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)!


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Doing the Will of the Lord

I’m sure you have probably heard someone say “it’s my life, I can do what I want to.” While it is true that the life we have is ours, we cannot do what we want to with it if we really want to be pleasing to God. The Bible says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in us. God created us and expects us to be obedient to Him in all things. The inspired apostle Paul wrote, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). We need to understand that we are here only because God created us and that our obligation in life is to make sure that we please Him in all things. Christians have been baptized into Christ and have made a vow before God to live for Christ each day for the rest of our life. Baptism puts us into Christ (Galatians 3:27) and into His body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22-23). When we die, our soul will return to God who gave it to us in the first place (Ecclesiastes 12:7). Our eternal resting place will be in heaven or hell, depending on who we have really served while on this earth (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 6:24). As Bible Christians, we must ensure that we are living our lives for Christ, not for ourselves or others. Jesus will judge us in the last day, nobody else (John 12:48). Can it be said that we are REALLY doing the will of the Lord? 


Monday, August 17, 2020

Making the Right Choice

At the conclusion of Joshua’s life he told the Israelites, “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). God made each of us with the freedom of choice. God is pleased when we make the choice in life to serve and be loyal to Him above our family or friends. Unfortunately far too many Christians are not making the right choices in their life on a daily basis. We need more Christians who are ready and willing to confess Christ no matter what their family or friends may think (Matthew 10:32-39). The apostle Paul instructed the Christians in Rome concerning the proper way to behave when he said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

We too should ensure that we are living our lives holy (set apart) and sacrificially for God which is what we are expected to do. We must not become conformed to the ways of those in the world in any way, shape, or form. When we read and study God’s Word on a daily basis then our mind will soon become transformed so that we will prove by our words and actions that we are righteous before God. Before saying, wearing, or doing anything, we should ask ourselves, “would Jesus say, wear, or do what I am about to?” If Jesus is really the one we love and live for (above all others), then we will make the right decisions because He is the one instructing and guiding us. Do we really love Jesus? If so, we will be determined to “walk in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).


Thursday, August 6, 2020

Apostasy

Apostasy? What is apostasy? To some this word may sound strange and may not have meaning. But let us first assign a meaning to this word and then we will understand how serious apostasy is. Webster's New World Dictionary defines apostasy as: "an abandoning of what one believed in, as a faith, etc." Now do you see how serious this word is? The Lord's church is suffering today because of individuals that have abandoned their faith in God and slipped back into worldliness. Peter says "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Peter 20-21). These are some strong words delivered by the apostle Peter! God is very displeased with anyone that accepts his commandments one day and then throws them into the wind the next. Individuals that do this will be lost eternally. James says "My beloved brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). God takes apostasy very seriously and so should we because our soul is at stake!


If apostasy wasn't a real problem then it would not be addressed so often in the word of God. There are different types of apostasy. The Hebrew writer says "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins," (Hebrews 10:26). Apostasy usually comes about as a result of an individual who willfully strays from God's word but we can also see that apostasy can come in other ways such as deceptiveness. "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

Apostasy is known by other terms such as "shipwreck" as Paul points out to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:19. It is also described as a "falling away" in Hebrews 6:6. James refers to individuals that slip into apostasy as "erring" (James 5:19). As we see various terms associated with this word apostasy - one thing is for certain and that is "one has abandoned their faith in God!"

Now that we know what apostasy is, we need to find out what causes this awful thing to happen to God's children. In today's society there is an endless list of things that can cause someone to turn away from God because their faith is not as strong as it should be. False teachers that are on the television networks and around every corner are being fueled by Satan himself to cause you to fall away from God. Jesus talks about the false prophet in Matthew 24:11 when he says; "...many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many". This is just one cause that will confront the Christian on a day to day basis. There are many, many others such as; the love of this world (2 Timothy 4:10), ignorance (Romans 10:3), carelessness (1 Corinthians 10:12), discouragements (Matthew 24:12), temptations of all kinds (Luke 8:13), developing an attitude of "unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:19), impure hearts (1 Timothy 1:5-6), and the lack of a good conscience before God (1 Timothy 1:19), just to name a few.

But there is a remedy for apostasy and that is to repent and turn back to God's way before it is everlastingly too late (Revelation 2:5)! As Christians, if we would concentrate on adding the Christian characteristics to our lives, then we would not be so easily swayed into apostasy from one form or another. Read 2 Peter 1:5-10 and add these characteristics to your life. Apostasy is real and can happen to anyone that has a weak faith and isn't growing in the ways of Christ!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Hearing the Word of God

Jesus went about His ministry speaking in parables. It says in Mark 4:34 “But without a parable He did not speak to them.” Jesus spoke in parables so that they could more easily understand what He was trying to say to the people. One parable that Jesus spoke about concerns “the sower.” This parable is found in Mark 4:3-20 and in Matthew 13:18-23. In Mark’s account of this parable Jesus said: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:3-8). Of all the parables that Jesus told, this one in particular really cuts to the heart of why man does not always respond to the preaching and teaching of the gospel of Christ. Jesus points out to us that there are four kinds of hearers in the world. You and I are one of these kind. So which one are we? The one we are depends on what we do with the Word of God once we have heard it. Assuming that each of us has heard God’s Word, now let’s see where we stand in relationship to this parable that Jesus told.

Are We Shallow?
As the Word of God is sown or preached, and we hear the Word, do we immediately let Satan come along and lead us back into sin and the ways of the world? Some are very shallow, allowing Satan to immediately get his grips back in them. The Word that they heard quickly leaves them as they again become servants of Satan and not the Lord Jesus (Mark 4:15).

Are We Rootless?
Again as God’s Word is taught are we like the seed that fell on the stony ground? Did we receive God’s Word with great gladness of heart and get excited about it for just a short time, only to see it quickly fade away? If this is so, then we are “rootless!” When tribulation and persecution comes our way we quickly succumb to the pressures of having to uphold the Word of God and we immediately stumble away. There are many who have eagerly received the Word of God, got excited about it for a short time but then drifted back into the world, letting Satan take command and control of their life! Individuals like this are simply rootless!

Are We Entangled?
This is where I believe most people are today. They are entangled with the affairs of this world and not the affairs of God. Jesus said that this type of person is the one that is likened to the thorny ground. The Word of God is heard but the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things choke out the Word to the extent that no fruit can ever be realized. Many today are entangled in the affairs of the world because they neglect the first commandment that Jesus taught and that is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). When we do not truly love God with all of our inner being then certainly the cares of the world and the lusts of it will take over and we will become entangled with them.

Are We Fruitful?
The one who hears the Word of God, accepts it, and bears fruit because of it, is the one that will inherit eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9). We must make sure that our ground (heart) is fertile, always ready and willing to receive God’s Word and DO what He asks of us! Let us all long for a fertile heart, and be anxious to bear fruit.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Conscience

No doubt you have heard things like "let your conscience be your guide," or "if it seems right then it must be right," or "no one can have a good conscience while doing something wrong." To find out if these statements are true we must go to the source of all authority and that is the teaching of Jesus Christ and His inspired Word, the Bible. I believe it is true that our conscience should help guide us through life but we need to understand that our conscience is only as accurate as it has been taught. Just because we think something is right, it may not necessarily be so. The apostle Paul said: "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). We know that while he was doing these contrary things that he was doing them in "good conscience". "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts 23:1). Therefore, just because something seems right to us, this does not make it absolutely so and we can also do things without it offending our conscience. 
Our Conscience Must Be Trained By the Word of God
Our conscience must be trained to discern between right and wrong. If it has only been trained by our parents, then we will develop a conscience that will consist of values that we have learned from our parents. We need to ask ourselves, "where did my parents get their values?" If their values came from God’s Word then they have passed on values based upon God’s teaching and that is good. However, if they received their values of life from other sources, then you have received your values of life from your parents based on sources other than the Word of God. Why is this important? Because when our earthly life is over we are going to be judged by the words of Jesus. Jesus 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 need to understand that we must live our life on this earth with a good conscience that is based solely on the words of Jesus Christ and the authority that He gave to His inspired apostles. Peter wrote: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The Bible Is Our Inspired Guide
The apostle Paul plainly taught that the Bible is the true source wherein man can be made perfect in God’s sight. He said: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is only through scripture that we can truly learn what God wants us to do in order to be pleasing to Him. The Bible must be our guide throughout life, not our conscience. Unfortunately most people go through life living for the moment and basing just about everything they do on how it makes them feel. As long as their conscience does not bother them, then they continue to partake of all the pleasures of life without any regard to what awaits them after this earthly life comes to an end. I urge you to do as the Bereans did back in the first century as they "….received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Remember, your conscience is only as good as it has been taught. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Punishment of the Wicked

When we hear that the wicked people will be punished by God we usually think about those individuals that murder, maim, steal, etc. We all agree that unrepentant people like this should not get to go into heaven but rather to hell where they will suffer an eternity in punishment. But have you ever stopped to really look at what the Bible says concerning those that will end up in hell? The Hebrew writer said: “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” Paul told the Thessalonian brethren: “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9). If we “do not obey” God (keep His commandments), then we will receive the same punishment as those awful immoral people. Punishment is certain (Psalms 9:17; Revelation 21:8). Punishment is also eternal (Matthew 25:41). Therefore, knowing this, we should strive to do ALL of God’s will so we can ensure that we will be with Him forever. Live life for Christ -- making the choice to go to heaven!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Must I Be Baptized To Be Saved?

So often we hear people say that they don’t “feel” that baptism is essential for salvation. I am amazed when I hear this because it is so obvious that God clearly gave us many passages in the Bible that show that baptism is essential for salvation. Individuals that say “I don’t feel that it is necessary,” are often the ones that have never opened up the Word of God and taken the time to read what is required for their salvation. One of the greatest examples of proving that baptism is essential is found in the book of Acts, chapter eight. Here, starting in the 26th verse we can read where an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying: “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” The Lord had a mission for Philip to do and sent His angel to inform Philip on what He wanted Philip to do. Philip met an Ethiopian Eunuch who came to Jerusalem to worship (v27). When Philip joined the chariot, he noticed that the Eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah. The Eunuch did not really understand what he was reading and Philip began from the passage that was being read and “preached Jesus to him” (v35).

The Eunuch understood enough to KNOW that he needed to be baptized to be saved (v36). At this point Philip said: “If you believe with all your heart, you may” The Eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (v37). Then in verse 38 the action resulting from the Eunuch’s belief in Jesus was accomplished. It says: “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” The Eunuch never “felt” saved until he was baptized! And the fact of the matter is, he was not saved until he was baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Have you been baptized into Christ? If not, you are not saved in accordance with God’s New Testament teaching. Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Have you obeyed Jesus?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Christian Life

Every Christian should strive to live the life that they have been raised to live. The apostle Paul said in the latter part of Romans 6:4 that “even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The Christian life is a life of faith (Romans 1:17). Our old life was buried and now we serve the Lord in “newness of life.” Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The “true” Christian realizes that the “old man” was crucified with Christ and now lives a “new”, pure life before God. John wrote: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

The Christian life is also a life of self-denial. Jesus said that “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). Some have trouble living the Christian life because they have NOT determined to really let Jesus rule their life, denying anything that would stand between them and their service to the Savior.

Peter writes: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8). The Christian realizes that Satan is active and working to destroy all those that try to do good. The Christian life is not an easy life. The apostle Paul told Timothy: “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we feel that we are suffering some type of persecution as we live our Christian life, then we must be doing something right. “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials and tribulations” (James 1:2). 

The Christian life is also a life of prayer. Every Christian should be spending time talking to God every day (Matthew 26:41). God wants and expects us to pray to Him (1 Timothy 2:8). Are you spending time talking to God? When we talk to God it shows Him that we are trying to do His will and we are seeking his help and guidance, along with praising Him for all that He has done for us. The Christian life is a life of obedience to God, knowing that Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).

In addition to all these things, the Christian life is a life of growth (1 Peter 2:2), and a life of abiding in Christ (John 15:5-6). May we all strive to live the Christian life because after all, we are wearing Christ’s name aren’t we? Are we really living the kind of life that our Savior Jesus Christ would be pleased with? 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Singing to Praise God

Do you enjoy singing praises to God? Singing is a required and important part of our worship to God. It is through the praises that we sing that we get the opportunity to teach and admonish one another. Paul wrote: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). When God’s Word dwells within us RICHLY, we will express our joy to God in the teaching and admonishing of one another in song!

We know that we are not to entertain men with our singing, but rather we are commanded to sing to praise God. The Hebrew writer said: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You” (Hebrews 2:12). When we sing to God we must sing with the spirit and understanding. Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren and said to them: “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). We must also sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Singing is a vital part of our worship to God. When we sing praises to God with the proper spirit and understanding, with grace in our heart, then our song service will be joyful, meaningful, and able to teach and admonish one another. But if we don’t have the proper attitude and prepare ourselves to sing to God, then our song service will be dull and not able to lift each other up. Let’s all strive to prepare ourselves to give God and each other our very best in our song service!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Our First Love

As Christians we have a “first love” and that is Jesus Christ our Savior and King! We need to keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus each day that we live. Remember the Ephesians? With all their positive aspects and glorious past history, with all of their diligent devotion - what did the Lord say to them? “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-- unless you repent” (Revelation 2:2-5). 

Don’t Forget Our First Love!
We need to be very careful not to forget our first love like the Ephesians did long, long ago. There are many things that occupy our time and efforts and if we are not careful then before we know it we will also be guilty of leaving our first love, Jesus Christ! There is nothing more precious to us as Christians as having our VICTORY in Jesus Christ. A Christian can reclaim that first love by getting back to the basics of love, duty, and responsibility. We are commanded to be “renewed in the spirit of your mind” and to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 12:2). Throughout 2020, let’s continue to make sure that we stay focused and stay in tune to “our first love!”

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Faith or Baptism Alone Does Not Save Us


It is very interesting to note that the Bible mentions several things that man is saved by. We not are saved by faith or even baptism alone. Faith and Baptism are pieces to the overall puzzle of those things which God says saves us. The Bible teaches that man is saved by:

hope (Romans 8:24
grace (Ephesians 2:8)
faith (Acts 16:31)
mercy (Titus 3:5)
words Acts 11:14)
baptism (1 Peter 3:21)
the word (James 1:21)
the truth (John 8:32)
hearing (John 5:24)
obedience (Hebrews 5:9)
the gospel (Romans 1:16-17)
knowledge (1 Timothy 2:4)
belief and baptism (Mark 16:16)
repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38)
calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13)
the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)
being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)
faithfulness (Revelation 2:10
God (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21)
the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28)

Jesus stated very plainly “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). All of the things above “saves us.” Are we ready to accept what Jesus said and do the will of the Father? Our eternity (heaven or hell) will be determined by Christ (John 12:48). It is important that we make the right choice and listen to and then obey the words of God!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Manner of Persons Should We Be?

Christians should be the most loving and kindest of all people on earth. We should always strive to see the best in others and be willing to work out our differences in a spirit of love for our souls. We all want to go to heaven and in order to go there we must care for others as God has cared for us. In 1 Peter 5:7 it says "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." Therefore we can learn from scripture what manner of persons we ought to be.

We Ought To Be....
Attentive (Hebrews 2:1), Obedient (Matthew 23:23), One who imitates Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:7), Holy (2 Peter 3:11), Pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 4:1), Helpful (Acts 20:35), Godly (2 Peter 3:11), Prayerful (Luke 18:1), Peaceable (2 Peter 3:14), Humble (John 13:14), Blameless (2 Peter 3:14), Loving (1 John 3:16), and Faithful (Matthew 25:14-27) to name just a few.

Why Should We Be This Way?
We should strive to be this manner of person because we know that “all things will be dissolved” someday (2 Peter 3:11). Christ is going to come again (2 Peter 3:12), and we want to gain a home in heaven with Him (2 Peter 3:13). Let us strive to live a godly Christian life here on earth so we can live with our Father forever (Revelation 2:10; 2 Peter 3:8-9). Keep the faith and stay the course because if we do, our heavenly home will be our reward!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Love the Lord Your God

If every Christian’s true goal in life is to ensure eternal life, then we would be focused to make the right decisions here on earth. We can have the proper focus in life when and if we truly receive and impart the kind of training that Moses instructed for the Israelites. Listen carefully to his words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

 If we receive this kind of training and then in turn train our children this way, then we would develop in our lives affections set toward heaven. No matter what we do during the course of a day we would make sure that it would not interfere with receiving our eternal citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13). Paul wrote to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). No matter what we might accomplish and gain here on earth it will mean absolutely nothing if we miss heaven! We must be willing to make whatever sacrifices we have to in order to hear Jesus say to us on the great judgment day “.....Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).

We must live in such a way that we are literally reaching for the ultimate prize. It would be good to possess the same kind of attitude that the apostle Paul had when he said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). We have been so very blessed by our heavenly Father. We can now show our love, loyalty, and dedication to Him by living our lives in such a way that will show Him that we truly love the Lord our God and have our affections set toward heaven!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Testing of Things

The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 "Test all things; hold fast what is good." The Christian's daily walk should be a walk where "testing" is continually done. We find in scripture where God tests man "But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts" (1 Thessalonians 2:4). In addition, man is to test himself; "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified" (2 Corinthians 13:5). God tests our hearts to know if we are in fact loyal to Him (Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:1-2). We are to continually test ourselves to ensure that we are in "the faith."

What Is To Be Tested?
We have learned from 1 Thessalonians 2:4 that our hearts are to be tested because God certainly does. But what else can we learn that should be "tested" in our Christian walk? In 1 John 4:1 it says: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world." This certainly is good advice for all of us. Test the teachings of man to make sure that those things being taught are in fact from God's Holy inspired Word and not something that man has made up on his own. Our faith is tested on a daily basis. How should we respond when our faith is tested? With JOY! Why? Because it produces endurance within us when we overcome. Each and every test of faith that we confront and overcome, we become a much stronger Christian (James 1:2-4). Our works must also stand the test before God. Paul wrote: "each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is" (1 Corinthians 3:13) and "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and  not in another" Galatians 6:4). How does our work stand up for Christ?

One thing that is for sure, it will be tested on the day of judgment and each one of us will give an account of our deeds, good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Why Test Things?
As stated in our opening scripture, things should be tested so that we will know whether those things are good or evil. We want to hold fast to those that are good and discard the evil. Another reason we should test all things is to make sure that we do not become deceived. In 1 John 4:1-6 it says: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." The Bible tells us plainly why we should test things. It is only through our testing of things that we can be glorified. Peter writes: "that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ." Let's make sure that we test all things to ensure that we are doing ALL to the glory of God!

By What Are Things Tested?
Before you and I can test something we must first know what the standard is that we should test these things by. The Word of God is THE standard in which all things must be tested by (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15-16). Human standards do not cut it. After all, who will we be judged by in eternity? The answer is GOD not man! Paul wrote: "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12). The wise thing to do is to "Test all things; hold fast what is good," because our eternal destiny depends upon it!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Potter and His Vessels

There is a song we sing from time to time entitled "Have Thine Own Way". The first stanza of the song says "Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the Potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me After Thy will, While I am waiting, Yielded and still." What a beautiful song this is and when we as God's creation fully realize and understand that we are simply God's vessels and that He is the Potter (our maker), then we can humble ourselves to the point of doing whatever service we have been molded to do for the Lord!

The Vessels of God
God is truly our Potter. We can read this in the book of Jeremiah 18 verses 1-12, and also in Romans 9:22 where Paul says "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:" Here, Paul likens us to the vessels of God and that is truly what we are. Have you ever noticed a potter working with his clay, molding that clay into a fine vessel? There is a lot of time and patience that is involved in the potter's work. Likewise, God has spent much time and effort in the creation of His vessels, you and I. In the verses pointed out above in Jeremiah and in Romans we can read where God is long-suffering with His vessels and does the very best He can with them. It is through us (His vessels) that we can see the riches of God's glory. "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory" (Romans 9:23).

There are all kinds of vessels out there. There are some vessels of wrath (Romans 9:22), and there are even dishonorable vessels. Paul says "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" (Romans 9:21). He echoes those same words in 2 Tim 2:20. But we can see from Romans 9:21 that there are also vessels of honour and of mercy in Romans 9:23.

We Are Individual Vessels Made By God
God has molded each one of us into a vessel. But he has given each of us a mind of our own to either respect our maker (The Potter), or reject Him. The choice is entirely left up to us. That is why it is so important for us to realize that had it not been for “The Potter,” we would not even be here today. Therefore, knowing this, why is it that so many still choose not to honour the very one who allowed us this opportunity to live and enjoy our short time on this beautiful earth that He also created. We can become honorable vessels unto the Lord by heeding the call. Paul says in Romans 9:23-24 "And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?" One heeds the call of God by simply obeying His commandments (John 14:15).

Characteristics of An Honorable Vessel
The characteristics of an honorable vessel is that one is sanctified, fit for use, and prepared for all good works. This is what the apostle Paul tells Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:21 "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." One must purge themselves from evil and join himself with doing the things of honour, approved unto God almighty! Then when one proves himself to be a vessel of honour unto the Lord certain glory will result as Paul said in Romans 9:23. What is that glory? The same glory as Paul was sensing when he told Timothy "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). When we prove ourselves a worthy vessel, one that is serving the purpose that God designed for us to do, then we can enjoy a life eternal with God our Potter. But when we decide to do our own thing and rebel against our maker then our end is certain destruction (Romans 9:22). Why not let "The Potter" (God) have His own way with His vessel (you and I)?

Monday, February 3, 2020

"They Have Forsaken the Right Way"

We read in 2 Peter 2:15 “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” How sad it is to see those that once walked in the ways of the Lord to abandon His love and go the way of Satan. Yet there are many that have not forsaken the way of the Lord and remain steadfast in His service. These are the ones that understand that the right way, the way leading to eternal life has been dedicated by Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer wrote: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

Our Duty to the Right Way
The Christian’s duty is not to forsake the right way of the Lord (2 Peter 2:15). Earlier in verse 15 we can learn where we are not to even speak evil of it, and in Acts 13:10, not to pervert the right way of the Lord. We have a responsibility in this life and that is to FIND the right way and then enter into it. Jesus said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Failure on our part to find and enter the right way will cost us our very soul! Let us be determined to know the right way (Acts 18:26), teach it (Luke 20:21), and then walk in it (Isaiah 35:8-9). Don’t forsake the right way.

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!"