7/31/16 ~ EasyBibleLearning.WorldBibleSchool.org

RacineBuildingWBS Logo-redGod’s message brings hope, joy, love and life.  Learn how by mail or online FREE.  Learn in your home at your pace with “penpal” helpers and online friends ~ with no one knocking on your door.

Course 1:  The Way to Life ~ The Bible is like a map for living, providing direction and purpose for every person everywhere. Why consider the Bible? Is it trustworthy? Can it truly address my every need?

Course 2:  God Has Spoken ~ God reveals Himself and His will for each person in the Bible. What does God say about Himself? How can I be “right with God”?

Course 3:  This is Good News ~ God’s message in the Bible is “good news”.  How should I respond to it? What is faith that “saves”?

Course 4: Knowing Jesus ~ Jesus makes reemarkable promises to those who “know” Him.  Is Jesus God’s Son? Is He alive today? How can I know Jesus?

Course 5:  Born of Water and Spirit ~ Jesus speaks of being “born again” to live a new life. Can I really have a fresh start in life? How can I face life and death with assurance?

Course 6: The Family of God ~ God has chosen a family of His very own, and He wants you to be a part of it. Who has God chosen? What does the word “church” really mean? What is His purpose for my life?

Course 7: Live a Life of Love ~ God offers every person a new purpose and a joyful life. How does he want me to live? Is there real spiritual power at work in my life? How can I help others?

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7/24/16 ~ God’s Word

From the Preacher’s Pen…

RacineBuildingFive times the inspired writers of the New Testament warn Christians of the difference between the truth of God and His word and the fake, myths, fables or made up stories of others. (cf. 1 Timothy 1:4; 4:7; 2 Timothy 4:4; Titus 1:14 and 2 Peter 1:16).

Yet, today we still find that people often equate human nonsense with the word of God. There is no comparison! Consider this brief reminder of the veracity of God’s truth:

God’s Word

Isn’t it fascinating what people will think of to discount and disobey God’s Word? Does anyone remember the time leading up to the year 2000? There were all kinds of articles about predictions and prophecies of the coming millennium disasters (oops! I guess they were wrong about that one!).

In going through some old clippings that I’d saved, I found one about a religious writer and his declaration that he alone had finally figured out when and how “the end” would come. It seems that before the year 1999 ended the world would be destroyed by a nuclear war and that would precipitate the Lord’s Second Coming. Hmmm, unless I’ve forgotten how to read a calendar, that “prophet” seemed to have missed his prediction.

The problem is that such people claim to get their information from God’s Word or from some special revelation direct from God. Pardon me, but the real God is just not that stupid! And people who make such claims bring ridicule on God and His word and upon all who believe in God and harm the work of the Lord and His church.

God’s take on this subject? “Wise men store up knowledge, But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.” (Proverbs 10:14)

Another popular headline claim that is still being made has to do with some great discovery from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here, too, the claim was made about disaster predictions for our day and time.

What the Dead Sea Scrolls really do contain are copies of every Old Testament book but Esther and other religious writings, commentaries and community documents of a group of religious people who lived in New Testament times. While there are some similarities between these people’s beliefs and the teachings of the New Testament, there are no real surprises. These religious people are concerned with many issues that are also discussed by other Jewish writers of the time as well as New Testament writers. That people concerned with the things of God would be interested in such matters should come as no surprise to us.

What is significant about the Dead Sea Scrolls is the fact that they verify the reliability of the OT portion of our Bibles! There are copies of OT books that are centuries older than any previously known copy and there are no doctrinal changes, indeed few technical literary differences that exist. In fact, the majority of differences are older vs newer spellings of the names of people and places!

But how can we be certain? Have a read! The entire OT Bible text as preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls is available. You can not only read it but also compare all the differences with other Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts, a whole variety of other ancient OT manuscripts that have been preserved and the OT text as it appears in our modern Bible translations.

What you will find is that God’s Word has been most carefully preserved through the centuries and we may have great confidence that what we read is actually what was originally written by the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The popular, outrageous and silly claims of those who discount and disobey God’s Word should not bother God’s people. “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.” (2 Timothy 1:12-14)

Our faith is firmly grounded in factual reality and not in myths or made up stories of man! Let’s keep the faith, this week and always!

— Lester P. Bagley

7/17/16 ~ What Really Needs Changed to Make Worship More Enjoyable

From the Preacher’s Pen…

RacineBuildingIt is one of the most talked about things in religious circles today: How do we make our worship more enjoyable.

Think about that for a moment. Shouldn’t we enjoy our worship so much that our praise is a delight, a joy to us?

A few weeks ago as I began working on this article a fellow preacher wrote on much the same thing. In fact, he did it so well that I want to share what he says on the subject of:

What Really Needs Changed to Make Worship More Enjoyable

For many Christians, the worship assembly feels like a “duty,” in the worst sense of the word. Coming to the worship assembly is something they feel they must do, but not something they enjoy doing. This has left many saying, “It shouldn’t be this way; worship should be enjoyable!” I wholeheartedly agree! But I’m afraid the way many are trying to make worship more enjoyable is resulting in making worship shallow, meaningless, and not even worship at all.

Why Worship Should Be Enjoyable: Praising God with our Christian family should be the thing we find more enjoyable than any other. It should be something we look forward to all week long. It should be our joy and delight.

This is true for the same reason that the night a football team wins a big game, the fans can’t wait to talk to one another about the big win. They call each other on the phone, they post about it on social media, and when they see each other in person, they excitedly say, “Can you believe it?! Wasn’t that incredible?!” They enjoy talking about it almost as much as they enjoyed watching the game in the first place.

Everyone who has ever enjoyed something knows this feeling. When we’re on a great vacation, we almost can’t wait for it to be over so we can get home, tell people about it, and show them the pictures. When we have a great meal, we can’t wait to share with someone how great it was.

In fact, we could say, half the enjoyment is found in expressing our enjoyment. Isn’t it frustrating and disappointing to experience something great, but yet be unable to share it with someone? C.S. Lewis wrote about this, saying, “We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.”

When we truly enjoy God for who He is then we will be longing, aching, dying to sing out to someone, “Isn’t God awesome?!” And when they answer back, “Yes! Yes, He is awesome!” we experience the greatest pleasure available in this life.

What We Don’t Need to Change: But when people don’t experience the pleasure we intuitively know worship should bring, they often try to manufacture it through artificial means. They adjust the lighting, update the music style, incorporate drama and skits, use video and other technology, all in an effort to manipulate people’s emotions and “help them enjoy worship.”

But is this even worship? Are those who are enjoying this experience really enjoying God or are they simply enjoying an entertaining show? If it takes a change in lighting – or a change in music style – for you to enjoy sharing with your church family how great God is, maybe you need to stop and ask yourself if what you’re doing can even be called “worship.”

Worship comes from a heart that has been stirred by the goodness of God – as revealed through the Gospel – and NOT by a heart that has been manipulated by dimmed lights and talented performers.

What We DO Need to Change: If we want to make worship more enjoyable, here is what we do need to change… our hearts! We need to fill our hearts with the “word of Christ” so it dwells within us “richly” and then we’ll be able to, “[sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

When we daily allow God to reveal Himself to us through the “word of Christ,” then our enjoyment grows and grows throughout the week, finally being completed when we assemble to, “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (Ephesians 5:19). And this weekly assembly is just the foretaste of the great assembly that will gather around God’s throne in heaven to enjoy Him forever!

Sadly, many of us don’t think of the worship assembly in this way. We don’t look forward to it. We’re not longing, aching, and dying to come together with our church family and sing to another, “Our God is an awesome God.” Some are content to simply show up and say, “I’ve done my duty.”

But God is not honored by the praise of people who do not enjoy Him. If we don’t enjoy worship, we don’t need to change the music or the lights, we need to change our hearts. We need to start enjoying God every moment of every day, and then we will desperately long for our enjoyment to be completed by praising Him with our church family.

— Wes McAdams online at RadicallyChristian.com

So, how is your worship? Is it a time of joy overflowing your heart as you sing praises to the Lord? Are prayers a precious time of pouring out your thoughts, concerns, needs and praise to God? Do you join in the preaching and teaching to see the thoughts of God that you might apply them to your life to better serve God?

To put it a simpler way: How’s your heart? Is it filled with God’s joy?

If any one of us has heart trouble we quickly find it important to follow the doctor’s instructions and take the medicine or have the procedure that will let us live.

When we sing, pray, study, worship in every way will it be with the joy of hearts that truly love Him who died for us? Or will we chose to die without God’s saving medicine? Choose life beginning today!

— Lester P. Bagley

7/10/16 ~ What Color is Heaven?

RacineBuilding“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”

This amazing promise applies to us today. It also applies to eternity. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive heaven. That is why so much of Revelation is symbolic. The symbols are beautiful, so try going one step beyond reading how Revelation describes heaven, and make a drawing of what you think it looks like. Then colorize it all those beautiful colors. Revelation 21:12,13,21:

Each of the 12 GATES is named after one of the Tribes of Israel, and has an angel guarding it. Make the gates pearl. Make the angel over the gate white or yellow.

Revelation 21:17, 18a: Make the WALL jasper, which is a light see-through green.

Revelation 21:16, 18b: Heaven is full of many MANSIONS (John 14:2). Make them a translucent (see-through) gold.

Revelation 21:21: The STREETS of the city are like crystal and gold. Make them a translucent (see-through) gold also.

Revelation 22:1: The RIVER OF LIFE runs through heaven coming out from the throne of God. Make it blue.

Revelation 4:6a: The CHRYSTAL SEA is in front of God’s throne. Make it blue.

Revelation 22:2: The TREE OF LIFE grows on both sides of the River of Life. Make it green and brown.

Revelation 22:2: The ALTER OF INCENSE from Christians’ prayers is in front of the throne. Make it gold

Revelation 21:23: God’s THRONE is jasper and the glory of God is so brilliant, there is no need of a sun. Make the area of the throne silver/white.

Revelation 4:5: Around the throne of God are the seven SPIRITS of God, symbolized by seven lights. Make them yellow.

Revelation 4:3a: Near the Spirits there is a ruby red GLOW around the throne of God. Make this inner arch red.

Revelation 4:3b: There is a RAINBOW over God’s throne. Make the arch at the very top over the throne emerald green.

Although this is all symbolic, doesn’t drawing and coloring in the symbols help to put across just how beautiful heaven will be!

7/3/16 ~ False Prosperity of the Wicked

From the Preacher’s Pen…

RacineBuildingWe always enjoy getting away, going somewhere else for a change. And yet, once we are gone we begin to realize what we’ve left behind. We miss and long for being back home. Hopefully, we retain that same attitude in our spiritual lives and always remember, always long to be back home with our Heavenly Father!

We always enjoy getting away, going somewhere else for a change. And yet, once we are gone we begin to realize what we’ve left behind. We miss and long for being back home. Hopefully, we retain that same attitude in our spiritual lives and always remember, always long to be back home with our Heavenly Father!

Consider how the Psalmist reflected on that same lesson:

False Prosperity of the Wicked

This life is full of challenges to the children of God and one of those challenges is the seeming prosperity of the ungodly. Does it not seem tempting many times to give up following God? It is especially tempting when we look around us and see the seeming blessings that they have.

If you have felt this challenge, don’t be ashamed, for many of God’s people before you have noticed it, too. In fact, David wrote about this very subject in Psalm 73. Let’s see what he learned (this is from the NIV 2011 translation):

Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from common human burdens; they are not plagued by human ills. Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. From their callous hearts comes iniquity; their evil imaginations have no limits. They scoff and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth.

Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance. They say, “How would God know? Does the Most High know anything?” This is what the wicked are like — always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.

Do you feel that pain? It is real. Just look around you and see how much better off the wicked seem to be… but be careful, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

If I had spoken out like that, I would have betrayed your children.

Don’t give up! Don’t give in! Don’t betray all your faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. Look closer!

When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors! They are like a dream when one awakes; when you arise, Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.

Remember who is really God and how He controls not only the here and now but the eternal destiny of us all. And remember where you belong:

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward,  you will take me into glory.

Never forget the God who loved you so much that He gave Himself in the form of Jesus to die for you. Never forget the eternal home Jesus left this earth to prepare (John 14:1-4).

Who have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

Whatever you do, don’t give in to the temptation to be like the world! Remember who really cares for you and blesses you and promises you all the greatest things that your Heavenly Father has to offer.

But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.

Live calmly, confidently in Him this week… and share the Good News of the Savior with others!

— Lester P. Bagley