Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why Do You Wait?

There is a well-known song that we sing entitled "Why Do You Wait?" The first line of that song says: "Why do you wait, dear sinner, O why do you tarry so long? Your Savior is waiting to give you a place in His sanctified throng." I have often wondered why it is that one will continue to wait to obey the will of Jesus. Every time that song is sung there may be those in attendance that need to obey the gospel call - yet continue to wait!

What Is It That Keeps One Waiting?
We should all have a heart like David that stated to the Lord: "And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee" (Psalms 39:7). It would be so good if we would put our hope and trust in the Lord wouldn't it? But many have not put their hope in the Lord and continue to wait - but why? Is it that one is waiting for the saving power? We need to realize and understand that the saving power of Jesus comes through the blessed gospel. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Is it because one is waiting for the converting power to come upon them suddenly? This will not happen because we can learn that the law of the Lord is perfect - it's this law that converts the soul (Psalms 19:7). Therefore, we must learn about His converting power through the word itself.

People may be waiting to respond to the invitation of our Lord Jesus for many reasons. Some other reasons may be that they're waiting for some sanctifying power - but that is only found through the word also (John 17:17). We can also learn that the perfecting power of God comes to us only through study (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). Could it be that one is waiting for God to give them faith? One may say "As soon as I can gain faith within then I'll start serving Christ." Yet one can in no way gain Bible faith except through the Bible. In Romans 10:17 it says "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
It is also deceptive for one to wait for a certain kind of feeling to suddenly come over them. Many have been led away into denominationalism because of "suggested feelings." One can only know the right thing to do by learning what God says is the right thing. Once one knows this then their heart will cause them to be "doers" of the word and not merely "hearers" (James 1:22).
Some may be waiting for the church to get better. If this is the case then one will never come to Jesus. Men will always make mistakes. The difference is that the children of God learn from their mistakes, get up and try again. The alien sinner has never even tried! And besides, I would hate to be left out of heaven because I was too concerned about what others were or weren't doing and not doing anything myself. Read Romans 14:10 where it says: "for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ."
Let's Be Determined to Follow Christ Now
It is dangerous, to wait to follow Christ. Many will wait for that "convenient season" to follow Christ. If you think about it, we are very fortunate to be able to get another chance at salvation. In James 4:14 we can learn how precious life really is. James says: "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." Life is too short to wait! "Why Do You Wait Dear Sinner, O Why Do You Tarry So Long?"

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Correcting Misconceptions of Humility

Once it is established that Jesus was the ultimate example of humility, several misconceptions are laid to rest.

Humility is not weakness
Even the enemies of Jesus testified to His power. It was demonstrated over Satan, over nature, and over every force that opposed Him. Yet in the exercise of His power He was humble, acknowledging that the works He did were the works of His Father (John 5:19). Humble individuals who recognize their own weakness and allow the power of God to work in them are the only ones who are truly strong. The Lord said to Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9), causing Paul to respond, "When I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Humility does not preclude leadership
Jesus was "meek and lowly" (humble), but this did not prevent His exercising leadership. He is the great Shepherd of the flock, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Some individuals, citing humility as their reason, refuse to accept the responsibilities of leadership, especially as elders. The fact is that elders must be humble. They are to be sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:2), and this is defined in Romans 12:3 as not thinking more highly of oneself than one should.1 Timothy 3:6 says that an elder should not be a novice, "lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil." Rather than hindering leadership, humility defines the style of leadership that pleases God. Christ-like shepherds are not lords over those entrusted to them but examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).
Humility does not forbid rebuking sin
Jesus was just as humble when He was driving out the money-changers from the temple in Matthew 21 and rebuking the Pharisees in chapter 23 as when He was blessing little children in chapter 19. In each case He was expressing in His words and actions the will of God, not His own. Humility will, however, affect our manner of dealing with sinners and those in error. "A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition" (2 Timothy 2:24-25). "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" (Galatians 6:1). Rebuking that is done from a spirit of self-righteousness and pride will never be effective in accomplishing God's purpose.

Humility is not inconsistent with personal initiative
The church needs the input of every spiritually-minded Christian in planning and, executing its work.A song we sing says, "Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose." Yet some who have useful ideas fail to offer them, feeling that to do so would be inconsistent with humility.Of course, if one demands that his way be accepted and becomes angry if his suggestion is not taken, he does lack humility. Humility demands that "each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3), but it does not forbid our offering our wisdom on a subject for whatever it may be worth in the opinion of our brethren.
Humility does not require that we think of ourselves disdainfully,
speak of ourselves disparagingly or grovel in the presence of others.
This is what many people think of as humility. However, this is the opposite of humility. Such a person is thinking too much of himself, however negative his thinking may be.When one is constantly thinking: "How inferior I am, how worthless I am, how useless I am, how poorly I do compared to others" he is thinking of himself all the time. Pride is his problem; he is too proud to be comfortable among those whom he considers superior to himself. Humility is not the cause of such negative thinking; it is actually the solution - not thinking of self at all.A Christian can rejoice in the superiority of his brethren. Furthermore, he can hold up his head in the presence of all men, not because he himself is so worthy, but because he is a child of the God of heaven, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. Jesus did not grovel before any man, yet He was not lacking in humility when He said to a Roman governor, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above" (John 19:11).
True humility replaces self-seeking with seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), self-will with doing the will of God (Matthew 7:21), self-reliance with reliance upon God (2 Corinthians 3:5), self-confidence with confidence in God (2 Timothy 1:12), and self-exaltation with exaltation by God (1 Corinthians 4:3-6). These were the qualities that made Jesus humble and the qualities He seeks in us. May we bring ourselves to say truly, even as we sing: Lord, thy love at last has conquered: None of self, and all of Thee.
Article written by: Sewell Hall

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Day of the Lord

Peter, the apostle, writes some words which each one of us should take to heart. In 2 Peter 3:9-11 he writes: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness." In these verses Peter encourages each and every one of us to repent and live our lives here on this earth in holy conduct and godliness. Why? Because there will come a time that no man knows, when the Lord will return. When the Lord does return, we better be ready or we’ll burn in eternity. Let’s look at some key points concerning "the day of the Lord."

How Do We Know "the day" Will Come?
Every Bible student knows that "the day of the Lord" will come simply because God said so. In 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 the apostle Paul wrote: "But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them." Peter said that the day of the Lord would come in 2 Peter 3:10 and Jesus Himself told us: "But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:43-44). We learn from these scriptures that the day of the Lord will come but no man knows when it will come.

What Will Happen When "the day" Comes?
It should be plain by Peter’s explanation of the event that this means that the end of the world is taking place. When the earth is melted with fervent heat all will be destroyed. But what will happen to those that are righteous in the sight of God? The inspired writer Paul said: "deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (1 Corinthians 5:5). Those that are in sin should be made aware of their sin, that it is lawlessness to God (1 John 3:4). Being aware of sin (Romans 3:23), man must make themselves right before God so when the day of the Lord happens we can be saved. Truly there will be some that will rejoice when the Lord returns. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he said: "holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain" (Philippians 2:16). If we will strive to be obedient to the Word of the Lord while we live, then we can rejoice when Christ returns because we know that we have obeyed His Will (Matthew 7:21).

How Should We Be Found When "the day" Comes?
If we are living as we should be living in holy conduct and godliness then we should be found looking forward to Christ’s second coming. "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:12-13). If we are walking in the light we have nothing to fear. However if we should be walking in darkness, which has NO fellowship with the light, then we better be concerned. If we are in darkness the day of the Lord will come upon us as a thief. Paul said: "But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief" (1 Thessalonians 5:4). True disciples, lovers of Christ, will be ready for Jesus! Each Christian should possess a genuine desire to be found in favor with God when His Son returns. When we are walking in the light, favorably toward God then we will glory when the day of the Lord comes upon us.
How Can We Be Found Obedient When "the day" Comes?
For us to be ready to meet the Lord on His return we must prepare right now! We must get rid of sin in our life and be determined to follow the ways of the Lord. In Romans 12:1-2 it says: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 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." We must understand that heaven is the MOST important goal to obtain in our life. Understanding this, then how should we act? What must we do? We must transform ourselves, having our mind set on things above, not on things of the earth (Colossians 3:2). We must constantly live in such a way that we approve of only those things that are good and acceptable to God. Paul said that we "Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil" (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). The Christian must live their life in such a way as to show others that they are determined to live for Christ and not for man. The alien sinner, those not IN CHRIST, must get in Christ to be saved. The way to get IN Christ is through baptism (Galatians 3:27). If you are not IN Christ why not do so today? "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins" so you can be saved when "the day of the Lord" comes!

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Reality of Apostasy

Apostasy? What is apostasy? To some this word may sound strange and may not have meaning. But let us first assign a meaning to this word and then we will understand how serious apostasy is. Webster's New World Dictionary defines apostasy as: "an abandoning of what one believed in, as a faith, etc." Now do you see how serious this word is? The Lord's church is suffering today because of individuals that have abandoned their faith in God and slipped back into worldliness. Peter says "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Peter 20-21). These are some strong words delivered by the apostle Peter! God is very displeased with anyone that accepts his commandments one day and then throws them into the wind the next. Individuals that do this will be lost eternally. James says "My beloved brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). God takes apostasy very seriously and so should we because our soul is at stake!

If apostasy wasn't a real problem then it would not be addressed so often in the word of God. There are different types of apostasy. The Hebrew writer says "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins," (Hebrews 10:26). Apostasy usually comes about as a result of an individual who willfully strays from God's word but we can also see that apostasy can come in other ways such as deceptiveness. "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

Apostasy is known by other terms such as "shipwreck" as Paul points out to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:19. It is also described as a "falling away" in Hebrews 6:6. James refers to individuals that slip into apostasy as "erring" (James 5:19). As we see various terms associated with this word apostasy - one thing is for certain and that is "one has abandoned their faith in God!"

Now that we know what apostasy is, we need to find out what causes this awful thing to happen to God's children. In today's society there is an endless list of things that can cause someone to turn away from God because their faith is not as strong as it should be. False teachers that are on the television networks and around every corner are being fueled by Satan himself to cause you to fall away from God. Jesus talks about the false prophet in Matthew 24:11 when he says; "...many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many". This is just one cause that will confront the Christian on a day to day basis. There are many, many others such as; the love of this world (2 Timothy 4:10), ignorance (Romans 10:3), carelessness (1 Corinthians 10:12), discouragements (Matthew 24:12), temptations of all kinds (Luke 8:13), developing an attitude of "unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:19), impure hearts (1 Timothy 1:5-6), and the lack of a good conscience before God (1 Timothy 1:19), just to name a few.

But there is a remedy for apostasy and that is to repent and turn back to God's way before it is everlastingly too late (Revelation 2:5)! As Christians, if we would concentrate on adding the Christian characteristics to our lives, then we would not be so easily swayed into apostasy from one form or another. Read 2 Peter 1:5-10 and add these characteristics to your life. Apostasy is real and can happen to anyone that has a weak faith and isn't growing in the ways of Christ!