Saturday, December 20, 2014

No Room for Jesus

Those of us who understand Bible authority and are guided by that authority because we respect what God has said to us realize that Christians do not celebrate December 25th as the birth date of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian brethren and said "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (Colossians 3:17). There is no example or inference where Christ’s birth was to be celebrated as a yearly event. We are only commanded to remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is true that the birth of Christ was recognized as a glorious event and every Christian should be thankful for the birth of Jesus. The true worshiper of God thinks about the birth, life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus each and every week, not just one time per year as many people do.

No Room For Jesus
When Jesus was born into this world there was no room for Him in the Inn. He was born in a manger and in due course of time was unwanted and unappreciated by the majority of people. The world treated Jesus worse than they usually treated men they did not like or did not even know. It is said that the Son of man had nowhere to lay His head (Luke 9:58). The blessed Son of God who came to this earth to give life and to give it abundantly (John 10:10), was rejected and despised by men that had no compassion and pity toward Him. During the time of Christ, man had "no room" for Him in their life! But the story of Jesus did not end with His death on the cross. Nor did man’s rejection of Jesus dispose of Him. The story of Jesus continues to be told today through the gospel message of salvation, the blessings of God that are provided only through Jesus. There are many, many people today that do not have room for Jesus in their life even though they celebrate His birth.
Is There Room For Jesus Today?
Think about it. Does man really make the attempt today to make room for Jesus in their life? Do those individuals that operate the stores, markets, and offices even consider Him? Are they really interested in Jesus or the almighty dollar? Contrary to popular belief that business is business and religion is another matter, Christ and all of His ways belong in our manner of earning a living and conducting our business affairs. If Christ does not come first in our life, in all matters of our life, then it does us absolutely no good to remember Him just on one day per year. Business and religion must go hand in hand. Principles of truth, honesty, and the genuine concern for others are not only valid religiously but also in the business world.

 What about in the Home? Is there room for Jesus in our home today? Do we take the time to worship Jesus even at home? Do we pray, sing songs, and read scripture? Many celebrate Christmas as a time of giving, love and family. Does Jesus have a place in our home that lacks love, kindness, and consideration 364 days out of the year? What about the home that has been totally wrecked by divorce and unfaithfulness to God’s duty and to each other? Do we make sure we include Jesus in our family finances? Do we only give to the Lord that which he has left me in my wallet when the plate is passed? Or do we purpose in our heart to give willingly and freely (2 Corinthians 9:7)? Is there room for Jesus in our time and activities? We will never be able to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18), if we don’t allow Him room to live in our heart.

 Does Jesus have a place in our heart? Before Jesus can have His place in the home and business world, He must have a place in each one of our hearts. The apostle Paul prayed: "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:17-19). Those that have never become Christians have not made room for Him. Those who walk unfaithfully have not made room for Jesus.

 On this day many people will attend a church service somewhere to "celebrate" the birth of Jesus, that will not attend another service until this time next year. They will attend somewhere with their family and listen to the "special service celebration" in honor of our Lord, with no intent to really let Jesus come into their life on a daily basis from this day onward. How hypocritical! I would plead with you to not only let the Word of God touch your heart today, but each and every day that you live. Why not devote your life to Christ, give Him room in your heart, and look forward to the blessed hope of eternal salvation with Him. Many have rejected Jesus. Many have not had room for Jesus. But won’t you celebrate Christ every day and give Him room to rule your life as you strive to serve Him?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Press On Toward Heaven

All too often we have a tendency to look back and dwell on what we have done or haven’t done instead of concentrating on the future. "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot's wife" (Luke 17:28-33). Lot’s wife had a longing for that which she had left. Consequently, she was overtaken and consumed. Her trust was not in her God but in the things of the world. She just could not bring herself to let go. Do we have this trouble today? Think about it. Sometimes "looking back" may simply be filling our lives up with "good" things to the degree that we cannot render to our God what is due Him. That is the point that Jesus made in Luke 9:62 when He said "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." So where should we be looking? Obviously not backwards. We should be looking forward and running toward God. Lot’s wife should have felt as if she were in a footrace away from Sodom and we should feel the same way. The Hebrew writer tells us to run with endurance the race that is set "before" us, looking to Jesus...(Hebrews 12:1-2). We must realize that everything we do as we follow Jesus is another step in our race toward our eternal victory. When you feel enticed by the world - remember Lot’s wife. Let’s all strive to "press on toward heaven!"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How Thankful Are We?

This coming Thursday is the day that is set aside in our wonderful country as a national day of Thanksgiving. As Christians we have so much to be thankful for and it should be very easy to find reasons for being thankful. Besides having so much of this world’s goods, we have all spiritual blessings which can only be realized by being IN Christ (Ephesians 1:3). But how thankful are we? There are others in the world that certainly do not have or ever will have the material things that we are blessed with in our life. Yet we still find ways to complain and wish that we had even more. In addition to all the physical things that we are blessed with, we should thank God every day that we have learned about Jesus Christ, obeyed Him, and are striving to live a faithful life on this earth until we die. We are promised that heaven is waiting for us to possess it IF we are faithful to the very end (Revelation 2:10). Now that is something we can truly be thankful for.

As We Bow
As we bow our heads in prayer to God this coming Thursday, before we eat our meal, let us truly be mindful of all the wonderful things that God has allowed us to enjoy here on this earth. We should be thankful for our prosperity and for being able to worship God unmolested at any time. Let us thank God for our health and that He may bless us with many more years of faithful service in His kingdom. May we thank God for those that have had an open heart to receive His Word, and are now determined to serve Him for the rest of their life. We should thank God for the opportunities that He presents to us to share His Word with others. Let us also thank God for our children and pray that we raise them completely in the training and admonition that He dictates to us. May we thank Him for the Poudre Valley congregation here in Loveland, CO and pray that we can all strive to continue to build each other up, keeping one another motivated for the cause of Christ and for each other, longing to be with God and each other forever in heaven. As we bow, there are so many things that we can be thankful for.
Prayer Is Important
The importance of prayers of Thanksgiving to God is taught to us clearly in the Bible. Notice the following:
Psalms 50:14 "Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High."

Psalms 105:1 "Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!"

Psalms 106:1 "Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever."

Colossians 3:15 "...let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful."

1 Thessalonians 5:18 "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Ephesians 5:20 "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,"

Hebrews 13:15 "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. "

When we look at God’s Word, we can see where our duty is evident. We know that we have received many blessings from our creator in which we should be eternally thankful. Prayer is important because it is through prayer that God can clearly see in us the kind of children we really are. A prayerful child is one who talks to their father. God wants us to talk to Him and express to Him how truly thankful we are for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Can it be seen in us by our expression to God in prayer that we really are thankful for what we have, both physical and spiritual?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tinker Toy Religion

Every small child from my era was given a Tinker Toy set to help develop his creativity and ingenuity. I was no exception. You could follow the pictures and build what the designer had in mind, or use your own imagination and arrange the pieces just any way that suited your fancy. There were enough parts of various shapes and sizes to accommodate most any conceivable concoction.

What does that have to do with religion? Well, it makes about as much sense to make a religion out of Tinker Toys, as it does anything else man has invented that God has not specified and approved.

God has always given man specific instructions to please Him, all the way from Adam and Eve, the Patriarchs, Moses and Israel, to Jesus Christ and the Christian age. On all matters pertaining to religion, God has always made known His will through the Bible. People have not been satisfied to follow these requirements, but instead, fashion their own religions by taking pieces from the imaginations of men, and mixing in the additions, subtractions and perversions of what Clod has revealed. One group assembles pieces to build a religion that meets with their own approval, while another group does the same with different pieces. Hence, Tinker Toy religion!

This problem is as old as man. The Bible is replete with examples of people assuming they can change what God ordered. Adam and Eve ignored God's command, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Genesis 2:16-17), and they died! Cain offered a sacrifice to God that did not please Him (Genesis 4:4-7). God called it sin! When Moses revealed God's Law to the Israelites, he warned, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of Jehovah your God which I command you" (Deuteronomy 4:2). As it turned out, every generation thereafter was punished when they corrupted the "commandments of Jehovah"!

Under the Law of Christ the principle is the same. Paul wrote to the Galatians, "I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel: only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema (accursed). As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema" (Galatians 1:6-9). God considers this serious business; notice: "Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace" (Galatians 5:4; Rev 22:18-19).

There is only one true religion today. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). It doesn't pay to "tinker around" with God's religion as He revealed it in His word. Every Tinker Toy religion will be destroyed!

Article written by: Dusty Owens

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Triumphs of Faith

In the sports world we know that the individuals that excel in their individual sport may someday enter the "Hall of Fame". Well, Christians also have their heroes that are solidly planted in the "Hall of Faith". The Hebrew writer defines faith as "...the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1). The eleventh chapter of Hebrews shares some beautiful examples of those God fearing individuals from long ago that excelled in goodness and are now entered in the "Hall of Faith" in this chapter. In verse 4 we see where "By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain...". Do we give God the best we have each day of our lives? We read of great names such as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel. Look at those names. Great names in Old Testament history for us to grow and learn from today. Over time, this was a great line up of God's people. They are now entered in the book of Hebrews because of their great faith in God. Of all of our heroes today there is none better than these. These are the ones that we need to pattern our lives after. Worldly heroes can not help us get to heaven but the names in this chapter are ones that if we showed the kind of faith in our daily lives like they did would surely help us get there. But all these great people "died in faith without receiving the promises..." (Hebrews 11:13). We have the greatest gift of all - Jesus Christ our Lord! God has promised us that if we do his will that we will receive life everlasting (Matthew 7:21). Have faith - and do God's will!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Respecting Bible Authority

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said "...All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." The Father delegated all authority to Jesus. Therefore, Jesus has all authority. The apostles and other inspired men wrote the Bible based upon the authority of Jesus (2 Peter 3:15-16; 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we say that we respect the authority of Jesus, then we must respect His authority as recorded for us in the Bible. The word "authority" by definition is the right to rule, command, or act. Since Jesus has the authority to command, then we must search the Bible to find the authority to act.

The Old Testament is full of examples of men obeying and disobeying God. By taking the time to read Romans 15:4 and 1 Corinthians 10:1-11, we see that these examples are still purposeful for us today. Although we are not under the old law of Moses (Colossians 2:14; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 7:26), the nature of God does not change (Hebrews 13:8). In the Old Testament we learn that when God promised to bless His people when they obeyed Him, that He always kept His word. We also see that when God promised to punish them if they disobeyed, that He also kept His word. When reading the New Testament we learn that God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18), and therefore when He commands we have a responsibility, out of respect for Him, to obey Him. Do you respect God? If so, then you will ensure that you are obeying Him in all things (Matthew 7:21-23).

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Commandments of Jesus

Must we keep the commandments of Jesus in order to be saved and go to heaven? Some will answer yes and most will answer no. Those entrenched in denominationalism will answer no, stating that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and therefore, all we have to do is believe in Him and we are saved. The primary passage used for this reasoning is John 3:16. They will also reason that although it is important to keep Jesus’ commandments, there is no way that we possibly can — that His death on the cross forgave us of all sins and all we must do is believe in Him in order to be saved. If this line of reasoning is true then the demons will be saved (James 2:19), there is no need to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21), and Jesus’ words are not to be taken seriously (John 14:15; 15:14).

We Must Obey Jesus In Order To Be Saved
Those who reason that we don’t have to obey all the commandments of Jesus to be saved are practicing a "cut and paste" religion. How can you claim to live for someone whom you have no intention of listening to and obeying everything that they ask you to do? Most religious people "cut and paste" the commands of Jesus that are "easy" for them to keep, while discarding those that don’t quite fit their own lifestyle. This is an absolute dishonest type of religion. If we claim to follow Jesus, to walk in His steps, then we MUST obey His commandments. Take a moment to read what Jesus and His Word says concerning obedience in John 14:15; 15:14; Hebrews 5:9; Acts 5:29, 32; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17. Jesus said baptism is required in order to be saved (Mark 16:16). Who will you choose to obey — Jesus or religious leaders?

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Righteousness of God

The righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote: "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. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17). We learn from these words that the righteousness of God is revealed to us through His Holy, inspired word.
How Can We Become Righteous?
We become righteous before God by understanding and doing several things. First of all, we must read and understand the significance of Christ’s death on the cross for us. God loved us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross so that we can have forgiveness of our sins (John 3:16; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8). When we understand His great sacrifice and what it means to us, then we develop a strong and abiding faith in Him. Our faith must be an unwavering faith (James 1:6-8). A faith that longs to be obedient to all of Christ’s commandments and ordinances that He asks of us as we strive to serve Him each day (Luke 1:6; John 14:15). There are many religious people that are willing to submit to most of Christ’s commands but not all of them. The same Jesus who asks us to believe in Him as being the Son of God (John 3:16; Romans 10:9), also commands us to be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38), and then be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). In order to become righteous in God’s sight we must be willing to submit to ALL the commands of Jesus.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Christian's Love

The teachings of Jesus demonstrate that love is the most important virtue that we can possess. His teaching concerning love is not a surface, glossing over type of love, but rather it is a sincere, from the heart kind of love. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says to His disciples: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." In these two passages, Jesus gives us a command, example, and necessary inference of "love." In verse 34a He commands us to love. In verse 34b He gives us an example of what genuine sincere love is "as I have loved you." In verse 35 our proof of our discipleship for Jesus is demonstrated by our love for one another.

Our Love of God and Man Must Come First
When Jesus was asked what the first commandment was He answered: "….the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Then He said: "And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31). I am convinced that if every Christian would demonstrate the sincere, dedicated love that Jesus instructs of us, then every Christian would grow and mature into the kind of person that God would want us to be in our personal life, in our home, and in the church. Home and church strife would cease if everyone would truly demonstrate the love that Jesus commands us to have toward God and one another. May we all learn this valuable lesson.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Our Christian Development and Growth

Before an individual can grow as a Christian they must first be free from sin. Peter writes: "Therefore, laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:1-2). Later he says: "by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:4). Many Christians seem to be "spinning their wheels" when it comes to Christianity. They want to be an active Christian, yet they also want to continue to entangle themselves with worldly things. We cannot develop and grow into the Christian that God wants us to be if we are not willing to give it 100% effort! Only when we truly "desire" for the righteousness of God will we become a mature, seasoned, responsible, and respected Christian in His service. We must be determined to escape the world’s lusts and have a living faith toward Christ. James writes: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26). Our true character, development and growth as a Christian will be evident to all based upon our works. Our Christian growth will be seen by all without us having to ever say a word. Remember the words of Paul? "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all" (1 Timothy 4:12-15). A Christian’s development, growth, and progress will be evident to all that see him.

Conditions of Growth
We can only grow in Christ when we place our trust and cares on Him. "casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus pleads with each of us to "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). When we cast our cares on Jesus, and lean on Jesus, then we are on our way to developing as a Christian ought to. The worrier, the pessimist, the negative individual will not grow spiritually because they have not learned to let Christ be the center of their life. When we try to go through our daily tasks without including God, then we have miserably failed. Each and everyone of us when asked if we would like to grow up to be a strong, active, knowledgeable, fruitful Christian would probably answer YES! What we say we WANT to be and what we actually ARE, often times are two different things. You see, our growth is conditional. Conditioned that we STRIVE to be what we say we WANT to be!

Steps to Christian Growth
So how does an individual grow to become the Christian that God would certainly be proud of? The answer is found in the Bible. Peter writes: "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble" (2 Peter 1:5-10). We learn that the individual that really wants to develop and grow into a servant of God, a dedicated Christian, then there is active work to do. A Christian is one who is virtuous, longs for knowledge (Ephesians 3:19; Proverbs 24:5), exercises temperance (1 Corinthians 9:25; Galatians 5:23), is patient (1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:8), godly (1 Timothy 4:7-8), shows brotherly kindness always (Galatians 6:10), and understands that all things must be done first of all because of LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit informs us that if we are actively pursuing these things then we will never stumble! The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and encouraged them to remain faithful and to develop and grow as Christians by saying: "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). May we all strive to develop and grow by putting on the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and meditating on the good, positive aspects of Christianity. As a result, people will be edified by your growth and encouragement!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Praying to God

The prophet Daniel prayed to God three times daily (Daniel 6:10). This godly man serves as an example to each one of us, showing us that it is important that we communicate with God on a continual basis. Without prayer we fail to bring ourselves into the full enjoyment of the blessings of God’s kingdom. 

The Sincere Desire of the Heart
We learn from scripture that our prayers to God are sincere desires from our own heart. Paul wrote in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” Paul was expressing a desire in his heart that Israel be saved. Our prayers should be addressed to God our Father, expressing the desires of our heart and we must do so in faith without doubting (James 1:6-8). Christians must realize that prayer is an acknowledgment of the all-sufficiency of God and our own dependency upon Him. When we truly realize and recognize this then our prayers will truly be from our heart.

The Importance of Christians Praying
Christians realize that God does not hear the prayers of sinners (John 9:31). Therefore the Christian understands the true value of prayer for the righteous. We know that God does answer prayer and therefore when we pray we pray expecting God to answer, even giving us greater things than we can ask or think (Jeremiah 33:3; Ephesians 3:20-21). Prayer creates an attitude in the Christian that brings peace to the heart. As we study our Bible on a daily basis we gain a deeper and better understanding of our Father. Likewise, when we pray to God on a daily basis, this creates a closeness with our Father and keeps us focused on striving to please Him in all things. Pray to God — because prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but laying hold on His willingness!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Beware of Satan

In the past I have written several articles on the blessings of being a Christian and the wonderful love of God. But there is another force that we need to be seriously aware of and that is Satan himself. Matthew 4:1 says "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". It is Satan that temps us and every day that goes by we can see the hand of Satan somewhere in it. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:15). Paul was giving this advice to those that are married because he knew that Satan is always standing ready to tempt all with fleshly desires. One must understand that Satan is a very strong force and we cannot let our guard down for an instant because if we do, we will be tempted by him in an instant. Peter stressed this in his writing of 1 Peter 5:8 when he said "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Brethren, we must see Satan as an active force just waiting for us. Satan has been called a "murderer from the beginning" and "does not stand for truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Not only is he a murderer and full of lies - the father of lies, but he is a sinner, John says "the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

Don’t Give Satan the Advantage
We can see from all the above passages that Satan is "no good" and we need to be very cautious of him. At this point you may be asking "what should I do with him?" First of all, don't give him the advantage. Paul said "...that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes". Once he gets the advantage it becomes harder and harder for us to overcome him. We must continually watch out for him (1 Peter 5:8), and resist him as James says in James 4:7 "Submit therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you". As Christians, we should be confident that when we do resist Satan that he will flee from us.

Put on the Armor of God
So how do we keep from giving him the advantage, to watch for him, and to resist him? By living a life that is sober as mentioned in 1 Peter 5:8. Another way to do this is to put the armor of God on us. Paul told the Ephesians "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). We need to study the Word of God and dwell on Godly things while practicing a life of Godliness all the time. When we do so, there will be much less opportunity for Satan to tempt us.
Satan - The Great Deceiver
Here are just a few things that Satan does that hasn't been mentioned earlier. He entraps
(1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26), blinds (2 Corinthians 4:4), takes the truth away (Luke 8:12), resists good (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:18), promotes evil (Luke 22:3; Acts 5:3), transforms himself (2 Corinthians 11:14), and he deceives as stated in the book of Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him".
There will come a time when Satan will cease to exist. "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Do you know when that will occur? When this world comes to an end. Do you know who will join him? All mankind who have not believed and have not been baptized into Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). In addition, those who are in the church who have not remained faithful to the end (Revelation 2:10). BEWARE OF SATAN and BELIEVE IN JESUS - Our eternity with God depends on it!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

If We Love - We Will Obey

In the family relationship children who love their parents will obey their parents. Children that purposely disobey their parents don't love them as they should. Children are commanded to obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1), and they will gladly do so when they truly love them. The same is true in the realm of religion. When one says that they "love" Jesus then they will show that love through obedience to Him.

Jesus' Instructions
In John 13:34-35 Jesus said: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jesus taught that man MUST love one another to be accepted by Him. He showed that in three ways: 1) By command: "That ye love one another". We have no option when it comes to love if we are to practice true Christianity. We must love one another. 2) By example: "As I loved you, that ye also love one another." Jesus showed us what love is all about through the life He lived. He loved us so much that He died for us. We must also show and practice this kind of sincere love for our brethren. 3) By necessary inference: "By this shall all men KNOW that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." When we love one another the way Jesus expects us to, then others will KNOW that we are His disciples.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words
We have heard the old saying that "actions speak louder than words". This is absolutely true. Lip service will not get an individual very far; it certainly did not impress Jesus as He called the Pharisees hypocrites saying: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9). Jesus KNEW that if they truly loved Him then their actions proving so would follow. But what happened? Their heart was not set on following Jesus but after the commandments of men. Does this sound familiar? Many today say they "LOVE" Jesus, yet do not do as He says, but will follow the doctrines and commandments of men!

"If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). This is especially important to understand in view of the fact that Jesus also said: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Many precious souls are going to be lost because they did not OBEY the commandments of Jesus. The apostle Paul addressed this in his second Thessalonian letter when he stated: "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). It would sure seem to me that when one says that they "love" Jesus then they would WANT to do everything that Jesus asks them to do. Our eternal destiny depends on what we DO with our life while we live on this earth.

Let Us Abide In The Love Of Jesus
In John 15:10 Jesus said: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." The only way that we can abide in Christ is to do what He has asked of us. Do you really "love" Jesus Christ? If so, then you will obey Him, knowing that it is only through Him that you will receive eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9). If you have not obeyed Jesus' command to be baptized (John 3:5), then you must ask yourself "Do I really love Jesus?" Remember, love is demonstrated through ACTION of obedience.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our Conscience Is Not Our Inspired Guide

No doubt you have heard things like "let your conscience be your guide," or "if it seems right then it must be right," or "no one can have a good conscience while doing something wrong." To find out if these statements are true we must go to the source of all authority and that is the teaching of Jesus Christ and His inspired Word, the Bible. I believe it is true that our conscience should help guide us through life but we need to understand that our conscience is only as accurate as it has been taught. Just because we think something is right, it may not necessarily be so. The apostle Paul said: "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). We know that while he was doing these contrary things that he was doing them in "good conscience". "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts 23:1). Therefore, just because something seems right to us, this does not make it absolutely so and we can also do things without it offending our conscience.
Our Conscience Must Be Trained By the Word of God
Our conscience must be trained to discern between right and wrong. If it has only been trained by our parents, then we will develop a conscience that will consist of values that we have learned from our parents. We need to ask ourselves, "where did my parents get their values?" If their values came from God’s Word then they have passed on values based upon God’s teaching and that is good. However, if they received their values of life from other sources, then you have received your values of life from your parents based on sources other than the Word of God. Why is this important? Because when our earthly life is over we are going to be judged by the words of Jesus. Jesus said: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). We need to understand that we must live our life on this earth with a good conscience that is based solely on the words of Jesus Christ and the authority that He gave to His inspired apostles. Peter wrote: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The Bible Is Our Inspired Guide
The apostle Paul plainly taught that the Bible is the true source wherein man can be made perfect in God’s sight. He said: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is only through scripture that we can truly learn what God wants us to do in order to be pleasing to Him. The Bible must be our guide throughout life, not our conscience. Unfortunately most people go through life living for the moment and basing just about everything they do on how it makes them feel. As long as their conscience does not bother them, then they continue to partake of all the pleasures of life without any regard to what awaits them after this earthly life comes to an end. I urge you to do as the Bereans did back in the first century as they "….received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Remember, your conscience is only as good as it has been taught. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Sin of Jealousy

Jealousy is listed by the apostle Paul as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20, and will keep one from entering into heaven (Galatians 5:21). Webster defines jealousy as: "resentfully envious." It is a trait that has its roots in darkness (Romans 13:12-13). When one is filled with jealousy, it keeps them from being rationale about other things that are happening around them. A jealous individual is filled with resentment and often times has a negative outlook on life.

What Causes Jealousy?
There are several things that cause one to become jealous. Some of these things include ignorance (Romans 1:28-29), vainglory (Galatians 5:26), and carnality (1 Corinthians 3:3). But I feel that the number one thing that causes most people to be jealous is selfishness. Paul wrote: "he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself" (1 Timothy 6:4-5). The self-seeking individual who cares only about himself is usually the one that also becomes engulfed in jealousy.

What Are the Results of Jealousy?
James writes: "For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there" (James 3:16). As I said earlier, jealousy keeps one from being rationale and as a result confusion exists. When one becomes confused they are then more likely to succumb to evil deeds. Solomon wrote: "Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, but who is able to stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4). A certain destruction will await all those who are filled with the sin of jealousy. Therefore, cast this evil away (2 Peter 2:1), and learn to love your fellow man. Paul wrote: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;" (1 Corinthians 13:4). Recognize jealousy for what it really is, cast it aside, and live by the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Where Is Your Hope and Trust?

There are many people and things that we put our hope and trust in these days. Often times we do not realize the amount of hope and trust that we have in our friends today. In some cases we hope and trust in others more than we even trust God "For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Timothy 4:10). Paul told Timothy that their hope was fixed on God. Is our hope fixed on God today? We need to be aware that if we are not trusting in God, in all aspects of our life, then we are missing the boat. Sometimes we show more confidence in an acquaintance than we do in God our Father. God is alive, He created us, and He knows what we need (Matthew 6:32). As a result, we should want to put our hope and trust in God. No one knows us as well as our Father and when we understand this then we will quickly go to our Father in prayer and place all of our hope and trust in Him to lead us through each day of our lives. But He won’t help if we do not ask. Jesus said: "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). When having a bad day, do you call on your best friend to abide in, or do you seek God and pray to Him? Jesus said "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me" (John 15:4). Is God first in your life? Do you put all of your hope and trust in Him? If so, good for you. If not, reevaluate your life and strive from this day forward to put all your hope and trust in God our Father!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Attitudes Toward Error and Sin

In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 the apostle Paul warned young Timothy that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Paul told Timothy to "watch out" because men would leave the doctrine of Christ and would accumulate teachers that would teach a doctrine that they wanted to hear. Thousands today have done this very thing. They have turned their ears from the truth and fallen victim to fables and doctrines of men. We learn from God's word that individuals who remain in sin will suffer an eternal death, and that only those who abide in righteousness will receive eternal life (Romans 6:23). "What is our attitude toward error and sin?" When faced with this question, one has four possible ways to deal with error and sin.

We Can Deny Them
The Pharisee in Luke 18:11 would not admit that he was guilty of sin. He was quick to see sin in the lives of others, but not in his own life. This man trusted in his own self, while despising others. He appeared righteous outwardly, but his heart was not right. His attitude was wrong. John tells us that we lie if we deny that we are sinners (1 John 1:8). Everyone of us have sinned (Romans 3:23) and are foolish to deny that error and sin is occurring around us. James admonishes everyone to confess their sins (James 5:16), not deny them.

We Can Ignore Them
In Daniel, chapter 5, we read about Belshazzar who ignored the fate which his father Nebuchadnezzar had suffered because of sin and was overcome by sin himself. His life was taken and his kingdom given to another. We can ignore sin now but we will face it in the judgment. Our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). Many of the Jews in Jesus' day ignored their sins and closed their eyes and ears to the truth (Matthew 13:15). The apostle Paul instructed Timothy to take heed unto himself and unto the doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). This is good advice for all children of God. We must continually examine our lives to ensure that we are not living in error and sin. We can't ignore our sins and pretend they are not there.

We Can Live With Them
Pilate knew he was guilty of sin when he refused to free the sinless Christ (Matthew 27:15-25). He knew that he was delivering an innocent man. This kind of attitude and practice reflects a greater desire to please men than God. To live with error and sin is to become a party with them. When one knows that sin is occurring and yet goes along with it, then that individual is partaking in the evil (2 John 9-11). Members of the church in Corinth were unconcerned about the sin among them. They were condoning it by living with it (1 Corinthians 5:1ff). There is error and sin in some congregations today, yet many live with it. We cannot live with sin and still be pleasing to God!
We Can Oppose Them
Paul was never afraid to stand for truth and oppose error and sin (Galatians 2:4-5). At the close of life he knew that he kept the faith by opposing error (2 Timothy 4:7-8). We can and should have the attitude that we are going to fight against error and sin. This is the ONLY way God will approve of us. Let's always strive to oppose sin in our lives, the lives of others, and within the Lord's church!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Proving Things

Have you ever stopped to realize that from the time you awake in the morning until the time you fall asleep at night that you are proving things. As you walk through life you are proving who you are in various ways. Paul told the Thessalonian brethren to "Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). As Christians we can readily see that we have a grave responsibility to God to ensure that we prove to others that we live by His commandments. Sit down sometime and make a list of things you do during the course of a day. On one side label it "proving things for Jesus" and on the other side label it "proving things for man". Now list everything you do that day in the respective category and then see if your life is one that is proving to others that you are godly or humanistic.
It Begins With Our Heart
There are many aspects of our life that need to be proven. It all starts with our heart doesn't it? We read again "but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts" (1 Thessalonians 2:4). We learn from this scripture that we are not to speak in such a manner that is pleasing to man but to God because God knows our hearts. He knows where we are putting our emphasis in life. Everyday we are faced with new situations that test our faith. We prove ourselves to be godly when we can overcome these tests and show God that we are loyal to Him. James says "knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance" (James 1:3). We also need to prove we are Christians by our work.

Proving By Our Work
Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. We can see that all of our work here on this earth will be revealed with fire. Our work will become evident. Paul explains that gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, and things such as this (earthly things) will be destroyed. But what is it that will not be destroyed? Our spiritual works. Nobody or nothing can take away our spiritual treasures. When the fire comes, the one who has put their treasures in heaven will be saved. We need to constantly test ourselves. Paul told the Corinthians "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5). We must examine ourselves everyday of our lives! We must prove to ourselves that we are walking in the footsteps of Jesus and no other!
Why and How to Prove Things?
But why are we to prove things? We go back to our opening text in 1 Thessalonians 5:21. We are to examine everything - why? To find the good. Christians should earnestly seek only what is right in the sight of God, not what might be pleasing to man or self. We need to prove things so we do not become reprobate (2 Corinthians 13:5), and deceived (1 John 4:1-6). However we are never going to know how to prove things and we'll never really know if we are doing what is pleasing in the sight of God if we do not go to the source to find out how we are to prove things. What is the source? The Gospel! It is by the gospel that we can know whether we are doing things in accordance with the spirit of truth or the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). We cannot expect to live a life proving ourselves as Christians if we adopt our manner of walk (morals) based on human standards that are all around us. "For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding". (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Questions to Ponder
From time to time we need to take a good hard look at ourselves and ask some questions. Am I proving that I am a CHRISTIAN by my walk in life? Can others see beyond a doubt that I am a Christian by the way I act, the way I talk, and the way I dress? Remember, the world doesn't care what we are - but we do have something to prove to God.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What Manner of Persons Should We Be?

In 1 Peter 3:14 it says: "But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you are blessed. "And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled." We need to be the child of God that is ready and willing to suffer any kind of persecution for the sake of Jesus. He gave His all for us - we should be willing to give ALL for Him!

We Ought To Be....
Here are several scriptures that you can look up in your spare time that will show you what manner of person you ought to be. From God's word we can see that we ought to be Attentive (Hebrews 2:1), Obedient (Matthew 23:23), One who imitates Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:7), Holy (2 Peter 3:11), Pleasing to God (1 Thessalonians 4:1), Helpful (Acts 20:35), Godly (2 Peter 3:11), Prayerful (Luke 18:1), Peaceable (2 Peter 3:14), Humble (John 13:14), Blameless (2 Peter 3:14), Loving (1 John 3:16), and Faithful (Matthew 25:14-27) to name just a few.
Why Should We Be This Way?
We should strive to be this manner of person because we know that "all things will be dissolved" someday (2 Peter 3:11). Christ is going to come again (2 Peter 3:12), and we want to gain a home in heaven with Him (2 Peter 3:13). Let us strive to live a godly Christian life here on earth so we can live with our Father forever (Revelation 2:10; 2 Peter 3:8-9)!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Doctrine of Christ

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:3-6: "If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain." There are in fact three doctrines that are mentioned in the New Testament. One is the divine doctrine which is mentioned in Titus 2:10: "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." There is the human doctrine mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 15:9: "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Then there is the Satanic doctrine that Paul makes mention of in 1 Timothy 4:1: "Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."

Why Teach the Doctrine of Christ?

It still amazes me why, in the name of religion, men teach doctrines that are not found to be of Jesus Christ. It amazes me because if one is truly interested in what he must do to be saved and live a life righteous unto God, then why doesn’t he look for the teachings (doctrine) of Christ to guide his steps? Paul began in 1 Timothy 6:3 by saying "if anyone teaches otherwise" then proceeds to tell us what happens to those that do so. In the Galatian letter he really spells it out when he writes: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8).
When it comes to religion we should be determined to know nothing except the gospel that Jesus taught us. After all, can any other doctrine save us? If you answered NO, you’re right. And knowing this, then we better make sure that we strive to do only the will of the Lord in our life. In 1 Timothy 1:3 we are charged not to teach another gospel. Notice: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia-- remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith." A failure on our part to abide in the doctrine of Christ will lead to vain worship as Jesus clearly stated in Mark 7:7. Not only that, but our work that we do while here on this earth will perish when we do those things not authorized by Jesus. When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians he said: "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations--"Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using-- according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). The point Paul is trying to make is that if you have accepted Jesus in your life through obedience to His gospel, then why do you try to live up to worldly doctrines that perish, doctrines and commandments that have been established not by God, but by men? Every denomination is guilty of this to some degree. We are wasting our time and effort when we teach any other doctrine than that which was authorized by Jesus!

What Is Our Duty Toward The Doctrine Of Christ?

We have a responsibility to keep the doctrine of Christ. It is our duty as Christians to preach this doctrine to others. The Bible says: "But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine" (Titus 2:1). In addition, we are to keep it pure (Titus 2:7), adorn it (Titus 2:10), follow it (1 Timothy 4:6), exhort in it (Titus 1:9), convince others of it (Titus 1:9), and not to blaspheme it (1 Timothy 6:1). Paul wrote these things to fellow laborers in the vineyard of the Lord. He instructed them on what they had to do to promote and to keep pure the gospel of Jesus Christ. We must fully love, respect, and embrace the word of God!
Are we doing our part to make sure that we are abiding in the gospel of Jesus? The Hebrew writer wrote: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). We are going to be judged according to our works, good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). Knowing this, we better make sure that we are abiding in the doctrine that we are going to be judged by. Satan can’t save us. Man can’t save us. Only Jesus can save us. He’ll save us based on our obedience to His doctrine which "was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day -- Celebrated Weekly

This Monday, May 26th is “Memorial Day,” a time when our nation pauses to reflect on the thousands of military men and women who have given their lives for our country so that we can continue to enjoy our freedom without molestation. These men and women paid the ultimate price as they sacrificed their lives so that you and I and our children might have a better place to live. We can certainly understand their sacrifice knowing that when they died, they would not enjoy the blessings and freedom that they gave to us. We should be very thankful to each one of these individuals that loved and respected our country to the point of death! But in the giving of their lives, this country sets aside only one day per year called “Memorial Day” to remember their lives that were sacrificed for this country.

 The Memorial of Jesus
As Christians we have the opportunity to observe “Memorial Day” in a spiritual sense when we observe the Lord's Supper EVERY first day of the week. The disciples left us a clear example of this in Acts 20:7 “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread....” We are required to “remember” Jesus Christ as we understand that he paid the greatest price of all in that while we were yet sinners He died for us (Romans 5:8). He died so that you and I can have the freedom of everlasting life with Him. We remember Jesus in the emblems that we partake of each and every week. The unleavened bread which represents His body that was broken on the cross for us and the fruit of the vine which represents His blood that was shed for us that we can have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus said that when we partake of these emblems that we are to do so “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

The Greatest Sacrifice of All
When we remember our men and women once a year on “Memorial Day” that have given their life for this country, we are remembering their sacrifice and the life they gave for us. When we remember our Lord Jesus Christ each “Memorial Day” (first day of the week), we think of His great sacrifice for us. But we remember not just His death, but His resurrection! If Jesus would have simply died and never risen, then His death would have been in vain. But oh what a precious memory it is to know that He arose! And it was through that resurrection that we can have life (John 3:16). As we remember our Lord Jesus on the first day of every week we can remember that He suffered and died for us, but more importantly, that He was risen on the third day, overcoming death, so we too might also live. This remembrance of Jesus is sad in that He had to die for sinners but it was also joyous in that He loved us, even to the point of death. Now as we remember His resurrection, gaining new life, that we too might have new life in Christ. The apostle Paul said it very plainly when he wrote "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 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, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:3-11). What a wonderful thing it is as Christians to have the opportunity to have “Memorial Day” every week, as we remember the greatest sacrifice of all!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Conversion of Saul

The book of Acts chapters 9, 22, and 26 tell us of the conversion of Saul, known later as the apostle Paul. By learning about Saul and his conversion we can learn what we must do in order to be a Christian. What kind of man was Saul? When he was talking to young Timothy and explaining that Jesus came into the world to save sinners he added: “of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). He clearly admitted that he was beyond a doubt a sinner before God. Before we can be converted to the Lord, we must first recognize as Saul did that we are a sinner (Romans 3:23). Saul knew he was a sinner even though he came from a very good ancestry (Philippians 3:5), and had a great education (Acts 22:3). So just because we might have a wonderful family background and a great education, that alone can’t save us. No matter how well known our family is and no matter how much college and other schools we have attended and completed, we still must acknowledge we are in sin and need God’s help.

What Was Saul’s Great Sin?
But what was Saul’s great sin that moved him to tell Timothy that he was chief among sinners? He explains in Acts 22:4 that he was involved in persecuting Christians. There it says: “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.” He felt bad that he had delivered Christians up to be killed and thrown into prison. He did this, but he did this ignorantly. He told Timothy “although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). Saul’s mistake was in regard to religion, he thought that he was right, but in fact he was very wrong. In Acts 26:9 he said: “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” 

Paul later admitted before anyone that would listen that he was wrong in what he did. He further stated that when he was doing these things contrary to God’s will that “I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:14). And all the time that he was zealously persecuting Christians he did so in all GOOD CONSCIENCE (Acts 23:1; 24:16). What can we learn from Saul’s great sin? We should learn that a person may think he is right, be zealous, have a good conscience and yet still be WRONG!  Until we are willing to open up the Word of God and read what we MUST do in order to be saved, with an honest and open heart, then we too might very well be guilty of doing sin, yet in good conscience. Remember “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We will never know what it is that we are SUPPOSED to do if we do not read it. We can never gain Bible faith, if we don’t read it!

Saul Becomes an Apostle and a Christian
Let’s take a moment to carefully distinguish between the things that made Paul an apostle and the things that made him a Christian. The things that transpired in Acts 22:6-9 is what allowed Paul to call himself an apostle. The text says: “Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting. And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.” In this reading we can understand that Jesus appeared specifically to Paul (verse 9), not to any other. He understands and explains that this event happened because he was chosen to be a “witness” for Christ. The scripture says: “Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard” (Acts 22:14-15).

Saul became a Christian when he OBEYED the voice of the Lord. In Acts 9:6 it says: “So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" And the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Why did the Lord tell Saul to go to Damascus and see a man named Ananias? Because that work had been committed into the hands of men. Why was it that Ananias did not tell him to believe? Because Saul was already a believer at this point. Why didn’t Ananias tell Saul to repent? Because he was already penitent. So what was it then that Saul was told to do? In Acts 22:16 it says: “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Saul was not saved, was not a Christian, until he was baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27). That is the only way his sins could be washed away. The very same way that sins were washed away (forgiven) on the day of Pentecost when Peter preached the first sermon. At that time Peter commanded the people: “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).

We can learn a valuable lesson from Saul. When he learned the truth - he OBEYED and was baptized. Have you learned the truth, OBEYED, and been baptized? Tomorrow may be too late!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Gospel Meeting with David Lanius

If you are in the Loveland, Colorado area on June 5-8, please come and join for a gospel meeting with David Lanius from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. In addition to the 7 lessons he will be preaching for us, we will have a congregational singing on Saturday afternoon
at 1:30 P.M. on June 7th. Please come and join us!

Forsaken the Right Way

We read in 2 Peter 2:15 “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” How sad it is to see those that once walked in the ways of the Lord to abandon His love and go the way of Satan. Yet there are many that have not forsaken the way of the Lord and remain steadfast in His service. These are the ones that understand that the right way, the way leading to eternal life has been dedicated by Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer wrote: “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

Our Duty to the Right Way
The Christian’s duty is not to forsake the right way of the Lord (2 Peter 2:15). Earlier in verse 15 we can learn where we are not to even speak evil of it, and in Acts 13:10, not to pervert the right way of the Lord. We have a responsibility in this life and that is to FIND the right way and then enter into it. Jesus said: “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” (Matthew 7:13-14). Failure on our part to find and enter the right way will cost us our very soul! Let us be determined to know the right way (Acts 18:26), teach it (Luke 20:21), and then walk in it (Isaiah 35:8-9). Don’t forsake the right way.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Why Some Christians Are Not Devoted

I have wondered many times why it is that some Christians do not seem to be truly devoted to their Christianity. I now believe it is because they do not understand what it means to be a genuine disciple of Christ. One can never hope to be the kind of Christian God intends for one to be if one has not learned discipleship. Webster defines disciple as: “A pupil or follower of any teacher or school; A follower of Jesus". Every Christian must learn that one must forsake every person and every thing and put Christ FIRST in their life. To forsake is to "give up; renounce; leave; abandon; desert.” Those unwilling to do so will not enter into heaven and will never become the servant that Jesus expects one to be! When a Christian can truly grasp the importance of following Christ, doing ALL His commandments, then one will become an effective servant in God's kingdom. When one does not learn this lesson first and foremost, then one will find that they are spinning their wheels and being unstable because "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

We Must Take A Stand For Jesus Above All Else
Every Christian must first strive to do Christ's will. Jesus said that only those that do His will enter into heaven and those that don't will be cast away into an eternal hell (Matthew 7:21-23). In Matthew 10:32-39 we can learn a valuable lesson on what Jesus truly means by being a true disciple of His. We have got to be willing to confess Jesus each day of our lives before men. No matter where we are, or what we are doing others should see us living a life as a Christian "proclaiming godliness". It is only when we take a stand FOR Christ that He will take a stand for us: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). One of the toughest things we must do as Christians is to go against the personal beliefs of our own parents, brothers, or sisters. Jesus addresses that in this passage. We must be prepared to even put our physical family second to Jesus if we ever hope to have eternal life with Him. He said "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:37). When we make decisions to do things with our family at the expense of doing Christ's will then we are not worthy of being His disciple (Matthew 10:35-38).

We Must Be Willing To Deny Self and Serve Jesus
This may be the hardest lesson for a Christian to learn. Until one can put their own interests, passions, and desires, second to serving Christ, then one is not ready to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus said "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:24-25). Many will be cast away into hell on the day of judgment because they would not deny their own lusts and desires and put Jesus first!

Excuses Won’t Cut It - We Must Not Look Back
In Luke 9:57-61 Jesus urged several to follow Him. But in each case they made excuse for why they had to do something else first. Jesus sums this up by saying "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62). Then later in Luke 14:16-33 He told the story of the man that made a great supper and invited many. But those that were invited made excuses why they could not attend. Jesus invites us to join Him in teaching others and living the Christian life but many make excuses on why they can't put Jesus first in their life.

A disciple of Christ truly loves Jesus and one another (John 13:34-35; 14:15,21,23) A true disciple will continue in His word. Jesus said: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed" (John 8:31). See also Acts 14:22. A true disciple will be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). Only a dedicated disciple is worthy to wear the name Christian (Acts 11:26).

Each and every Christian must be determined to follow Jesus. If you do, you can have peace through His word which says; "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Let us be determined to walk in the light of Christ, serving Him because we have a sincere desire to and not looking back because we KNOW that our reward is ahead of us if we remain faithful to Jesus until the day of our death! May God bless each of us as we strive to put Jesus FIRST each day that we live!