Marks of Spiritual Strength

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By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, April 30, 2017

  • II Thessalonians 1:1-5
  • Give thanks to God for our brethren (II Thessalonians 1:3)
  • A faith that grows exceedingly
    • II Timothy 2:15
    • Hebrews 5:14
  • An abounding love for one another
    • I Peter 4:8
    • Proverbs 17:9; 19:11
  • A steadfast faith in persecution and tribulations
    • I Peter 4:16
    • II Timothy 3:12
  • The end result: counted worthy of the kingdom of God

Faith WITHOUT Works

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By David Watson

Benchley, April 9, 2017

  • James 2:17-20
  • We need to do what God’s word says to do.
  • James 2:15, 10-11
  • Love God! James 1:12
    • Submit to God, James 4:7-10
    • Spiritual vs. earthly wisdom, James 3:14-17
    • Selfishness, James 4:1-4
    • Prayer, James 1:5-8
  • Love others! James 1:12
    • Partiality, James 2:1-9
    • Pray for each other, James 5:13-16
    • Rescue sinners, James 5:19-20
    • Be helpful and pure, James 1:27
    • Speak well, James 1:19, 26; 3:1-12

Overcoming Discouragement

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By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, April 2, 2017

  • Discouragement weakens the sense of aim.
    • It’s impossible to have hope without purpose.
  • Discouragement causes sins of indifference.
    • Joshua 1:1-9
  • Discouragement causes other problems.
  • Discouragement has no easy cure, but consider several things that will help:
    • I John 5:4 – Faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
      • Trust in God removes depression, brings hope, and gives joy and peace (Philippians 4:7). It cases zeal and service.
      • This faith must be of the
    • II Peter 1:5 – Self-control
    • Spiritual mindedness – Colossians 3:1-3; Romans 6:4-7; Philippians 4:8; II Corinthians 10:4-5; Colossians 3:23
    • Forget self and serve – I Corinthians 4:5
    • Choose the right company – I Corinthians 15:33

Exodus, Part 3

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By David Watson

Benchley, March 26, 2017

  • The first opposition (Exodus 5-6)
    • “Who is the Lord?” (Exodus 5:2)
      • God repeatedly tells him. Exodus 7:17.  See also Exodus 7:5; 8:10, 22; 9:14, 29; 11:7; 14:4, 18.
      • God will trample Pharaoh’s pride. See Exodus 9:16, quoted in Romans 9:17.  Also compare II Chronicles 32:13-19.
      • Proverbs 30:9
    • God deals with a fledgling faith (Exodus 5:20-6:13)
      • Pharaoh forced the people to gather their own straw for the bricks. The people had seen the signs (Exodus 4:30-31), but this added burden was enough to cause the people to turn on Moses and Aaron (Exodus 5:20-25).
      • God’s response:
        • Patience: He does not punish Moses or the people at this point.
        • He provides His word as assurance. He explains (again) what the future holds.
      • “By my name, LORD” (Exodus 6:3)
        • God had appeared to the patriarchs as “God Almighty” (Hebrew: El Shaddai), but now emphasizes a new name: “LORD” (Hebrew:  Yahweh).
        • In Exodus, God repeatedly says, “I am the LORD” and refers to Israel as His people. Exodus marks a turning point in Israel’s relationship with God as He takes special care of them.
        • It’s remarkable that in comparison to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, God has provided “something better for us” (Hebrews 4:10).
        • I John 3:2

Moses

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By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, March 19, 2017

  • What if a man wrote a letter to the church wanting to fill a job as a preacher and listed these weaknesses?
  • Isaiah 55:8-9
  • God chose such a man – Moses
    • He did not consider himself a leader. Exodus 3:11; 4:1
    • He was not an eloquent speaker. Exodus 4:10
    • He did not have all the answers. Numbers 15:32-36
    • He sometimes lost his temper. Exodus 3:22
    • He sometimes got so provoked with the people that he disobeyed God. Numbers 21; Psalm 106
  • Moses, an example of a great leader
    • He was so great that God told him. Deuteronomy 18:18
      • Acts 3:22-23
      • Luke 16:29
      • John 6:26-40
      • Acts 15:21
    • His faith (Hebrews 11:24-26)
    • He knew where to get the answers (Numbers 15:35)
    • His love for his brethren (Exodus 32:30-32)
    • His tireless work (Exodus 18:13-18)
    • His humility (Exodus 32:9-13)
    • His faithfulness in proclaiming God’s Word to them (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 28-29)
    • His patience (Exodus 6:9; 16:2; 17:2)
    • His faithful submission (Deuteronomy 32:48-52)
  • Conclusion

Godly Families, Part 24

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By David Watson

Benchley, February 12, 2017

  • (Grand)parenting applications: training child to respect and obey authority (continued)
Specific Goal Passage(s) to discuss & guide Ways (grand)parents can exemplify and teach Temptations and hindrances Behaviors to correct
Submit (in non-sinful matters) Romans 13:1-2; Ephesians 5:21-22, 25, 33 Show humility and good attitude toward authorities; enforce authority over kids. East to let things slide because they don’t bother me – but kids need the lesson. Disrespect, disobedience, bad attitudes (backtalk, eye rolling, etc.)
Lead well Deuteronomy 17:18-20; Matthew 20:25-28 Teach leadership by example, serving those led; giving small opportunities to lead. Use authority for selfishness; good, exemplary leaders hard to find. Exploiting opportunities for self.
Respect and obey God Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 26:19 Fear God instead of just “going to church”; make a habit:  read Bible –> improve life Easy to just follow religious peers / traditions instead of God Himself. Rationalizing bad behaviors.
  • Train children to develop moral excellence
    • II Peter 1:5-11
      • Is it the job of public schools to teach these virtues?
      • How do we know when we have enough of these qualities?
      • Qualities:
        • Faith
        • Moral excellence (virtue)
        • Knowledge
        • Self-control (temperance) – Marshmallow Test
        • Perseverance (patience, steadfastness) – patience with our circumstances
        • Godliness
        • Brotherly kindness
        • Love – agape; affectionate goodwill
    • Teaching morals is unique
      • Teaching morals begins with the Word of God. II Timothy 3:16

 

Mary, a Beautiful Woman

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By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, January 29, 2017

  • Luke 1:26-39; 2:10-20
  • Her purity of life. Luke 1:27
    • Hebrews 13:4
    • Isaiah 7:14 – Prophecy of Jesus’ virgin birth.
  • Her faith
    • Faith is conviction that is produced by testimony.
  • Her submissiveness
    • Luke 1:38 – Mary accepted the responsibility of motherhood based on the angel’s testimony.
  • Her spirituality
    • Luke 1:46-50
    • A worldly-minded woman would not be suitable to bring Jesus into the world.
  • Her humility
    • Luke 2:19

Danger of Following Afar

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By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, November 27, 2016

  • Mark 14:54-59, 66-72
  • Effectiveness is proportionate to distance. James 4:8.  Peter demonstrated the danger of distance.  He weakened and would not stand by Jesus.  He lied.  He cursed and swore.  Notice the relation in these things:
    • Followed afar
    • Lied
    • Cursed and swore
  • John 2:15-16
  • Ways we may follow afar:
    • Doing that which is not inherently wrong, but doing it to the detriment of following God.
    • Partial obedience. Some obey first principles but then refuse to accept and follow other things God requires of us. Some preach the truth of God’s word but refuse to apply and live by what they are preaching.
  • The lack of effectiveness of one who follows afar
    • He’s lost his influence for good.
  • What caused Peter to follow afar?
    • Fear of the mob.
    • He didn’t have enough faith in and love for Jesus.
  • What does Jesus think of one who follows afar?
    • Luke 9:61-62
  • The end result of following afar
    • Do not try to serve the Lord from afar. If you do not enjoy close proximity with the Lord now, do you think you will in eternity?

 

I Corinthians, Part 23

Posted by mark under Classes

By Jesse Jenkins

Benchley, November 16, 2016

  • I Corinthians 12:1-13
  • I Corinthians 12:8
    • Wisdom: See I Corinthians 2:6-7.  Unless wisdom is received as a spiritual gift, the only way to get it is to pray for it and seek it out.
    • Knowledge: See Galatians 1:11-12.
  • I Corinthians 12:9
    • Faith: See Romans 10:17.  It’s possible this was not a saving faith but a faitht hat they could do what God endowed them to do.
    • Healing: All miracles were not to heal people.
  • I Corinthians 12:10
    • Distinguishing spirits: Some apparently had the ability to determine if spirits were of God or not.
  • I Corinthians 12:8-11 – Nine different gifts are listed here. It seems that at least one person in the church at Corinth had each of these gifts.
  • I Corinthians 12:12-27 – The body being discussed here is the church in the universal sense.

Testing the Bible

Posted by mark under Sermons

By Mark Watson

Benchley, October 30, 2016

Introduction

  • A few weeks ago, I stood here and talked about how our faith should work. A Christian’s faith is not a blind one as some allege.
  • If we were to look at the Bible from strictly a logical point of view, how could we determine if it was true or not?
  • A few weeks ago, Lesli and I attended a lecture at A&M by Dr. John Lennox, who is a Christian, but also a mathematician. Someone asked him why he believed that Christianity was the right religion and he said because it was “testable.”
    • I thought that was an interesting statement from someone who studies pure mathematics and who takes a lot of criticism from the academic world for his beliefs.
  • If you go back and look at times in the Bible where God has sent His messengers out to proclaim a message, whether it was Moses or the Old Testament prophets or the apostles in the New Testament, God never required people to believe what was spoken without some form of proof. In fact, God repeatedly tells us to be careful and not believe everything!  Test it and see if it is true or not!  1 John 4:1
  • We know that this is true. Throughout history, we have seen false prophets who claimed they had some revelation from God or some other deity.
  • So this morning I’d like for us to take a few minutes and put the Bible to the test.
  • From an objective point of view, does the Bible show itself to be the Word of God?

History

  • The first test is history. Do the accounts in the Bible match what we learn from history from other sources?
  • Bible stories are overwhelmingly supported by archaeology.
    • If you grew up in the church, this may seem like a trivial point, but there are many religions for which this is not the case.
    • One such example is Mormonism.
      • Brent alerted me to the very interesting story of Thomas Stuart Ferguson, an archaeologist commissioned by the Church of Latter-Day Saints to search for archaeological evidence of the Book of Mormon.
      • I’m not trying to pick on Mormons here – many religions have this same problem with lack of historical evidence.
      • The Book of Mormon tells of the history of ancient people and places in North America. Ferguson thought that since he believed the Book of Mormon to be true, he should be able to find evidence to back up the stories it told.
      • In 1948, Ferguson convinced officials at Brigham Young University to sponsor an archaeology trip so he could search for evidence. Ferguson found … NOTHING.
      • Ferguson did make many important archaeological discoveries, but none of them supported the Book of Mormon.
      • Ferguson eventually studied himself out of believing the Book of Mormon. He stayed in the church because he liked the people and the social aspect, but lost his faith.
      • Sadly, we have no evidence that he continued his search to find a faith that was backed by evidence. That is what we are hoping to find with our study today.
    • Many places referred to in the New Testament still exist in some form today. People still take “Holy Land” tours to see the sites around Israel and the Mediterranean that we see mentioned there.
    • When we go further back than that, we find the Bible is accurate even before the archaeology has been explored.
      • Archaeologists discovered the palace of Sargon, king of Assyria (Isaiah 20:1)
        • They thought this name was an alias for other kings until they found his palace with his name inscribed on the bricks!
        • Also engraved in the palace walls was the history of how he conquered Samaria.
      • The Hittites existed! – Exodus 23:28
        • Before the Hittites were rediscovered in the 19th century, they were thought by skeptics to be an indication that the writers of the Bible had simply invented them.
        • Archaeologists then made several supporting discoveries, including extrabiblical references to the Hittite civilization and actually finding and excavating the ancient Hittite capital city of Hattusa (modern day Boghazköy in Turkey). Further evidence was then found in Egypt when a treaty written in silver tablets on a wall of a temple was discovered.  The treaty was an agreement between Ramses II of Egypt and the Hittite king to divide the territory of Syria and Canaan.
      • Ur of the Chaldeans discovered
        • The city of Ur is referred to several times in the Old Testament in connection with Abraham. See Genesis 11:31.
        • The city of Ur was properly rediscovered in the 1920s and 30s. Primary discoveries there are royal tombs and a large ziggurat.
        • It is located about 220 miles southeast of Baghdad in modern day Iraq.
        • The discovery turned up many interesting artifacts, including an inscription bearing the name Belshazzar, who you might remember as the king mentioned in Daniel 5.

Prophecy

  • The second test is prophecy. Does the Bible contain verifiable accounts of fulfilled prophecy?  Also, were the accounts we have written before or after the event took place?
  • The Bible contains countless examples of fulfilled prophecy.
    • Daniel 2, 7, and 8 – prophecy of nations and world events to come
      • Daniel prophesied from roughly 605 – 520 B.C.
      • Some argue that the book of Daniel was written after the events which it foretells, sometime in the second century B.C.
        • The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls resolves this issue pretty conclusively, though, because they include parts of Daniel.
        • If Daniel was written at some of the later dates that some critics propose, there simply would not have been enough time for the book to be circulated as a religious book and preserved. The earliest manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls go back to about 250 B.C.  Fragments of Daniel go back to about 100 B.C.  This is a problem for the proponents of a later date for Daniel because their claim that it was written about 150-160 B.C. would make in very difficult for the book to be distributed enough to be included in the Dead Sea Scrolls only 50 years later.
        • The book was written no later than the 4th century B.C.
        • Some argue that the book of Daniel was pseudonymous because in some places Daniel is referred to in the third person. This was apparently a stylistic device common at the time.  Jesus himself refers to Daniel as the author in Matthew 24:15.
      • Daniel prophesied about several world-changing events. Let’s look at some of these.
        • Here in Daniel 2:31-35, Daniel is interpreting the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. The dream concerns 4 kingdoms that would follow Nebuchadnezzar:
        • The interpretation of the dream was very straightforward and very specific:
          • First kingdom: Babylon (v38 – “You are the head of gold.”)
          • Second kingdom: Medo-Persia (v39) – “After you there will arise another kingdom inferior to you, then another third kingdom of bronze, which will rule over all the earth.
          • Third kingdom: Greece (v39)
          • Fourth kingdom: Rome (v40-43)
          • The divine kingdom: the Church (v44-45) – “it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever”
        • We know from history that this interpretation of the dream matches up exactly with the events that followed.
          • Babylon fell to the Medo-Persian empire in 539 B.C. under Cyrus. This was also prophesied by Isaiah 13:17-19 and Jeremiah 51:11, both of which specifically named the Medes as the conquerors.
            • Isaiah prophesied from about 742-701 B.C. (about 175 years earlier)
            • Jeremiah prophesied from about 627-588 B.C. (at least 50 years earlier)
          • Alexander the Great then conquered Persia in 331 B.C. This prophecy was not fulfilled until 200 years after Daniel’s death.  Daniel 7:6 gives a little more detail, describing Alexander as a lion because of the great speed his armies had in conquering other nations.  Daniel 8:20-21 also makes specific reference to the rise of Greece.  Daniel 8:22 even foretells how Alexander’s empire would be divided four ways upon his death.
          • The Roman Empire was next to rise in power. Daniel described it as partly strong and partly brittle, but more terrible than the other kingdoms that came before.
          • Finally, we have the divine kingdom, the church. This was established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
    • Ezekiel 26:12-14 – prophecy of destruction of Tyre by Alexander the Great
      • Ezekiel prophesied that Tyre would be destroyed. He made these prophecies roughly between 593 – 568 B.C. (This is the time that Ezekiel claims to have written it.  We know it was at least earlier than 300 B.C. because the book of Ezekiel appeared in the Septuagint, which was initially translated at that time.)
      • Ezekiel lists six specific prophecies about the destruction of Tyre:
        • Ezekiel 26:7-8 – King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would destroy the city.
        • Ezekiel 26:3 – Many nations would come against the city.
        • Ezekiel 26:4 – The city would be leveled and scraped clean.
        • Ezekiel 26:12 – The city’s stones, timber, and soil would be cast into the sea.
        • Ezekiel 26:5 – The area would become a place for the spreading of nets.
        • Ezekiel 26:14 – The city never would be rebuilt.
      • So what actually happened to Tyre? In ancient times, Tyre was a coastal city on the Mediterranean which had an island about a half mile offshore.  It had existed for a long, long time.  By 1400 B.C. it was already a great city and was considered impregnable.  It was well positioned for trade and had an excellent natural harbor.  It grew rapidly during the days of David and Solomon.  It was only 100 miles from Jerusalem, so it had dealings with the Jews.  David and Solomon made deals with Tyre to use their materials in building palaces.  Returning exiles under Cyrus used materials from Tyre to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7).
      • In 586 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar besieged the mainland city. After 13 years, the city was defeated, but most of the inhabitants had already moved to the island.  Things stayed this way for 241 years until Alexander the Great arrived in 332 B.C. to take the island city for Greece.  He did this by scraping the mainland city clean of debris and using the material to build a land bridge to the island.  Alexander did a lot of damage to the city, but it still stood.  It stood for another 1600 years until A.D. 1291 when the Muslims thoroughly crushed Tyre.  Aside from a small fishing community, nothing is left there.  The final fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy came about 1900 years after Ezekiel!
      • [Side note: There is a present day city of Tyre.  However, it is not in the same place as the old one.  After Alexander built the land bridge, the coast line changed with silt deposits and the area of the old city is now underwater.  The island is still used by fishermen to dry their nets, just as Ezekiel prophesied.]
    • Isaiah 13:17-22; 21:1-10; 44:28-45:7; Jeremiah 50-51 – Destruction of Babylon
      • In the 8th century B.C., Isaiah prophesied that the kingdom of Babylon would be destroyed. This was a big deal because Babylon in those days was massive.  Between 740 and 680 B.C., it was one of the richest cities in the world.  It was located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what we now call the “fertile crescent.”  Babylon had its reputation because of its huge city walls.  Ancient writers tell us the walls were 14 miles long on all four sides and reached heights of over 300 feet.  In some places, the walls were 75 feet thick.  (Archaeologists now think this might have been overstating the size of the walls a bit.)  The Euphrates river surrounded the city like a moat that ranged from 65-250 feet across.
      • Isaiah made several specific prophecies:
        • The kingdom of Babylon would be destroyed.
        • Specifically, Babylon would fall to the Medes and Persians.
        • Even more specifically, Babylon would fall to a man named Cyrus.
        • Cyrus, serving as God’s “anointed” and “shepherd” would release the Jews from captivity and assist them in their return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
      • This prophecy is amazing for a couple of reasons:
        • It was made about 200 years before it was fulfilled (Babylon conquered in 539 B.C.).
        • Isaiah specified a name for the man who would defeat Babylon. When Isaiah made the prophecy, it would be about 150 more years until Cyrus was born!
      • Secular history records that there really was a man named Cyrus who ruled the Medo-Persian empire. He conquered Babylon and then assisted the Jews in returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the temple.
      • Interestingly, Jeremiah also prophesied about the destruction of Babylon (Jeremiah 50-51) and adds several key points:
        • A coalition of great armies would rise up against Babylon.
        • Babylon’s water supply would be dried up.
        • Soldiers of Babylon would be drunken and sleep a perpetual sleep
      • It turns out that Jeremiah was exactly right as well. During the time that Jeremiah made the prophecy, none of the countries of the north were anywhere near strong enough to defeat Babylon.  When Cyrus arrived, he was able to assemble a huge force of many nations to march against Babylon.  He besieged the city for two years before he was able to redirect the Euphrates River where it would normally enter the city.  The entrance was unprotected because the Babylonians were getting drunk during a festival celebration.  Cyrus ordered his men to act like drunken revelers, so by the time the Babylonians realized what was going on, the city was already filled with enemy troops.

Jesus Christ

  • Ultimately, there is one claim that the Bible makes that means the most to all of us. That is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, took on the form of a man, walked the earth, was crucified, and then rose again before ascending to Heaven.
  • This is the one point that most people have a problem with. The death and resurrection of Jesus gives us three options:
    1. Jesus never existed. He was a myth.  This puts you on really shaky ground, historically speaking.
    2. Jesus lived and died, but did not rise again. If you take this route, you make Jesus out to be a liar because He said that He was the Son of God and would rise again.  Thus, the entire Bible is suspect because Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are the singular event that the entire Bible points toward.
    3. Jesus lived, died, and rose again. If you believe this, then you are compelled to obey Jesus’ words because He is the Son of God.