Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Preparing for Eternity

There are many people who only live for today and never make any plans for their future. Spiritually, every one of us should be concerned about our future and as a result should be busy preparing ourselves for the eternity that awaits us after our earthly life comes to an end. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson about looking ahead – making sure that we are focused on what really matters. “Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Then He said to another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house. But Jesus said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” We should be making a commitment to follow the Lord and being obedient to His teaching so that we can gain an entrance into the eternal kingdom of God.

This Earth Will Be Dissolved
One of two things will happen during our lifetime. We will die a physical death, or the Lord will return before we do. The scriptures teach us that this earth will be dissolved when the Lord returns (2 Peter 3:9-10). Since these things will be dissolved, Peter goes on to ask a very important question, “what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Peter 3:11)? Once we die, or if Jesus returns before, we do not have a chance of changing our life’s thoughts and actions. The Christian has made preparations for death or the second coming of Christ and is looking forward to God’s promise of “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). The child of God does not want to fall short of the grace of God, therefore the Christian looks carefully into God’s word to ensure that they are living a life that is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 12:14-15).

Motivated to Look Ahead
God’s dedicated saints stay motivated in our daily walk because we understand that we must be ready at all times for the coming of the Lord. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40). It is a true blessing to live a Christian life because we know that heaven awaits us. Therefore we continue to stay “fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) understanding that when one “looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). Our motivation is easy if we are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). May we all strive to run the race assuming that each day may be the last day we live upon this earth. The Hebrew writer said, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). We must stay focused on the great crown of righteousness that awaits every Christian who doesn’t look back, but rather remains faithful (Revelation 2:10), and prepares daily for the eternity that awaits us with the Lord!


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Fellowship


The book of 1 John, chapter one has some valuable information that is important to us. Sometimes we use the term "fellowship with one another" too lightly. We can only have fellowship with one another if we are walking in the light as Jesus "Himself is in the light" (v. 7). We know from verse 5 that "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." Therefore, how can we say "we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness?" If we do "we lie and do not practice the truth" (v 6). Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Most everyone that is a Christian realizes that Jesus is the light and that He is without sin. The emphasis in this chapter is that God does not associate with evil and darkness is not in Him -- He is only light. Therefore, if we are following Christ we must do so on His terms and that is to not associate with darkness but to walk in the light as "He is the light".

If we walk in the light we are told that "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (v. 7). Aren't we all striving to do the best we can so that we can someday be with our savior in heaven? We need to be free of pride so that we can "confess our sins" (v. 9) so that we can be "cleansed from all unrighteousness." Yes, we all sin (Romans 3:23), but what we have as Christians is the avenue of prayer to ask God for forgiveness, knowing that He will "forgive our sins" (v. 9) if we are walking in the light. In the right relationship with God, we have "fellowship with one another!"

Monday, March 1, 2021

When Nobody Notices

Perhaps you’ve seen the sign that reads, “Housework is something you do that nobody notices unless you don’t do it.” The truth behind that statement applies to more than just housework. People seem to have no trouble noticing our failures -- anger, impatience, criticism, or imperfections. Who notices when we “sometimes” get it right? Sometimes we feel that nobody sees or appreciates what we may do. This may be true except for one reassuring reality: God sees and He appreciates.

There are many great and beautiful things in this world that may go unnoticed: A beautiful sunrise that we are not awake to see, the many beauties that lie underwater, etc. These magnificent things are there and those immense things happen, whether we see them or not. God sees. That reality can also be a source of security or comfort for us.

According to the apostle Paul, we are ultimately serving Jesus Christ. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

We are to serve Him with an attitude of thanksgiving and from the heart. The Lord not only sees and values what we do, but He also will reward us. “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9).

Written By: Shane Williams

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Parable of the Talents

In the book of Matthew, chapter 25, verses 14-24, we can read the parable of the talents. In this parable one individual received five talents, another two and another one. Some may question whether the distribution of the talents given these individuals was just since there was unequal distribution. In this parable, verse 15 says “to every man according to his ability.” This was an exhibition of divine economy. Each man received all that he was competent to use. In other words, they only got what they could handle.

How did the servants use the talents that were given them? We read where the one that had five gained five more. The one that had two gained two more and the one that had one buried it and gained nothing more. When the man returned to find how his servants used their talents we read where the five and two talent men were blessed because they put their talents to use and gained more. But the man who buried his only talent was cursed. 

What lessons can we learn from this parable? First of all the Lord fully expects every man to act in His service according to his ability. God never expects us to do more than we can do, but He certainly expects us to do the best we can with what we have. Secondly, limited talent is no excuse for not doing the Lord’s service. Each of us has some talent and that talent should be used for the Lord. Finally, we will be rewarded according to our faithfulness and not according to the results. God expects Christians to plant the seed and do the watering. When we do that, then we give God the opportunity to increase.


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Doctrine of Christ

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-6: "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain." There are in fact three doctrines that are mentioned in the New Testament. One is the divine doctrine which is mentioned in Titus 2:10: "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." There is the human doctrine mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 15:9: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Then there is the Satanic doctrine that Paul makes mention of in 1 Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."

Why Teach the Doctrine of Christ?
It still amazes me why, in the name of religion, men teach doctrines that are not found to be of Jesus Christ. It amazes me because if one is truly interested in what he must do to be saved and live a life righteous unto God, then why doesn’t he look for the teachings (doctrine) of Christ to guide his steps? Paul began in 1 Timothy 6:3 by saying "if anyone teaches otherwise" then proceeds to tell us what happens to those that do so. In the Galatian letter he really spells it out when he writes: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8).
 
When it comes to religion we should be determined to know nothing except the gospel that Jesus taught us. After all, can any other doctrine save us? If you answered NO, you’re right. And knowing this, then we better make sure that we strive to do only the will of the Lord in our life. In 1 Timothy 1:3 we are charged not to teach another gospel. Notice: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." A failure on our part to abide in the doctrine of Christ will lead to vain worship as Jesus clearly stated in Mark 7:7. Not only that, but our work that we do while here on this earth will perish when we do those things not authorized by Jesus. When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians he said: "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using-- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). The point Paul is making is that if you have accepted Jesus in your life through obedience to His gospel, then why do you try to live up to worldly doctrines that perish, doctrines and commandments that have been established not by God, but by men? Every denomination is guilty of this to some degree. We are wasting our time and effort when we teach any other doctrine than that which was authorized by Jesus!

What Is Our Duty Toward The Doctrine Of Christ?
We have a responsibility to keep the doctrine of Christ. It is our duty as Christians to preach this doctrine to others. The Bible says: "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). In addition, we are to keep it pure (Titus 2:7), adorn it (Titus 2:10), follow it (1 Timothy 4:6), exhort in it (Titus 1:9), convince others of it (Titus 1:9), and not to blaspheme it (1 Timothy 6:1). Paul wrote these things to fellow laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. He instructed them on what they had to do to promote and to keep pure the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must fully love, respect, and embrace the word of God!
 
Are we doing our part to make sure that we are abiding in the gospel of Jesus? The Hebrew writer wrote: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). We are going to be judged according to our works, good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). Knowing this, we better make sure that we are abiding in the doctrine that we are going to be judged by. Satan can’t save us. Man can’t save us. Only Jesus can save us. He’ll save us based on our obedience to His doctrine which "was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Take a Stand for Christ

The apostle Peter says that Christians are supposed to be separate from the world. “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 said, “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.’ ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). God demands and expects His dear children to keep themselves unspotted from the world and to concentrate their efforts in living for Him (James 1:27). The way that we can accomplish this is to transform our mind from worldliness to godliness. Our transformation takes place when we read, study, and understand the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). Instead of getting involved with things of this world we should be teaching the truth and exposing error (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Ephesians 5:11). If we ever feel that we are suffering some kind of persecution in our life because of our Christianity, then we are doing something right. Paul wrote, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we don’t stand for something, then we will fall for anything. Take a stand for Christ; don’t let His death be in vain. We must stay focused on reaching our eternal goal of heaven! 


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Counting the Cost

Anything that is of value will cost something. It will be money or time or some sort of effort on our part. An education will take time and money and lots of effort. A marriage will be successful with the same ingredients along with love, devotion, and understanding. Operating a successful business requires the same ingredients. Most people understand this and willingly apply these things to whatever they choose to do. But we want to consider what salvation and Christianity will cost us in simple terms, and we will encourage you to make the right choice.

Becoming a Christian may cost us something in our human relationships. Jesus must come first and be more important than even our family and closest relationships. While those relationships are important, we cannot allow those ties to keep us from serving God. Obedience to the gospel can cause a strain on a relationship, because the elements of such relationship have changed. While one may be desiring to serve God, a loved one may not choose to do so. If you want your loved one saved, you may have to put a lot of effort to bring them to Christ, and we know that many people are not interested in spiritual matters, and they may choose a different path. Some people have been shunned by their entire families, and in some cultures, have been killed for leaving their former belief system.

It could cost us financially to become a Christian. There are many ways to make money, and it seems like the most lucrative professions are also the most sinful ones as well. Many people are not willing to become paupers for the cause of Christ. They enjoy their luxury and their excess. Christians are giving people, and that does not limit their giving to the contribution plate passed on Sunday. The Bible tells us anytime we see a need, we should help with whatever ability or resources or money we have. We should give as we have been prospered, because we are concerned for the work of the church in the local area. We should want to participate and support activities that could help others get to heaven.

It may cost us something as Christians to stand firm for the truth. There have been times when the truth was preached, that the preacher lost his life. Stephen’s preaching of the gospel angered the Jews, and they stoned him. The early church suffered persecution (even death) at the hands of those who had been given the word of God, but failed to recognize the grace of God of the gospel. Today, it is not much different. Many people hate it when a preacher points out their sins. You don’t have to be a preacher to tell someone they are wrong in something, they will still despise you for saying so.

Following Christ will cost us our own selfish will. We are to become new creatures with new desires and new goals. We learn that we are not as important as we think we are, and that we should treat others as more important than ourselves. One might look at all the vices that are offered in this world and think that they have to miss out on all the fun. Well, the reality is that the moments pleasures usually have consequences that are often hard to bear. To party in excess usually ends up in hangovers and throwing up, and feeling bad all day, not to mention realizing some of the stupid things one did, and who they might have hurt or killed in their drunken stupor.  One might think that using foul, vulgar language makes one popular, but only with a group that chooses that kind of language. In all, the cost of discipleship is very high, but extremely worth it.

Written By: Carey Scott