An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians were such giving people. The teacher said, “Jesus taught us that giving gifts is an expression of our love and friendship for Him and each other.” Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive'" (Acts 20:35).
A couple of days went by; the boy brought the teacher a seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a beautiful shell?” the teacher asked. The youth told her that there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could be found. When he named the place, a certain bay several miles away, the teacher was left speechless. She knew that it would have taken the young African boy hours to walk to the bay which he would have faced many dangers from the jungle and rocky cliffs of the sea coast. “Why…why, it’s gorgeous…wonderful, but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me,” the teacher joyfully exclaimed.
His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of gift.” (Story adopted from Preaching Vol. 23, No. 3, p. 88. 2007).
This story brings to mind the long walk that was part of God’s gift to mankind. In 1 Peter 1:20-21 it states, “He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Christ was foreknown before the creation of the world, where His long walk began proclaimed by the prophets of the Old Testament; He then voyaged from heaven to earth, to born of a virgin and grew up to show people the way of Heaven, He walked upon the earth and then went to a shameful cross to pay humans’ debt of sin, journeyed from the cross to the tomb, then resurrected on the third day and went back to Heaven, all of this the gift of God.
Heb 4:15-16 reminds us that the long walk was part of the gift by saying, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
And we may ask, “Why all this trouble, God?” And God would say to us, “Long walk part of the gift.”
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Many, many years ago a story is told of a good king in Spain known as Alfonso XIX who learned that the boys who served in his court were forgetting to pray before their meals. So, he decided to teach them a lesson. He gave a banquet and invited them to attend. Midway through the dinner a ragged beggar came in, sat down, and began eating ravenously. When he was finished, he went out without saying a word.
"That ungrateful wretch ought to be whipped," shouted the boys. "He ate the king's food and never showed gratitude." Quietly the king rose to his feet, and silence fell over the group. "Daily you have taken the rich blessings of life from the hand of your Heavenly Father," said the king. "You've enjoyed His sunshine, breathed His air, eaten His food He has provided, and you have not bothered to say 'thank you' for any of them. You are more ungrateful than that beggar."
Often we like those boys, take for granted those blessings that God has provided.
In Luke 17:11-19 Jesus healed ten men of leprosy. Out of the ten men who were healed only one man returned to thank Jesus. Jesus asked the man who return, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner" (Lk. 17:17, 18).
So many times, we often neglect to be thankful. Yet, thanksgiving is to be a natural attitude of our worship (1 Cor.14:16-17) and is to characterize all of Christian life (Col. 2:7; 4:2). We are to give thanks daily and regularly.
As we read in the the New Testament the early Christians expressed thanks: for Christ’s ministry (Luke 17:16); for Christ’s delieverence from sin (Rom. 6:17-18; 7:25); for God’s indescribable gift of grace in Christ (2 Cor. (:14-15; 1 Cor. 15:57; Rom. 1:21) and for the faith of fellow Christians (Rom. 1:8).
All this comes from the God who loves us and has given so much to us; shouldn’t we be thankful always?
Alex Haley, the author of "Roots," had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, "Why is that there?" Alex Haley answered, "Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn't get there on his own. He had help."
That is the basis of thankfulness - to remember that we got “here” with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have.
This Thanksgiving season may we be reminded of all the Lord has done for us and may we not only thank Him now but every day that we have the breath of life. Think about it!
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Washington-There’s considerable ignorance about the Bible among U.S. teens, judging from a Gallup Poll released Tuesday.
Fewer than half the 1,002 youths polled knew that Jesus turned water into wine at the Cana wedding, and nearly two-thirds couldn’t identify a quote from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount or the relation of the road to Damascus to the Apostle Paul’s conversion. About one-in-10 thought Moses was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles.
The poll, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, accompanied a report issued by the Bible Literacy Project of Fairfax, Va.
The literary project interviewed 41 high school English teachers who are regarded as outstanding by their colleagues; forty of those teachers said knowledge of the Bible gives students a distinct educational advantage.
This article that was reported by The Associated Press sadden my heart when I read it, yet I am not surprised. We live in a very Bible illiterate age. We must take the warning of Hosea 4:6 very seriously which reads, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge….” We as well as our young people will be destroyed if we do not heed the teachings and warnings of the Bible.
As Christian parents and concerned Christians we must encourage young people as well as ourselves to be involved with daily Bible study, regular attendance at Bible class and worship. We need to try to make a good effort to see our young people be involved in the spiritual activities of the church to help our children to spiritually and in the knowledge in the Bible such as: Bible Boosters, Vacation Bible School, Bible Bowl, Lad’s to Leaders, and other youth activities.
We must ask ourselves, are we making the most of these opportunities to build our faith and increase our knowledge of the God the Bible? Are we encouraging our children to be involved with various youth activities to boost their knowledge of Scripture and grow spiritually?
Not only will studying the Bible give students a distinct educational advantage as the article above pointed out, but the Bible will give every Christian a distinct advantage over sin, Satan’s schemes, and a knowledge of where we will spend eternity.
Church if you’re not encouraging your young people to read and study the Bible then we are setting them up for failure in this life and in the next. Please get involved with the various methods that the church offers to help your children get to Heaven. Do it now before it is to late for you and your children!
Mark T. Tonkery
November 10, 2016
The Bible Safety Chain Study
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go to an Open Bible Study workshop that was hosted by Ohio Valley University. In this workshop the Bible Safety Chain Bible Study was presented. It is a Biblical way of teaching a person who is lost in their sins how to become a Christian. It is a study that will take about two hours to go through but one that is well worth one’s time.
If you would like to use this study or read through it, you are welcome to go to the following link: http://www.wbcofc.org/pdf/safetychainbiblestudy.pdf
May God Bless you and hope this study will be a blessing to you!
Mark T. Tonkery
It is election year. So a common theme we hear is “Let’s make America great again,” “Let’s be stronger” and “be a great world power.”
So what makes a nation strong and great? Proverbs 14:34 states, “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.” So, in the words of the inspired writer righteousness makes a nation strong. Notice what does not make a nation great military might, being in a political party, money, or even peace.
Charles Carroll one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence stated, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
Sin is an age old problem, which has been with mankind from Gen. 3. 1 John 3:4 reads, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” In its basic meaning sin is a missing of the mark, missing the mark of God’s purpose which is disobedience towards Him, which results ultimately in a week nation.
So, if we want a better nation, then it begins with you and me obeying what the Bible tells us to do to be righteous, to do right things, be moral, be honest, be faithful, loyal, and stop doing evil. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 puts it this way, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Let’s get back to God, let’s get back to doing righteous things and let’s stop sinning. Think about it!
Written by Mark T. Tonkery