2023 Fall Annual Meeting. Visiting minister Elder Bryce Lowrance offers the sobering cautionary tale of the Pharisees and Sadducees who were more concerned about destroying their religious enemies than following Christ. They were so consumed with legalism and the form of religion, that they missed the Son of God right before their faces. Let us always be mindful to “contend FOR” the truth, never to “contend AGAINST” our perceived enemies in the religious world!
Author: Pastor David Page 2 of 51
2023 Fall Annual Meeting. Visiting minister Elder Bryce Lowrance encourages us to keep in memory the gospel of the resurrection that will save us from despair. It is inevitable in our lives that we will become discouraged and even despair, but it’s vital that we do not stay there. When we focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it will deliver us from depression and despair that will press us down in this world.
In the aftermath of the feeding of 5,000, there some some carnal disciples who were following Jesus primarily because of natural food. Jesus points them to the true meat, the true sustainer of God’s children in this world which is Christ himself as the bread of life. We partake of Christ as the bread of life by believing and trusting him on a daily basis.
In Nehemiah’s latter days – that correspond to the prophecy of Malachi – we see a religious culture that is very similar to ours today. Irreverence, lukewarmness, disobedience bathed in self-justification, and a form of godliness but denying the power thereof. We need to learn from the mistake of Malachi’s generation and submit to truly serving the Lord from the heart, not just with outward pretense of religion.
Unfortunately, God’s people seem to always seem to fall into the same mistakes and sins over and over and over again. After the revival in the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall, the people recommitted to the covenant of God. Then, only 12 years later in the absence of Nehemiah’s leadership, the people have once again fallen into the same sins as generations before – mixed marriages, neglecting the sabbath, and neglecting support of the temple.
In Jesus’ walking on the water, we find the disciples letting fear and doubt creep in to quench their faith. They should have believed that Christ could do anything right in the aftermath of the feeding of 5,000 men, but instead they crumble during the storm of life. In like manner, we let doubt grow and fear grow to quench our faith in Christ. We ought to overcome those storms by faith in Christ and walk over and triumph over the same water that seeks to overwhelm us.
God’s people throughout every generation seem to fall into the same cycle of blessings, peace, rest, and prosperity – then sin, disobedience, and judgment. Just like the Old Testament Jews, in spite of our repeated sins, God still shows great mercy unto his people today. Thankfully, the Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundantly ready to pardon his people.
In the studying of God’s word after the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall, the Jews observed the command of the feast of tabernacles. The feast of tabernacles was to remind God’s people that they resided in temporary dwelling places and this world was not their home. When we go through trials in this world, what gives us strength is a future vision, looking towards our eternal joy of the Lord in heaven.
One of Jesus’ most well-known miracles – actually the only miracle during his ministry recorded in all four gospels – is the feeding of the five thousand (men). We find the disciples’ initial unbelief in Christ’s ability to provide food for such a large number in the wilderness. Despite their unbelief, the Lord uses them to feed his sheep and even sent them each home with a basket full of leftovers to remind them of God’s overflowing grace and provision.
After the completion of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem wall, all of Jerusalem met together in worship. They met in family-integrated worship, were active and engaged in worship with Amens and lifting hands. Multiple preachers stood up and read from the law, read distinctly from the word, gave the sense thereof, so God’s people could understand the scriptures. Today, we also hope in the church to read distinctly and give the sense of God’s word so we can understand and apply in our lives.