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By Mark Mayberry
Disciples of Christ should be sympathetic to the needs of others, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep (Rom. 12:15-16). In his defense, Job said, “Have I not wept for the one whose life is hard? Was not my soul grieved for the needy?” (Job 30:25). In like manner, Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus, sharing the heartache of Martha and Mary (John 11:35). The writer of Hebrews admonishes believers to “Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body” (Heb. 13:3).
This weekend we had occasion to both rejoice and weep. Yesterday was Ryan’s 25th birthday. Birthdays are fun, a time of rejoicing, blowing out candles, giving gifts, singing off-key, and most important of all, eating cake. It also was a sobering reminder of the brevity of life. Sister Lisa Jennings sent out a very touching post to her Facebook friends, saying her final goodbyes. To our knowledge, she has not yet passed away, but the end will soon come.
REJOICING OVER THE BIRTH OF A CHILD
Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, rejoiced at the birth of their son, along with their neighbors and relatives (Luke 1:5-17, 57-58). There is also joy in heaven whenever a sinner repents (Luke 15:3-7), and is born again into the kingdom of the Lord (John 3:3-6). Christians rejoice at the spread of the gospel (Acts 11:19-24) and in expectation of their own salvation (1 Peter 1:3-9).
WEEPING OVER THE END OF A LIFE
Yet, we live in a world that is under the curse of sin and death. This sentence was imposed as a consequence of Adam’s disobedience (Gen. 2:15-17; 3:1-7, 17-19, 22-24; 5:1-5; Rom. 5:12-14). As a result, we all face the certainty of physical death (Eccl. 3:1-8; Heb. 9:27-28). Yet, we are delivered from the fear of death through Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:23; Heb. 2:14-18).
Receiving hospice care, and facing the end of her life, sister Lisa Jennings recently wrote:
“Goodnight my sweet brethren and sisters in the Lord. I just want to express one last time how much your faithfulness has meant to me these last days. You have walked close beside me in prayers, admonitions and love. Though the journey’s been hard, I cannot imagine it without each of you. God’s plan for His people is so excellent! Our Savior’s sacrifice so excellent. Our Holy Spirit’s work so excellent! I love thy church, oh God! I’ve received so many blessings and God is fulfilling my last requests of a peaceful entrance into eternal rest. My Lord and Savior did not have what I’ve had in my last days and hours. Forever yours, Lisa Ann Jennings”
I have felt conflicting emotions this weekend, sharing the personal joy in celebrating a birthday of one I love, while knowing that several hundred miles away, dear friends are facing the impending loss of one who is equally dear to each of them. Extrapolate that out by billions, and try to comprehend the greatness of God who cares for each and every person (Matt. 10:29-31). God loves all humanity (John 3:16-21; Rom. 5:6-11). Jesus not only wept beside the tomb of Lazarus, but also over the impending doom of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).
Our Lord provides a path of deliverance: by living a life of full obedience and dying on the cross, Jesus provided the perfect sacrifice for sins; He bore our griefs and carried our sorrow (Isa. 53:4-6). If you have not obeyed the gospel, or if your life is not right with God, will you not respond to the love of God while there is time and opportunity (2 Cor. 5:14-15)?
On Tuesday, October 18, Boyd Jennings posted the following message to Facebook:
“Dear ones: We thank you so-very-much for the outpouring of love, prayers and support during this trying ordeal of eight months. My dear precious beloved wife (Lisa Ann) of 36 years, 4 months and 12 days has almost completed her race. She has been my right arm, my confidant, my fellow worker, my supporter-helper, and my intimate friend for so long that to imagine life without her is both unthinkable and unbearable. She has always walked worthy of her calling as a Christian woman, wife and mother. We are having a difficult time accepting that she cannot continue her labor for the Lord; we believe she’s irreplaceable. However, by faith, we have accepted the He knows best, and that she is deserving of a rest from her labors. To that we wholeheartedly agree! I love you all, in Christ Jesus our (the) Lord and Savior.”
On Thursday, October 20, 2016, we received the following message from Boyd Jennings:
“Lisa passed from us into eternal rest at 7:52 a.m. Thursday October 20. Angela has been so loyal, strong and helpful through this process. I couldn’t have endured it without her. We love you all even more today. May God bless us!”
By Jarrod Jacobs
The title for this article is part of a larger quote from a man long dead. When we think about the statement, “We are what we repeatedly do”, it certainly states the truth. Our habits have a great impact upon our lives. More than this, I see this statement as a good explanation for why God continues to emphasize the need for man being faithful to Him.
Throughout the New Testament, we read about the need for God’s people to continually follow Christ with obedient faith. Inherent in this is the need for patience, or endurance, as well as strength and courage when times get hard. Let us read some of these passages together.
- “…he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22, 24:13).
- “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
- “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Rom. 2:7).
- “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (Rom. 11:22).
- “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
- “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:9).
- “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).
- “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:5-6).
- “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).
- “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 John 2:24).
- “…be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).
- From this small sampling of passages, we see a pattern, do we not? God wants us to continue in a certain manner of life. Why does He want this? It is because as we have already noted, “We are what we repeatedly do.” The man or woman who dies in sin has done so because he or she lived in sin (John 8:24; Col. 3:7). In contrast, the man or woman who dies in the Lord (Rev. 14:13) has done so because he or she lived in the Lord!
Thus, the question must be answered by each one of us: “What do we repeatedly do?” If we do not like what we are becoming, then it is time to stop what we are currently doing and start doing something else—repeatedly–until the habit is formed!
The full quote from which I got the title for this article comes from Aristotle (384-322 B.C.). He said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” Now, pay attention to the rest of the quote. “Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
After a study like this, may we appreciate just how true these words are. The apostle Paul told the Philippians, “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10). May we also then resolve to make excellence a habit by making the ultimate decision to become a Christian (Acts 2:38) and live faithfully to the God of Heaven (1 Cor. 15:58). A life spent in repeatedly doing what God says will not be a wasted life.
Source: The Old Paths (10/16/2016)
“A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Prov. 15:18, NKJV).
It takes at least two to quarrel. When one refuses to be provoked, anger subsides. Let us refuse to give furious rage a place in our hearts. This sin disrupts peace and harmony in every relationship where it manifests itself. Marriage turmoil, for example, is often traceable to a failure to control one’s temper during times of stress and disagreement. Wrath clouds one’s judgment and ignites conflict. Dedicate yourself to being the one who refuses to be provoked, regardless of the agitation and the temptation to plunge into anger’s chaos. Bring down the temperature of aggravation and anger with a calm spirit, and with unfailing kindness. Rule your spirit, and help establish peace (Prov. 16:32).
By Joe Price, Sword Tips #907 (October 17, 2016)