Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Keeping Your Christian Charge!

In 1 Timothy 1:5 we read "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith". That one verse pretty much sums up what the Christian charge is all about. If we would all learn to love with a pure heart accompanied with a good conscience before God with an unwaiverable faith, we would possess some fine Christian virtues. The Lord has given us this charge and it was given to preachers (2 Timothy 4:1-2), Elders (1 Peter 5:1-4), the rich (1 Timothy 6:17) and to all (1 Timothy 1:5). The Christian has a big responsibility to God. Among the things we are charged with is "not to teach strange doctrines" (1 Timothy 1:3). However, today we can see man making up new religious rules and changing the doctrine that God has given us in scripture to fit into their individual needs and wants. This is wrong and we are going to be held personally responsible for changing God's word!

We are also told not to trust in riches of this world. Paul told Timothy to "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). There is nothing wrong with being wealthy, but when one lets the wealth rule their life instead of allowing God to have that place, then it is wrong and we will be held responsible for it. Those are two things we are charged not to do. But what are we charged "to do" as Christians?

The apostle Paul sent his letter to the Thessalonians and in 1 Thessalonians 5:27 we can read where the Lord was willing for the letter to be read to "all the brethren". Likewise, we are to read the scriptures and put into practice the things that God tells us to do in our own lives. We can further learn from our opening scripture of 1 Timothy 1:5 that we are to have faith in God. This is further stressed in verse 19 where it says "keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith". It is such a wonderful thing to see Christians that possess a deep and abiding faith! No matter what happens they realize that God is with them and they will stay faithful to God to the very end of their days on this earth. But we are not done yet.

The Christian charge continues in that we are to do good (1 Timothy 6:17-18), to love (1 Timothy 1:5), tell others about Christ as Paul instructed young Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, to war a good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18), and to give of our means (1 Timothy 6:17-18). Some Christians have an even deeper responsibility if they hold the position of Elder. Peter said to "shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:2-4). Men who serve in the position of an Elder in their local congregation have a responsibility to ensure that all Christians that meet together in that local work are instructed in righteousness and must ensure that no false doctrines are preached or taught within the local congregation.

We need to understand how important our Christian charge is to serve God. It is essential to heed the commands of God in order for us to lay a good foundation in which to build upon as Paul instructed in 1 Timothy 6:19 when he said "storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed". Material things of this life will pass away. We brought nothing into the world and can't take anything out of it either (1 Timothy 6:7). We must strive to live a life with God eternally (1 Timothy 6:17-19), and to receive the crown of righteousness that is reserved for us (1 Peter 5:2-4). Won't you keep your Christian charge? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Being a Disciple of Christ

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. Our eternity with Him depends upon it! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Our Conscience

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. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Being Imitators of Christ

As a Christian and preacher of the gospel of Christ, it is so refreshing to see Christians standing up for what they know is right based on the Word of God. It is encouraging to see Christians who are truly dedicated and consistent in their stand for truth, wanting to please God in all manner of life. In the society that we live in today this is not an easy task. Christians who read and study the Word of God know that it is very important to stay the course of righteousness and faithfulness in able to receive the crown of life. The apostle Paul encouraged us to “….be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). A dedicated Christian is one who understands this because living in eternity with Christ is their goal (Revelation 2:10). In writing to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul said for them to “….have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). There are many Christians today that need to read and then make application of what Paul has said here. Christians are to be a special, or peculiar people, set apart for service to God (1 Peter 2:9). This is not the case when one becomes engaged with anything that God has called unrighteous. We are to “expose them,” not fellowship them.

Christians know what God wants. Christians know that God is righteous and that people who do things contrary to His teaching are deserving of an eternal death. Yet, many Christians still engage themselves in unrighteous practices and give approval of others who may also practice them. Paul wrote: “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Jesus said that we must “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41). Christians, we must be determined first and foremost to live for God in all manner of our life. A failure to do so will result in an eternal separation from Him forever more. Stand up and let God and others see that we are imitators of Christ, not the people of this world (1 Corinthians 11:1)!