Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Obedience to His Will

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Not only did God create the heavens and the earth, God also, “created man in His own  image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Every person of the whole human race is loved mightily and tenderly by God our Creator. Whatever God has ever done for the human race, He has done out of genuine love, and with an intense desire to see man happy. In the Book, the Bible, our loving heavenly Father and Creator has revealed to the human race His divine will.

Everything God has ever said to us in His Holy Book has been said for our own good, and is conducive to our happiness here in this life, and in the life that is to come. Our obedience, therefore, to God’s holy will as revealed in the Bible, is for our own personal happiness and eternal welfare.

A study of the Bible and of human history reveals that man’s obedience to God’s will has always brought man happiness, and disobedience has always brought unhappiness. For this reason we have in the Bible an emphasis on obedience. God said, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32). Again, “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).

Christ himself set the example of obedience to the Father's will. “Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). Christ said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). Again Christ said, “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). The inspired Apostle John said, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17).

Man must come to know God and his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3). We learn that eternal life depends on our knowing God. But how do we know that we know God? “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (1 John 2:3). We cannot claim scripturally to know God, if we refuse to keep His commandments. Obedience shows we know God.

Man needs friendship with God and his Son. Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14). Obedience is an expression of our friendship with Jesus. What a marvelous friend we have in Him! Every human being needs this close friendship with our blessed Lord. Obedience shows our friendship. Faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son is essential to our salvation from sin. “So they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). But our faith is not a saving faith unless it expresses itself in obedience to God’s will. The inspired James said, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Saving faith expresses itself in obedience to God’s will. Certainly we know that love for God on our part is indispensable. But love expresses itself in obedience. “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Vocal claims of love for God and His Son are empty sounds unless they come from the hearts of faith, finding expression in willing, loving obedience to God’s will and not our own will. Faithful obedience to God is what truly shows we love God. May God bless us richly in our obedience to His will.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Eternal Salvation to Those Who Obey Him

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. Heaven or Hell - We make the choice.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

"Make No Provision for the Flesh, to Fulfill Its Lusts"

Most of us probably have several Bible verses that have been among our favorites for many years. I can recall as a teenager one particular verse that helped me make good decisions in my life and service to Jesus. The verse for me was and continues to be Romans 13:14. “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Once I put on Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:27), this verse helped me tremendously in making the right choices as a young Christian. I was determined to remove myself from any situation that may cause me to succumb to sin. This verse should help every Christian in so many ways to do the same. If we don’t want to be a slave to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, etc., then we will not take that first drink, smoke that first cigarette, or begin using any illegal or dangerous drugs. We will not have to be concerned with fulfilling our lusts if we do not make any provision for those things in the first place.

In the 12th verse of the 13th chapter of Romans Paul begins the verse by saying "Let us walk properly, as in the day….” When we are walking properly, in the footsteps of Christ, then we will strive to not let anything cause us to fulfill our lusts and cause us to sin. Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps” (1 Peter 1:21). What would Jesus do? That is THE question that should be in our head constantly. When we are determined to follow in His steps, allowing Him to be our priority in life, then we will have peace of mind and a good conscience toward God, knowing that we are truly doing His will (Matthew 7:21-23). Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We must be determined to let our light shine brightly for Christ, making no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

We Are All Needed

The following story entitled “A Tool Conference” was written many years ago by Robert R. Hines: The Carpenter’s tools had a conference. Brother Hammer was in the chair. The meeting had informed him that he must leave, because he was too noisy. But he said, “If I am to leave this carpenter shop, then brother Gimlet must go too! He is so insignificant that he makes very little impression. Little brother Gimlet arose and said, “All right, but brother Screw must go also, you have to turn him around and around before you get him anywhere.” Brother Screw then said, “If you wish I will go but brother Plane must leave as well. All his work is on the surface, there is no depth to it.” To this brother Plane said, “Well, brother Rule will have to withdraw if I do for he is always measuring other folks as though he is the only one that is right.” Brother Rule complained about old brother Sandpaper and said, “I don’t care, he is much rougher than he ought to be, and he is always rubbing people the wrong way.” In the midst of the discussion the carpenter came in to begin the days work. He put on his apron and went to the bench to make a pulpit. He used the screw, the gimlet, the sandpaper, the hammer, the plane, and all the other tools. After the days work was over and the pulpit was finished, brother Saw arose slowly and thoughtfully said, “I’ve been thinking as I watched the carpenter working and I have decided that we are all laborers together. There was not an accusation made against any of us that was not true, but the carpenter used every one of us, and there was not a place where he used any one of us where any other would have done at all.

This little parable should remind us of what the Apostle Paul penned in 1 Corinthians 12, along with our own gifts as a congregation of God’s people. “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:12-20). We need to make sure that we are not wasting time looking down on others because we each have a work to do. The Lord can even use us in our own shortcomings. However, the Lord does expect each one of us to do the work that He has given us the ability to do. Truly, we are all needed!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Imitate Christ

If we live "for Christ" as Christians are supposed to do, then we will not engage ourselves in anything that we could not picture our Lord engaging in. The apostle Paul wrote: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). I want to encourage us to take a step back and honestly look at what this passage of scripture is telling us. That which is "true", "noble", "just", "pure", "lovely", "of good report", that is what we are to meditate on.

When Christians allow themselves to be influenced with worldly things and often times being led astray by so called "friends" who do not have our soul's interest at heart, then we are not truly meditating on the things that Paul just spoke about. We cannot be the right example to others when we are practicing anything that is displeasing to God. Why is it that the Lord's church is not growing as it should be today? Perhaps you can suggest a few reasons in your comments. But I will say that one main reason we are not growing is because the Christians that make up the church are not always living their lives as God would want them to live and as a result it sends the signal that there are many hypocrites in the church.

Paul did everything he possibly could to ensure that he was living "for Christ." He was so confident in his life's service to Him that he said "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Can it truly be said of us that we are really imitating Christ? 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Return to the Lord

These words are recorded in the book of Hosea; “O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; Take words with you, And return to the LORD. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips” (Hosea 14:1-2).

Robert Robinson had been converted out of a life of sin, and at the age of 23, wrote the hymn “O Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Sadly, Robinson wandered far from the faith and like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into the distant country of carnality.

One day – when he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it. As tears swelled up in his eyes, Robinson said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” (Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52)

The story is told of a lamb that passed a pig pen each day on the way with its mother to the pasture. Watching the pigs wallow in the mud seemed like fun, and on an especially hot day the lamb asked his mother if he could jump the fence and wallow in the cool mud. She replied, “No.” The lamb then asked the usual question, “Why?” The mother just said, “Sheep don't wallow.”

This didn’t satisfy the lamb. He felt that she had “put him down.” So, as soon as his mother was out of sight, he ran to the pig pen and jumped the fence. He was soon feeling the cool mud on his feet, legs, and stomach, as he wallowed deeper and deeper in the mud. After a while, he decided he had better go back to his mother, but found that he couldn’t move.

He was stuck from the weight of the mud which had gotten into his wool. His pleasure had now become his prison. He cried out and was rescued by the kind shepherd. When cleaned and returned to the fold, the mother told him, “Remember, sheep don’t wallow.”

Sin is like that. It looks so nice, and we think we can escape whenever we wish, but it just isn't so. Our pleasures soon become our prisons. We must always remember, “Christians don't wallow.” God tells us in 2 Peter 2:20-22, "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A DOG RETURNS TO HIS OWN VOMIT,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

When our life on this earth ends, all that will matter is if we have been obedient and faithful to almighty God, who will judge us (Hebrews 9:27). This life is very short, but eternity is without end. Live for eternity, not for the now.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Repair

Men, have you ever tried to fix something and just couldn't quite get it to work. You could not get the item fixed right. If so, you'll appreciate this sticker I recently saw on the side of a company truck specializing in home repair:

"We will fix what your husband fixed."

Whether the problem is the plumbing, electrical, flooring, or bathrooms, it's usually better off in the hands of someone who is skilled and trustworthy in those areas.

That's the way it is with sin – and the struggles within us that resist our efforts to mend it. Jeremiah denounced the greedy prophets and priests of his day who "healed the the hurt of God's people slightly, saying, Peace, Peace!" (Jeremiah 6:14). They did not change themselves nor lead the people to spiritual transformation.

So the Lord called the people to follow His way: Jeremiah 6:16 says; “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'”

Centuries later, Jesus, the Son of God said: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The parts of our lives that we have tried and failed to repair can be restored by the hand of God. Through faith in Christ, we can be made whole!

Life's fractures can be mended
By faith in Christ the Lord
At first the pain but then the gain
And usefulness restored.
— Hess