Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Lasting Influence

Our influence is something we possess and others use. Do you know who is watching you? Do you know how big of an influence that you have on other people? No you don’t. And because of that we must be very careful how we conduct ourselves every minute of every day because we don’t know who is watching --- besides God. Our influence is represented in different ways. In the book of Matthew alone, Jesus points out three ways that indicate how strong our influence is. First of all our influence is represented by light. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16). This passage tells us that we will be seen no matter what. Therefore we must be the kind of influence or example that others will be able to see Jesus Christ in us. Our influence may only seem like such a little thing to us but Jesus says “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three pecks of meal, until it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33). It doesn’t take much influence to make a BIG impression on someone else who is watching you without you even knowing it. The third way that our influence is represented is stated again by Jesus in Matthew 5:13 when He says “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men”.

As we know from our experiences in tasting salt that it is only as good as it is salty. Once it has lost its saltiness, then it is good for nothing! We also know that just a little bit of salt will add spice to many different foods. Is our life characteristic of the light, leaven, and salt? We may not have all the knowledge and wisdom that we would like to have, but there are a lot of little things that we can do to be the RIGHT influence for others to follow. Because it is the little things that others see in us that may make the difference in their eternal salvation.

The three different influences represented above could be good or bad. We know from reading 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 that we should not have a corrupting influence but rather one as Paul describes in Romans 14:21 when he says “It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles”. To be able to truly do this as a Christian we must first have the attitude that we “DO CARE” about what kind of influence that others see in us and then to do all we can to keep our brothers and sisters from seeing something in us that would lead them to fall away from the truth. We have a responsibility to ensure that we do EVERYTHING according to the will of God!

We should never try to influence others by physical force (Philemon 14), or by bribery (Acts 8:20; 24:26). But rather by our words (Acts 11:14) and by the example that we lead (Titus 2:7-8; Romans 14:21). We can see from the scriptures that each individual Christian has the responsibility to have a good influence on others (Matthew 5:13-16).

Each Christian should want to influence others in a positive way ALL THE TIME. We need to influence the world (Matthew 5:16), the other brethren (Romans 14:21; 1 Timothy 4:12), our companions (1 Corinthians 7:16; 1 Peter 3:1) and of course our children. Our children see us every day and know what we are really like. If you want to know what your children think is the most important thing in your life just ask them - they’ll tell you. But hang on, it may surprise you also. That’s where your influence is showing, either in a good way or a bad way. And this is the type of influence that will be “A LASTING INFLUENCE”. We all need to ensure that our influence is a godly influence.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kindness

I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper stickers and signs that say, “Don’t tell me what kind of day to have!” Anybody with that kind of attitude probably won’t have a good day. Nevertheless, if we truly want to have a good day, a day filled with joy and happiness, let us try kindness.

I know that being kind is not the habit of many people today, and unfortunately our society sometimes looks with contempt on those who practice kindness. However, we ask, “Who says we must fashion followers rather than style setters?” Just because many people are selfish, critical, unfriendly, and cold doesn’t mean we have to be, especially when being like them is what tends to make us unhappy, lonesome, and down in the dumps.

Don’t be like the rest of the world! Be like God’s Son, Jesus Christ. For three years He went about doing good, and if we want to be pleasing to God, we’ll do the same. We’re told in Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” If we follow this advice, we’ll find that kindness gives birth to kindness. 

For us to be kind doesn’t mean that we need to have a lot of money, or do great deeds. Anyone can express concern and care for the feelings of others. Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Also, anyone can speak in a kind tone to others. The writer of Proverbs praised the worthy woman by saying, “And in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (Proverbs 31:26). 

Consequently, if we desire to be happy and wish to contribute to the happiness of others, let us try kindness. Kindness will work wonders for us as well as others. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

No Hope Without God

Without God we would have no hope whatsoever of life after death. He offers us the hope of a life hereafter. Those who are in this life without God cannot entertain the hope of eternal life in heaven with God. Paul said of the Gentiles who were once without God, “At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).

There is a sharp contrast between the Christian’s view of eternity and that of those who reject God! To the faithful Christian eternity is not a leap into darkness, but is something to desire and look forward to. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:21-24 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” Paul was ready to die. He wanted to go and be with Christ.

How about you? Are you living in this world without hope? If so, why not make the changes necessary to be pleasing to God? Paul went on to say regarding the Gentiles, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). By being in Christ, we can be redeemed by His blood, and have the hope of eternal life. 
  

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Grace of God

A failure to understand the grace of God with regard to the salvation of man has been fatal to many persons. There are those who believe that God in His mercy and grace will not permit anyone to be lost; consequently, they feel no need for seeking salvation. It is true that the most joyous thought that a convicted sinner can have is that God has offered to give him salvation. It is necessary, however, for us to understand just how one is saved by the grace of God. By definition, grace is unmerited favor. God looked upon man as he had sinned and as he was without hope in the world. Although man did not deserve it, God formulated a plan whereby man could be saved from his lost condition. Jesus expressed this in these words, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Thus, man has access to the grace of God through Jesus Christ. In Romans 5:1-2, the Apostle Paul declared, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

In order for us to be the recipients of the grace of God which comes through Jesus Christ, it is necessary for us to know exactly how grace saves us. In Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul declared, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Here, we learn that in salvation both God and man have a part. God’s part is to provide a way of salvation, or a means whereby man can be saved; this he does by His grace. Man’s part is to accept the salvation which God so freely offers and this is done through faith.

Man believes in God and then accepts the conditions of salvation which are set forth in the scriptures. Faith saves when faith obeys. In Hebrews 11:30, we read, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days." The walls of Jericho fell by faith because Joshua believed what God said and obeyed his command. In the same way, our faith must cause us to obey what God tells us to do.

It is pointed out, however, that Paul declared in Ephesians 2:9, "not of works, lest anyone should boast." It is true that no man can save himself by his own works, but he must work according to God's plan in order to be saved. We are told in Philippians 2:12 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Also, James states in James 2:24, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." It is interesting to note that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord according to Genesis 6:8, but that Hebrews 11:7 says "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Noah was saved by the grace of God, through faith on his part which prompted him to obey God's commands. A person may be saved from his sins by the grace of God when he believes what God says and when he obeys the Gospel which is God’s power unto salvation (Romans 1:16). May we all accept God's grace through our faith in His teaching, resulting in our obedience to His will. We can't afford to miss heaven. God certainly has done His part, now we must do ours. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

The Final Judgment

There are many teachings about the final judgment. Some teach there will be no judgment at all. Most people believe this because the evidence of their lives shows no concern for a judgment. Some think that it is going on now. In a way they are correct because everything we do effects our final judgment, and then the day of the Lord will be more of a sentencing or declaration day than one of judgment (as we understand the word). A few people teach that the judgment has already passed, and this teaching confuses people. If there is no judgment to come, why do people live by strict rules and try to convert people to their beliefs?

Despite all the error and false teaching about the final judgment day, we must recognize that the Bible is certain of its coming. Wicked angels are awaiting judgment (2 Peter 2:4). There are passages all through the pages of the Bible that speak of a final judgment. The wicked need to fear the judgment because the wrath of God will be upon them (Romans 2:8), but the righteous look forward to that great day when God will reward them with eternal life in heaven (Romans 2:7).

We do not know when this will take place for only God knows that time, we can be assured of this from the pages of the Bible; All will die and after that each will face their judgment (Hebrews 9:27). This final judgment will come unexpectantly, like a thief in the night (Matthew 24:36; 2 Peter 3:10). Acts 17:30-31 tells us that God has appointed A DAY in which He will judge the world. Everyone will be judged. Almighty God will judge each individual. The standard of Judgment will be the life that was lived and the actions of the person living that life. Jesus Christ will be the great Judge. God will judge the earth through Christ.

We also know that God keeps records in heaven. He writes down the names of the righteous into the Lamb’s Book of Life, and he also records the names of those who rebel against Him. Here are some of the things for which we will be judged: Our thoughts (Proverbs 23:7: 2 Corinthians 10:5); Secret things (Romans 2:6); Every work (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14); Our words (Matthew 12:36-37); All we have done (1 John 3:4; Galatians 6:7-8); and what we have failed to do (James 4:17). This last one should be the most sobering thought that comes into our mind every day we live.

We know that God’s judgment will be true, just, righteous, and everybody will be treated fairly and justly, and everyone will get what they deserve. There will be no appeals process, because there will be no error in judgment by the perfect God. Prepare to meet thy God.

Article written by: Carey Scott

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Spirit of Christ

As Christians it would be wonderful to fully possess the spirit of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul told the Romans “...Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). Therefore, we realize that as Christians we must possess the spirit of Christ. The first question one may ask at this point is “What kind of spirit did Christ possess?” Let’s look at many of the different types of spirit that Christ had. When we think of Christ we often times think that He was obedient as it states in Philippians 2:8. In addition, Jesus was Humble (Matthew 11:29), Forgiving (Luke 23:34), Prayerful (Mark 1:35), Diligent (Luke 2:49), Sympathetic (Hebrews 4:14-15), Merciful (Hebrews 2:17), Self-sacrificing (Matthew 8:20), Pure (1 John 3:3), Loving (John 15:13), Righteous (Matthew 3:15), Patient (1 Peter 2:20-21), Serving (Philippians 2:5-6), and Non-reviling (1 Peter 2:23). I’m sure there are many others that you could name from the scriptures but these are just a few, enough for us to realize that the Christ we serve was perfect. We should want and strive to have the spirit of Christ because we want to be His. As Paul mentioned earlier, we can’t belong to Christ if we don’t take on the spirit of Christ. So how can one obtain this precious spirit? By imitating each spirit that Christ our Lord possessed. When we make a commitment to follow Jesus we are also making a commitment to put on the spirit of Christ. It takes a conscious, sincere effort to follow Jesus. Are we putting on the spirit of Christ? Does He know that we are an imitator of Him?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Plan of Salvation

There are many souls in the world that need to be saved today. The gospel plan of salvation to save man is not difficult but it MUST be followed in order for one to be saved. God loved man so much that he gave His only Son to die for all of us. In John 3:16 it says; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life”. We can also see this in Romans 5:8-11. God did his part for man by giving His Son and then he ensured that all men would be able to come to the knowledge of the truth by sending the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, guiding them into all truth “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:13). Therefore, it is now up to each one of us to do our part if we really desire eternal salvation. Man must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17; Acts 7:37), Believe it (Acts 16:31; Hebrews 11:6), Repent from past sins and make a determination to serve Christ from this time forward (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), Confess Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 10:10; Matthew 10:32), and be Baptized (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:16). Once this has been done then one must continue to live the Christian life and grow in the Christian characteristics (2 Peter 1:5-7). God has given us the opportunity to be saved, now you and I must do our part to obey the commands of God. What man can do, he MUST do!