Friday, January 17, 2020

Obeying the Truth

There are thousands of individuals in this country that have not obeyed the truth of God’s Word. Why is it that so many do not want to give their life to God and serve Him? After all, He did create us and expects us to follow the teaching that His Son Jesus came to give us (Matthew 28:18-20). If you are one of those thousands that have not yet obeyed God’s truth, please take a moment and examine your heart and search your soul to see if you can determine why it is that you haven’t.

Could it be that you don’t know the truth? Truth only comes through study (2 Timothy 2:15), and it is only God’s truth that will make you free (John 8:32). Could it be that you don’t believe the truth? If so, this is very serious because God says that the only way one can gain faith is by hearing His Word (Romans 10:17). But only you can make up your mind to believe or not believe. It is a matter of choice. But to go to heaven, you must believe! I encourage you to read God’s Word and believe in His truth today.

When the truth is believed then then you can have access to heaven through obedience to God's teaching. After believing in Him, you need to repent of your sins (Acts 17:30-31; Luke 13:3), confess Jesus as being the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Matthew 10:32-33), and then be baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). God created us and gave His only Son to die for us. Therefore, we now need to live for Him -- being faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). What is really keeping you from obeying the truth?

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Pressing on Toward Heaven

All too often we have a tendency to look back and dwell on what we have done or haven’t done instead of concentrating on the future. "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:28-33). Lot’s wife had a longing for that which she had left. Consequently, she was overtaken and consumed. Her trust was not in her God but in the things of the world. She just could not bring herself to let go. Do we have this trouble today? Think about it. Sometimes "looking back" may simply be filling our lives up with "good" things to the degree that we cannot render to our God what is due Him. That is the point that Jesus made in Luke 9:62 when He said "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." So where should we be looking? Obviously not backwards. We should be looking forward and running toward God. Lot’s wife should have felt as if she were in a footrace away from Sodom and we should feel the same way. The Hebrew writer tells us to run with endurance the race that is set "before" us, looking to Jesus...(Hebrews 12:1-2). We must realize that everything we do as we follow Jesus is another step in our race toward our eternal victory. When you feel enticed by the world - remember Lot’s wife. Let’s all strive to keep "pressing on toward heaven!"

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?