Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Make No Provision for the Flesh

Most of us probably have several Bible verses that have been among our favorites for many years. I can recall as a teenager one particular verse that helped me make good decisions in my life and service to Jesus. The verse for me was and continues to be Romans 13:14. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Once I put on Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27), this verse helped me tremendously in making the right choices as a young Christian. I was determined to remove myself from any situation that may cause me to succumb to sin. This verse should help every Christian in so many ways to do the same. If we don’t want to be a slave to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc., then we will not take that first drink, smoke that first cigarette, or begin using any illegal or dangerous drugs. We will not have to be concerned with fulfilling our lusts if we do not make any provision for those things in the first place.

In the 12th verse of the 13th chapter of Romans Paul begins the verse by saying “Let us walk properly, as in the day….” When we are walking properly, in the footsteps of Christ, then we will strive to not let anything cause us to fulfill our lusts and cause us to sin. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). What would Jesus do? That is THE question that should be in our head constantly. When we are determined to follow in His steps, allowing Him to be our priority in life, then we will have peace of mind and a good conscience toward God, knowing that we are truly doing His will (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). I encourage you to let your light shine brightly for Christ, making no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts!


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Christian's Responsibility

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are responsible for our actions. As Christians we must first understand that we are accountable to God. In Romans 14:12 it says, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Since we know that we are accountable to God we then must realize what the areas are in our life where we must take personal responsibility. Let’s examine a few of these:

For what we say: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).

For what we do: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

For what we own: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).

For what we think: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

For what we know to do: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sincere, devoted, and loyal Christians understand that we will give an account of ourselves to almighty God one day. Therefore, we should strive to examine ourselves daily to ensure that we are making the right choices, knowing that is our personal responsibility.


Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Birds Don't Build Mansions

There is so much to worry and fret about in life. The pace of day to day pursuits has been likened to a rat race where only the rats are winning. We work hard to gain stuff and the only thing we gain is stuff to worry about. Our barns are never big enough and we tear them down to build bigger ones and after time those are not quite what we need (Luke 12:15-21). Barn building is big business and expends so much of our lives.

Jesus warned His disciples about tearing barns down and building new ones. “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds” (Luke 12:22-24)? When we stop to smell the roses (and we should) we should watch the birds. 

The lessons we learn from the sparrows and the ravens are eternal. They are not farmers and they do not shop at Walmart. Most take note: they do not build barns. There is no need for a barn in their lives because they are not worried about where to put their stuff - they have no stuff. Jesus illustrates through His own creation that birds are cared for by the gracious hand of God. Birds do not have worry lines above their eyebrows. They do not have to visit the doctor to get medicine for anxiety and worry about stuff of life.

Birds teach the lesson penned by the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:6-8: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” These creatures of God are content because they trust and rely upon God to feed them. The provisions of life are found in the providential care of a loving Creator. Our contentment must come from being satisfied. The man who tore down his barns in Luke 12:15-21 was never satisfied. He wanted more. Then he wanted more of the more. His definition of “enough” was always a little more than he had. 

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). Have you ever seen a covetousness bird? The only time you will ever see a bird excited about a $100 bill is when he finds one to make wallpaper in his nest with. He knows that the true worth of money is nothing more than paper with dead Presidents (and a few others) on it. He does not worry about money because God takes care of him.

There is a saying that goes, “God promised to feed the sparrows but He never promised to bring the feed to the nest.” Jesus was not suggesting that man not work because the Lord requires man to work (Ephesians 4:28). Even in the time of Jesus people worried themselves sick about their stuff. We need to learn the lesson about the birds - they do not live in mansions. They are simple creatures who have a simple trust in the real meaning of life. Sadly, birds are creatures of the earth alone. When they die they return to the dust from whence they came. Man however, continues to live on in eternity. The Lord will judge men - not birds. But the Lord will use birds to judge a man when He compares the heart of the man. “But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:31).

Written by: Kent Heaton

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Be Holy for I Am Holy

How pure and holy should Christians really be? Peter answers that question by saying, “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16). The apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1). When Christians understand the tremendous sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf then we should be extremely motivated to make sure that we live our lives pure and holy for Jesus. He suffered and gave His life so that we can have our sins forgiven and what He expects from us that we appreciate what He did for us, and be determined to live holy lives so that we can gain an eternal home with our Lord and Savior one day.

In addition, every Christian is a saint (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; 2:19). When we realize that we are holy saints then we should ensure that we absolutely set ourselves apart in full service to God. Peter writes, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). The point I am trying to make in these short lessons is that we must understand that Christians are a special people and should strive to please Jesus in every single thing that we do. Before doing anything we should ask ourselves this very important question: “Would Jesus do it?” If we really want to please Him, then we will answer the question honestly, knowing that Jesus sits in judgment (John 12:48). May we all strive to "perfect holiness" in our day to day lives!


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Error and Sin

What is my responsibility toward error and sin? The Bible teaches that we are to expose it. Paul writes, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). When one commits sin, any sin, then one is not in the right relationship (fellowship) with God. It is very important that we are in the proper fellowship with God because if we are not, then we will be condemned. John writes, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7). Christians need to be thinking about this on a daily basis. We must ensure that we are in fact in the proper fellowship with God. There is no room in the Christian’s life for darkness (sin). When we confessed before God that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and then buried in the watery grave of baptism all of our sins were washed away. We arose from the water free of sin, and determined to live a life devoted in service to God. We now are living a new life dedicated to His service and determined to expose sin! Romans 6:3-11 shows us how we are now changed to live fully and completely for Jesus. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every Christian took their baptism and “new” life seriously, understanding that sin is no longer part of our life in any way? Every Christian should now be devoted to Christ, following in His steps, as evidenced by our every action. We need more Christians to stand up and truly be counted as loyal members of the body of Christ. Can others really see Christ living in us?


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Obedience to God

We often talk about the fact that we must obey God and for the most part every Christian will quickly agree that this is a fact. Unfortunately there are many Christians who are not obeying God in all aspects of their life. We cannot say that obedience to God is necessary and then not try to obey God. Jesus clearly stated that we cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24). The disciples were willing to be severely persecuted, even put to death, for the honor and privilege to be able to proclaim God’s Holy and inspired word so that others may be saved (Acts 5:29).

Why is it so important that we obey all the teachings of God? Because Jesus clearly tells us that He will only save those who obey Him. The Hebrew writer says, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus will judge us by His word. He said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). We must take this very seriously. If we go through life here on earth understanding that Jesus will judge us according to what we have done, then we must DO His will and not just talk about it. We will only be able to reap the benefits of eternal life with our Lord when we are truly faithful to Him as we live here on earth (Revelation 2:10). I want to encourage all of us to please think about what we are doing. Does God really see us living in such a way that we are 100% committed in our life and service to Him? Remember, Jesus will judge us and His judgment is fair.


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Stay the Course

God has promised us that if we are with Him then He will be with us. Azariah the prophet of God spoke to King Asa and said, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (2 Chronicles 15:2). One can read about King Asa in chapters 14-16 of 2 Chronicles. When Asa sought God then he was blessed in all that he did. He was able to destroy an Egyptian army of a million men because he sought God first. As a result of his reliance on God, he and the kingdom of Judah enjoyed 35 years of peace. In chapter 16 we learn that God forsook Asa because he began to leave God out of his decisions. In the 41st year of Asa’s reign, he became diseased in his feet and still did not seek the Lord’s help. Asa died having devoted the first 35 years of his life in faithful service to God but unfortunately he made some very foolish decisions, not relying on God as he did earlier in his life and service as the King of Judah.

The life of King Asa should teach all of us something today. Hanani, the prophet spoke these powerful words: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him...” (2 Chronicles 16:9). We can know that if we will dedicate our life fully and completely to God, then He will prosper us. But if we choose to put anyone or anything ahead of Him, then we will not prosper. To the loyal Christian, God is our strength, hope, and salvation. Stay the course! Continue to be “.....steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). We must be faithful until the very end of our life here on earth in order to receive the crown of righteousness (Revelation 2:10)!