Missed Opportunities

          A twenty-first century poet wrote, “Look, if you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it or just let it slip?”
          Regret is not a fun feeling. Many regret past actions, and sinful behaviors should cause a type of regret that leads to repentance and reconciliation with God. With God’s grace and mercy covering our sins, we can move beyond regret to serve Him faithfully, learning from our mistakes and helping others to avoid the same.
          There is another type of regret, however, that is more difficult to move beyond: the regret of not doing something. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” We can allow our missed opportunities to paralyze us, weighing us down with regret, or we can use them as motivation to act the next time God gives us an opportunity.
          The greatest thing you can do for anyone is to teach them about Christ and the salvation He offers. Have you ever missed an opportunity to tell someone about the power of His blood? I have, and I regret it. But I cannot allow that regret to prevent me from grabbing the next chance I have to lead someone to the truth.
          The apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The famous Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei advised, “Stop worrying about missed opportunities and start looking for new ones.” Where will you start looking? Who will you share the gospel with this week?

Fairweather Followers

The Oakland A’s were the best team in baseball in 1972, defeating the Reds four games to three in the World Series. Returning to the airport in Oakland after the deciding game in Cincinnati, the team was greeted by a throng of adoring “fans.” The players, however, said it was the first time some of them had seen the team in person. Third baseman Sal Bando said, “It was a madhouse. You couldn’t walk through the place. The fans were hysterical. We wondered where they came from, because they’d never been at the ballpark.”

How will Christ react to His many adoring “followers” when He returns? Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Oakland’s attendance in 1972 was just under one million, 14th among the 24 major league teams. A championship team should not be in the bottom half in attendance, but it seems that the people of Oakland just didn’t expect the A’s to continue winning.

“Fairweather fans” will root with all their might when their team is winning, but switch allegiance as soon as there is trouble on the field. Sadly, the same is true in many congregations. “Fairweather followers” will never miss a worship service while they agree with the elders and preachers, but as soon as they feel someone stepping on their toes, their fidelity falters. Their attendance slips, they miss opportunities for fellowship, and may even start badmouthing the church to their friends.

When things aren’t going well, when temptations hit harder, when we feel all alone—that’s when we need the church the most. Work on developing a faith like those in Hebrews 11; don’t be a “fairweather follower.”

Many Antichrists Have Come

1 John 2:18-29

I. THE ANTICHRISTS

    A. Who is an Antichrist? (1 John 2:18; 2 John 9-11)
    B. What does an Antichrist do?

      1. Disobeys (1 John 2:19)
      2. Denies (1 John 2:22-23; John 5:22-23)
      3. Deceives (1 John 2:26; 4:1; Acts 17:11; 20:29-30)

II. THE ANOINTED

    A. Word play: anti-christoi (1 John 2:18) vs. christoi (1 John 2:20)
    B. Abide in the truth (1 John 2:24; Luke 12:8-9; Acts 2:42)
    C. Abide in the Son and the Father (1 John 2:24-25; Mark 10:29-30)

III. THE ASSURANCE

    A. What does inspiration teach? (1 John 2:27; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
    B. Confidence at His coming (1 John 2:28; Acts 4:13)

      1. Prayer of Peter and John (Acts 4:29)
      2. Prayer of Paul (Ephesians 6:18-19)

    C. Roy H. Lanier, Jr.: “As the father in the family is righteous, so are the children. It is a family characteristic.” (1 John 2:29; 2 Timothy 2:11-13)

A Study of the Sermon on the Mount

I consider it a privilege to teach God’s Word and I am grateful for the opportunities that are presented to me by the Point Pleasant church of Christ. This past Sunday, I wrapped up an 11-lesson study of the Sermon on the Mount with the middle school class. There are many rich lessons to be found in Christ’s masterpiece.

Throughout my preparation, I made use of the commentaries of several scholars in the Lord’s church. Their works are available online at the following links:

My notes are presented here for your use as an aid in personal or class studies. Use them as you see fit.

Minor updates were made to pages 33-35 to correct typographical errors and make a statement clearer. If you have already downloaded a copy, please delete and re-download below. If you come across any typos or if anything needs further clarification, please let me know.

downloadClick here to download A Study of The Sermon on the Mount: Class notes compiled by Jason T. Carter (PDF format).

Commitment to the Lord

Commitment to the Lord sermon

Mark 12:28-30

I. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART

    A. More than just words (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3)
    B. Full dedication (Matthew 6:24)

II. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL

    A. Barnes: “to be willing to give up the life to him, and to devote it all to his service; to live to him, and to be willing to die at his command”
    B. Stephen (Acts 7:57-60)
    C. James (Acts 12:1-2)
    D. Smyrna (Revelation 2:10)

III. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND

    A. Train our minds (Acts 17:11)
    B. Realize the importance of God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Timothy 2:15)
    C. Realize the importance of fellowship (Hebrews 10:23-25)
    D. Realize the importance of obedience (Hebrews 2:3; 1 John 5:3)

IV. LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH

    A. Commitment (Romans 12:1)
    B. Strength comes from the Lord (Philippians 4:13)

Love Not The World

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1 John 2:15-17

I. “DO NOT LOVE THE WORLD” (1 John 2:15)

    A. What type of “love”? Agape – sacrificial love
    B. What is “the world”?

      1. God’s creation (John 1:10)
      2. Mankind (1 John 2:2; John 3:16)
      3. “The mass of unbelievers hostile to Christ and resisting salvation” (John 15:18; 1 John 3:1; 4:4-5)

    C. What is your primary concern? (Romans 12:2)
    D. “…or the things of the world” (Mark 10:17-22)
    E. “…the love of the Father is not in him” (Matthew 6:24; Romans 8:5)

II. THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WORLD (1 John 2:16)

    A. “The three avenues of temptation”

      1. The lust of the flesh — the lust of the eyes — the pride of life
      2. Good for food — pleasant to the eyes — make one wise (Genesis 3:1-6)
      3. Stones to bread — riches of the world — heavenly protection (Matthew 4:1-11)

    B. How to avoid the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (Galatians 5:16-24)

III. THE FLEETING NATURE OF THIS WORLD (1 John 2:17)

    A. The world is fleeting, temporary, non-permanent (2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Peter 3:10-12)
    B. “God himself is eternal; and those who abide in him, will share in his eternal nature” (Guy N. Woods)

The Joy of Mercy

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus delivered several beatitudes, or “blessed” sayings. The Lord taught His disciples how they could be truly happy by identifying character traits of the joyous. Among those exhortations, Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The wise man in Proverbs 14:21: “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy to the poor, happy is he.” Extending mercy to those around us will result in joy.

It has been said that grace is getting what you do not deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. How many people can say they deserve salvation? The prophet Isaiah said, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The apostle Paul reminds us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As one of my Bible teachers often said, “You can’t get ‘all’-er than ‘all.’” In other words, there is no one excluded from the word “all.”

Without God’s mercy, we are without hope. But God provides mercy to those who extend mercy. Conversely, those who are unmerciful toward their brother will face harsher judgment from the Almighty. “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

When Peter asked how many times he should forgive his brother in Matthew 18, suggesting that seven times should surely be sufficient, Jesus answered, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” He then told a parable about an unmerciful man who, despite the great mercy shown to him, was unforgiving of his brother. His master “delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.” Jesus concluded, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

The bottom line is this: if you crave God’s mercy, be merciful to your fellow man!

Our Love of God and Man

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1 John 2:3-11

I. DO YOU KNOW GOD?

    A. Man’s relationship to the Almighty (1 John 2:3; John 12:48)
    B. Self-deception (1 John 2:4; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 1:6,8,10; Titus 1:11,16)
    C. Perfected love of God (1 John 2:5; Matthew 5:43-48)

II. DO YOU ABIDE IN HIM?

    A. Walk just as He walked (1 John 2:6; John 8:12; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2)
    B. The old commandment, made new (1 John 2:7-8; John 13:34-35)

III. THE DANGERS OF DARKNESS

    A. Is it possible to follow Christ while in darkness? (1 John 2:9; John 8:12; Romans 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:5)
    B. Our love of man (1 John 2:10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; John 15:9-10; 13:34; Philippians 2:3)
    C. Hatred causes blindness (1 John 2:11)

Obedience Requires Humility

Paul, Silas, and their fellow workers in the Lord encountered a great number of people on their missionary journey. Some of those people received their teachings, while others rejected the message of God. When they arrived in Philippi, the missionaries went to the riverside where a group of spiritually-minded women were praying on the Sabbath.

One of those women was named Lydia. As Paul taught the truth of Jesus Christ, Lydia’s heart was opened and she heeded his words. “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us” (Acts 16:15).

What a precious response to the Word of God. Luke does not record any arguing over the doctrine. Lydia did not make excuses for her shortcomings, nor did she “agree to disagree” with what Paul taught. She heard, she believed, and she was baptized.

How do you feel when you find out you have been wrong about something? Perhaps your boss showed you a more efficient way to do your job. Do you resist the change just because you have been doing it your way for years? Or do you recognize that there is a better way, and adjust accordingly?

Spiritually speaking, the new covenant of Jesus is “a better covenant” than the old Law of Moses, offering “a better hope” (Hebrews 7:19,22; 8:6). Christianity is better than any other religion, because it is the only path to salvation. Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, is “the way, the truth, and the life.” He said, “No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

The church must follow the Word of God, and only the Word of God. No denominational creeds, no catechisms, nothing more and nothing less than the inspired Word. It is not arrogance, but rather humility, to recognize that we cannot improve upon His revelation. The Father said of Jesus, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Luke 9:35).

The Home and Evangelism

The Home and Evangelism

I. The Great Commission

    A. “all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20)
    B. “all the world…every creature” (Mark 16:15)
    C. Where did they start? “in Jerusalem…Judea…Samaria…the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)
    D. We start where we are with those we care about most – our immediate sphere of influence – our home

II. Teaching our children

    A. Commanded in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:6-9; Proverbs 22:6)
    B. Commanded in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:4)
    C. Elders’ children are to be “faithful…not accused of dissipation or insubordination” (Titus 1:6)

III. The influence of godly parents and spouses

    A. As an example to children/grandchildren – Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-15)
    B. As an example to unbelieving spouses (1 Peter 3:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:12-16)

IV. Examples of family evangelism

    A. Andrew brought Peter to Jesus (John 1:40-42)
    B. Inviting evangelists into one’s home

      1. Cornelius (Acts 11:13-14)
      2. Lydia (Acts 16:14-15)
      3. The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30-34)
      4. Crispus (Acts 18:7-8)

V. How do we evangelize in our family today?

    A. Pray for them and for yourself for opportunities (Ephesians 6:18-19)
    B. Study to be prepared to answer their questions (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15)
    C. Look for opportunities to teach
    D. Invite them to hear other teachers (Friends & Family, Gospel Meetings, VBS, weekly worship services and classes)
    E. Set up a home Bible study – if you are not comfortable leading this yourself, there are several others in the congregation that are willing and able to teach privately

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. (Acts 8:12)