Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Defining Failure

During the Great Depression, many people in the United States lived in shanty-towns made up of plywood, tarps, and blankets. These dwellings known as "Hoovervilles," housed those who had been evicted from their homes. Many blamed President Hoover for the economic woes. Ironically, Hoover's apparent ineffectiveness as a leader was in sharp contrast to his previous record.

Earlier, Hoover's expertise in geological engineering led to successful mining projects in Australia and China. He also spearheaded humanitarian efforts. When the stock market crashed in October 1929, President Hoover was in circumstances beyond his control. He would be forever tied with the economic depression of the 1930s.

One major fiasco, however, does not mean one's whole life is a failure. What if we remembered Abraham only as being a deceiver (Genesis 12:10-20). What if we remembered Moses only as being disobedient to God (Numbers 20:1-13). What if we remembered David only as being a murderer (2 Samuel 11). Despite their sins, these men are remembered for their persevering faith: “who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (Hebrews 11:33-34).

The fact is, our life is not a failure, if we've repented of our sins. God can still use us to serve Him and His purpose. Everyone of us have made mistakes, sinned, and have many regrets. However, no matter what we have done in the past, all of that can and will be forgiven by God when we believe in Him (Romans 10:17; John 8:24), repent of our sins (Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30), confess Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37; Romans 10:9; Matthew 10:32), be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16), and then be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). We all have so much to live for and to look forward to. If we will set our minds on being obedient to Christ we can have the hope of being with Him eternally in heaven. “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).

The lessons we learn from our failures
Are lessons that help us succeed,
And if we are wise and we heed them,
Then failure is just what we need.
---- D. De Haan

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Being Real

An antique dealer thought that the wrinkled old baseball card that she found might be worth $10.00. After posting it on eBay, she began to wonder if it might be more valuable than she had thought. She removed the posting and consulted a professional evaluator who confirmed that the photo on the 1869 card showed the Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional baseball team in the United States. The card sold for more than $75,000. Even though the card was creased and discolored, the most important thing was its authenticity – it was real!

The apostle Paul and his companions suffered greatly while spreading the gospel of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 6 he listed their outward trials, their inward traits, and their spiritual resources: “But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (2 Corinthians 6:4-7).

Please try to imagine the circumstances in which all these things interacted: The beatings, the patience, the prison time, the kindness, the distresses, and of course the great love. Although broken physically, depleted emotionally, and tested spiritually, the authenticity of their faith in Christ clearly showed through! He goes on to write, “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Corinthians 6:10).

In our walk with Christ, there’s no substitute for spiritual authenticity – being real! It is not lip service that God wants, what He wants is our authentic love and devotion for Him which shows itself in our day to day living as we let others “see” Jesus in us through the lives we live — again, just being REAL Christians!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

What the Word of God Will Do

Many people don’t turn to God or rely upon God because they just don’t have an understanding of what God’s word can do and will do for them. The Hebrew writer says that “...the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). No person on earth can do what God’s word can do for us. Therefore, we must let God’s word penetrate our heart so that productive and needed change can take place within us. Here is what God’s word will do for every person if they will read it, “C” it, and meditate on it:

It will CHARGE us. When one reads the Bible they will learn why Jesus Christ came to this earth. He performed many miracles to help people believe that He truly is the Son of God. The Israelites of long ago should have believed in Jesus but many turned from Him. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost charged them with sending Jesus to the cross to die when Jesus was just trying to get them to learn the truth. Peter said, “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it” (Acts 2:22-24).

It will CONVICT us. The best thing that can happen to us is to read the Bible and allow it to convict us of unrighteousness (sin). As Peter preached his sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts, chapter 2, the Jews who were gathered there began to understand that they were guilty of sending Jesus to the cross to die. They were convicted of their sin! Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

It will CONVINCE us. After we are convicted of sin, then we can be convinced that we need to do something about it. The Jews on Pentecost knew they had sinned but did not know what to do. They asked the all important question of Peter that day: “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). This is the very same question that all of us should be asking now. Knowing that we have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we must now do what God instructs us to do in order to gain true peace of mind in Christ our Lord.

It will CONVERT us. Upon understanding that we are in sin and knowing we must do something about it, then and only then, can we be led to true conversion. The Jews, after asking Peter “what shall we do?” received the best answer ever by the beloved apostle Peter. “...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). The answer they received, is the same one we receive. What God’s word instructs of us is not difficult to do. If we truly want our sins forgiven and to be able to live with true peace of mind in Christ, we must obey God’s commands. We learn from this passage of scripture that we need to repent (turn from sin), and be baptized (immersed in water), in order to receive forgiveness of our sins. When we do that, then we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit which is the promise of salvation to all who are obedient to God’s commands. Another passage of scripture that mirrors Acts 2:38 is Acts 3:19 which says, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). This passage also states that we must repent, be converted (baptized), to receive forgiveness of sins, and we will be refreshed knowing that we have the promise of eternal life if we remain faithful until death (Revelation 2:10).

It will CHANGE us. As the Jews experienced a changed life after they were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:41-47), we too will experience a new life in Jesus Christ! It is such a blessing to walk through life daily knowing that through obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ, fully and completely, that we can look forward to eternal life with Him after we pass from this life.

I encourage all of us to examine the Bible and see what the Word of God will do for us. May God richly bless us as we diligently seek Him and allow Him to change our lives in a positive way through the power of the gospel message. Paul was convinced of it, and so should we! “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” (Romans 1:16).

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Living for Christ

If we live "for Christ" as Christians are supposed to do, then we will not engage ourselves in anything that we could not picture our Lord engaging in. The apostle Paul wrote: "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). I want to encourage us to take a step back and honestly look at what this passage of scripture is telling us. That which is "true", "noble", "just", "pure", "lovely", "of good report", that is what we are to meditate on. When Christians allow themselves to be influenced with worldly things and often times being let astray by so called "friends" who do not have our soul's interest at heart, then we are not truly meditating on the things that Paul just spoke about. We cannot be the right example to others when we are practicing anything that is displeasing to God. Why is it that the Lord's church is not growing as it should be today? Perhaps you can suggest a few reasons in your comments. But I will say that one main reason we are not growing is because the Christians that make up the church are not always living their lives as God would want them to live and as a result it sends the signal that there are many hypocrites in the church. Paul did everything he possibly could to ensure that he was living "for Christ." He was so confident in his life's service to Him that he said "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1). Can it truly be said of us that we are really imitating Christ?