Friday, October 30, 2015

The Prosperity of Christians

We may have at some time said to someone “may you prosper in all you do.” The word “prosper” means “to succeed in an enterprise or activity; especially: to achieve economic success; to become strong and flourishing.” While we may be encouraging one to prosper financially, usually we are meaning for one to succeed, to become strong, and flourish in what they do, especially in living a life as a Christian. Many people strive to prosper in a worldly sense but the dedicated, devoted Christian strives to prosper spiritually. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).

Why Should We Prosper Spiritually?
The Christian understands that this world and all of its good will one day be destroyed and that all that really matters is that we strive to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-20). Spiritual prosperity produces joy and peace to the Christian (3 John 2-4, 14). The end result of our Spiritual prosperity will be a home with God. The apostle Paul wrote “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). It is such a great encouragement to every Christian to know that their walk on this earth will ultimately result in great prosperity with the Lord in eternity as long as we keep the faith and diligently serve Him all of our days.

What Produces Eternal Prosperity?
In order for us to enjoy the joys of heaven with our Lord in eternity, we must know and understand what it is that produces the prosperity that we must have. A genuine love of God will motivate us to stay the course and strive to please Him in all things during this earthly walk. We are reminded by our Lord what the most important thing is for us to do. “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....” (Mark 12:30). When we have learned to Love God in this way, then all the instructions that God asks of us in His Word will certainly not be burdensome to us (1 John 5:3). Furthermore, we understand that walking in truth (3 John 3), being godly (1 Timothy 4:8), walking in righteousness (Psalms 1:1-6), and imitating good (3 John 11), will result in our souls being saved in Christ.

May we all, as Christians, strive to prosper spiritually so that we can gain an eternal home with our Lord. Things will come and go, but the precious words of Jesus, when obeyed, will lead us to eternal prosperity!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Christian's Relationship with the World

It is imperative that Christians recognize the proper relationship that we are to have with the world. In 1 John 2:15-17 we are told that we are not to love the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). The points that John and Jesus are making is that we cannot put the things of this world above the love of Christ. We are also not to conform ourselves to the world (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 4:1-4). It is true that we are in the world but we are not to be of the world (John 17:11, 16; Philippians 2:15). Christians are supposed to live righteously so that we can have a positive impact upon others so as to be able to convert them to Christ (John 17:18; 20:21). When Christians understand our proper relationship with the world then we will be free from worldly cares (Matthew 13:22; 2 Timothy 2:4), and not be bound by the pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:24-26; James 5:5).

Friday, October 16, 2015

Escape the Wrath of God

The apostle Paul writes that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). We know from this passage of scripture that God’s wrath will be manifested because it is revealed from heaven. It is not manifested now because He has appointed a day in which this will happen. God is waiting for all men to repent and turn to Him. “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:4-5). God’s wrath will be manifested in the judgment.

The Recipients of God’s Wrath
Individuals who do not believe in Jesus Christ will certainly suffer the wrath of God. In John 3:36 we find these words, “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” In the opening text of scripture we learn that the unrighteous, ungodly and those who hinder the truth will suffer God’s wrath. Ephesians 5:5-6 tells us that the unclean, fornicators, and the covetous will suffer the wrath of God. In addition to these things, we also know that those who have evil desires will experience the wrath of God (Colossians 3:5-6).

How Can We Escape God’s Wrath?
We know that it is only through Jesus Christ that we will be able to escape the terrible wrath of God. It says in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” We have to be justified before God in able to stand before Him (Romans 5:9; Revelation 6:17). When we believe in Christ, repent of our sins, confess Him as being the Son of God, and are baptized into Christ then we can begin our walk in His righteousness. We must then dedicate ourselves to His service, being faithful to Him everyday that we live, making sure that we flee from the wrath to come (Revelation 2:10; Matthew 3:7).

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Sin of Deception

Deception is defined as: the act of making someone believe something that is not true; the act of deceiving someone; an act or statement intended to make people believe something that is not true. There are various ways in which an individual can be deceived.

Lies: making up information or giving information that is the opposite or very different from the truth.
Equivocations: making an indirect, ambiguous, or contradictory statement.
Exaggerations: overstatement or stretching the truth to a degree.
Understatements: minimization or downplaying aspects of the truth.
Concealments: omitting information that is important or relevant to the given context, or engaging in behavior that helps hide relevant information.

In the Bible, we can read where the authors of deception are said to be Satan (Revelation 12:9), evil men (2 Timothy 3:13) and false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13). We know that individuals who practice deception are not pleasing to God and will give an account for their actions at the judgment day (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Who Is Deceived? There are several occurrences in the Bible that show us who it is that is deceived. We know that the one who hears the word but does not do it, deceives himself (James 1:22). The one who does not bridle his tongue deceives himself (James 1:26). If one thinks too highly of himself, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:3). If one says they have no sin, he deceives himself (1 John 1:8). And, if one expects to reap what he did not sow, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:7).

How Are People Deceived? There are many different ways in which an individual can be deceived. Most often it is the result of sin (Hebrews 3:13). Deception can also come from riches (Matthew 13:22), smooth words (Romans 16:18), false promises (2 Peter 2:18-19), empty words, (Ephesians 5:6), and even by our own selves (1 Corinthians 3:18).

We do not have to be deceived. In fact the Bible says “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16). We must be determined to know the truth and practice the truth so that we will not be deceived. Let us not forget that we are to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Praying Always

The amount of time we spend praying shows, to a great extent, the depth of our relationship with God. If we want to improve our relationship with Him, then we need to pray often. 

The Bible emphasizes that we should pray often. In fact, Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Again, in Ephesians 6:18, he said, "...Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit..." Furthermore, he said in Colossians 4:2, "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving..." 

Whenever possible, we need to find a quiet spot where we can be alone and speak openly with God, a time and place where we can fix our mind deliberately on God without confusing distractions. This isn't always possible, of course. When it isn't easy, we need to pray right where we are. 

Nehemiah asked God for help right in the middle of a conversation with a king! Nehemiah 2:4-5 says, "Then the king said to me, 'What do you request?' So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king, 'If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may rebuild it.'" 

We need to understand that God is with us wherever we are, and He will listen to us, that is, if we are His children. Isaiah 59:1-2 tell us, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." 

Let us seek to pray to our God and Father always, and live the kind of life that shows that we are His children.