Saturday, December 8, 2012

Let Us Rise and Build

By studying the Bible, we learn how to live as we should. The Bible teaches us that we are the children of God, and each one is an individual different from all others. We must not envy others, but accept who we are, and strive to use all our spiritual potential in pleasing God.

When we fail, we must forgive ourselves, and go on to be faithful to what we know we should. We should love ourselves enough to seek to do that which is best for our souls. We will never be what we should, unless we think that we can be what we ought to be.

I'm not suggesting that we are self-sufficient, but having been created in the image of God, with His help, we can be everything He would have us to be. Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Thus, the "I can't do it" attitude is a good one. We shouldn't underestimate what God can do through us.

Paul makes another incredible statement in Ephesians 3:20-21. He writes, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Remember, the power is in Christ. We must rise up and rely upon Him, and believe that we can be everything that God wants us to be. Herein lies the secret of an abundant spiritual life in Christ. Let us learn of Christ, obey Him, and rely upon Him. Let us not allow the devil to defeat us with doubt, uncertainty, and inactivity. Let us be like the people of God in Nehemiah's day who said, "Let us rise up and build" and who "strengthened their hands for the good work" (Nehemiah 2:18).

Monday, October 8, 2012

Faith and Obedience

We read in James 1:21 and 22, "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."

Thus, we must humbly receive the implanted word. The word from the printed page must be implanted into our hearts. The word must grow in good and honest hearts and bring forth fruit to eternal life. It does so when men and women hear the word and do what it says. Character building comes from doing, not just hearing. We are not changed by hearing good Bible messages only, but by hearing and applying those messages to our lives so that day-to-day improvements are made.

Hebrews 4:2 says, "For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." Galatians 5:6 says, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." Hebrew 5:9 says, "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..."

How about you? Are you humbly receiving the word which is able to save your soul? How faithfully are you practicing that which is taught in the word? Are you both hearing and doing? James 1:25 says, "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Using Our Talents Wisely

Life is what we make out of it. A Blacksmith takes five dollars worth of iron and makes it into horseshoes and gets twenty dollars for them. A machinist fashions the same iron into needles, and gets hundreds of dollars. The watchmaker takes the same iron and manufactures mainsprings, and receives thousands of dollars.

Similarly, one person uses his time and talents to advance his own earthly interests. Another takes the same opportunities, and through wisdom and the counsel of God's word, shapes and molds his life for eternity. He refines his character so that he is worth something to the world and God.

It's entirely up to you and I whether we develop our lives into a noble accomplishment, our character into a thing of beauty, and our talents into a source of glory to God. A life without aim or purpose shows no intelligence or forethought.

What have we done with the life God has given us? How have we used our talents to the glory of God? With reference to the one-talent man, Jesus said, "And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 25:30). How will we answer God when we are asked what we have done with our talents? God has told us that He expects us to understand His will and do it. Ephesians 5:17 says, "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, "...When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power..." Let's ensure that we are using our talents wisely.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Unashamed of Christ and His Word

We read in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." What did Paul mean by the statement "I am not ashamed"? Paul, like all of us, had certainly done things in the past of which he was ashamed. However, he now lived in such a way that he would not be ashamed to face Jesus.

Paul had found the good news of salvation and told it openly--he wasn't ashamed. He wasn't embarrassed to speak of the Christ or to suffer for the faith that he held. He kept on repeating proudly, "Jesus is the Christ!"

Paul wasn't disappointed with Christ and His blessings. He trusted in Christ and Christ never forsook him. Paul just kept on proclaiming the good news of the gospel. He was never ashamed to proclaim that message. Paul was never embarrassed to speak the name of Jesus to those who did not know Him. Paul was never disappointed with the one who was His Savior and friend.

Are we ever ashamed of the story of Jesus? Do we hold back our confession of Him before men? Will Christ be ashamed of us on that judgment day? Jesus said, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." (Mark 8:38).

1 Peter 4:16 says, "But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter."

Let us unashamedly serve our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Believing and Doing

Paul told Timothy, "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you." (1 Timothy 4:16). Timothy's manner of life, as well as his words, preached a message. What we believe and teach is important, but more important is what we practice.

For the Christian, two things must not be separated - sound teaching and a life consistent with that teaching. Paul told the Corinthians, "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart." (2 Corinthians 3:2-3). Andrew Harriston said, "The Christian's life is the Lord's audio-visual."

Is your faith based upon a proper understanding of God's word? An affirmative answer to this question is still not enough. We must add, Is your life's practice consistent with your understanding of God's word? James 1:25 says, "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does."

Let us not only be diligent in learning the Lord's will, but in doing what He has taught us. Jesus said, "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock..." (Matthew 7:24).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Trying to See As God Sees

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could see things as God sees them? If we could see as God sees, we would know that most fears never materialize. Most of the things we spend most of our time worrying over will never happen and, thus, we waste energy and weaken ourselves.

Surely this is why Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Each day has enough trouble of its own. If we could see as God sees, we'd realize that there's no problem that we'll face which is without resolution. In our gloomier moments of illness, financial stress, or personal problems, we ponder and study over questions which seem to have no answers.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." James 1:2-4 says, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." If we could see as God sees, we would understand that no trial comes without an attached blessing. Things can't be seen in advance and in our anguish we tend to doubt that anything good can come from a heartache. 

If we could see as God sees things, we would know that nothing is more important than having a Savior. The ups and downs of life all lead to the end of life, and at the end lies the Christian's moment of joyous triumph in Jesus. "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Christians Are A Special People

Paul wrote the following about Christ in Titus 2:14, "...Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works."

A tremendously expensive price has been paid by our Lord that we might become His very own. He freely gave Himself for us. His death on the cross was like that of a criminal; yet, He committed no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. No one could convict Him of sin. One of His own chosen disciples betrayed Him to those who wanted to kill Him. He was removed from the garden that night and shuffled back and forth between different rulers for a series of illegal trials. It was there that He experienced loneliness and untold agonies of inhuman brutalities while His disciples fled. He endured the pain and agony of the cross, and when dying, prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do."

His purpose in giving up His life was that He might redeem us from all iniquity. All have sinned and the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). Christ died for us; the penalty for our sins was paid. He freely gave Himself, died in our stead, in order to purify or free us from the guilt of sin. 

Every Christian should understand the honor and obligation of living a clean Christ-honoring life. 2 Corinthians 7:1 says, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." 1 Peter 2:9 says, "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..."

Thus, His own possession is a special people. Christians are peculiar because Christians are zealous of good works. Christians are created in Christ for good works. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10). Let us show our appreciation for what Christ did for us by living up to our calling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Love of the World or the Love of Christ?

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17, "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."

This command of God is a strong prohibition against loving the things of the world. To have the love of God is the very opposite to loving the world. John declared, "...The world is passing away, and the lust of it..." This means that all who love and gain the world cannot keep it. Neither can they take it with them when them die. The world can never completely satisfy those who indulges in it. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" It is the Word of God that really satisfies.

John said that the world is made up of three things: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These three avenues are the means through which sin becomes a reality in our lives. The "pride of life" is the desire for fame, honor, position, and power. Regarding those who seek notoriety, Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." We can add, in addition, that  "You can't fool God any of the time."

John also added, "...But he who does the will of God abides forever." There is coming a time when this world will pass away, and there will only remain people and God. Those who do the will of God shall receive eternal life. Romans 2:6-7 says that God "...Will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality..."

Where is your love today? Is it for the world, or the things of the world? Or, is it for God, and the things that pertain to eternal life? We must ensure that we put all things in its proper order and perspective in life. As far as Christ is concerned, true success in this life is when we have lived in such a way as to enter into heaven eternally!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Putting First Things First

We must put first things first. If the things of the world make up our treasure, that's where our hearts will be, and where we'll put the bulk of our time, attention, and interest.

On the other hand, if the things of the Lord constitute our treasure, our hearts will be with Him, and our time and attention will be primarily in His work. We'll consider worldly possessions of no importance and a distraction from the things that really matter. Our treasures will be spiritual in nature and laid up waiting for us in heaven.

On the matter of priorities, Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "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." Our Lord's statement needs no explanation. One must choose whom he will serve. He simply can't give allegiance to two separate and conflicting people, institutions or ideals. Anybody who has ever tried to do so has found himself in the grip of a dilemma, torn between two loyalties, and unable to be true to either one.

Jesus' whole point in Matthew 6:24 is that He demands undivided loyalty. Our commitment to Him does not begin on Sunday morning and end on Sunday night. The Christian is on duty 24 hours a day. The worship services are a time for growing and edification, but, remember, we need to be serving, building, and strengthening at all times.

How is our service to the Lord? Are we fully committed to Him? Or, are we deifying His teaching by trying to serve two masters?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Preparing for Eternity

While most people feel they have many problems to solve and burdens to carry, we should realize that each day brings us closer to eternity. Far too many are allowing the material and financial problems of life to completely overshadow the supreme thing - salvation and a right relationship with God.

Since the supreme quest of life is the salvation of the soul, when one is right with God and standing on His divine promises, he's able to meet every crisis of life. Please consider Matthew 7:13-14: "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."

Thus, according to Jesus, there are only two ways leading from time to eternity, and two places in which men will be forever. The broad way leads to the second death. The narrow way leads to life. The final destiny of every person is determined by his conduct in this life. Jesus said in John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." 

One thing is certain and that is there is no transforming power in the grave. If a man dies a sinner, he'll be a sinner in the resurrection. Whatever preparation we make for eternity must be done now. Let us diligently prepare ourselves so that we can obtain the eternal reward. Hebrews 5:9 says, "He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him..." 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wrong Is Always Wrong

In a period of loose and sagging morals, Satan provides many rationalizations for improper behavior. Those who would live faithful Christian lives must not be ignorant of Satan's devises. Paul said, "...Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Wrong is always wrong despite our efforts to excuse our actions. Wrong is wrong even if we don't get caught. Let us remember, "The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good." (Proverbs 15:3).

Wrong is wrong even if we do it for a good cause. An honorable purpose does not justify a dishonorable deed. The end never justifies the means. According to 1 John 3:4 and 5:17, all sin is transgression of God's law. Wrong is wrong even if others are doing worse things. It will be of little comfort on the day of judgement if we should be lost knowing that others did things worse than our own sins.

Wrong is wrong even if it doesn't bother our conscience. The conscience can be trained or educated to accept wrong-doing, and even an honest mistake done in good conscience is sinful in the sight of the holy God. Remember, Paul persecuted the early Christians in all good conscience according to Acts 22:4, 23:1 and 26:9.

Wrong is wrong even if it is commonly considered acceptable. God said in Exodus 23:2, "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil..." Proverbs 4:14-15 says, "Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on." 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."

Remember, there is never a right way to do a wrong!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Redeeming the Time

Solomon told us in proverbs 4:23: "Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life." Jesus explained this idea in Matthew 12:34-35 when he told us that the words and actions of man originate from the heart. If the heart is evil, our actions are evil. If we dwell on the obscene, the suggestive, and the sensual, our hearts will be filled with such things.

Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8: "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."

Much of what is on TV, in the movies, in books and magazines is degrading, and presents a warped viewpoint of family life, and depicts good guys as using evil tactics such as lying, killing, and stealing to bring about good results. How can we feed our minds on these things of which so much reading and viewing material consists today, and still maintain a pure and undefiled heart? That is something we just can't do.

We need to spend as much time as possible reading and studying God's word and associating with Christians. We need to be extremely selective in our TV watching. We don't need to read just anything that comes into our hands. Listen to Paul in Ephesians 5:15-17: "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Let us all strive to spend our time wisely to the glory of God.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Fear of God

In 1 Peter 2:17 we read, "Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." Peter says we are to fear God. Now what does that mean? First, it means to revere God, to stand in awe of Him and to respect Him. Secondly, it involves an anxious dread of displeasing Him. 

Both aspects of fearing God play significant roles in our being devoted to the Lord. David exclaimed, "Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him." (Psalms 33:8). It takes this kind of reverence to serve God acceptably. We must humble ourselves under God's mighty hand. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). His ability to speak the stars and universes into existence as recorded in Genesis 1:14 & 15 boggles the mind. 

The awe and respect we have for God leads us to dread displeasing Him for we know that one day we'll stand in judgment before the One whom He has appointed. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "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." 

Paul said, as he was convicting all men of sin, "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:18). This is certainly true of many in our time. 

How about you? Do you fear God? Do you have a wholesome dread of displeasing Him? Hebrews 12:28-29 says, "...Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Finding Real Happiness

Everyone wants a life filled with joy and happiness, but very few find it. One major reason man fails to find the happiness he seeks is because he is trying to obtain it through the wrong means. Millionaires who have houses, yachts, and condominiums often complain in counseling sessions that they're so unhappy they often think about committing suicide. They have everything money can buy, but they're unhappy with their lives! There's a void in their hearts which has never been filled -- a thirst which has never been satisfied.

Those with college degrees are often unhappy. Physicians, lawyers, and educators often admit that they are very unhappy. This proves that higher education in and of itself doesn't bring happiness. Anyone who is trying to find happiness through wealth, position, education, or notoriety is looking in the wrong place. 

The void that people have in their hearts can only be filled through a personal relationship with the Lord Himself. Jesus stated in John 4:13-14, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life." 

Only the Lord can fill the deepest longings of the heart. Prov 3:5-8 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones."

Monday, August 13, 2012

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 proud 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 lost it all. 

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. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Live Life One Day At A Time

A man discovered that he had terminal cancer. For weeks he moped around the house avoiding loved ones, inwardly blaming God, and wondering why this tragedy had to happen to him. Several days later, after much thought, he made this decision: "I am not dead yet, and for the rest of my life, I will live each day to its fullest." 
Weeks later, when he was interviewed, he said that he had experienced a more abundant life in the weeks after his decision than during his prior 42 years. He said that colors seemed more vivid, and the laughter of children more precious. One of the suggestions he gave to help others with terminal illnesses was; consider each day as a gift from God; enjoy it fully. 
The Bible teaches this kind of attitude. No one knows what their life will be like tomorrow, or whether he will be alive tomorrow. James 4:14 says, "...Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." 
Worrying about tomorrow will only complicate today. Jesus said in Matthew 6:34; "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." The Psalmist states in Psalms 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." 
Consequently, we must make the best of each day which the Lord allows us to have. We need to ask ourselves these vital, important questions: "Am I allowing the Lord to control my attitudes and actions today? Am I living this day to its fullest to the glory of God?" May the Lord help us be a light of inspiration to all that know us as we strive to be faithful until the very end (Revelation 2:10).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

We Reap What We Sow

In Galatians 6:7 & 8 we read: "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." 
In presenting this basic and important lesson, Paul uses an illustration which is easily understood. The flesh and the Spirit represent, as it were, two directions in which different kinds of seed are sown. Paul tells us that if we sow to the flesh, that is, following the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), we will reap corruption, or death. However, if we sow to the Spirit, that is, following the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we will reap everlasting life. Paul said in Galatians 5:16, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." 
The present and the future are shown in the connection between sowing and reaping. As the farmer sows, and looks forward to the time of reaping, so it is with us. Life is a time of sowing, with the harvest coming at the judgment. If we sow to the Spirit, we can look forward to reaping eternal life. However, if we sow to the flesh, we shall harvest corruption. Not only will we reap evil here on earth, but in the end, receive eternal destruction. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Sin always pays its wages; no one will ever be underpaid. 
How about you? Are you sowing to the flesh or to the Spirit? Is the emphasis of your life on the physical or the spiritual? Remember, most definitely, we will reap what we sow. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Devoted to God

Enoch was a man who "walked with God" according to Genesis 5:21-24. The Hebrew writer, in Hebrews 11:5 tells us what that phrase means. He said, "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, 'and was not found, because God had taken him'; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." 
The apostle Paul's ambition was to be well-pleasing to God. He said in 2 Corinthians 5:9, "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him." Every child of God ought to have that same ambition. We, too, can walk with God if we'll devote ourselves to pleasing Him on a daily basis. 
The term "devotion" is sometimes used to describe a spiritual activity, but the word is better defined as an attitude that produces proper activity. Our word "devote" is derived from the Latin word "devotus" whose root means "to vow." Enoch and Paul had vowed (devoted or consecrated) their lives to God. God was at the center of their every thought and activity. Every duty, no matter how menial or trivial, was done to the glory of God. Pleasing their heavenly Father was the motivation behind every action. 
Let us all be truly devoted and consecrated to God. Let us have a fervent desire to please our heavenly Father. "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." (James 4:8) 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Spiritual Growth Through Bible Study

Do you want spiritual growth? Let me suggest to you that God's book, the Bible, is the only guide that will lead you to true spiritual growth. Reading and studying God's Word is vital to spiritual growth. 
Job said in Job 23:12, "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food." Jeremiah cried out, "...Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart..." (Jer. 15:16). We read in Psalm119:97, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." 
We need to study the Bible daily so that our minds will be filled with God's holy word. Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15: "Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all." Again, Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 
By exercising our senses on the word of God, we can discern between good and evil. Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." By renewing our minds, we can prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 says, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 
In Joshua 1:8, the Lord gave Joshua directions that would lead him to mature spiritual growth. He said, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." 
How about you? Are you growing spiritually through regular study of the Bible? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Let Us Not Forget God

A sense of dependency upon God is one of the primary reasons some people serve God faithfully. The absence of that sense of dependency, on the other hand, is the cause of arrogance and pride and a feeling of I don't need anybody, I can take care of myself. This attitude is the result of either not reading or not understanding God's word. God has given us many warnings in his word about departing from him. 
In the 8th chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites that it was God who took care of them in the desert for forty years, and if they would continue to remember God, He would continue to care for them. In verses 11-14 we read, "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today; lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage..." 
Because of this present age of affluence and abundance, many people don't desire to become servants of righteousness simply because of their feeling of self-sufficiency and independence of God. They laugh at the idea that they need God! Let me assure you that we need God in a very urgent and real way! 
God told the children of Israel the consequences of forgetting Him in the last two verses of Deuteronomy 8 when he said, "Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God." 
God has also told us the consequences of forgetting Him in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. In verse 9 He said that we shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." Let us take heed! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Updated History and Geography of the Bible CD

The History and Geography of the Bible Story on CD has just been updated and now includes 1,320 PowerPoint charts. You can read about the new updates and also view the new lesson 13 from my website by going to and then clicking on "History and Geography CD." The two major revisions was changing all the font to Arial and increasing the font size so that all the charts can be read much better in an auditorium setting. 

A Good Life

In 1 Peter 3:10-11 we read, "He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it." 
There is a very real sense in which life, as a precious gift of God, is to be loved and lived with exuberance. Please notice, though, that the enjoyment of life and the experiencing of good days is an act of the will. That means that it doesn't depend on fate, circumstances, or mere physical considerations. In fact, in Psalms 34, from which Peter quoted, David spoke of fears in verse 4, troubles in verse 6, and afflictions in verse 19. Yet, in verse 10, he declared that those who seek the Lord shall not want for any good thing. 
A good day would seem to be one in which one can say truthfully that he's sustained a right relationship with God, his family, his fellow-man, and himself, regardless of whether he is afflicted and persecuted, or is praised and blessed. 
What do we need to do to have a good day? The answer is in our text. We must do what Peter said. First, watch our words. Let us refrain our tongues from evil and our lips that they speak no guile. Second, watch our ways. Let us turn away from evil, and do good. Third, watch our wrath. Let us seek peace and pursue it. 
If we follow the precepts taught in God's word, our life will be blessed, we'll be a blessing to those around us, and we will have good days. That makes this life worth living. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

True Sincerity

     The word "sincere" is a very interesting one. Paul said in Philippians 1:9-10, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ..."
     "Sincerity" or being "sincere" is something a Christian must include in the qualities of the heart. According to the noted commentator Albert Barnes the word "sincere" means "that which is judged in the sunshine, in the brightest of light. It means literally - 'without wax.'" 
     When a person is sincere, his words and actions express purity and genuineness of heart. He is not ashamed to have his heart laid bare before both God and man. A sincere individual is one who does what he does in the light, without trying to hide anything from anyone. Furthermore, a sincere person doesn't have his heart chained and shackled with pride, prejudice, and make-believe. He's willing to admit when he's wrong, and he humbly asks for forgiveness and makes correction. 
     Paul closes the Ephesian letter with a blessing to the sincere. He says, "Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen." How about you? Are you sincere (without wax) in your love for Christ? May the Lord help us all to truly be sincere in our love and service to Him. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

We Always Need God

We need God to help us make it through this life. Nonetheless, there are many of us who feel that we can take care of ourselves, and we don't need God. We're big and brave until the adversities and sorrows of life come upon us. When we lose loved ones, our health, or all that we own, we then realize our own inadequacy and insufficiency. It's then that we desire to go to One greater than ourselves. 
        Our God is a God of comfort and consolation. Listen to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 
        We can find assurance in the fact that we can cast all our care upon God, knowing He cares for us and is ever ready to assist His children. Philippians 4:6 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God…” Again, in 1 Peter 5:6-7 we read, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 
        Man cannot live this life successfully without God leading him. Solomon in Proverbs 14:12 said, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Moreover, Jeremiah 10:23 tells us, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” 
        Yes, we always need God. Let's keep that fact in mind, and let's serve Him faithfully. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

No Hope Without God

        Without God we would have no hope whatsoever of life after death. He offers us the hope of a life hereafter. Those who are in this life without God cannot entertain the hope of eternal life in heaven with God. Paul said of the Gentiles who were once without God, "At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." (Ephesians 2:12)
        There is a sharp contrast between the Christian's view of eternity and that of those who reject God! To the faithful Christian eternity is not a leap into darkness, but is something to desire and look forward to. Listen to what Paul in Philippians 1:21-24 "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you." Paul was ready to die. He wanted to go and be with Christ.
        How about you? Are you living in this world without hope? If so, why not make the changes necessary to be pleasing to God? Paul went on to say regarding the Gentiles, "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). By being in Christ, we can be redeemed by His blood, and have the hope of eternal life. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Man's Purpose in Life

        We need God to give substance and meaning to our lives. Apart from God, man would not know his origin, purpose, or destiny. Knowing these things is essential to man's experiencing the substance, and understanding the meaning, of life.
        God, in Genesis chapter 1, tells us of our origin. He said in verse 27, "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." 
        God has also told us why we're here. Solomon declared in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." This declaration was made after Solomon had explored all the avenues and indulgences of life in an effort to discover substance and true pleasure. He found it only in God. 
        Thus, the whole (the essence or substance) of man is to fear God and keep his commandments. Obeying God out of dependence upon Him results in having a good foundation upon which to build. Doing God's will results in living a satisfying, rewarding and fulfilling life here, and gives the promise of being in heaven with Him when this life is over. 
        How about you? What's your purpose in life? Serving God and keeping His commandments is what life is all about.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

God Is the Answer

We need God to keep us from destroying ourselves. Separated from God, man deteriorates. Please consider what Genesis 6:5 says regarding the conduct of early man. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Man can be compared to a beautiful hybrid rose. As long as he enjoys cultivation and care, he flourishes; however, take away this cultivation and he rapidly declines in his beauty.

God is the only source of the care man must have in order to maintain spiritual beauty and bear fruit. God knows what we need! Man needs God to lift him out of the mire of degradation and waste, and enable him to ascend the ladder of spiritual and moral excellence.

The psychiatrists and psychologists tell us that man is his own worst enemy. They tell us that the major causes of man's problems and his destruction are envy, jealousy, greed, hate, and worry. Every one of these things God has discussed at great length in His revelation. God has provided us with a comprehensive guide to living here on earth. We don't need the psychiatrists and psychologists to tell us how to live our lives. All we need is to listen to God.

Listen to what He has said about envy in Proverbs 14:30: "A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones." Jesus said in Luke 12:15, "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses." He said in Matthew 5:43-44, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you..." 1 John 3:15 says, "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him." Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

There are numerous other passages which show us how to live our lives in peace and harmony without destroying ourselves. Let us learn them and take heed. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let Us Not Forget God

A sense of dependency upon God is one of the primary reasons some people serve God faithfully. The absence of that sense of dependency, on the other hand, is the cause of arrogance and pride and a feeling of I don't need anybody, I can take care of myself. This attitude is the result of either not reading or not understanding God's word. God has given us many warnings in his word about departing from Him.
     In the 8th chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses reminded the Israelites that it was God who took care of them in the desert for forty years, and if they would continue to remember God, He would continue to care for them. In verses 11-14 we read, "Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today; lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage..." 
     Because of this present age of affluence and abundance, many people don't desire to become servants of righteousness simply because of their feeling of self-sufficiency and independence of God. They laugh at the idea that they need God! Let me assure you that we need God in a very urgent and real way!
     God told the children of Israel the consequences of forgetting Him in the last two verses of Deuteronomy 8 when He said, "Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God."
     God has also told us the consequences of forgetting Him in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9. In verse 9 He said that we shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power." We must take heed and not forget God.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Victory Through Christ

In Romans 8:37, Paul says, "...We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." The word "conquerors," as Paul uses it, has the sweet smell of success, the ring of victory, the shout of triumph. It also indicates there must be a contest or a battle before the victory.
     Christianity never promises to shield from the trials and tribulations of life. It does promise to sustain us, and grant us the victory. Paul tells us that the victory is accomplished "through Him that loved us," and that, of course, is Jesus Christ our Lord.
     Our ability to rely on ourselves is a wonderful thing, but it isn't enough in living the Christian life. Jesus said in John 15:5, "...Without Me you can do nothing." If the victory is won, it won't be achieved by our own might or strength, but by the superpower of Christ.
     In Philippians 4:13, Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Through Christ, we can triumph over temptation, gain the mastery over sin, and endure all of the hardships of life. Isaiah 40:29-31 says, "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:57). 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Spiritual Blindness

God's gift of sight is perhaps the most necessary and precious of the physical senses. Without sight, we would be constantly bumping into, over, and off of things. Such would be a terrible tragedy, wouldn't it? Imagine, if you would, someone who has the ability to see, yet goes around with his eyes shut, not heeding the dangers that are present, trusting those around him to watch out for him and lead him correctly. This would be a very foolish person indeed.
     Nevertheless, there are those who are even more foolish. Spiritual blindness is much worse than physical blindness. Those who are spiritually blind in most cases don't know it, and in other cases refuse to admit it. Some of the Lord's strongest rebukes were against those who were spiritually blind.
     Jesus said of the Pharisees, "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch." (Matthew 15:14). Tragedy strikes when those who possess the ability to see, refuse to do so. The old saying: "None is so blind as he who will not see" is certainly true. 
     After Peter gave his list of the moral qualities a child of God must possess: virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, he warned in verse 9, "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." (2 Peter 1:5-9). Only by studying God's word can we learn the things God expects of us, and "see" what is pleasing to Him. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Peculiar People

Have you ever had anyone refer to you as a peculiar person? If you are a Christian you can take that as a compliment because God's people are called peculiar. In 1 Peter 2:9 we read: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
Why are Christians peculiar?
Christians are peculiar because they are different. Peter says that "they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (1 Peter 4:4). In 2 Corinthians 6:16-17, Paul says that Christians are to be separate from the world. A Christian is peculiar in many different ways. They are peculiar in Name as referenced in Acts 11:26 and in 1 Peter 4:16. Here we can read that this peculiar person is called Christian. The Christian is also known for their great faith (Romans 1:8) and the life that they lead (1 Peter 4:3-4). A Christian always strives to gain a deeper and broader knowledge of the gospel of Christ and as a result knows God (Hebrews 8:10-11). Speech is also another way that we can tell that a Christian is peculiar. Paul says "Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you" (Titus 2:8). So why would we want to be a peculiar person? First and most of all so that we can be counted as one of God's people (1 Peter 2:9-10). Also because Christ gave Himself on the cross for us, and to obtain mercy, to be redeemed, to be in the light, and to show forth God's excellencies. We should all strive to become a peculiar people!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What Sin Does to Us

Sin is a terrible thing! It is the worse thing that an individual can do because it separates us from our God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If one chooses to remain in a sinful condition, then one should expect to receive the eternal death that comes as a result of it. Notice the teaching of God which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23), and “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15). At the final judgment, punishment will be delivered to those who are not in fellowship with God because they are in sin. Jesus has said, “I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23  -  See also Matthew 25:41-46). We all need to understand that sin, which is a transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4), will bring with it an eternal separation from God when Jesus, our righteous judge, judges us based on His word at 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).

How Can We Free Ourselves of Sin?
We can only be freed from sin by the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). This takes faith in Jesus (Acts 10:43), which results in being repentant of our sins and being baptized into Christ. “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 2:38). Once we are baptized into Christ, then we need to pray and ask for forgiveness of any sins committed after we become a Christian (Acts 8:22-23). 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Poudre Valley church of Christ

Poudre Valley church of Christ
2926 E. Mulberry Street, Unit B
Fort Collins, Colorado  80524

If you are traveling to Fort Collins or Loveland, Colorado, the gateway to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, I invite you to come and worship with us at the Poudre Valley church of Christ. We are located on East Mulberry Street. The congregation began meeting together on February 19, 2012.
Our service times are:
Sunday Morning Bible Class ----- 9:30 A.M.
Sunday Morning Worship -------- 10:30 A.M.
Sunday Afternoon Worship-------- 1:30 P.M.

(Note: We do not meet on Wednesday night at this time). We look forward to having you come and worship with us. A warm and friendly welcome awaits you!

History and Geography of the Bible CD on SALE

APRIL SALE - $22.00
I have put "The History and Geography of the Bible Story on CD" on SALE for the month of April only. The retail price is listed for $59.95 and I normally sell it for $29.95 on my web site. The CD is now on sale for only $22.00 for the month of April only. If you order from my website at you can order the CD at the reduced price for April only and pay no shipping. The CD will return to the normal website price of $29.95 in May. 
To read about the CD and view a sample of lesson 13, please go to this link.

Stand Up for Christ

As a Christian and preacher of the gospel of Christ, it is so refreshing to see Christians standing up for what they know is right based on the Word of God. It is encouraging to see Christians who are truly dedicated and consistent in their stand for truth, wanting to please God in all manner of life. In the society that we live in today this is not an easy task. Christians who read and study the Word of God know that it is very important to stay the course of righteousness and faithfulness in able to receive the crown of life. The apostle Paul encouraged us 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). A dedicated Christian is one who understands this because living in eternity with Christ is their goal (Revelation 2:10). In writing to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul said for them to “….have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). There are many Christians today that need to read and then make application of what Paul has said here. Christians are to be a special, or peculiar people, set apart for service to God (1 Peter 2:9). This is not the case when one becomes engaged with anything that God has called unrighteous. We are to “expose them,” not fellowship them. Christians know what God wants. Christians know that God is righteous and that people who do things contrary to His teaching are deserving of an eternal death. Yet, many Christians still engage themselves in unrighteous practices and give approval of others who may also practice them. Paul wrote: “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Jesus said that we must “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Christians, we must be determined first and foremost to live for God in all manner of our life. A failure to do so will result in an eternal separation from Him forever more. Stand up and let God and others see that we are imitators of Christ, not the people of this world (1 Corinthians 11:1)!