by Barnabas

July 2011

“Jesus…as was His Custom…” (Luke 4:14-16)

Dear Brethren,

Whenever we travel to another country, it is important for us to try to understand the basic customs of the people.  Customs are important in every culture.  Marriage, property rights, and the raising of children vary widely from people to people, as do the rules for eating and hygiene.  Being left handed, there are countries where I have been reminded not to eat with my left hand from a common dish.  Once on the East Coast, while sitting down in a restaurant for a meal with a pastor and his family from India for the first time, the pastor quietly asked, “Do you mind if we eat with our hands?  It is our custom.”  In many countries, sitting with your legs crossed or showing the sole of a shoe can be extremely offensive.  Customs are the distinctives that help to define a culture.

After the children of Israel left Egypt and were ready to cross the Jordan River to take possession of the Land (Joshua 3:1-17), the Lord warned them not to adopt the customs of the people.  Leviticus 18:30 and 20:23 are two passages in which the Lord gives His people a strong warning not to follow “any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them.”  God takes customs and behavior seriously.  What is considered normal in one culture may indeed be an “abomination” in the sight of God according to His Word.

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He lived a life that reflected the “customs” of His Father’s Kingdom.  It was His custom to go to the synagogue, to “Church” on the Sabbath.  It was His custom to read the Word of God, and teach others the Truths of the Scriptures.  It was His practice to encourage others to walk in obedience to the Word of God.  (John 8:11; Mark 10:21-22) 

The Bible tells about Jesus praying for Himself, His disciples, and for us (John 17).  There were times when He was not ashamed to pray in public (John 11:41-42), and frequently, He went off to pray alone (Matthew 14:23).  Prayer was His “custom.”  More than once the Word of God says that Jesus went from town to town preaching the Kingdom of God (Matthew 9:35).  It was His “custom” to proclaim the Word of Truth so that whoever had “ears to hear” (Mark 4:23) could respond in faith.  He was ready to “preach the Word in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2) not willing to miss any opportunity to confront sin (Matthew 23:1-33) or sow the seed of Hope (John 14:1).

Time after time we read in the Gospels of Jesus’ ministry of healing.  The lame, the leper, and the blind, were healed by the Word of the Lord (Matthew 8:8).  It was His “custom” to respond to those who were in need of healing.  Sick bodies were made well (Matthew 8:15) – the dead were raised (Luke 17:14) – the demon possessed were delivered (Mark 5:15) – Jesus never turned His back on those in need (Matthew 4:24).  And it was the Lord’s “custom” to speak to strangers and outcasts (John 4:7; Luke 19:5), His “custom” to reach out to those who were lost (Luke 19:10).  Jew and Gentile, slave or free, man, woman or child (Galatians 3:28), all had value in the eyes of Jesus because they were made in the image of God the Father (Genesis 1:26-27).

As Christians living in the shadow of the second coming of Christ, our custom should be to walk “in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1), standing firm in our faith (Philippians 1:27), so that we can indeed be Christ’s “witnesses” (Acts 1:8) in this world filled with sin, sickness and death.  For those who are strangers to the Kingdom of God, we must be living our lives so that the Lord will be glorified in all that we say and do.  Therefore, let us encourage one another to consider the life of Jesus the Messiah and follow Paul’s “encouraging Word” and be “imitators” of him as he was of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1).


“Now there was a rich man…And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate....” (Luke 16: 19-20)
Life after death is a popular topic of debate today.  Even in the Church there are many who want to downplay the Biblical reality of eternal judgment after death for those who have rejected Christ Jesus and His Gospel of redemption, in favor of a more “positive” and “seeker friendly” approach, one that isn’t so “negative”.  But what does the Bible say about life after death?  We can learn a lot from the stories Jesus shared in the Gospels, especially the testimony of the Rich Man and Lazarus  FULL STORY

“O that a man might plead with God as a man with his neighbor!” (Job 16:21)
In these trying times it is all the more important that we encourage one another to stay close to the Lord.  Our relationship with God our Father through His Spirit and the Word will comfort and sustain us regardless of what we have to face.  The Bible has many testimonies of those who endured times of suffering, trial and persecution.  For some those were times when their fellowship with the Lord grew deeper and more intimate, while for others, it was the suffering that led them to the feet of Jesus to be saved.

Our relationship with our God and Savior grows as we spend time in His Word and through prayer.  As the financial and political pillars of the international community and America grow weaker, it is critical that we encourage one another to put our trust in the Lord all the more.  Remembering the Lord’s great deliverance of His people on the shores of the Red Sea, King David wrote “Some trust in Chariots and some in horses, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Let’s encourage one another to read the Word, remembering that it was the Lord who delivered then and it is the Lord who will deliver now, so that when the trials come we can endure, both for God’s glory and our benefit.  FULL STORY

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert..." (1Peter 5:8)

When we look at what is going on in the world, especially the political and economic turmoil, we can be tempted to interpret these events as just part of the ongoing cycle of human civilization. But if we want to have peace in the midst of what is happening, faith not fear, we need to allow the Word of God to give us understanding so that we can know how these events fit into God’s timeline as He prepares the world for the Second Coming of His Son, Jesus Christ.


"Well done thou good and faithful servant..." (Matthew 25:21)

We know from the Scriptures that judgment is coming upon the whole world someday.  But the Word of God says also othat there is a special "judgment" for the believers at the Bema Seat, or the Judgment Seat of Christ.  That is when the Christian is judged for the work that was done for the Kingdom of God after they came to faith in Jesus Christ.

What will we hear the Lord say on that day?  Will it be "Well done!"

Let's encourage one another to live our lives so that they will be pleasing in the sight of God the Father and bear good fruit for His Kingdom.


"Choose you this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)

Salvation is a mystery, but God’s Sovereignty and Authority are not.  In this sin sick and fallen world, Christians must continually choose to yield to the Word of God and obey the Lord so that lost men, women and children will be drawn to Christ through our living sacrifice on His behalf.



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