Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog


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Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Friday, April 12, 2024

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

By Paul Earnhart

When Jesus went to Jerusalem for the first time after the beginning of His personal ministry, we are told that He visited the temple and found merchants who were selling oxen, sheep and doves.  There were also money changers exchanging the money which the people ordinarily used into the kind of money that was accepted for offerings in the temple.

Jesus was greatly disturbed by what He saw.  John tells us that “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’  His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.’” (John 2:15-17)

God does not have a material house today, such as the temple was in those days.  But the church is His house as Peter wrote to Christians in 1 Peter 2:5 saying, “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house.”

But most churches today have virtually lost their spiritual emphasis.  In some cases, they have again become houses of merchandise; they seem to exist to make money.  In some other cases they have become country clubs with all kinds of recreation equipment and dining facilities.  Church funds are used more for social purposes than for spiritual activities, and more emphasis is placed on entertainment than on worship and Bible teaching.

I wonder what Jesus would do if He should visit a modern church.  I wonder if He would not again engage in a general house-cleaning.  If we are like Jesus “consumed with zeal for our Father’s house” (John 2:17), we will look again at God’s plan for His house and make certain that the church of which we are a part is what God intends for it to be, not what men want it to be.

Gospel for All

Friday, August 11, 2023

Gospel for All

By Larry Coffey

The Bible clearly teaches the gospel of Christ is available for everyone who seeks it. While reading a book on the life of Walter Scott, a preacher in the early 19th century, I noted two good examples of this fact. Scott moved to Carthage, OH, a small village near Cincinnati and lived there 13 years. When he moved there, the village was described as flourishing with drunkenness, profanity, idleness, and neglect of the public and private duties of religion. The single redeeming feature was a Sunday school where an incident of interest took place on Scott’s first visit.

In one of the classes was a bright girl about 13 years old, who, along with others, had to find the answer to the question, “What shall I do to be saved?”  She searched her Bible and found the answer in Acts 2:38. When the day came for the class to answer the question, she was the only one with a ready answer. With a feeling of childish triumph, she quoted the passage: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Rather than receiving the teacher’s approval, she was disappointed to learn she had not given a satisfactory answer. Soon the class was over and the superintendent asked the same question. She rose and quoted Acts 2:38, but her answer was not approved again. She cried and wondered why her answer was not accepted. Just after this, Scott preached in the village school house and the little Sunday school scholar was present. To her surprise his text was the very passage she had read in Sunday school. Her response to his lesson was a request to be baptized. Her example caused six men to step forward and be baptized at the same time.

These proved to be the first fruits of a great harvest. Many more soon also obeyed the gospel. Among the converts was one who had long held in the village an unenviable notoriety—a poor fellow who was regarded as the most hopeless of an exceedingly irreligious and immoral population. He was a clever, dissipated good-for-nothing by the name of Parker. When it was announced in the village that a strange preacher was to be there to hold a series of meetings, for reasons unknown, Parker decided to attend. After a few nights of sitting on the back row, he came forward to be baptized. Needless to say, Walter Scott looked upon him with surprise and astonishment.

After Parker’s conversion, he made this statement: “I was as great a sinner as any of you; a drunkard, a gambler, poor, miserable, and wretched. But now I am redeemed from my former ways and have become a man.” As far as was known, both Parker and the 13-year-old girl remained faithful the rest of their lives. The cases mentioned show that the gospel can be brought to the comprehension of a little child and its power can be felt by one as wicked as Parker. Walter Scott’s labors resulted in planting a church that had 200 members within about two years from his first visit.

Born To Be King

Friday, June 30, 2023

Born To Be King

By Paul Earnhart

Jesus was born to be King.  He was of royal blood, a direct descendant of David. This is the point being made in that long list of names you will find in the first chapter of Matthew and in the third chapter of Luke.

When the angel appeared to Mary, and foretold the birth of Jesus, he added: "He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David: and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:32,33).

When the wise men came seeking Him, they asked for Him who was born king of the Jews. They must have expected Him to be a political king reigning over an earthIy kingdom, for they made the inquiry in Jerusalem, the political center of Judaism. But Jesus was not there.

Herod, who was reigning as a Roman king, was greatly disturbed by the thought of one being born to be king of the Jews. He wanted no rival for his throne, and he began immediately to seek for Jesus to kill Him. When he did not find Him, he ordered the death of all baby boys in the area of Bethlehem.

Both the wise men and Herod were mistaken about the kind of King that Jesus would be. In fact, most of the Jewish nation were mistaken about that. Jesus spent much of His ministry trying to convince the people that He did not come to overthrow the Roman government and set up an earthly throne in Jerusalem. He came to be a spiritual king, reigning over spiritual Israel.

Jesus is reigning today over spiritual Israel. After His resurrection He boldly declared: " All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Mt 28:19) . One who has all authority is a king. In Col. 1:13, speaking for all Christians, Paul writes that God delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son."

Don't make the mistake of Herod. Don't walt for Jesus to come back to set up an earthly kingdom. Accept His authority now and leave the domain of darkness to be a citizen of the kingdom of God’s dear Son.

A Shattered Foundation

Saturday, March 25, 2023

A Shattered Foundation

By Kim Davis

                    Men I once considered wise and good,

                    Women I once watched as examples,

                    Christians who I held close to my heart,

                    It’s strange how people change and tear us apart.


                    A church once united, steadfast, and full of love;

                    One, surely God smiled upon from above.

                    Now I feel I can say with a great deal of ease,

                    That Satan is the one who is ever so pleased.

These words are an excerpt from a poem called “A Shattered Foundation,” written in September of 1988.  I was nineteen years old when these words were penned as I was attempting to process the division that occurred earlier that year at the church where I worshipped with my family. 

I frequently revisit memories of that church as I have continually tried to diagnose where things went so wrong.  Based on the memories of my nineteen-year-old mind, the church was active and vibrant.  Individuals were experiencing spiritual growth.  The church was full of loving people across all age groups totaling about two hundred souls. 

Talented and truthful preachers and teachers were present, the bible classes were full, the teenagers were active at services and outside of the building, and many families gathered regularly in one another’s homes to build and develop deeper relationships. 

This was my tribe, my family.  When I was in the building among the brothers and sisters, it was just like being at home, totally comfortable and unguarded.  When the division hit, it forever changed me and every member there.  Some rebounded and others regressed.  Personally, I was devastated, shocked, lost, and spiritually and mentally paralyzed for a period of about fifteen years.  My foundation was shattered and my world turned upside down at a formative time in my life.

Outside of my experience, the impact of division was far-reaching for all ages.  New converts quickly became like the seed on thorny ground.  Young teenagers lost their friends as families scattered.  Mature, middle-aged couples who seemingly had a solid faith fell into denominational doctrines.  Sons and daughters witnessed men slinging accusations toward their parents, and their perceptions of “Christian” ways were forever tarnished to the point where they no longer wanted to be affiliated with such a group. 

Families were uprooted as they traveled around the area looking for another congregation where they could recover, re-engage and re-establish a support system rooted in Christ’s teachings.  The recovery period for such a traumatic event can be lengthy especially when the relationships are ten, twenty or thirty plus years deep.  It’s difficult to basically start over.  It takes years to build new relationships and develop the same level of trust, especially after feeling betrayed by other Christians. 

You may be wondering why I’m sharing this with you.  The positive attributes of the church described above may sound familiar in many aspects.  There is some paranoia present in me that wants to fire off an alert for my brothers and sisters to continue to safeguard and preserve the unity in their church family by remembering three simple things. 

First, unfortunately church division is not a unique scenario.  There may be new brothers and sisters sitting in the pews among you who have shattered foundations.  They should be welcomed with open hearts and an offering of grace and comfort as they find their place within their new church family.  Perhaps it’s also helpful for them to know there are others among them with a similar experience who understand the anguish in the decisions that led to the necessity of finding a new place to worship.

Secondly, it’s important to remember that even when a local church is flourishing, we can never forget that Satan is always lurking among us, looking for ways to destroy churches.  It only takes one disagreement handled improperly to start a division that will have a lasting impact.

Lastly, adults need to understand the downstream impacts that division can have on the entire congregation.  It can change the trajectory on someone’s life.  While we are all accountable for our own choices and actions, we are also influencing our fellow brothers and sisters in ways we do not always realize. 

I’ll close with some thoughts from Romans 12:9-18 “Let love be genuine…love one another with brotherly affection...outdo one another in showing honor...rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality…bless those who persecute you…live in harmony with one another...repay no one evil for evil...give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all…live peaceably with all.”

Nothing of God Dies

Friday, March 03, 2023

Nothing of God Dies

By Victor A. Osorio

Change in life is inevitable. We know that. We understand the importance of flexibility and resilience. However, change is often challenging…and the church is not immune.

The Israelites were struggling with change as we begin reading in the book of Joshua. Moses had just died. The people were in shock. Leadership was paralyzed. Followership was stunned. Then God speaks. In Joshua 1:2, God tells Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them…”

It seems subtle. But do you wonder why God told Joshua “Moses My servant is dead”? After all, in Deuteronomy 34:8, we read, “So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.” So, the Israelites, including Joshua, were well aware Moses was dead. This makes one wonder – did God tell Joshua this fact plainly for Joshua to begin to accept reality and move on?

It was at this point we see Joshua begin the transformation into the mighty man we quote in Joshua 24:15, and revere for leading God’s people in battle. But he didn’t seem to be completely that way at first. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua he is commanded or encouraged to “be strong and courageous” – three times by the Lord (Joshua 1:6, 7, and 9) and once by the people (Joshua 1:18).

We, too, in the local outpost of the Lord’s army, can become disoriented when a leader moves on. The history of God’s people is, unfortunately, riddled with stories of churches who struggled when an elder, preacher, or beloved member passes on, becomes incapacitated, or moves away. The story of Joshua tells us that ought not to be so. The Lord’s church is greater than any one person.

A.W. Tozer wrote, “When a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.” How true is that!? While Moses passed on, God was still sovereign. When the people were mourning, God’s care was still omnipresent. When Joshua’s vision of what to do next was disoriented by death, God’s omniscience was unclouded. When the people went into battle with an unproven commander, God was still omnipotent. When God’s people are in a period of change – God is unchanging. And we are His church.

Kerry Keenan is a great man of God. I remember vividly as a new convert back in 1997 when a beloved leader of the congregation passed on. Kerry, with His godly heart and strong leadership, while not the full-time preacher at the time, got up and challenged us young men to “fill the gap.” After recapping all the fallen leader had done and how he would be missed, he didn’t end there. Rather, Kerry focused on all the work of God that needed to be filled – by someone. I was reminded of this recently when I read that at Winston Churchill’s funeral, by his request, one bugler played “Taps” as another simultaneously played “Reveille.” Churchill wanted the people of Britain to know his death was by no means England’s last note, but a call for others to stand up for action.

No doubt, our church will face seasons of change. Those seasons may include losing people we love, look up to, and who will leave large gaps in the work. God’s message to us then will be the same, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” In those times, true leaders will have to emerge and fill the gap, even if the gap is so large it takes two, or even three, to fill. We will have to have the wisdom to know when to insist the bugler change the tune, or courage to take the instrument from his hand. Most importantly, we will have to remind each other of Tozer’s words – nothing of the great God we serve is dead.     

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