Tuesday, May 9, 2023

The Breakdown of the Family

Most psychologists will tell us that the American home is in great danger. They will tell us that the home, as we have grown to know and love it, is deteriorating to the point that our whole society is in danger. Why is this? The basic reason lies in the fact that America is losing its true and wholesome concept of God as our creator and the Bible as our guide. As long as families believed in, and patterned their lives after the principles taught in God’s word, America was strong. It may not be an accident that many of our problems have gotten worse as we lose the Bible concept for the family. God ordained the family and it is only by abiding by the clear teachings of God contained in His word that we will have strong families.

Has America “Outgrown” the Family Concept?
There are times in most every young person’s life, that they get the idea that they have outgrown the ideas of their parents. It may be that America, as a whole, is in that state of mind now, for it seems like there are second thoughts of the standards that we have espoused for many generations. Many today are saying things like, “why marry; what can I get inside of marriage that I cannot get outside of it?” If people would have an appreciation of the Bible, then they would learn and know the truth. Now, even psychologists realize that the stable young person is the one who comes from a loving home with parents who love each other and love their children very much. God arranged that (Colossians 3:18-25). America needs to grow up and get out of the adolescent stage, realizing the values of God have always been and still are the very best.

Questioning God’s Wisdom
The breakdown of the American family is the result of questioning the wisdom of almighty God. From the very beginning of recorded history, and even back to the beginning of time, the home, as God ordained it, has been the foundation and basis of a stable civilization. But now God’s wisdom is being challenged as America says the home is no longer needed. Marriage is said to be foolish. The companionship of a husband and wife, and the security of the children in the home has (they tell us) been over-emphasized. The home is the place where children need to be raised and this is especially important during their first formative years of life. Many parents are leaving their young children to be raised by others, sometimes, complete strangers. God created us, everyone of us (Genesis 1:26)! He knows what is best for His creation and we should never question His wisdom.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The Christian's Attitude Toward Trials

It is a fact that Christian’s will have trials and problems at various times in life. This is evident from the teachings of the Bible and from everyday experience. No one escapes them. James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). When a temptation comes that we are able to withstand, or resist, then we have become stronger. We can expect the hills and valleys of life, as well as the pleasant things. Christians learn to understand this and make use of them. Difficulties can either make us bitter or they can be used as steps to higher ground. They can either drag us down, or they can strengthen us. If we look beyond, up the hill, and say “I can’t climb it,” then we are defeated. However, if we say, “I can climb it,” then we become stronger in the process of our continued success.

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow
We are taught by the Bible to “...not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). If we will put off that “worry” until tomorrow, then it probably will never happen. We will not have anything to worry about. The things we worry about usually never happens. There is no use to borrow trouble from tomorrow, for “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Take care of the present, those things in which we can control, and let tomorrow take care of itself. If we will seek the kingdom first, we will not have the “worries” that frustrate us in this materialistic society. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). 

Physical Distress Due to Worry
The command to “not be anxious” comes from the Lord. There is so much worry and frustration in our society that doctors tell us that about half of their patients are not physically ill, but are suffering from mental anguish, often times as a result of excessive worry. Many people worry, fret, fear, and doubt over so many things that it is no wonder so many are mentally exhausted which affects them physically. One day when Jesus was taking a ride with His disciples on a boat, strong winds began, and Jesus was asleep. They woke up Jesus because they were all afraid. Jesus asked, “...Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Our fears, doubts, worry, and frustrations can be cured in Christ, as we listen to His word, trust His will, and obey His commands.

Nothing Good Comes from Worrying
When we worry, there is nothing to be gained. Worry does no good, and it does a great deal of harm. Worry decays the mind, wastes time, robs God of good workers, and causes an employee to be inefficient. Many people worry about the future which most all the time nothing ever happens. When we worry about the past, there is nothing that can be done about it. When we open up our Bible and study the words of Jesus, we can gain the peace of mind that Jesus wants us to have. Think about the following important words that Jesus said about worrying. “Then He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Luke 12:22-28). We must all stop “worrying” and let the trials and tribulations of life strengthen us as Christians so we can count these things as joy. Let us all “press on” in our daily walk with Christ!


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Stay Committed to the End

In 2 Chronicles 14-16 we can read about King Asa of Judah who reigned for 41 years, 35 of which was dedicated to God. In the beginning he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places. It was said of him that “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (14:2). His first battle was against Zerah the Ethiopian in which Asa and Judah were out manned almost 2-1. But before he began to fight the battle, he cried out to God to ask for His guidance. As a result, “the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled” (14:12). The prophet Azariah came to Asa and told him that “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” (15:2). These words inspired Asa and he became even more courageous, continuing to remove the abominable idols in the land. He proved himself to be a good and righteous king, motivating Judah to collectively engage in a “covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul” (15:12). There was great rejoicing at the oath and as a result the “Lord gave them rest all around” (15:15).

Things were going so very well for Asa and all of Judah. Asa was well respected by the people, and they were pleased to serve a King who was first willing to serve his God. God blessed Asa and the people for 35 years because of their righteousness and faithfulness to Him. However, in Asa’s 36th year, after 35 years of faithful service, he made a grave mistake. Perhaps apathy and pride had become part of his mind set, but whatever the case, Asa neglected to consult God when Baasha, the king of Israel came up against Judah and built Ramah to keep those in his kingdom from coming to Asa in Judah. Instead of crying out to God for help and guidance, he made a treaty with the wicked king of Syria, Ben-Hadad. He bribed him with gold and silver from the house of the Lord to fight against king Baasha of Israel. Ben-Hadad caused Baasha to cease his work at Ramah but the prophet Hanani came to king Asa and said to him: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand” (16:7). The prophet told Asa that from this time on he would have wars. Asa became so angry that he threw the prophet into prison and oppressed some of the people. In the end, Asa became diseased in his feet, still did not seek the Lord, but rather the physicians, and he died in the 41st year of his reign. King Asa served God for 35 years and in the end proved himself to be unfaithful to Him the last 6 years. This is a sad commentary for a king that had so much going for him, but in the end he was unfaithful to God. 

We should learn some valuable lessons today from this king from long ago. We need to ensure that we seek God on a daily basis (Matthew 6:33), and when we do we are promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We must never forget God when we encounter various trials in life (James 1:3). With every temptation God has promised us that He will make the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must also learn that no matter how long we have been a Christian that we too can fall from God’s grace and be cut off if we do not remain righteous and faithful to Him (1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Peter 2:20; Romans 11:22). If we get caught up with pride, we must understand that it will lead us to destruction (Proverbs 11:2; 16:18; 29:23). Finally, we must remain loyal in our work and service to the Lord to the very end of our life (1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10). May we never be guilty of quitting God and falling short of our eternal home with Him (Matthew 7:13-14). The prophet Hanani said these words to Asa, words that certainly apply to each one of us today: “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” (1 Chronicles 16:9). We must make sure that we stay committed to God until the very end of our life. Our eternal destiny depends on our commitment to Him each day that we live. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

What Constitutes Obedience?

A passage of scripture comes to mind when I hear the word "obedience" and that is from 1 Samuel 15:22 which says: "And Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, {And} to heed than the fat of rams". We all need to understand that to obey the voice of the Lord is our first obligation. The truth is what guides us unto salvation and all men should obey the truth of God (Galatians 3:1-5; 1 Peter 1:22). We can learn from the scriptures that no man was saved by obedience to anything other than God's word. King Saul obeyed the voice of the people and that led to his downfall (1 Samuel 15:21). Adam obeyed the voice of Satan (Genesis 3:1-6). Saul of Tarsus obeyed the voice of his conscience (Acts 26:9). Only when one obeys the commandments of God is one able to be saved.

So how do we obey the truth? Before answering this question, let us first see how we disobey it. We disobey the truth by refusing to do anything at all (John 5:40). We disobey the truth by adding anything to it that God has not commanded or allowed. The Proverb writer says: "Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar." (See also Revelation 22:18; 2 John 9) Besides adding to God's word we disobey Him by taking away that which He has instructed us to do (Revelation 22:19; Deuteronomy 4:2). The only way that we can obey the truth is by doing the exact thing that God commands for us to do. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:21-23). Some may think they are doing God's will because it "feels right", or "it is a good work" but that does make it right!

This point is driven home by the example of Moses when he struck the rock when he was not commanded to do so (Exodus 20:7-12). It seemed such a small thing when Uzza touched the Ark to stabilize it, yet it caused his death (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). If we offend in one point, we are guilty of all "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one {point,} he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10). Let us strive to do ONLY those things which ARE AUTHORIZED by God!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Choosing Our Friends Wisely

How important it is to select the right friends. Solomon said: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go” (Proverbs 22:24). In the very next verse he gives us the reason for such a command. He says: “Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” There have been many young men that has started down the road to drinking, adultery, hopelessness, drugs, and prison because he picked the wrong friends. Young lady, young man, select your companions on the basis, not of money or fame, but on the solid rock of character, religious convictions and moral judgments.

Money and fame are fleeting; but godliness and truth will last forever. Paul wrote to Titus: “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). A true friend will stand by us when money is gone. Witness the story of the prodigal son. When his money was gone, his friends were gone. These were some friends weren’t they? A true friend will be there and stick by us even in the very worst of circumstances. We must be sure to choose our friends wisely.

Did you ever think about what it takes to have friends? In order for one to have friends, one must make himself friendly. In Proverbs 18:24 the wise Solomon wrote: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Friendliness is a characteristic of Christianity. In adversity one must be helpful; in distress, we must be warm and consoling. Solomon said: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Indeed, if I am at all times helpful and useful to others, I can not only serve my God, but I can make friends at the same time. Also, when choosing our friends, we must make sure that they have our best interests at heart. As a Christian we want friends that will help us get to heaven and we also must strive to help them reach heaven.

Did you know that one of the most admired characteristics of friendship is loyalty. Let us look at two examples of this which show the opposites. First, Onesiphorus, a friend of the apostle Paul was loyal and devoted. Paul said of him: “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Timothy 1:16). Here was a man that this beloved apostle knew that he could count on. Do you have friends like this that you just know that you can count on to be there for you when you really need them? But on the other hand, one of the most disappointing things in the life of Job must have been that his friends turned against him in time of need. They said he was evil because he was suffering so much. It was bad enough that Job was being tried with the loss of his family, friends and the terrible physical problems. But now his so-called friends turn against him. He said: “He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight” (Job 19:13-15). Yet through all of this he still remained faithful to God. A friend is not one who deserts his brother in time of need. Jesus did not turn away from his friends but comforted and helped them in time of need. Would you do the same for your friends? Often, we say we will but when the situation arises where we must take a stand to show our loyalty will we really come through? I would hope that I would, and I would hope that those that I call my friend would do the same for me. If we are loyal to Jesus, calling Jesus our friend then we must show Him our love. How? By doing what Jesus asks of us. He said: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). It is very important to choose our friends wisely and then be there for them when needed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Don't Worry About It

Worry or anxiety is distracting care. It is natural, in a way, to be anxious but we should not worry to the point of distracting us from important things. One cannot live the fullest life if he always worries about all the little things and often things that one cannot do anything about. Paul said: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). This word worry simply means to draw in many directions. Worry draws our mind away from our business and duties and puts it on things we probably cannot do much about anyway. We are afraid of what is going to happen - but it seldom does. Sometimes such worry leads to physical sickness. Do all we can about a problem, and then put faith in God that all will be well. But we can’t put faith in God if we are not a Christian first.

I have always tried to live by this general rule when it comes to the area of worry. If I can’t directly change, control, or alter the situation, then all I can do is pray to God concerning the situation and then just leave it in God’s hands. For example: If I were to send my daughter on an airplane to see her grandparents in another state, once that airplane took off, I can no longer change, control, or alter that airplane. I can only pray to God that she be safe and have a safe trip to her destination. If I worry about the situation, all that I will accomplish is to make myself physically sick. We need to learn and trust to put our cares and anxieties in His hands and let Him who has power over all things to direct the steps. When we do, then our life will be so much easier, and we will be able to fully concentrate on those things in which we can change. Put our trust, faith and hope in God first, then all will work out to His glory. 

The Harm in Worry
Worry drains our energy. Have you noticed how tired we are after we have been worrying about something in which we have no control over to change. Mental work is hard work, and it tires us the most possibly, when we are in deep pain of worry. So, one cannot live a full, fruitful life with worry always in their mind. We are using up energy which we need for more useful things. And besides a drain on our energy, it is a waste of time. What can be done when our mind is occupied with fear of that which might happen? While I am worrying, I should be using my mental faculties to do something constructive. I should be doing my work; or doing something for others. In fact, one of the best antidotes of worry is going out and helping others - which gets our mind off ourselves. I read of a man once who was so accustomed to worrying that he often worried because he had forgotten what he was worrying about. Faith in God is the remedy for worry!

Faith Repels Worry
Worry is anxiety to the point of distraction. We are usually afraid of what will happen. But trust in God as to the future is the great antidote of worry. With trust in God that He will do what is right, why should we worry? This is not to say nothing unpleasant will happen. But it does say we have a faith in the providence of God that whatever happens, God holds the future in His hands. Again, Paul said: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). It is said that we believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs. When Peter saw the great waves around him while walking on the water, he began to sink. Jesus said: “O thou of little faith.” If God feeds the birds and beautifies the flowers, will He not care for His greater creation? I encourage each one of us to read Matthew chapters 5 through 7 and gain a better, deeper understanding of the hand of God.

Trust in the Lord
Worry decays the mind, makes one miserable, wastes time and energy and makes our friends unhappy. Why worry? Faith in God is the answer to our worry problem. Thousands pop pills, others drink liquor, and many go to the psychiatrists. But the best tranquilizer is faith in God, obedience to the gospel, and living the Christian life. Yes, trust in the Lord is the answer. So, we want to be happy? Here’s how. Trust in the Lord, become a Christian by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), and then live a faithful life in His service (Revelation 2:10). Then, come what may, we know we have a home in heaven after life. But without that faith, or trust in the Lord, what future do we have to look forward to? Yes, the Lord knew what it would take to make men happy here and hereafter. Therefore, don’t worry about it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Abundant Living In Christ

Science has found ways and continues to search for ways to add to life, but the problems with most of us is, “how to add life to our years.” Abundant living is an art, and many do not find fulfilment and beauty in life regardless of years.

Abundant living is not found in materialism. A long existence does not guarantee happiness or success. The oldest man who ever lived was Methuselah and he was 969 years old. Even so, he probably did not accomplish as great things as others such as Moses, David and Paul who lived a much shorter time. Little is said of his accomplishments, but books are written on Paul and Moses. Furthermore, the abundant life is not found in secular knowledge. Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived, but much more is said of David, the great king of Israel, and the father of Solomon. In fact, Solomon himself said, “In much wisdom is much grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Furthermore, the abundant life is not accomplished by wealth. The wise man also said of this: “It is vanity and vexation of the Spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

Jesus came to this earth so man can have and enjoy that abundant life. In John 10:10 he said: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” I ask that you think about the seriousness of life. If we would first strive to serve Jesus, then the other things will fall into place. We can’t do it alone - we need Jesus Christ. The prophet Jeremiah said: “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). You are encouraged to live your life for Christ. It is only when we “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), that all these things shall be added to our life. 

Strive to Be Optimistic
Also, to be successful in life, there must be optimism and to have an abundant life, there must be optimism centered in Christ. The Christian and the Bible calls it Faith. So often people think it strange that Christ would require something for which they can see no reason. Paul answers: “We walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7), and “I can do all things in him that strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I cannot do all things by myself, but with His help, yes with faith, that is also optimism in Him, I can keep going and expect to receive the crown. Without Christ, how could one be optimistic about world affairs? How could one be optimistic about the moral breakdown of this country? But if one is in Christ, we can say, regardless of what happens in this life, my future is assured - in perfect happiness afterwards! Jesus tells us to “...be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”