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.