Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Christian's Relationship with the World

It is imperative that Christians recognize the proper relationship that we are to have with the world. In 1 John 2:15-17 we are told that we are not to love the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). The points that John and Jesus are making is that we cannot put the things of this world above the love of Christ. We are also not to conform ourselves to the world (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 4:1-4). It is true that we are in the world but we are not to be of the world (John 17:11, 16; Philippians 2:15). Christians are supposed to live righteously so that we can have a positive impact upon others so as to be able to convert them to Christ (John 17:18; 20:21). When Christians understand our proper relationship with the world then we will be free from worldly cares (Matthew 13:22; 2 Timothy 2:4), and not be bound by the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-26; James 5:5).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Perfecting Holiness

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).

Realized Eschatology Meeting

I have a series of lessons that I have developed on the subject of Realized Eschatology (70 A.D. Doctrine). These lessons were originally presented in a gospel meeting at the Cedar Park church or Christ in Cedar Park, Texas in January 2009. If you would be interested in me coming to present this series of lessons at your congregation, please let me know. There are six lessons which can be presented on a Sunday through Wednesday. The lesson titles are as follows:
  • The 70 A.D. Doctrine (Overview)
  • Matthew 24: Destruction of Jerusalem, The Second Coming, or Both?
  • The Second Coming of Christ
  • The Resurrection of the Dead
  • The Day of Judgement and the End of the World
  • Consequences of the 70 A.D. Doctrine
If you would like to hear the audio recordings of these lessons as presented at the Cedar Park church of Christ, please go to the following link and then scroll down to "Richard Thetford" and click on the lesson that you want to hear.

At this time I have openings for the Spring and Fall 2012 and 2013.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Is Jesus Our First Priority?

Jesus promises us that if we will confess Him before others, then He will confess us before His Father in heaven. However, if we deny Him before others then He will deny us before His Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33). It is not easy to be a Christian. Christians cannot blend in with the world. It may be that we will need to make some very difficult decisions in order to maintain our fellowship with Christ. Serving Christ in all aspects of our life may mean that we have to be enemies with our very own household. Listen to the words of Jesus: "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it" (Matthew 10:35-39). Jesus is teaching us that our love, devotion, and loyalty must be for Him, even above our own family members. There is a strong bond of love that usually exists within our physical family, but Jesus said the bond between us and Him must be stronger. When we made the most important decision of our life to be baptized into Christ we made a commitment to be one with Him. That decision means that we cannot let our family, friends, and things of this world interfere with our love and service to Jesus. Can others truly see in each of us that our first priority is Jesus? God certainly knows the answer to that question (2 Corinthians 5:10; John 12:48).

Friday, February 18, 2011

Following His Steps

Christian living is a life that is conformed to the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. In Romans 8:29, the apostle Paul writes, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” In this verse we learn that we are to be “conformed” to the very image of Jesus. In 1 Peter 2:21, Peter writes, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” When we conform ourselves in his image then we should also follow His steps. It inspires me when I see Christians, young and old, living for Christ in all aspects of their life. It is comforting to read God’s Holy and inspired Word which teaches us how to live for Him and then seeing others putting His Word into practice in their life. A smile comes to my face when I see Christians dressed appropriately and walking in the steps of Jesus. On the other hand, it is discouraging when Christians are not trying to conform themselves in the image of Christ and are certainly not following His steps. I want to encourage all Christians to THINK about everything that we do. Can God really see that we are living for Christ in ALL aspects of our life? Let’s be determined to live our lives in such a way that it will bring a smile to the lives of all Christians, and more importantly to Jesus! 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Placing God's Word in Our Heart

We can only gain Spiritual life in God's spiritual seed -- His Word. When we place His word in our heart and we let the heart receive it (understand), then spiritual life will develop; unless we allow Satan to take the seed out of our heart. Christians need to ensure that we are sowing the seed of the kingdom in our heart which will cause us to live our lives pleasing to Jesus. It is so unfortunate that far too many Christians are not allowing the seed of God to penetrate their heart so that they become motivated to make sure that everything they do is pleasing to Him. Jesus understands that we will be tempted from time to time. God’s Word says, "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). When we are tempted, we have a choice to either refrain from sin or to succumb to it. The more we read and meditate on His Word, then the better equipped we will be to make the right decisions. Allow Jesus to be at the very center of all of our thoughts. When we do, then we will wisely make the right choices during the course of the day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

"Be Careful"

There’s a song that many of us learned when we were very young entitled, “Be Careful.” In fact most of us are now teaching this song to our little boys and girls. The song goes like this:

Oh be careful little eyes what you see,
Oh be careful little eyes what you see,
For the Father up above is looking down in love,
So be careful little eyes what you see.
Then you repeat it each time using:
Ear what you hear,
Mouth what you say,
Hands what you do,
Feet where you walk.

We learned this song early in life and are teaching it early in life to our little boys and girls to help them understand the importance of thinking before we act. These words should stay with us all through life and we should have learned the simple truth of what this teaches us. Are we really careful concerning those things we watch? Are we careful concerning those things we hear? Do we really think before we speak? Do we ensure that we are only going places that are appropriate for us? We must be careful concerning all these things because God is paying attention to everything that we see, hear, say, and do. We will be judged in the final day by the words of Jesus (John 12:48). Have we taken the words to the most simplest of songs and applied this principle to our day to day life as Christians? God knows – and that is what really matters!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

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, February 7, 2011

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 the last six years he fell from God’s grace because he no longer relied upon Him.

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)!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fear God and Work Righteousness

When the apostle Peter went to the household of Cornelius he stated, ".....In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him" (Acts 10:34-35). Peter points out that the only ones that will be accepted by God are those who "fear Him" and "work righteousness." We must understand that each and every one of us "....must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" ( 2 Corinthians 5:10). We further learn that in James 4:4 the Word of God says, "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." These inspired Bible passages teach us that in order for us to go to heaven we must do what God tells us to do. We cannot compromise, nor can we tolerate anything that will keep us from being in the proper fellowship with God. Friends are good to have, but we must choose our friends wisely. A true friend is one who will look out for our best interests also. A friend will not want us to do anything that will compromise our values or jeopardize us from being with our Lord eternally. In Proverbs 1:7 it says that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction." The Christian that does "fear God" will increase in knowledge so as to ensure an eternity with Him. Are the things we are doing in our body (the things we say, the things we wear, the things we do) pleasing to God? Let’s make sure they are so that we can look forward to our eternal home with Him!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Make Your Call and Election Sure!

In 2 Peter 1:5-11, Peter tells us what we must do in order to make our call and election sure in order to possess a home in the everlasting kingdom of Jesus. He writes, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Christians must strive to possess all the characteristics that Peter has stated. When we possess and put these characteristics to work in our daily life we know that we will never stumble and that we will gain an everlasting kingdom. Peter also says that if we lack these things then we are shortsighted, having forgotten that we have been cleansed from our sins. It is important that we understand the great sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. When we do, then we will be motivated to live for Him. This will be evidenced by the way we talk, and act every day. May we all strive to be the kind of Christians that Jesus wants us to be.