Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Sting of Death

We can read in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56: “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.” In verse 56 we learn that the sting of death is sin. Why? Because those that are caught up in sin at the point of death will never be raised to an eternal resurrection with Jesus. That would be the ultimate sting! In addition, when one dies in sin, then there truly is sadness and suffering by others. When one dies in a sinful condition, loved ones are left knowing the fate of the departed. Unpreparedness on our part will result in death’s sting when we die. Paul wrote: “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Many individuals end up in this sad state when they die - but it does not have to be so. The sting of death can be removed if we desire it to be removed.

How Was Death’s Sting Removed?
Jesus Christ came into the world, lived a perfect, sinless life, and died so that we can have forgiveness of sins (2 Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 2:14). Death’s sting has been removed by living righteously in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 1:10). We are promised if we obey Jesus and are faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10), then we can have everlasting life with our Lord!

Monday, September 30, 2019

Satan's Many Devices

One thing that we should learn is not to be ignorant of Satan’s many devices. We read in 2 Corinthians 2:11 “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” We need to realize that Satan is constantly trying to find out what it is that can carry us away from God. But if we stay tuned into the Word of God then we will be less susceptible to falling for his devices. Satan prefers to have good company (Job 1:5), and is always ready and willing to tempt the children of God. Remember Eve? Who did she quickly put the blame on when she was tempted? It was Satan, disguised as a serpent! Later, Satan came to tempt the Son of God, asking Him to “command these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus did not succumb to Satan’s temptation as he responded with “it is written”. Jesus, the Son of God, in the form of a man, knew about Satan’s devices and was not about to sin.

Satan is the Prince of the World
Jesus is our Prophet, Priest, and King, but Satan is the Prince of this world! There is nothing that Satan would like better than to get you and I wrapped up in the materialistic things of his worldly kingdom so that our minds will be made distant of doing those things that will please our Father. Do you think he’s succeeding? Sure he is, and its because man does not think enough about his soul to be concerned about where it will end up! We better make sure we are doing everything possible to ensure that we are going to heaven because Satan certainly will not be there (John 12:31).

All Satan does is cause war. He has the power to just annoy! The apostle Paul wrote: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Man wrestle’s within himself because Satan is doing everything possible to lead us away from God. 

Satan is a Deceiver and a Murderer
We need to recognize who Satan is and what he is all about. The student of God’s Word will know the things that are pleasing to God and then realize that anything contrary to God’s will is something Satan would not only approve of, but try to get us to do! Jesus said: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44). Satan is nothing but a liar! When someone tries to sweet talk us into doing something that we KNOW is contrary to Bible teaching, it is Satan’s deception at work.

Satan is a Hindrance to Our Salvation
Oh how much easier it would be to stay on that straight and narrow road to heaven if Satan wasn’t in the way! Notice what the Bible says concerning Satan’s hindrance to our salvation: “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He has blinded the minds of many people, keeping them from believing the truth of Jesus Christ who is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus has the truth and it has been revealed to us through His gospel. Satan says he has the truth, but he is a liar! He hinders our salvation! In the parable of the sower Jesus talked about Satan as being the one who takes the word away from the hearts of those who hear the word of God, so that they will not believe the teaching of Christ and be saved (Luke 8:12).

Satan will always try to make God’s Word serve his purpose (Matthew 4:5-6). But we should always strive to resist him (James 4:7). Let us be ready and willing to fight Satan by putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11).

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Exposing 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 sins willfully, then one is not in the right relationship (fellowship) with God (Hebrews 10:26; 1 John 5:16-17). 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 were 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? 

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Israel's Defeat at Ai

Joshua attacked Ai in keeping with the Lord’s command to utterly destroy the people dwelling in Canaan so that the children of Israel could take possession of the land as God had promised them. But there was a problem in this battle. Israel was defeated! Why? Because there was SIN in the camp We read in Joshua 7:10-12: “So the LORD said to Joshua: Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face?  Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they have become doomed to destruction. Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you.” At first Joshua did not understand why it was that God’s chosen people were destroyed in this battle. But Joshua did not know that someone in their own camp had transgressed God’s earlier instructions to them, which was, not to take anything from the enemy to keep for themselves. But someone did, and that someone was a man named Achan. As a result of his sin, he was destroyed, and not only him, but his wife, children, livestock and all belongings! Other lives were destroyed because of this one man’s transgression against almighty God. He knew the rules that God had put forth, yet he still chose to disobey those rules. What was the result? Death to him and his family. This was a sad price to pay for selfishness. We can and should learn a valuable lesson from this story.

Learning From Yesterday’s Mistakes
God gave specific instructions for the children of Israel not to take those things which had once belonged to the enemy, in this case Ai. But because of one man’s disobedience, several men lost their lives along with his own family. Today we are given specific instructions on how to live our life unto the Lord. 

We have been commanded NOT to touch the unclean thing. Paul writes: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). Are we reading what Paul writes with an open heart here? He says “BE SEPARATE!” As God’s people were a separate people long ago, God’s people are still a separate people today. A Christian simply cannot be pleasing to God while doing worldly things. (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15-17). A Christian is said to be a “special people” (1 Peter 2:9). A special person, striving to be well-pleasing in God’s sight will NOT involve himself with those things which are unclean.

We are to put away evil from among us. Again the apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian brethren telling them: “not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner-- not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Just as the children of Israel was told to put away the evil from among them (in their case to destroy what was taken and to kill Achan and his family), we are also to rid the Lord’s church from evil that may creep in. Our role as Christians is to “seek and save the lost” and not to tolerate evil. God does not tolerate evil and neither should we. Evil is not of God, it is of the Devil. When we associate ourselves with evil we are committing adultery against God (James 4:4). We should learn from long ago that God did not tolerate evil then, and He certainly does not tolerate evil today. 

God promises the fall of those who do not obey Him. Just as He promised that those who did not obey His will would be punished long ago, God will punish us today if we choose not to obey Him. Jesus became the “author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Only those of us that obey His teaching will be saved, just as those of Israel that obeyed God were saved. May we always learn from the lessons of old, how to live our life today.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Walking as Jesus Walked

There’s a saying that has been out for a long time that says: “Your talk talks and your walk talks, but your walk talks more than your talk talks.” We can give lip service forever and it won’t really amount to much until it is backed up by our actions in life. Therefore, we should learn that our Christian walk needs to be a walk of duty and devotion to our God! Knowing that this is so, then we should not ask others to carry us, but rather we should be ready to bear the burdens of one another (Gal 6:2). Since our Christian life is a walk, we must also understand that it is an individual duty. Nobody can take our place in our walk, we must do it individually, on our own. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 it says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” The object of our Christian walk is to reach a desired destination and that destination is heaven. Paul wrote: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:14-16). As we press on toward heaven, that high calling, we realize that we must strive to live a life faithful to God here on earth. When others see our walk, do they see us striving for that high calling, being faithful to Jesus?

Walking in Newness of Life
Paul wrote again in Romans 6:4: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Again in 2 Corinthians 5:17 he wrote: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”When an individual is baptized INTO Christ he is a new creature. All those old things that were of the world are now dead. We are brand new, striving to live a life of godliness. That is why EVERY Christian should be known by their walk. A Christian is different because they are now in God’s family, living and practicing only those things that are righteous! We should walk worthy of our vocation as it says in Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; and 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12.

Walking in Faith, Love, and Honesty
I believe that one thing that keeps some Christians from walking the Christian walk is a lack of genuine faith. We must have a sincere faith in God. “For we walk by faith, not by sight:” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Can all of us sincerely say that? When we have Bible faith, then we can get on with living our lives as God intended for us to. Before we can ever hope to “walk the walk”, then we MUST have faith in God. The Hebrew writer wrote: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6). Without proper faith, we can’t please Him in our life because our heart, mind, soul, and strength will not be present to serve Him. A Christian’s walk is also a walk of honesty. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren and said: “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor 4:2). This verse lets us know some things that a Christian will not do. It also tells us that a Christian’s conduct is upright and handled with all honesty. Do others see that kind of walk in our lives? 

In addition to faith, love, and honesty, a Christian’s walk should be a walk that copies that of Jesus. John writes: “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Simply put, does our Christian walk mirror Jesus’ walk?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

What Will Become of My Spirit?

This is a question that every man and woman should be sincerely asking of themselves! We need to understand that God gave each one of us a physical body to house our spirit in. The spirit in which we have was given also by God and will NEVER die. Each one of us will someday experience a physical death, one in which our body will die and return to the dust of the earth but our spirit within will live forever. “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). God will take back into His possession the spirit in which he gave us in the first place. This is why we need to realize that we do not have any right to treat this physical body that we have been blessed with any way we want to. God expects us to take care of our body so that our spirit will be able to have longer days in which to do service to others and bring others to the knowledge and understanding of Christ.

Once we fully understand that we have a service, a duty to do as a child of God then we can with greater understanding know that we are responsible to develop the spirit within us into a worker for the Lord. When we die physically, our spirit will go upward to God. We can read in Ecclesiastes 3:21 “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?” Man is different than any other living thing on the earth that God made. 

God breathed into the nostrils of man and he became a living soul. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). That soul that you and I have is our spirit, and it will never die - it will live forever. When Jesus died upon the cross for your sins and mine he gave up his spirit back to God who gave it. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:” (Luke 23:46). When Stephen was stoned to death, just before he died he asked Jesus to receive his spirit (Acts 7:59). Therefore we can see from these examples that our spirit leaves our body at death and returns to God who gave it (Genesis 35:18; Ecclesiastes 12:7). 

We can learn and understand that no man has the power to retain the spirit. In Ecclesiastes 8:8 it is recorded: “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death:” Only Jesus was able to overcome death and He did so on behalf of all men. We do not know when our day of death will come and when it does come we will have no control over it. Just as certain as we will die (Hebrews 9:27), our soul (spirit) will depart our body at that time and return to our Father. A body cannot live without the spirit. James 2:26 says: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” Our body needs the spirit that God gave us to survive. Once our body dies, then our spirit will go to God and will give account for all the things that it did (good or bad) within this physical body of ours. Notice what the apostle Paul says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Knowing that our spirit will one day return to God, and knowing that this spirit that God gave us MUST give account of all that it did, good or bad, then it would make sense that we would nurture our God given spirit to be as godly as we can possibly make it. We should further be able to understand what James meant by “faith without works is dead.” We can BELIEVE that our spirit came from God (Faith), but if we do not do anything (Works) to ensure that our spirit will get to be with God eternally, then we are dead. Let us all strive to ensure that our spirit within us will be able to account for good works (Matthew 25:34-40) and enter into heaven eternally! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Wicked and Disobedient

Often times we talk about the wicked people of this world as the ones who will eventually end up in an eternal hell. Well, that is certainly true. But don’t forget that the Bible also tells us that not only will the wicked go to hell but also the disobedient. In 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 the apostle Paul writes: “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” How sad it will be to be lost for an eternity in hell because we did not obey the gospel of Christ. No matter how good we are morally, no matter how much we are respected and liked by men, our end will still be the same as those who murder, commit fornication, homosexuality, and steal. Yet most people do not even think about this. God’s Word is very plain in this area, His Word is certain. When one does not obey the gospel of Christ he is considered an unbeliever. In Revelation 21:8 it addresses the unbelievers along with the wicked. It says: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

I think of the prisons today that are being filled to capacity with the worst of criminals, to include those that have been found guilty of murder, sometimes more than once, along with other terrible crimes. I do not want to be with those types of individuals for an eternity! Would you? If you have not obeyed the gospel of Christ, then unfortunately you WILL be with them. Obey the gospel of Christ today before it is everlastingly too late!