward splitting up a church or trying to get their way over matters of judgement and doing and/or saying about anything, in order to reach their goal.  When someone looks for things to complain about and criticize constantly over matters of opinon, then they have a heart that is not pleasing to God.  It’s one thing to criticize in a construtive manner, but when the Bible talks about building each other up and looking for the good in others including giving people the benefit of the doubt over things, we should look for ways to strengthen the body of Christ every way possible.  I Thess. 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing”.   Paul said in Phil. 2:1-2, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind”.  Let’s quit pushing our own agenda, and think about what’s good for the whole body of Christ and that which is pleasing to God.  People as a whole, avoid the troublemakers at congregations, and for good reason, negativity is contagious, and the troublemakers seem to gravitate to each other because nobody else wants to be a part of their heart that devises evil plans.  What kind of reputation do you want to exhibit among God and Christians?
 

–Phil Barnes

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God Loves a Cheerful Giver

November 26, 2009 by  
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“For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.  But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue rightousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverence and gentleness” (I Timothy 6:10-11; NASB).
 
Many a christian has ruined his or her reputation by pursuing money in a sinful way. When I took my first job in the insurance business, an older, wise man that I worked with, told me the importance of making money honestly and having a good reputation. The consequences of a Christian using deceptive business practices, eliminates their influence as a disciple of God.  

We must teach people, especially the young, to make an honest living and place their priorities in the right place to make a successful life on earth which is pleasing to God. By placing faith, family, and work in the proper perspective, we can live fuller and more productive lives, being the kind of examples God wants and expects us to be.

Giving on the first day of the week, as Paul stated in I Corinthians 16:1-2, with the proper attitude is an act of worship and as important as any other commandment God has given us. A clear test of seeing how much we love money is in how we contribute financially to the Lord’s work.  How many Christians living in luxurious homes are either not giving, or giving the Lord the same amount as their lunch money after the Sunday service on the first day of the week?  What does the Lord think about a person who lives in a gated community, drives luxury cars, has country club memberships, makes a six figure salary, and yet puts the same amount of money in the collection plate that they would spend on one meal at Red Lobster for 2 people?  Sounds rather ridiculous, but it happens every first day of the week at many congregations.  The next time you think about buying a luxury item, consider the leftovers you might be leaving to God.  II Corinthians 9:7 says, “Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Something to think about kind friend! 

-Phil Barnes

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An Appointment with God

James A. Garfield was the only president of the United States that was a member of the Lord’s church.  He was also the only president who was a preacher of the gospel.  Even though his tenure as president was cut short due to his assassination, he did some amazing things.  After his inauguration, a member of his cabinet insisted that a meeting be called at 10am on Sunday to handle a matter he felt threatened our country’s national security.  President Garfield refused on the grounds that he had another appointment.  The cabinet member then insisted that the national matter was of such importance that the president should break the engagement.  
 
Garfield refused.  The cabinet member remarked, “I would be interested to know with whom you could have an engagement so important that it cannot be broken.”  Garfield replied, “I will be as frank as you are.  My engagement is with the Lord, to meet him at his house and at his table at 10:30am, and I will be there.”
 
Garfield knew very well the text “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  According to history, the president usually sat by a window during the services in the church.  It was here that the assassin planned to shoot him, but his ploy failed that time.  He later shot the beloved president in a railroad station.
 
Hebrews 10:25 tells us, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near”  (NASB).  What’s more important on the Lord’s Day than to worship God with His children through praying, singing, reading scripture, and partaking of the Lords Supper.  Acts 20:7 states, “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”  In addition to partaking of the Lords Supper with our fellow Christians, we are commanded to “give of our means.”  In I Cor. 16:1-2, the peerless apostle Paul stated, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also.  On the first day of the week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.”   Since I brought up the command to “lay by and store,” I’m reminded of a timely and excellent article recently that read something like this:
 
WHAT A HORRIBLE DREAM!

I dreamed that the Lord took my weekly contribution of $50 to the church, multiplied it by ten, and turned this amount into my weekly income. In no time, I lost my $750,000 house, expensive furniture, and my Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW.  Why, I couldn’t even make a mortgage payment.  What can a person do on $500 a week with that kind of lifestyle?
 
Suppose the Lord took your offering and multiplied it by ten and made that your weekly income?  How much would you earn?  This question might give you some fresh insights into the stewardship needs of our congregation.  There is nothing wrong with having nice things, but when you sacrifice your weekly contribution for “non-essential” things, and give the Lord your “left-overs”, it’s time to repent and start giving back to the Lord.   Something to think about……….

–Phil Barnes

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Be Successful In Your Teaching by Being Humble

Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It has become one of the most misused passages in my lifetime.  How many times have you been involved in a religious discussion, read a passage, and then applied it, and the person on the receiving end states “that is your interpretation?”  It is a most discouraging response, and usually ends any kind of dialogue.

Jesus encountered these situations throughout his ministry and should we not also expect to have to deal with the same objections.  I’ll admit that sometimes we hold people to standards we cannot even maintain ourselves, and the hypocrisy is obvious to everyone but ourselves.  It’s one thing to judge someone’s intent, as Jesus stated in the first part of Matthew 7, but Jesus also says in the same chapter, “thus you will know them by their fruits” (v. 20), referring to false teachers. 

We should not be fearful or angry when answering objections to the truth. However, in patience and love, we can allow the Bible to answer their questions.  The reason many preachers and Christians aren’t convincing people about salvation is not because of the lack of knowledge, but how we go about teaching people.  If we speak down to people or come across arrogantly with our knowledge we’ll lose any hope in the conversion process. 

In Matthew 23:23-24, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees saying, “Woe to you, scribes, and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”  We’re wasting our time in teaching if our reputation is one of arrogance, lack of forgiveness, and impatience.  Jesus followed this by his condemnation of people who outwardly appear righteous, but inwardly are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

In verse 25, he mentioned persons “full of extortion.” It is pathetic that some in the church have a business reputation of dishonesty and greed, yet parade around quoting verses, attending every service at church, nitpicking other Christians, becoming the worst examples, discouraging other faithful pilgrims, and having no influence in the world.  We need to be firm in our convictions (2 Thess. 2:15), having great faith by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This includes:  the giving of our means on the first day of the week and not leftovers (I Cor. 16:1-2), encouraging those around us, showing proper respect for every person we contact, helping those in need, and “not be weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 2:13). 

Let’s consider our faith, outward conduct, and attitude toward God and our fellow man, before we go about trying to teach others. 

–Phil Barnes

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A Grandmother’s Legacy

It was early, around 5:30 a.m., on a Saturday morning in November of 1962. I was sound asleep and I heard the telephone ring. My dad answered it, and in a few moments I heard my mother hysterically crying. It was frightening, because I had never experienced either one of my parents crying. 

My granddad had heard my grandmother make a funny sound that morning in bed before they awoke, and then her life expired unexpectedly. Papa Corder was an elder in the oldest congregation in Tennessee and a godly man. My grandmother was the most compassionate, kind, and faithful Christian that anyone in Lincoln County knew. As I grew up, I never heard one single criticism made about my grandmother and everyone that knew her considered her their best friend, aunt, and person.

I can remember staying with my Mama Corder, and feel the love that she was known for. She grew up a Baptist, but learned the truth, obeyed the gospel, and converted her parents to the Lord. She was only 62 and died peacefully in her sleep. I always wondered how God could let a person with her influence and faith die so young, but now that I’m 52, I realize she received her reward early and left a lasting legacy to my parents and brothers.  She had a reputation for being godly in every sense. Everybody in her family and community respected her because of her kind, considerate, and caring attitude.

Her legacy with me comes in several forms, but one principle has stuck with me all of my life by her example. It is found in 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NASB), “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  I have often pictured the passage in Hebrews 12:1 (NASB), “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  I imagine an amphitheatre with her and all the other heroes of the past, not as spectators, but inspiring examples, who had the faith required, and made it to heaven by the grace of God.

Jesus left us the greatest example of faith, but my grandmother and mother have been the living examples in my life that have provided the motivation and desire to serve God. This is just like Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:5 (NASB) when Paul told him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

I’ve had so many blessings in my life, but the biggest have been the spiritual influences. I need to continually be mindful of that as I deal with people on a day-to-day basis. Our influence could be a tool that saves someone’s soul!

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