Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Gift of Pardon

When one is guilty of a crime that leads to punishment because of an offense committed – no sweeter words could be heard than the words “You’re Pardoned.” Pardon is defined as defined: “the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense.”

Every person is guilty of sin and unless we are pardoned from sin then we will end up in eternal punishment, with no hope of freedom! Therefore, it is important that we take advantage of God’s grace to man. God has promised us a full pardon for our sins IF we will simply do His will. His will is for us to be baptized and to live faithfully.

When we are baptized, only then can we be pardoned from sin and gain salvation. Remission of sins and Salvation is ALWAYS mentioned AFTER baptism. “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” Mark 1:4). ”And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3).

We should all be able to see from the Bible that baptism equals “pardon,” which equals salvation when one continues to be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). Please seriously think about what God wants us to do in order to be pardoned and gain salvation from these passages of scripture:

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 22:16 And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

The Bible is very plain in its instruction for us. It is up to us to obey God and accept His terms of “pardon” in order to have everlasting life with Him!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Door

Often times we take for granted that rectangular piece of wood or metal at the entrance of our house. It is through "the door" that we enter and exit our home. It is through "the door" that we will be able to enter heaven. Jesus said: “...most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7-9).

We all need to be aware that “The door” that leads to heaven is a narrow door and there won’t be many that will find it. “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). “The door” will not be able to be opened forever. For the time will come that it will never open again (Luke 13:22-28). As an example of this please read the following passage of scripture as it relates to the “ten foolish virgins” (Matthew 25:1-13).

Christ’s door is open unto you this very day. If you haven’t done so already, why not now – come into His kingdom through the only “door” that will allow you to enter in? “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7). The question that all of us needs to answer is “what are we waiting for?” When the door shuts, we won’t be able to open it again!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Law Written On Our Heart

A story is told about a Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people. Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were wailing, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening. Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”"

His friend said, "What?  You must be crazy. You couldn't possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!" "No, I'm sure of it," the Native American said, "I heard a cricket." "That's crazy," said the friend.

The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket. His friend was utterly amazed.

"That's incredible," said his friend. "You must have super-human ears!" "No," said the Native American. "My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you're listening for."

"But that can't be!" said the friend. "I could never hear a cricket in this noise." "Yes, it's true," came the reply. "It depends on what is really important to you. Here, let me show you."

He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk. And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

"See what I mean?" asked the Native American. "It all depends on what's important to you."

For application, the questions asked are: "What's important to us? For what do we listen? God writes His New Law on our heart (Hebrews 8:8-10). Here is the significant difference between the old covenant and the new. To many under the old covenant, the law of God was just a law inscribed on stones. The law never became part of their lives. They did not understand it, nor did they live by it.

The new covenant, however, requires a mental agreement and submission to its teaching. The new covenant is a life-giving power inscribed on our heart. God writes His law on our heart only as we are willing to have it on our heart (John 6:44-45). As a result, we must hear and learn. If our Bible is laid upon a shelf, collecting dust, it doesn't do us any good. The word must be implanted into our heart (James 1:21). When we hear, learn, and submit to the new law, God grants remission of our sins (Hebrews 8:11-12).

Those who have received the Law (have heard, learned, and obeyed the new law) are the ones who have the Law of God written on their heart. How about you? What is important to you? For what do you listen? You do have a choice to receive the Law of God into your heart, or to reject it. Which will you choose?

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Heaven

Stop for a moment and think of the most beautiful place that you have ever been. Now think of the most relaxing place you have ever been. We are God’s creation and He has given us just a taste of the beauty and rest we can see and enjoy when we finish our course here on earth.

Heaven is a place of security for all of us who have lived for Him and kept His commandments while dwelling here on earth. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21). Heaven is a much better place than this earth where we presently live. “But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). When we have obeyed God during our lifetime here, then we are promised an eternal rest from all of our labors “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9). We must all strive to live faithfully, longing for the day that we can gain the inheritance that God has promised, one that is undefiled and that will never fade away (1 Peter 1:4).

David, who was known as “A Man After God’s Own Heart,” was constantly filled with joy when he would think about all the beauties of Heaven. “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). When we think of the blessedness of heaven, it should cause us to pause and think about the fact that we will actually be like Christ when our home with Him is finally realized! “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). When our eyes are opened and we know that we are in our eternal home with Jesus then we also know that salvation is realized (1 Peter 4:9). While on earth, we experience sadness, sorrow, pain, trials, and tribulation. But in heaven we have been assured that “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Contrary to popular belief, most people, the vast majority of people, will not gain heaven as their eternal home and that is very sad. Jesus clearly 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). Why is it that only a few will find and gain an eternal home in heaven? Only a few will live their lives on this earth understanding that Jesus is why we are here and He is the one whom we must live for. God will only open the door to eternity with Him if we obey Him while we live our short life here on earth. God’s holy word says, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9), “Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).

We would not be here in the first place if it were not for God (Genesis 1:26). The apostle Paul wrote “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). This should be our attitude day in and day out. This is much easier to do for the Christian who truly loves God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mark 12:30). Now here is the question you and I must ask of ourselves. “Are we living our life in such a way as others can see that we are striving diligently to enter into the beautiful gates of heaven when we take our last breath here on earth?” God knows the answer to that question as it relates to each one of us. Now, we must answer that question for ourselves based on what God really knows. We all will live in eternity, but with God or the Devil? The choice is ours. Choose wisely and live for God!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

More Love To Thee, O Christ

In 2 Corinthians 5:14, the inspired apostle Paul wrote “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died.” In 1856 Elizabeth Prentiss wrote the words “More Love to Thee, O Christ” during a period of illness, but kept them to herself. When she showed them to her husband 13 years later, he encouraged her to publish them. Howard Doane saw the resulting pamphlet, and wrote music for the words which has become a song that we sing today.

What stands out to me are the words “more love” in the song title. There are various areas in which we should exhibit more love as we live our lives in service to God every day. Let’s look at several ways in which we should show more love: We should have more love for God as we grow as a child of His daily. Loving God fully and completely! “Jesus said to him, 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND” (Matthew 22:37). Jesus goes on to say, “ And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” (Matthew 22:39). What a wonderful world this would be if everyone would love their neighbor as yourself. We need to have more love for the truth, understanding that the “truth” given to us by God must be followed. “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—” (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus taught His disciples how they were to love their fellow man. Jesus commands, shows by example, and then his disciples show what love is by their love for others. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). In addition, we need to show more love for Jesus our Lord and for His appearing. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).

We are made in the very image of God and He instructs us how we should live and show our love for Him and others. May God help all of us have much more love in all aspects of our life. Elizabeth Prentiss penned a beautiful song “More Love to Thee, O Christ!” When I sing that song I am reminded that Christ gave His all for me and as a result I should be willing to give more love to Him. May God continue to bless us as we strive to do all we can to be pleasing to Him every day!

 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Allergic To....

There are many people today who are allergic to all kinds of things. Some are allergic to various kinds of foods such as milk products, peanuts, etc. Others may be allergic to different animals such as dogs and cats and most people suffer seasonal allergies from various types of pollen. While all these types of allergies are related to our physical well-being, every true disciple of Christ realizes that there are various dangers that we need to stay away from in order to maintain good spiritual health.

The scriptures give us a clear indication of what we are “allergic to” spiritually. These cause us great discomfort because we know that we are not being pleasing to God when we allow ourselves to get involved with any of these.

Every Kind of Evil “Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). This should cause us to think about the choices we make, because taking part in what is clearly evil is not good for our spiritual vitality. All we need to do is ask ourselves if the practice we are about to engage in is something that Jesus would do. To the one really trying to live a life devoted to Christ, the answer is an obvious one. If Jesus would not practice or sanction it, then it is evil, and we must abstain from it!

Foolish Disputes and Arguments “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife” (2 Timothy 2:23) “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless” (Titus 3:9). This takes discernment, for some arguments have merit in defending the faith. But those for which there is no answer or which have no bearing on truth only cause dissension.

Sexual Immorality “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). The Bible clearly says that any sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage between a man and a woman is immoral (Genesis 2:24; Exodus 20:14; 1 Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4). 

Are we willing to make the effort to steer clear of things we are spiritually “allergic to” which will cost us our very soul? The word of God clearly shows us what is right and wrong according to our heavenly Father. If we want to live our eternity in heaven with Jesus then we must recognize and accept that it is Jesus Christ who will be our judge in the last day. “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).

Today avoid sin's tempting lures
And evil thoughts subdue,
Or sinful things may take control
And someday master you!
-- Bosch

 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Speaking For Christ

It is always easier to walk with the crowd, to agree when everyone else is agreeing, to go with the flow. However, it is how we stand when we have to stand in opposition that is often the real test of our faith in God. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). To be a true Christian means to oppose evil. To stand with Christ often means to stand against people and ideas that are set against Him. While a Christian is to be patient and loving, he or she is not to be passive. A Christian is a soldier in a war. Christ displayed such a character. While He was meek and gentle, He could also be aggressive and bold: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3); “For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men — the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do” (Mark 7:8); “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves"(Matthew 23:15). It was not that Jesus was trying to be offensive, but in standing for what was right it was necessary for Him to oppose certain beliefs, teachings, and even people. It was necessary to tell people what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear.

Some religious people who claim to follow Christ are not willing to oppose anything or anybody. They believe the way of Christ dictates a totally positive approach where one never challenges any belief or practice, even if it is in clear opposition to the way of Christ. How much do you believe in God? How much do you trust the Bible as God’s Word? How convinced are you that Jesus is God’s Son? How committed are you to the Bible’s standard of righteousness? If you are truly faithful to God and firm in your devotion to His will, then you must stand against whatever opposes these things.

It is easy to speak up for Christ when others are doing the same. The real test, though, comes when we must speak for Him when others are speaking against Him or His Word. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). May we always stand up for Jesus, after all, He stayed the course and stood for us!