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I Know That You Always Hear Me

As Jesus prepared to raise Lazarus from the dead, He thanked God that He had been heard, even though He had not yet done anything (v. 41)! This is similar to what we see in many of the Psalms. The Psalmist will often thank God for answering the very prayer that he is praying before he finishes the Psalm. That is the confidence that the prayer will be heard, and so a prayer prayed is as good as a prayer answered.

In verse forty-two, Jesus goes on to say that He knows that God always hears Him. We certainly have no reason to doubt that God always hears His Son. Where is Jesus now? He is on the right hand of God making intercession for us (Romans 8:34). When we pray to God “in Jesus’ name” we are praying by His authority. In Heaven, that name carries some weight!

There are, of course, qualifications for that. We must ask in accordance with God’s will, knowing that His will is best, and we must ask with the proper attitude (James 4:3). Knowing that God always hears Jesus means that our prayers, through Him are always heard, too.

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What Shall We Do?

What Shall We Do?

After Jesus healed Lazarus the Pharisees and chief priests could not deny that Jesus was working miracles. They came together to decide what to do about Jesus.

Their concern waS not with whether they should place their faith in Him, but rather with what He would cost them. They were afraid that Rome would “take away both our place and nation” (John 11:48).

Jesus never promised that accepting His truth would come without cost or sacrifice. Sometimes it requires us to give up our place. That place may be decades or even generations of religious tradition. It might be income. It might be relationships. Whatever the sacrifice, nobody is going to reach Heaven and think the cost was too high.

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I Am The Resurrection

In John 11:25 we find the sixth of eight “I AM” statements of Jesus recorded by John. This one is full of hope! “I am the resurrection, and the life.”

Jesus gave us all life as the creator and continues to do so as our sustainer (Colossians 1:16-17). Beyond that, He is the one that offers us hope after this life in the resurrection.

Here He promises that those who believe in Him, even if they are dead, will live again. This takes us back to John 5:25-28. He is speaking of those who are spiritually dead because of sin. No matter what you have done, how bad it was, or how many times you have done it. Through faith in Christ, you can find renewed life.

Beyond that, He says that after receiving that life you need not ever die again.

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Use The Door

In John 10, as Jesus continues teaching the Pharisees, He gives the parable of the sheepfold. Here He says that those who enter in through some way other than the door are thieves and robbers (v. 1)

The door is the authorized method of entry. If we want to be in the sheepfold, where the Lord’s people are kept safe, then we must be willing to enter in through the authorized method. To do otherwise would be trying to steal access to God and blessings that have not been granted. But, even more alarming, it would be telling others that there is another way and thus misleading them.

So, as we approach Jesus, we must do so with an honest heart, and the question, “What would you have me to do?”

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Because They Feared

In John 9, after the Pharisees learned about the healing of the blind man they called for the man’s parents. The Pharisees had made it known that they didn’t like Jesus and that they would ostracize anybody who did (v. 22).

They had a simple choice: stand by their son and this amazing gift that had been given to him, and maybe suffer the consequences, or distance themselves from him to avoid being cast out of the synagogue.

They took the easy route. Why? Because of fear. It isn’t always easy to stand up for Christ or to stand by others when it’s the right thing to do. Even when it’s hard, our faith that God sees must carry us through. When it gets hard, where will you stand?

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In John 9:6ff, Jesus healed the eyesight of the person who was simply born blind. This is an excellent gift indeed! It had been a notable miracle, the fame which spread (v quickly. 16). What do the blind guy do to earn this type of precious gift?

Nothing. He didn’t earn or even require this gift. It was distributed by Jesus freely. Yet, here we note that Jesus, in healing the person, gave him directions to go and clean in the swimming pool of Siloam (v. 7). That’s what this individual did exactly. What if he previously gone to various other pool to clean? Or what if he previously didn’t wash at all? He’d have passed away blind.

By following Jesus’ instructions the person has no illusion he is somehow recovery himself or earning that recovery, but he also understood that to be able to receive his view the instructions should be accompanied by him exactly.

In the same method, when Jesus provides people salvation and eternal existence, nothing that people do can merit those ideas, and we can by no means earn them. Yet, if we have been to get the blessings He’s got promised, we should be ready to follow His instructions just as He says.

 

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My Sincerest Apology

Over the years I have met many souls who have quit church. Their reasons for doing so are varied, but a common theme is that in some way they have been hurt by the people at church. It very well may be that you are one of those who have been burned in such a way. If that’s you, please accept my deepest apology. I don’t want to make any excuses, because, in truth, there are no excuses for harmful behavior, especially among God’s people. I pray that you can find it in your heart to offer forgiveness to those who have troubled you and that they will realize their error, and resolve to do better in the future.

That being said, I would like to offer a couple of points for your consideration. First, God’s people are just that: people. We’re not perfect. If we were we wouldn’t need Jesus. Sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we say and do things that we shouldn’t. When that happens, I would like to ask for the same grace that you would want. “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). That also means that we understand you’re not perfect either.

Second, I would urge you not to give that kind of power over your life to others. Being hurt, well, hurts. I get it. But by letting that pain keep you away from the church is giving those that harm you power over your own destiny. Take that power back. The church isn’t about being perfect. It’s about admitting that you aren’t, and coming to Jesus with love and appreciation for what He has done. It’s about asking the Great Physician to heal your soul and prepare you for a home in Heaven. 

That’s why we’re here. That’s why we want you here with us.

Would you consider giving church another try with us? 

Justin Hopkins

Minister, Itasca church of Christ Continue reading My Sincerest Apology

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It’s Been A Busy Summer

I hope and trust that this quick email finds you all doing well and in good health as your soul prospers. I want to apologize for not sending out an update last month, and also in advance for the brevity of this one.

I spent the month of July mostly working on the finishing touches for the second quarter curriculum for the Talawanda School of Preaching. They concluded the first quarter in that month, and the students are doing well. Leah spent a week in Sandy Bay, Jamaica teaching children and conducting Bible studies. In total, she studied with roughly 8-10 souls while she was there. Some of these are still keeping in contact with the brethren. Also in July, we finished negotiations and purchased a house for our family!

The beginning of August saw us working on remodeling our new house (it was a little rough around the edges). As we were working on that I ended up taking a trip to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis, which was caused by a gall stone blocking my common bile duct. Thankfully, the surgeons there were able to remove my gallbladder and then the stone, and there have been no further complications. After a few days, I was sent home and put on light duty. The medical bills haven’t started coming in yet, but I’m pretty sure that I met my $5,000 deductible.

Last week the doctors gave me the all-clear to keep my scheduled trip to Talawanda to teach in the school there and to work with Maurice on the academic program, record keeping, and communication. I will be flying out on Sunday, September 8 after morning worship.

As I return from Tanzania I am going to stop off in Cambridge, England for a few days and hold a Gospel meeting. We will be spending some time in the streets encouraging people to come and hear God’s Word, and also working to set up Bible studies. Please pray that the efforts are fruitful.

I am scheduled to return home on September 25. While I am gone Leah and the boys are hoping to complete work on the house and get to move in. So, I guess I’ll find out for sure where home is when I get there 🙂

Thank you again for your support, prayers, and encouragement. After I return home I am going to be making an effort to reach out to all of my supporters and schedule a time to come and give a personal update on the work. Lots of exciting things have happened this year, and YOU are a big part of that!

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Worker Spotlight: Kitalibara Joseph

Joseph is one of the instructors at Rwenzori School of Preaching in Kasese, Uganda. He spends a great deal of time teaching our students as well as helping with the weekly evangelistic efforts. To help support his family, he operates a tour company, JosNet Safari Tours. If you’ve thought about an African safari, tracking gorillas in the jungle, or taking in the natural wonders of Uganda, check out Joseph’s website: www.JosnetSafariTours.com

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Talawanda School of Preaching June 2019

Gasper teaching Hermeneutics to our six full-time students at Talawanda.

The school at Talawanda has six full-time students, three of which are married. The wives are there at the school with their husbands in family housing. New requests to study at the school keep coming in.

The farm has produced plenty of food to sustain the students and faculty! We are continuing to plant and cultivate more crops so that the school can continue to be self-sustaining.

Weekly evangelism is a big part of what we do. This month the school’s motorcycle was totaled in an accident. Thankfully there were no serious injuries, but this will make travel for evangelism more challenging.