Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Common Sense Filtering

The television and movie industry continues to thrive because people watch their programs and movies. Most all of the television programs and movies are filled with inappropriate language and content. We as Christians need to be aware of this and not watch any programs or movies that consist of these things. There are some mechanical devices on the market today that filters out bad language and inappropriate scenes. One device that filters bad language, to include euphemisms is the TV Guardian. This was very popular several years ago (we have had one since 1993), but then they stopped making it. In fact for quite sometime you could purchase the TV Guardian for the television and also some DVD and VHS players that had the filter built in. Unfortunately the TV Guardian quit making the device for a number of years. Recently, however, a new TV Guardian has been developed and can now be purchased that has the new HDMI connections for your TV and DVD players. This new TV Guardian will filter out all inappropriate language and euphemisms. Another very good device known as “ClearPlay,” not only filters out bad language, it also deletes inappropriate scenes. Movies can be downloaded from their web site onto a flash drive and then is inserted into the ClearPlay player. Any DVD movie that you play on the ClearPlay player that has the filters from that movie inserted into the player will then filter all inappropriate language and scenes.
          Both of these devices can help Christians ensure that only suitable material is absorbed into our minds. Christians must make sure that we are only watching and listening to things that would be approved of by God. In the absence of these filtering systems, we must be very, very selective as to what we watch on television and DVD players. In addition, it should also be pointed out that there are no filtering devices whatsoever available at the movie theatres. Any movie with bad language and inappropriate scenes will be shown on the big screen! Christians cannot go to the theatres and watch these shows and be pleasing to God. If we have a filtering device in our home, then we will just have to wait until it comes out on DVD if we feel we have a need to watch it at all. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Saves Us?

It is very interesting to note that the Bible mentions several things that man is saved by. We are saved by baptism, but that is not the only thing that saves us. Baptism is a piece to the overall puzzle of those things which God says saves us. The Bible teaches that man is saved by:

hope (Romans 8:24
grace (Ephesians 2:8)
faith (Acts 16:31)
mercy (Titus 3:5)
words Acts 11:14)
baptism (1 Peter 3:21)
the word (James 1:21)
the truth (John 8:32)
hearing (John 5:24)
obedience (Hebrews 5:9)
the gospel (Romans 1:16-17)
knowledge (1 Timothy 2:4)
belief and baptism (Mark 16:16)
repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38)
calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13)
the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5)
being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5)
faithfulness (Revelation 2:10
God (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21)
the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14)
the blood of Jesus (Matthew 26:28)

Jesus stated very plainly “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). All of the things above “saves us.” Are we ready to accept what Jesus said and do the will of the Father? Our eternity (heaven or hell) will be determined by Christ (John 12:48). It is important that we make the right choice and listen to and then obey the words of God!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Baptism: Sprinkling or Immersion?

In many denominations today individuals are being “sprinkled” instead of being”immersed.” Those “sprinkled” are said to have been baptized. The word baptize is the Greek word “baptizo” which means to dip or plunge. One is not “dipped” or “plunged” into the water when one is sprinkled. We learn from the New Testament that John was baptizing in Aenon near Salim because “there was much water there” (John 3:23). There needed to be “much water” because one is not scripturally baptized until one is plunged beneath the water (immersed). Baptism by immersion represents the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:4-5). The following facts are true concerning “sprinkling.”

Sprinkling – has no suggestion of your buried past (Romans 6:5)
Sprinkling – has no New Testament command to obey (Acts 10:48)
Sprinkling – has no divine example to follow (Mark 1:9-10)
Sprinkling – has no promise of remission of sins ( Acts 2:38)
Sprinkling – has no assurance of hope for the future (Romans 6:3-4)
Sprinkling – has no divine origin for existence (Colossians 2:12)

Furthermore, sprinkling has only the creed and tradition of man for its authority. When an infant is sprinkled, he or she is sprinkled WITHOUT desire, WITHOUT faith, WITHOUT repentance, WITHOUT confession, WITHOUT love, WITHOUT expectation, WITHOUT consent, WITHOUT an inspired example, and WITHOUT divine authority. To sprinkle water on an infant is presumption by the preacher, force by the parents, disliked by the infant, and disobedient on the part of all those who had a part in the forced dedication.

When we consult God’s Word, the Bible, we can find that baptism was ALWAYS accomplished when one was immersed into the watery grave, not sprinkled. When one is laid to rest in an open grave, sprinkling dirt on top of the casket and calling it a burial does not make it so. When one is sprinkled with water and calling it a burial does not make that so. It is only when we believe and obey God’s teaching on this or any subject can we be in the right fellowship with Him. We MUST do His will and not the will of man (Matthew 7:21; John 12:48).

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Every Christian's Personal Responsibility

Whether we want to admit it or not, we are responsible for our actions. As Christians we must first understand that we are accountable to God. In Romans 14:12 it says, “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Since we know that we are accountable to God we then must realize what the areas are in our life where we must take personal responsibility. Let’s examine a few of these:

For what we say: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36).
For what we do: “For we 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). 
For what we own: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
For what we think: “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).
For what we know to do: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sincere, devoted, and loyal Christians understand that we will give an account of ourselves to almighty God one day. Therefore, we should strive to examine ourselves daily to ensure that we are making the right choices, knowing that is our personal responsibility.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Talk to God Daily

An active prayer life is something that every Christian should have. The Hebrew writer wrote, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Prayer is an effort on our part to reach and commune with our God in heaven. When we read the Bible we are letting God speak to us. When we pray to God we are speaking to Him. When we engage ourselves in an active prayer life we become closer to God. Our families will have a stronger, deeper relationship with one another when we communicate effectively with one another. As parents, we need to talk to our children and our children need to talk to us on a regular basis. That is the way it needs to be between every Christian and our Father in heaven. The more we communicate with Him, then the closer we will be with Him. We have so many things in our life to be thankful for and we need to express our thankfulness to our Father. He needs to hear it from us just like we need to hear words of thankfulness from our own children. Besides letting God know how thankful we are for all the blessings that He has given us, we should also pray for guidance. We have an example of the apostles seeking guidance from God when they were ready to select the apostle to replace Judas. The text says, “And they prayed and said, "You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen” (Acts 1:24). We too should petition God in prayer to help us make good decisions in our day to day life. One of the best ways that we can get closer to God while increasing our faith is to talk to Him often.    

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tragedy Should Make us Think!

Every time there is a natural disaster, such has just taken place in Japan, we are instantly reminded about how quickly things can happen in our lives when we least expect it. As I look at the complete and total destruction of property in those pictures of Japan, I think about the many years it took for people, working together, to build those cities, factories, etc. and in just a moment in time, it was all destroyed. On Thursday, everyone was going about their daily lives, enjoying life and family. The next day, they are homeless, hurt, and hungry. Many of their loved ones have been killed or are missing. I have seen pictures of people huddled together in blankets in a shelter area with no place to go; because there is no place left.

This tragedy causes me to think about the fact that we must be prepared for heaven and that this day may very well be the last day that we have to live on earth. Jesus, Paul, and James all emphasized the need for us to be ready for heaven. The apostle Paul wrote, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Christians can rejoice that we are not “in darkness” and that we strive to live our lives for Christ, being in fellowship with Him. Many Christians have spent their whole life studying and living faithfully, looking for the great reward of heaven. It is a terrible and sad thing when people value “things” of this world more than the treasures of heaven. The fact is, we are all going to die (unless Jesus comes first), and therefore we must be prepared for the day that we die, not allowing it to come upon us a thief in the night. The total devastation that we are seeing in Japan is nothing compared to the devastation that will result for the soul that is not “in Christ” on the day of our death (Galatians 3:26-27). Can it be said of us that we really are preparing and building our lives day by day, looking forward to being with Jesus?  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"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). May we all let our light shine brightly for Christ, making no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Come Out From Among Them and Be Separate

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!  

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Evangelizing the Lost

Evangelism is something that every Christians should be involved with. No matter how much time we devote to studying, talking, and planning about evangelism, we cannot convert anyone if we do not put it into practice. Jesus called His disciples to evangelize the lost as He said, …"Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19). He later told His disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you….” (Matthew 28:19-20). Jesus instructed His very own disciples on how to evangelize and then later told them to GO and put the things that they have learned about salvation to the lost into practice. Christians have a responsibility to learn the word of God and to teach others. We should develop ourselves in learning the Bible (Hebrews 5:12-14) so that we can teach others the wonderful story of Jesus. We should be able to tell others about why He came to earth, what He did for man, what He expects of us (loyalty, obedience), and what every person must do in order to gain salvation. These are the first principles of Christianity. The more we know then the more effective that we will be in our evangelistic efforts. It may be that our nets will come up empty from time to time, but we must be able to say that we have been fishing. Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6). We must do our part and allow God to do His. Think about it, when was the last time that you have put the talking, planning, and studying to work and actually went fishing for souls? 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Affections Set Toward Heaven

If every Christian’s true goal in life is to ensure eternal life, then we would be focused to make the right decisions here on earth. We can have the proper focus in life when and if we truly receive and impart the kind of training that Moses instructed for the Israelites. Listen carefully to his words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). If we receive this kind of training and then in turn train our children this way, then we would develop in our lives affections set toward heaven. No matter what we do during the course of a day we would make sure that it would not interfere with receiving our eternal citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13). Paul wrote to the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). No matter what we might accomplish and gain here on earth it will mean absolutely nothing if we miss heaven! We must be willing to make whatever sacrifices we have to in order to hear Jesus say to us on the great judgment day “.....Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). We must live in such a way that we are literally reaching for the ultimate prize. It would be good to possess the same kind of attitude that the apostle Paul had when he said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). We have been so very blessed by our heavenly Father. We can now show our love, loyalty, and dedication to Him by living our lives in such a way that will show Him that we truly have our affections set toward heaven!