“Action speaks louder than words!" Christ referred many times to this common expression. On daily basis news reports often point out that people are dissatisfied with the failure of business and government to move into action to deal with the various environmental and economic crises, real or imagined, that make headline news. Of the religious crowd in Christ’s day He said, "This people honoureth me with their lips but their heart is far from me." (Mark 7:6) A crime is committed against an individual and passive on-lookers take no action to stop the criminal. When the children of Israel were in bondage in Egypt, God determined to save them from their bondage. Action was required. There are other examples. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice. By faith Noah prepared an ark to the saving of his house. By faith Abraham obeyed God and went out of Mesopotamia on his spiritual sojourn. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the Lord took action. Christ became a man and gave His life that you and I might be saved from sin. That was action. When Christ arose from the grave to give mankind life everlasting – that was action. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God dwells within you. That is action. God has preserved His word for you in the Bible, that you and I might find life and direction for our lives. That is action. If you are not a Christian, you need to take action. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9) After you have trusted Christ by faith as your Savior, it is important that you learn the Bible. You should take part in the Bible-preaching, Bible-teaching ministry here at Tabernacle. Take action!
The word addiction has two basic meanings. The first definition, and the one most of us are familiar with is “to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit-forming substance.” These are those the Bible describes as “given to wine” (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7) Believers must not be controlled by alcohol, and it stands to reason that this would also apply to addiction to any other substance, i.e. drugs, pornography, gambling, gluttony, tobacco, etc. The command goes beyond excessive drinking, you are not to “look upon the wine” (Proverbs 23:31). If you look you will smell, taste and drink. Medication is not forbidden (I Timothy 5:23), but the same truth governing addition applies.
The second definition of addiction is “to occupy (oneself) with or involve (oneself) in something habitually or compulsively.” This speaks of an unnatural (for the Christian, at least) obsession with anything other than God: sports, work, shopping and/or acquiring “stuff,” even family or children. We are to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5), which is, according to Jesus, the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-38). We can conclude, then, that an addiction to anything other than God Himself is wrong. I Corinthians 16:15 says, “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)”
God is the only thing we can (and should) occupy ourselves with habitually. To do so with anything else draws us away from Him and displeases Him. He alone is worthy of our complete attention, love, and service. To offer these things to anything or anyone else is idolatry.
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, THE BIBLE: THE SOURCE OF
Local elections are weeks away. Many, probably most, Americans today are unaware of the close connection between our American form of government and the Bible. The Bible says, Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12
From the beginning it is evident that the Founding Fathers sought God’s blessing and guidance as they crafted a form of government drawing its essentials from the Bible. Consider the following examples from the Constitution:
Article II, Section1 – President a natural born citizen. Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. Deuteronomy 17:15
Article III, Section 3 – Witnesses and capital punishment. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shalt he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. Deuteronomy 17:6
Article IV, Section 4 – Republicanism: electing leaders at the local, county, state, and federal level. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: Exodus 18:21
Three branches of government.
For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us. Isaiah 33:22
Don’t forget to pray for our elected officials.
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
I Timothy 2:1-2
The city of Antioch is first mentioned in Acts 6:5. The first mention of something in the Bible is often so significant in understanding what it means, that some refer to this principle as the “law of first mention.”
This first reference to Antioch in the Scriptures is positive, for Nicholas was (v.3): of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and full of wisdom. Antioch is referenced 18 times; 16 times in Acts, one time in Galatians and one time in II Timothy. Two references are negative, two neutral and 14 are positive. One reason this is important to recognize is because the King James Bible comes from the line of manuscripts that has its roots in Antioch. Observe the following: Acts 6:5 – And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Acts 11:19 – Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. Acts 11:20 – And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the LORD Jesus. Acts 11:22 – Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Acts 11:26 – And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. See also, Acts 11:27; 13:1; 13:14; 14:19; 14:21; 14:26; 15:22; 15:23; 15:30; 15:35; 18:22; Galatians 2:11 and 2 Timothy 3:11.
What is New Testament baptism? A recent article in the newspaper stated that it is one of the “sacraments…that transforms us fallen mortals into beings divinized by grace.” Wrong. A few years ago another article stated that it is borrowed from the Old Testament purification practices of the Jews. Wrong again. Briefly stated, New Testament baptism can be summarized in the following manner.
Baptism is practiced in OBEDIENCE to the command of Christ in Matthew 28:19, 20. In the book of Acts it is seen to be the COMMON PRACTICE in the New Testament for believers and identifies our ASSOCIATION because it is connected with becoming part of a local assembly of believers (Acts 2:41). Baptism then is not part of your salvation, but for those who have trusted Christ as Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote to the young minister Titus, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (Titus 3:5). It associates the believer (Acts 2:42) with: a defined body of DOCTRINE, a particular FELLOWSHIP and COMMON MINISTRIES. Water baptism by IMMERSION is a FIGURE (picture) of the new birth (I Peter 3:21) because the Bible says, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). Just as Christ, to pay the debt for our sins, died, was buried and resurrected (I Corinthians 15:1-4), so when I receive Christ by faith as Savior, through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 3) I am placed into the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. My spirit that was “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) is resurrected to new life…eternal life.
BIBLE CHECKLIST – WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR BIBLE
II Timothy 2:15 – Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Deuteronomy 17:19 – And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:
Psalm 119:160 – Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
MEDITATE ON IT
Psalm 119:15 – I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
PRAY FOR UNDERSTANDING
Psalm 119:18, 34 – Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
CLAIM ITS PROMISES
Proverbs 22:17-21 – Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?
CONTINUE IN IT
Psalm 1:2 – But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Bible memorization is of utmost importance in the Christian life. The word of God is powerful because it is literally “God-breathed” by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When we memorize scripture, several things happen. Psalm 119:11 tells us the psalmist hid God’s word in his heart so that he would not sin against Him. Not only did he hear and read the word, but he internalized it and laid it up in his mind and memory for future use. The word of God is the believer’s weapon against sin, and when placed in the mind through Bible memorization, it is a strong influence for godliness and righteous living. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the word of God is “quick [living] and powerful” meaning that it has supernatural power to mold us into Christ-likeness when we meditate upon it, and there is no better way to meditate on the word than to have it in our minds and memories.
Ephesians 6:13-17 describes the believer’s armor for spiritual battle. All of the elements of the armor are defensive except one. The only offensive weapon is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (v. 17). Jesus used God’s word to fend off attacks of Satan (Matthew 4:1-11); we must be able to use the same weapon. Satan does not give us time to “look up” scripture when we are confronted with his deception. Bible memorization ensures that we will have the scriptures in our mind and be able to recall them instantly to effectively respond to temptation (1 Peter 5:8). Romans 12:1-2 exhorts us to “renew” our minds so that we are no longer influenced by the thinking that causes us to conform to this world. The only way to renew the mind is to fill it with scripture.
The study of the Bible is not optional for the Christian, but mandatory, Study to show thyself approved unto God… - II Timothy 2:15. It is necessary for spiritual grow, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: - I Peter 2:2.
But, how do you study the Bible? Here are some simple guidelines to use in your personal Bible reading that will help you see how your Bible is relevant to your life.
List sins to forsake, Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, - I Peter 2:1.
List promises to claim, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16
List examples to follow, Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. – James 5:16.
List stumbling-blocks to avoid, …thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. – Acts 5:4.
List personal applications to your life, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed… – Romans 12:1, 2.
List commands to obey, Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. – Romans 16:17.
List thoughts about God, Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – I John 4:10.
A “worldview” is the “big picture,” the “way of understanding reality.” A “Christian worldview,” is a Biblical worldview. The Bible leads us to believe in moral absolutes, miracles, the value of human life, and the opportunity of redemption.
The Christian is God’s creation (Genesis 1:27 - … God created man in his own image…), and was originally designed to govern the world (Genesis 1:28 - … the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over…) and have fellowship with Him (Revelation 4:11 - … for thy pleasure…created.; I John 1:3 - … our fellowship is with the Father…).
The problem is that man sinned against God (Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned…) and by so doing subjected the whole world to a curse; this includes nature (Genesis 3:14). In his fallen condition, man fails to make decisions that are based on the Bible.
The fall of man and resulting curse, made it necessary for God Himself to redeem the world through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ (Luke 19:10 - For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.)
God will one day restore creation to its former perfect state (Isaiah 65:17 – For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.)
So a worldview is comprehensive, it affects every area of life: from money to morality, from politics to art. True Christianity is more than a set of ideas to use at church; Christianity as taught in the Bible is itself a worldview. The Bible never distinguishes between a “religious” and a “secular” life. Jesus proclaimed Himself “the way, the truth, and the life.” See the world through Christ and the Bible.
CONFESSION AND FORGIVENESS
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – I John 1:9 It is clear in Scripture that the Christian needs to confess sin after salvation; when he doesn’t, it brings chastening (I Cor.11:30). The Apostle Paul confessed sins he committed before he was saved (Acts 26:10, 11; I Tim.1:13). The saved Corinthians confessed sins committed after salvation (Acts 19:18).
Confession of sin is not the BASIS of salvation. Christ’s sacrifice is the BASIS of salvation (Romans 3:24-26). The believing sinner must confess CHRIST (Rom.10:9, 10) to get saved; not his sins to God or anyone else. Confession of sin to God is necessary for fellowship with God (I Cor.10:15-20; Rom.14:11; 8:13; I Cor.5:5; 3:17).
What should be confessed? The BIG ones (often more immediate and severe consequences in this world) are in Romans 1, 3; I Cor.6 and Gal.5.
Examples of SMALLER ones (sometimes less immediate severe consequences in this world) that lead to the big ones are: (1) Feeling bitter about what someone has said about you, (2) Sarcastic or unyielding spirit, (3) Complaining and griping, (4) Finding flaws and criticizing when unnoticed, (5) A deceitful and evasive spirit, (6) Unwilling to help others unless personal advantage or gain is involved and (7) A tendency to retaliate when crossed…you get the idea.
The forgiveness mentioned in I John 1 (see also Jas.5:9) is the act of pardoning somebody for a mistake or wrongdoing. In this verse, God pardons the sinning Christian of sins because he has confessed the sins. The cleansing mentioned is based on God’s promise, not your feelings.
There may be times after confession that you feel unforgiven. REASON: sometimes you must bear the EFFECTS of your sins long after you commit them (Gal.6:7).
Recent radio ads again this year have announced seminars in Colorado Springs and Pueblo that claim to enable you to control weight and stop smoking through hypnosis. Hypnosis is a condition that can be artificially induced in people, in which they are very susceptible to suggestions from the hypnotist; you relinquish control of yourself to another. Hypnosis involves the transfer of control away from us to another person.
The Bible makes it very clear that we are to yield ourselves—body, soul, and spirit—to God. Romans 6:16 – Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? II Corinthians 10:4-5 – (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; The scriptural formula leaves no room for hypnosis – yielding ourselves to a fellow human being.
Hypnotism is often promoted as a simple way of “refocusing” ourselves and finding the answer within us. For the Christian, the focus is to be on the Savior, not on ourselves or anything else. We know that the answers do not lie within us; the solution we need is found in Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 – Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, and other natural disasters? Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. The reason God allows crises is that these events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. God allows the earth, and mankind, to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:22 – For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. Crises are a natural outcome of the curse of sin. Galatians 6:7-8 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. He allows crises so that He can save us, change us and use us. Crises can cause us to recognize our own insufficiency. II Corinthians 3:5-6 – Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. Crises can lead us to understand there is no fruit in the life of the believer without sacrifice. John 12:24 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. The trials of the believer are designed for our good, even if that truth escapes our understanding at that time. Job 23:10 – But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
What does it mean to be a disciple? A disciple is a follower; one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. A Christian disciple is a person who accepts and assists in the spreading of the good news of Jesus Christ. Christian discipleship is the process by which disciples grow in the Lord Jesus Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit, who resides in you (I Cor.6:19), to overcome the pressures and trials of this present life and become more and more Christ-like. A disciple should be ready to give testimony of the reason for the hope that is within him according to I Peter 3:15, But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: According to Scripture, being a Christian disciple involves personal growth characterized by the following: 1) putting Christ first in all things (Mark 8:34-38), 2) following Christ’s teachings (John 8:31-32), 3) fruitfulness (John 15:5-8), 4) love for other believers (John 13:34-35), and 5) evangelism - making disciples of others (Matthew 28:18-20).
You are to share your faith and tell nonbelievers about the changes Jesus Christ has made in your life. No matter what your maturity level in the Christian life, you have something to offer. Too many Christians believe that they don't really know enough or haven't been a Christian long enough to make a difference; this in not true. Sometimes the most enthusiastic representatives of the Christian life are new believers. They may not know a lot of Bible verses or the "accepted" way of saying things, but they have experienced the love of God, and that is exactly what we are to share.
DISCIPLINE OF CHILDREN
A Ph.D. led a work-shop this past week in Pueblo where he said many parents believe that the biblical "spare the rod and spoil the child" axiom justifies spanking; the paper reported his role in a worldwide effort to outlaw spanking in the United States. So, what about spanking?
The phrase, “spare the rod, spoil the child” is not found in the Bible, but is an attempt to rephrase Proverbs 13:24, “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.”
The Lord uses discipline to reveal our sin to us. This is also how parents reveal our need for a Savior to their children. When a child does not feel the consequence of sin, he will not understand that sin requires punishment. Furthermore, correction shows us that we are not without blame, but are accountable for our actions.
Pride blinds us to our need for a Savior, discipline reveals the truth of our wretchedness (Revelation 3:17). Since salvation is the most important choice the child will ever make, it is imperative that parents are leading them to Christ, and discipline is critical to this process. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die”.
In the context of verses 13-14, “die” means the spiritual death of hell. Children who respect authority and feel sorrow for their sin are much more likely to ask Jesus to forgive them and be saved. All children are born sinful (Romans 5:12-19). Their natural self is destructive and unrighteous. That does not mean they aren’t infinitely valuable and worthy of love (Psalm 127:3). It means that they are not born with any natural “goodness” in them. That is why all children need discipline. Proverbs 22:15 says “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.” Discipline is critical for wisdom (Proverbs 29:15), and a child who obeys his parents will be wise (Proverbs 13:1).
DYING TO SELF
The Apostle John said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. John 12:24-25
Some practical wise man explained it this way:
When you are content with any food, any offering, any climate, any society, and any raiment, and any interruption by the will of God, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When you are forgotten or neglected, or purposely set at naught and you don't sting and hurt with the insult of the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinion ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend your self, but take it all in patient, loving silence, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder and irregularity, or any annoyance, when you stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, spiritual insensibility, and endure it as Jesus endured, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation, or to record your own good works or itch after commendations, when you can truly love to be unknown, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When you can see your brother prosper and have his needs met and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy, nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and in desperate circumstances, THAT IS DYING TO SELF. When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
ARE YOU DEAD YET??
Last year school closings and instruction of children in the community were causing concern for some. It is again, “Back to School” time. The book of Proverbs is filled with the instructions given by Solomon to his sons. The son is exhorted to learn from this instruction, and the result of the application of the knowledge learned is called wisdom. The word “education” does not appear in the Bible, but Scripture does say a lot about the process of education, and it begins with the parent and child. The command to parents is to nurture their children in the Lord (Ephesians 6:4); the word means to educate, instruct, train and discipline. As children learn about God, they are given the opportunity to wisely honor their parents, and the basis of that honor is the ongoing process of education and the application of what is learned. Solomon tells us that the basis of all true knowledge is the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). The word “fear” not only indicates the idea of terror, but also an awe and reverence for the holiness and majesty of God and a reluctance to disappoint or disobey Him. Jesus said that when we know the truth, the truth will make us free (John 8:32). Freedom from fear comes from being educated in “the truth.”
The old saying is, “We cannot use what we do not know.” This principle is especially true when it comes to biblical education. How do we educate ourselves in the biblical sense? We read, study, memorize, and meditate on God’s word. The apostle Paul admonished Timothy to “Study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Timothy 2:15). Biblical education transforms us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2).
In recent years the Earth Day celebration was marked by scandal among global warming scientists and a backlash against green. Meteorologists are the latest enviro-skeptics: One-third says global warming is caused mostly by human activities, while two-thirds say it is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment. The Audi car commercial played a few years ago during the Super Bowl portrayed people being hauled away by an environmental “Green Police” force. It may not have come to this yet in the real world, but the view of the environment is influencing manufacturing, the economy, new laws and life in general. There is a difference between the biblical view of the environment and the political movement known as "environmentalism." The Bible is clear that the earth and everything in it was given by God to man to rule over and subdue. …subdue it: and have dominion over… the earth. – Genesis 1:28. Because man was originally created in His image, God gave man a privileged place among all creatures and commanded him to exercise stewardship over the earth. Stewardship implies caretaking, not abusing. Although man lost that complete dominion with the fall and the earth is under the curse, we are still instructed to manage the resources God has given us, using care to preserve and protect them. This is seen in the Old Testament where God commanded that the fields and vineyards would be sown and harvested for six years, then left fallow for the seventh year in order to replenish the soil's nutrients, both to rest the land and to ensure continued provision for His people in the future (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7).
All the resources He has provided for our needs are renewable, but at the same time, the earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever, and we know this is not God's plan. The entire universe will be consumed and God will create a new heavens and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). Until then, we are to be good stewards of it for as long as it lasts
ONE VERSE EVANGELISM
Many feel to be effective in evangelism they must memorize a multitude of verses. One-Verse Evangelism is a simple way to share Christ's love conversationally, asking questions as you talk. It's easy to learn, uses one verse and can be shared in just 10 to 15 minutes or less. EXAMPLE: Write out Romans 6:23 on a piece of paper or a napkin. Wages: ask, "How would you feel if your boss refused to pay you your wages?" We know it is right that we get what we deserve. Similarly, we earn wages from God for how we have lived. Sin: ask your friend what he thinks when he hears this word. Explain that sin is an attitude as well as an action. It can be actively fighting God or excluding Him from your life. You can ask, "Has God ever seemed far away?" If he says "Yes," add that that's one of the things sin does-it makes God seem far away. Death: ask, “What thoughts come to mind?” Death is the eternal punishment of the soul. But: it means that a sharp contrast in thought is coming. What we have looked at is bad news; what follows is good news. Gift: ask, "If wages are what a person earns, then what is a gift?" It is free to you, paid for by someone else. Of God: explain that the gift you are talking about is free; from God Himself. No one else can give it. Ask, "How do you feel when someone gives you a gift?" Eternal Life: "How would you define these words?" Contrast death with eternal life. Ask, "What is the opposite of the eternal punishment of the soul?" Jesus Christ: help your friend consider that every gift has a giver, and only Jesus Christ can give the gift of eternal life. Trust: explain that friends trust each other, and that Jesus Christ wants a trusting relationship with him. He must admit that he is responsible for the "sin" of breaking God’s law and fighting against and excluding God from his life. That is what trust means –trusting that Jesus wants to forgive us for rejecting Him. At this point, you can ask, “Do you want to start a relationship with the Lord that will last forever; do you want to know Him personally as Savior?” If he says "Yes," invite him to pray a short prayer in his own words, asking Jesus Christ to forgive and save him from his sins.
EVOLUTION, MODERN MYTHS AND THE BIBLE
Recently, presidential candidate Rick Perry was asked by a boy, at his mother’s prompting, about the age of the Earth and evolution. He replied, “I hear your mom was asking about evolution…that’s a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it." The Washington Post asked Richard Dawkins, a British evolutionary biologist and mocker of God and anything connected with Him, to respond. He did so with an article where in the headline he states: Attention Rick Perry: Evolution is a fact. Does the headline surprise you? It shouldn’t.
Harvard paleontologist Richard Lewontin, like Richard Dawkins and all naturalists, believes that the material world of nature is all there is, but he confesses what many of his fellow naturalists would rather deny, that they all believe in naturalism INSPITE OF THE EVIDENCE. See for your self.
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs [theories]…in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories"
Evolutionary scientists mock creation as unscientific and not worthy of scientific examination. In order for something to be considered a “science,” they argue, it must be able to be observed and tested; it must be “naturalistic.” Creation is by definition “supernatural.” God and the supernatural cannot be observed or tested (so the argument goes); therefore, creation and/or intelligent design cannot be considered science. Of course, neither can evolution be observed or tested. As a result, all data is filtered through the preconceived, presupposed, and pre-accepted theory of evolution, without alternate explanations being considered.
David wrote, The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Psalm 19:1-3.
The physical, earth and life sciences all provide evidence for, “In the beginning God…” Genesis 1:1
Dr. Mark Regnerus, associate professor at the University of Texas-Austin, led a team of researchers on a “parenting” study labeled: How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study. The study was published in the journal Social Science Research. Homosexual activists went “nuts” over the findings. According to Regnerus, children raised by homosexual parents are more likely than those raised by married heterosexual parents to suffer from poor impulse control, depression and suicidal thoughts, require mental health therapy; identify themselves as homosexual; choose cohabitation; be unfaithful to partners; contract sexually transmitted diseases; be sexually molested; have lower income levels; drink to get drunk; and smoke tobacco and marijuana.”
The concept of family is extremely important in the Bible, both in a physical and theological sense. The concept of family was introduced in the beginning in Genesis 1:28, And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
God's plan was for men and women to marry and have children. A man and a woman would form a "one-flesh" union through marriage (Genesis 2:24), and they with their children become a family, the essential building block of human society.
When we are born physically, we’re born into a physical family, but when we are "born again," we are born into a spiritual family. As the Apostle Paul said, we are adopted into God's family (Romans 8:15). When we are adopted into God's spiritual family, God becomes our Father
So what does the Bible say about family? The physical family is the most important building block to human society, and as such, it should be nurtured and protected. But more important than that is the family you join as a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17).
The Bible says, “the love of money is the root of all evil” (I Timothy 6:10), therefore you should be very cautious about your attitude concerning giving to the work of the Lord. Surprisingly, many overlook the expenses of the church, both spiritual and practical; the support of Pastor, staff, financial support for missionaries; meeting place, supplies, electricity, gas, water, phone, various ministries (youth camp, conferences), etc.
Before the law was instituted, the Bible says that Abraham gave “tithes” to Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18-20).
The word tithe means tenth.
Under the law, Israel was instructed to bring the tithes into the storehouse to meet the material needs of service to God, and in return receive blessings (Malachi 3:10).
When we come to the New Testament the Apostle Paul said that they that preach the gospel, should “live” of the gospel (I Corinthians 9:13, 14). Paul instructed the church at Corinth that the “collection for the saints” is to be brought into the church on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1, 2).
But there is more. In the New Testament the principle of giving goes beyond the tithe. The Bible says every believer should give “as he purposeth in his heart” (II Corinthians 9:7).
“PURPOSETH” – giving is INTENTIONAL and PLANNED. And giving is not just about money. An easy way to remember God’s expectation of believers is that we give of our TIME, our TALENT, and our TREASURE. God’s return on your investment is summarized in Luke 6.
Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
GNOSTICISM – “Whadda ya know?”
I spoke with someone recently that believes their highest authority for knowledge of anything here, or hereafter, is an inner knowledge that just comes to them. That is what the Gnostics believed. You may not meet anyone claiming to be a Gnostic, but may meet someone who has knowingly or unknowingly adopted some of their heresies.
What is Gnosticism? The principles of Gnosticism pre-date the New Testament by a couple centuries and they contradict what it means to be a Christian. First, Gnostics assert that matter is inherently evil and spirit is good. Second, Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plain of existence. Christians assert that there is one source of Truth and that is the Bible, the inspired, inerrant word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12). It is God’s written revelation to mankind and is never superseded by man’s thoughts, ideas, writings, or visions.
Gnosticism is based on a mystical, intuitive, subjective, inward, emotional approach to truth which is not new at all. It is very old, and as with all lies, originates with Satan. He calls God and the Bible into question and catches in his web those who are either naïve and scripturally uninformed or who are seeking some personal revelation to make them feel special, unique, and superior to others. The Apostle Paul said, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) We do this by comparing everything to the word of God, the only Truth.
The Bible speaks clearly about the relationship between the believer and the government. Government can be defined as, “The exercise of authority; direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies or states.”
We are to obey governmental authorities: Paul wrote to the Romans, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” (Romans 13:1) Peter also wrote, “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governor…” (1 Peter 2:13-14).
A government or authority exists to serve those governed: “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” (Romans 13:4)
When the government does not live up to its role, we are still to live up to ours. When Paul wrote Romans 13:1, Emperor Nero was in power and Christians were suffering persecution. The advantage the Christian has under our form of government is that you can be the emperor (representative government)!
When the government asks us to do something that is in direct disobedience to God’s word, we are to obey God. Notice the record of Luke in Acts 5:28-29, “Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”
GOVERNMENT AND THE CHRISTIAN – Study 1
As Americans we have the unusual privilege, when viewed alongside the history of nations, to have a voice in the selection of our government officials. With elections just days away, a few guiding thoughts are in order.
The only thing necessary for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.–Edmund Burke
It is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation, to select and prefer Christians for their rulers. – John Jay, first Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature…If the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces. – President James A. Garfield
INDIVIDUAL CHARACTER: When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.–Proverbs 29:2
…He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. – II Samuel 23:3
Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: – Exodus 18:21
DISCERNMENT: For every tree is known by his own fruit… – Luke 6:44
But if any man love God, the same is known of him.– I Cor. 8:3
NATIONAL CHARACTER: Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. – Proverbs 14:34
GOVERNMENT AND THE CHRISTIAN – Study 2
It is typical for uniformed and/or bias journalists to imply, or blatantly state, that there is something inappropriate, or even unconstitutional, about bringing “religion” (there’s that terrible word) into elections. As Americans we have the unusual privilege, when viewed alongside the history of nations, to have a voice in the selection of our government officials.
The Constitution in Article VI, Clause 3 states, “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
Through the Constitution, the Framers had constrained the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT; however, they had left the people completely free – that is, the federal government could not apply any religious test, but the voters could. As a court explained in 1837: The distinction is a sound one between a religion preferred by law, and a religion preferred by the people without the coercion of law – between a legal establishment which the present constitution expressly forbids . . . and a religious creed freely chosen by the people for themselves.
Does the Bible indicate that the Christian should consider morality and integrity when choosing leaders? As the old commercial seen during football games would say, “You make the call.”
Proverbs 29:2 – When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
II Samuel 23:3 – …He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
Exodus 18:21 – Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them…
Luke 6:44 – For every tree is known by his own fruit…
I Corinthians 8:3 – But if any man love God, the same is known of him.
Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
What is the Great Commission? After Christ’s death and resurrection, He commanded the disciples to take the Gospel to the world; the message of His redemption – saving sinners from their sins. Matthew 28:19-20 contains what has come to be called The Great Commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Christ gave this command to the apostles shortly before He ascended into heaven, and it outlines what Christ expected the apostles, and those who followed them, to do in His absence.
Acts 1:8 emphasizes that each Christian individually has responsibility to obey the Great Commission: But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem [your city], and in all Judaea [your state], and in Samaria [your country], and unto the uttermost part of the earth [the world].
This is Christian missions; but the Christian mission of preaching Christ does not end with a sinner’s salvation. The commission was to make disciples – not immature believers: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: So, Christian missions involves not only evangelism but also discipleship.
In sum, Christian missions is obeying Christ, witnessing for Christ (the Gospel), and making disciples for Christ. Specifically, God sends missionaries through the support of the churches to reach those without Christ (Acts 13). All Christians, however, have this responsibility. The Lord works through you to rescue the lost. What greater commission can you receive?
This past year, some have challenged the claim that America’s heritage has been greatly influenced by the Bible and Christianity. What is Heritage? Heritage is something that passes from one generation to the next in a social group, e.g. a way of life or traditional culture. King David said, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.” – Psalm 16:6. The lines refer to his borders, his homeland, and his nation. As David, we should consider it a good heritage to live where the true God is known; where we enjoy His favor and friendship.
For the Christian living in America, our heritage includes a NATIONAL heritage that has a Biblical foundation. As Supreme Court Justice David Brewer (1837-1910) explained: … America was “of all the nations in the world . . . most justly called a Christian nation” because Christianity “has so largely shaped and molded it.” It has brought us the blessings of righteousness. Solomon said, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34 This heritage includes a PERSONAL heritage that has the blessing of salvation, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. – Acts 26:18 This heritage also includes a SPIRITUAL heritage that rests upon the inspired word of God, Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. – Psalm 119:111, and adds the fellowship of the saints, For thou, O God, hast heard my vows: thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. – Psalm 61:5 This is a heritage that should be recognized and retained.
HOLIDAYS AND OBSERVANCES
People often celebrate holidays without thinking about their origin; where they came from or what they mean. Even holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter that are important to most Christians, and most Americans, have been trivialized with commercial, and sometimes pagan, attachments. This can be especially true of holidays or observances considered to be less serious or even frivolous
The Bible indicates that in observing, on not observing days it is to be done “unto the Lord,” Romans 14:1-6. The Apostle Paul said in Colossians 2:14-16 that we are not to be judged over not observing an Old Testament “holyday.” But, in I Corinthians 2:15 that the Christian is to, “judge all things.” So, you are to judge, but that judgment should be in line with Scripture: “what saith the scripture?” – Galatians 4:30 We should also consider how our actions may affect, or influence, others. The Apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 8:4, 7, 9, “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one…
Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled…
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. The Christian is given the clear and simple guiding principle “… Abstain from all appearance of evil. – I Thessalonians 5:22
The Christian is not to be “yoked” (joined) to those things that are clearly a bad testimony - II Corinthians 6:14-18. He has liberty in those things that are not inherently sinful, but is not to allow his liberty to become a stumbling block to the weaker brother.
This world in which we live offers many things, but it does not offer hope. Sorrow, pain, disease and death knock on every door. Heartaches, disappointments and despair visit every home. Victories never last and joy is but for a fleeting moment. New things become stale and bright things become faded. The Bible says, "For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:" (I Peter 1:24).
The word HOPE is used in scripture with the following meaning: confidence in a future event; the highest degree of well founded expectation of good. Christ’s return is referred to as “the blessed hope”. (Titus 2:13)
For Christians our hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him we have eternal life. Through the power of His resurrection we know that everlasting life that is abundant awaits us beyond the grave. Job was looking forward to life after death when he said, "Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God."
When anyone, by faith, trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, he receives the certainty of this wonderful hope. The Bible says he is "passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Jesus Christ firmly stated, "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:" (John 11:25).
Though Christians suffer all of this world's trials and pains, our comfort in time of trouble is the knowledge of this great hope, "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast," (Hebrews 6:19
In 2010 an organization called the American Humanist Association began an ad campaign to “help many people realize that they are already humanists.” The campaign theme implies that humanists “think” and that those who accept divine revelation do not. The organization states that, “Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.”
A more definitive definition would be, “A doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values: a philosophy that asserts the dignity and worth of man and his capacity for self-realization through reason and that often rejects supernaturalism.” Atheist (he says he is “agnostic”) Richard Dawkins published a book in recent years entitled The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True; his goal: to arm the young, as well as the old, with the ability to think critically like a scientist.
The Bible says to the humanist, and to all, who believes that answers are found in man’s ability to think, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” Romans 1:20 The process described here involves thinking, so the man who can think objectively will find God, and good, by an unbiased examination of the physical creation.
An atheist at a question and answer session at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington said, “Happiness is the basis for morality [good].” The Christian apologist conducting the event asked, “Happiness according to who, Mother Teresa or Hitler?” You see, without God there is no basis for objective morals and “good”. It’s just Mother Teresa’s opinion against Hitler’s. The Bible says, “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” Mark 10:18
“Think” about that.
Independent Baptists are set apart from other churches by what is often termed “Baptist Distinctives.” Those characteristics that are common to a true independent Baptist church. Briefly stated, an independent Baptist church believes in the following:
A REGENERATED CHURCH MEMBERSHIP: This refers to conversion; the sinner who was “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2) is “born again” (John 3) and alive in Christ. No Catholic or Protestant church has this requirement.
THE AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH: This means absolute freedom from any and all outside interference from others churches, religious bodies, governments or individuals. It is self-governing. This form of church government is referred to as “congregational”.
NO INFANT BAPTISM: According to the New Testament, water baptism is by immersion (infants are sprinkled), for believers only, in obedience to Christ’s command and is a picture of what happens to the believer when he is “born again” (Acts 8, Acts 2, Matthew 28, II Peter 3, Galatians 2).
THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER: The believer is “secure” in Christ and can never “lose” his salvation (Romans 8). This “distinctive” is shared by the Presbyterians, because it is part of “Calvinist” doctrine, which is the basis of their theology.
THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS: The believer has direct access to God through Christ by means of prayer (Revelation 1; Hebrews 4:16-18; I Timothy 2:5). The believer has no need of any religious leader or “saint” to go through to get to God. He is a priest and a saint (Revelation 1). The Reformation churches shared this belief, but the Baptists are the only ones who have stayed with it in their practice. All others have developed a hierarchy which the individual must “go through” to reach God.
THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: The state has no right to dictate practice or belief to churches, nor require by law membership or support.
The word “joy” is traditionally dusted off this time of year [Christmas] and heard in songs and seen on gift wrap and then put back in the attic for another year.
What is joy? Joy is defined as the passion or emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; that excitement of pleasurable feelings which is caused by success, good fortune, the gratification of desire or some good possessed, or by a rational prospect of possessing what we love or desire; gladness; exultation; exhilaration of spirits. Is that too academic? Then consider some things that Christians should be joyful about.
Luke 10:20 - Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Romans 14:17 - For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
- The Conversion of Others Luke 15:1-7
Phil.4:1 - herefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I Thes.2:19-20- For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.
Romans 12:15 - Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
- Eventual Destruction of the Devil’s Power (Rev.19:1-5)
Romans 16:20 - And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
- Our Eternal Home (John 14:1-6; Rev.21-22)
Christians are sometimes criticized as being judgmental for believing that Christ is the only way to heaven. Is it wrong for a Christian to judge? No; the Christian is actually required to judge.
Everyone makes judgments on a daily basis, including judgments about right and wrong. The Bible says of the Christian, “…he that is spiritual judgeth all things…” in I Corinthians 2:15 and, “…judge righteous judgment” in John 7:24. But what about Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”, doesn’t that mean you should not judge? No; the next verse says, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged”; it is, practically speaking, a warning that the manner in which you judge will bring judgment on you when it is not, “righteous judgment.” James warns against unrighteous judgment, “Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:4. The Lord rebuked the leaders for “partial” judgment when He said, “The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us” in Micah 3:11. The biblical standard of justice is quite clear: no partiality, period. No partiality to the rich, no partiality to the poor. In contrast to the words of Scripture are the words of Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan. She wrote that the mission of the Supreme Court is to "show a special solicitude for the despised and the disadvantaged." Yet the Bible says, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour” in Leviticus 19:15.
MARRIAGE, FAMILY AND CHILDREN
The courts continue to redefine marriage. God has not. When man needed someone “meet” (the word means: fit; suitable; proper) for him, God created a woman for him to “marry.” (Genesis 2:20-24) This is not complicated. The complications arise when people manufacture alibis to sin. The main issue is not insurance benefits, an item often tossed into the debate when arguing that it is about basic human rights. Homosexuals state that legalized homosexual marriage brings “validation” to the way they live. To claim that something is “valid” means it is well-grounded or justifiable. Homosexual marriage is neither “valid” biblically nor practically in its effects on society. Why not legalize same-sex marriage? Who could it hurt? Children and the rest of society. Homosexuality is an abomination, an object of extreme disgust and hatred, to God. (Lev.18:22) You don’t need to be a Bible believing Christian to see the danger. David Blankenhorn, a life-long, pro-gay, liberal democrat who disagrees with the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexual behaviors writes, “Across history and cultures . . . marriage’s single most fundamental idea is that every child needs a mother and a father. Changing marriage to accommodate same-sex couples would nullify this principle in culture and in law.” Children will be hurt because illegitimate parents (there are no illegitimate children) often never form a family, and those that “shack up” break up at a rate two to three times that of married parents. Society will be hurt because illegitimacy leads to poverty, crime, and higher welfare costs which lead to bigger government, higher taxes, and a slower economy. Norway has had same-sex marriage since the early nineties and illegitimacy rose from 39 percent to 50 percent in the first decade. Blankenhorn reports this same trend in other countries. International surveys show that same-sex marriage and the erosion of traditional marriage tend to go together. Traditional marriage is weakest and illegitimacy strongest wherever same-sex marriage is legal. Contrary to what homosexual activists assume, the state doesn’t endorse marriage because people have feelings for one another but primarily because of what marriage does for children and in turn society. In a biblical marriage of one man and one woman they are to produce children (Gen.1:28) and are a picture of Christ and His church. (Eph.5:31-32)
Materialism is the preoccupation with material things. It is to be obsessed with the desire of acquiring and caring for “stuff.” This obsession is a dangerous thing for the Christian; it is affection that is misplaced and it is sin. Colossians 3:2 – Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
It is not to say we cannot have material things. Years ago the preacher R.O. Woodworth put it this way, It’s not wrong to have things, but it is wrong when the things have you. Christ identified the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37-38 – Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. Therefore, God is the only thing we can (and should) occupy ourselves with habitually.
When we concern ourselves with the material world, we are easily drawn in by the “deceitfulness” of wealth, thinking we will be happy or fulfilled or content if only we had more of whatever it is we are chasing. Mark 4:19 – And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
If materialism was ever to satisfy anyone, it would have been Solomon, the richest king the world has ever known. He had absolutely everything and had more of it than anyone, and yet he found it was all worthless. It did not produce happiness or satisfaction. Ecclesiastes 5:10 – He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.
In the end, our conclusion should be Solomon’s conclusion. Ecclesiastes 12:13 – Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of
MEDIUMS AND CONTACTING THE DEAD
The television show, Long Island Medium, says it follows the life of a medium named Theresa, “helping clients and delivering messages from the deceased to people she encounters in various public places, from grocery stores and cleaners to bowling alleys and frozen yogurt shops.”
So what is a medium? Webster says, “an individual held to be a channel of communication between the earthly world and a world of spirits.” The medium is the witch, the “consulter of familiar spirits” (Deut.18:11) in the Bible. Leviticus 19:31; 20:6, 27; and Deuteronomy 18:9-14 refer to “witch” and “familiar spirits” and forbids being involved with them. A medium is one who acts as a liaison to supposedly contact or communicate with the dead on behalf of the living. In reality mediums are contacting demons, called “spirit guides” by the medium, who convince the mediums that they are “familiar” and can be trusted and believed. The practices of those with familiar spirits (mediums) were banned in Israel, and the punishment for practicing such things was death (Lev.20:27).
Therefore, familiar spirits are under the control of Satan. They influence people to spread lies and deceit. Some ways in which people expose themselves to "familiar spirits" (demons) are divination, transcendental meditation, visualization, necromancy, witchcraft, drugs, and alcohol. These are all activities that believers are exhorted to avoid. Our warfare is against “spiritual wickedness” (Eph.6:11-18). Instead, we are to be filled with the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit; the result will be the “fruit of the Spirit” in the life of the believer (Gal.5).
MORALITY AND THE LAW
Christians are frequently accused of trying to impose their values or their beliefs on others, including through the legislative process (the making of laws). Christians in a democratic republic have as much right to be involved in the political process as anyone else. This means they promote laws that reflect their own values. Christians do not seek to subvert the political process; they engage it, as it is the right of every American. “Can morals be legislated?” Well, an opinion recently offered by a retired Episcopal priest in the Pueblo Chieftain stated bluntly that when you attempt to legislate morals, “That’s wrong.” May I offer another view? I say that it is impossible not to legislate morals. Every law “imposes” someone’s moral “values” on someone else. A law that prohibits murder, for example, imposes a belief that murder is wrong and upholds the tenet that human life has value. Christ said in Matthew 19:18, He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. My belief is that society is better off with such a law in place. Pardon me if I presume that almost everyone agrees that murder, stealing and child molestation, among other “social” ills, are wrong without referring to any recent “studies” to support that opinion. This sense of right and wrong that is a central part of our culture is also reflected in our laws. Do you really want to live in a society where morality is absent from our legal code? The Bible says in Proverbs 29:2, When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
Being a mother is a very important role that the Lord chooses to give to many women. A Christian mother is told to love her children (Titus 2:4-5), in part so that she does not bring reproach on the Lord and on the Savior whose name she bears.
Children are a gift from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5). You may hear people say, “Children don’t come with an instruction manual.” That is incorrect. Certain things are expected of parents, and therefore mothers, and they are identified in God’s word:
- Faith – an example of faith (II Timothy 1:5)
- Availability and Involvement– morning, noon, and night (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
- Teaching – the Scriptures (Proverbs 31:1; Deuteronomy 4:10)
- Training – helping a child to develop skills and discover his/her strengths (Proverbs 22:6)
- Discipline – teaching the fear of the Lord, drawing the line consistently, lovingly, firmly (Proverbs 1:8)
- Affection – providing an environment of love and support (Titus 2:4)
The Bible never states that every woman should be a mother. However, it does say that those whom the Lord blesses to be mothers should take the responsibility seriously. Mothers have a unique and crucial role in the lives of their children. Motherhood is not a chore or unpleasant task. Just as a mother bears a child during pregnancy, and just as a mother feeds and cares for a child during infancy, so mothers also play an ongoing role in the lives of their children, whether they are adolescents, teenagers, young adults, or even adults with children of their own. While the role of motherhood must change and develop, the love, care, nurture, and encouragement a mother gives should never cease.
PALESTINE, WHO OWNS THE LAND OF?
The Mad Man of Terhan, not to be confused with the Mad Man of Gadera whose mind returned to him when he turned to Christ (Mark 5), has once again advised the world that the land of Palestine does not belong to Israel. We plan to reject his “advice.” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressing the UN General Assembly on September 26, 2012, said, “the occupation of Palestine and imposition of a fake government” by Israel is an obstacle to world peace. When speaking from his own homeland he is more direct; where on October 26, 2005 to express hatred for Israel he quoted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, founder of Iran’s Islamic revolution, when he said, “As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map.”
So who owns the land of Palestine?
When God called Abraham (Abram) out of Ur of the Chaldees (Gen.11) he promised to him a land that would belong to him and his seed forever in Genesis13:14-15, And the Lord said unto Abram,…For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. The land promised to Abraham is identified as a land mass that includes the territory of modern day Israel in Genesis 15:18, In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:
The land boundaries identified here encompass what today is called the Middle East. The promise to Abraham’s seed is very specific and is confirmed only to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:3-5. The promise is further confirmed only to Isaac’s son Jacob (Israel) in Genesis 28:13-15. The Arab nations who occupy the Middle East are usurpers in the land God promised to Israel. The Bible has no problem clarifying the “issue.” The problem is that the world, and many professing Christians, have rejected what the Bible says.
PASSOVER, SHOULD CHRISTIANS OBSERVE IT?
The Passover is an Old Testament feast established in Exodus 12 and commanded to be observed by Israel, Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb…and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD's passover. – Exodus 12:3, 11.
The observance of Passover is in remembrance of the time in Israel’s history when the angel of the Lord moved through Egypt destroying the firstborn of all people and animals (Exodus 11-12.) The Israelites were commanded by God to take the blood of a male lamb – one without blemish – and place it on the doorposts of their houses. When the angel of the Lord saw the blood, he would “pass over” that house. This is a foreshadowing of the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose blood would cover the sins of those who believe in Him, causing God’s judgment to pass over them. No believer after Calvary is found observing, nor are they instructed to observe, an Old Testament feast. Christ is our Passover.
I Corinthians 5:7 – Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
There are those today who are interested in adapting the Passover feast to Christianity and identifying Christians, who are Jews by race, as Messianic Jews to allow them to remain connected to their cultural heritage. But, there is no Christian Passover in the Bible. The cultural heritage of an orthodox Jew includes obeying the Old Testament law as a means of establishing their own righteousness (Romans 10:1-4). The Apostle Paul, in many of his epistles, wrote against making a spiritual distinction between saved Jews and Gentiles, who are “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28.) Bible-believing Christians should take the same position.
Should a Christian be “patriotic?” At its simplest being patriotic simply means loving one’s country. As long as that love for country does not supersede one’s love for God, and kept in perspective, there is nothing wrong with a Christian being patriotic. However, another definition of patriotic implies that the individual should place the interests of the nation above their personal and group interests. Carried to an extreme, patriotism can become a form of idolatry, particularly if one’s love for his country is greater than his love for God and God’s plan of redeeming people from “every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;” (Revelation 5:9) As far as a Christian’s responsibility towards government, Romans 13:1-7 states we are to be subject to the governing authorities and to honor them, because it is ultimately God who has placed them in authority over us. So as Christians we are under obligation to God to be model citizens, subject to the governing authorities over us by obeying laws, paying taxes, etc. However, our responsibilities are first and foremost to be obedient to God. In America, a democratic republic where individual citizens have the ability to change and influence government by voting or by being politically involved when appropriate and in appropriate ways, part of being a good citizen is voting and having whatever positive influence we can on government. In countries where Christians have no say in the decisions of their leaders, it is more difficult to be patriotic. It is very hard to love oppressive governments. However, as Christians we are still obligated to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-4). God will honor our obedience to this command, and in His timing, He will judge nations who turn away from Him. Should a Christian be patriotic? Within reason, yes. At the same time, a Christian’s ultimate faith, love, and obedience is to be reserved for God alone.
PEACE ON EARTH
A phrase seen on Christmas cards and heard in Christmas songs this time of year is “peace on earth.” It is a phrase derived from Luke 2:14 which says, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
The peace spoken of in Luke 2 is a peace that will not take place until the Prince of Peace is ruling on earth. Isaiah 9:6-7 – For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
But until then, there is a real peace, a supernatural peace available now; it is individual peace. Ephesians 2:13-15 – But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
This peace is obtained by placing your trust in Christ as your Savior. Romans 5:1 – Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Do you have real peace?
PRAYER AND OUR NATIONAL HERITAGE
Proverbs 22:28 – Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.
Congress established the National Day of Prayer in 1952, the day for presidents to issue proclamations asking Americans to pray. In May 2009, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced President Obama would issue a proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer, as presidents have traditionally done for more than half a century, but would not invite religious leaders to join him at the White House.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the White House declined to participate in the congressionally authorized National Day of Prayer beyond issuing the standard proclamation. Yet, just a few months later, President Obama praised Islam as an integral part of America, as he entertained prominent US Muslims at an Iftar dinner marking the fasting month of Ramadan in the State Dining Room of the White House. "For well over a billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time of intense devotion and reflection," the President said, in remarks welcoming his guests. The guest list included Cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, ambassadors from Islamic nations and Muslim community leaders. During his eight years in office former President George W. Bush held an Iftar. But he, as other presidents, also invited religious leaders to join him at the White House for the National Day of Prayer.
In April 2009, President Obama traveled to Egypt where he told the Muslim world America no longer considers itself a Christian nation. He later traveled to Turkey and announced America was one of the largest Muslim nations in the world (despite the fact that 78% of Americans claim to be Christians but only 1% claim to be Muslims). To emphasize an important point President Obama has often used the phrase, “let me be perfectly clear.” On the matter of our national and religious heritage, I believe he has achieved his goal.
Now, the National Day of Prayer is under attack again, this time in the courts, where one federal judge has declared it to be unconstitutional. Please pray for our country.
Proverbs 14:34 – Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people
PROPHET, WHAT IS A
The office and gift of prophet in the New Testament seems to have been an office given by Christ for the laying of the foundation of the church. Prophets were foundational to the church…Ephesians 2:20 - And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
The prophet proclaimed a message from the Lord to the early believers. Sometimes a prophet’s message was revelatory (new revelation and truth from God) and sometimes a prophet’s message was predictive…Acts 11:28 - And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
So, the work of the prophet is twofold, as the pre-millennial Bible teacher of a century past, Clarence Larkin, said, both revelatory ("descriptive") and "predictive." The prophets were both "forth-tellers" and "fore-tellers." They had both "insight" and "foresight." Their prophetic statements were not the deductions of reason, but were imparted to them by the Holy Spirit…II Peter 1:21 - For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost
The sense in which a man could be considered a prophet today in the descriptive sense is a man whom God has given often unique insight into the contemporary culture and spirit of the day, and of the consequences of that culture. In the predictive sense he faithfully declares future events in line with the Scriptures.
What is “the rapture”? The word “rapture” does not occur in the Bible. It is a word used to label the doctrine, based on the phrase, “caught up” in I Thessalonians 4:17. The doctrine, though, is clearly taught in Scripture. The rapture of the church is the event in which God removes all believers from the earth before His righteous judgment is poured out on the earth during the tribulation period. “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” (I Thessalonians 5:9).The believer is never instructed to watch for the Tribulation, but for the Lord. The Tribulation is not for the perfecting of the N.T. saints, but the judgment and perfecting of Israel. “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” (Daniel 9:24) “Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)
The rapture is described primarily in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-54. God will resurrect all believers who have died, give them glorified bodies (Philippians 3:20, 21), and take them from the earth, along with those believers who are still alive and who will at that time also receive glorified bodies. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This truth is to bring “comfort” to the believer (I Thessalonians 4:18).
Is the Christian’s faith blind? Is it a faith without reason? Some, even Christians, would answer, “Yes.” For example, the young college student who, after a presentation on the reasons for our faith, said to the speaker, “Why are you trying to prove Christianity? We just need to love one another!” What about it? The Lord said in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together…”
- YOU ARE TO DEFEND THE FAITH AND LOVE OTHERS. We ought to show people why Christianity is true and love them as well. The two are not mutually exclusive but complementary. In fact, the Bible tells us to do both.
- YOU ARE COMMANDED TO DEFEND THE FAITH. I Peter 3:15 states, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” We are commanded to know what we believe and why we believe it. II Corinthians 10:5 states, Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
- REASON WORKS. While some people believe without knowing why, others need evidence before they can believe. Acts 18:4, “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
- IT PREPARES YOU TO BE A BETTER AMBASSADOR. Even if you don’t sense a need for evidence for your own edification, you may need it to edify others. The Bible says in II Corinthians 5:20, “…we are ambassadors for Christ…” We are called to be God’s ambassadors to minister to others. That’s one reason why Paul tells us to, “Study to show thyself approved…” (II Timothy 2:15
I have told the story of attending a Sky Sox baseball game last year with my grandchildren and at the game that evening they honored the Boy Scouts of America; last year was their 100th anniversary. The Scouts have an oath, law, motto and slogan. The oath begins with, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country…” This phrase comes close to summarizing the Bible definition of “true religion.”
In James 1:26 it speaks of a religion that is vain (empty, or without substance). Tradition and religion cause many people to go astray because they have placed their trust in these things instead of in the Lord. The Bible says, Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men…” Mark 7:7-8.
The problem is that people often confuse religion and salvation. Notice the difference between salvation and religion. SALVATION is the New Birth (James 1:18, 21). RELIGION is living right (James 1:22-27). SALVATION is what God does for you that you can’t do for yourself. RELIGION is what you do to justify your profession. SALVATION is God’s righteousness imputed (placed to your account) to you by grace for your justification. RELIGION is works. James 1:27 calls this “pure religion.” Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. James 1:27. Simply put, PURE RELIGION is to help those in need and separate yourself from the world.
Repentance is a change of mind and purpose and life; a conversion from sin to God. I Thessalonians 1:9 – … how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;
Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is incomplete. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions. Acts 26:20 – … that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
Lent is a period of fasting and repentance traditionally observed by Catholics and some Protestants in preparation for Easter. The length of the fast was established by the Catholic Church in the 4th century as 40 days beginning with the observance of Ash Wednesday, a way for Catholics to remind themselves to repent of their sins in a manner similar to how people in the Old Testament repented in sackcloth, ashes, and fasting. Catholics speak of “doing penance” for their sins; a purpose mentioned repeatedly in Roman Catholic literature is that of paying or atoning for one’s sins; making a payment toward the temporal punishment to satisfy God’s justice. This purpose is closely tied to the idea of indulgences and is all completely contrary to Scripture. The Bible does speak of repentance, but never is there the message of “you must pay or atone for your sins by doing some good deed or by abstinence,” or by anything else. Titus 3:5 – Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Service is something God expects of all believers. As an incentive to service, God promises to reward Christians for their faithfulness. An incentive is something that motivates, encourages and moves us to action. Some key rewards in the Scriptures are in the form of crowns. Here is a brief summary of those crowns.
The Crown of Righteousness – this is for those looking for the return of Christ. (…a crown of righteousness…give…all them also that love his appearing – I Timothy 4:8; … Even so, come, Lord Jesus – Revelation 22:20)
The Crown of Life – this is for those who resist temptation or are martyred for the faith. …endureth temptation…he shall receive the crown of life – James 1:12; …be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life – Revelation 2:10)
The Incorruptible Crown – this is for temperance, discipline and self-control. The Apostle Paul pictured the Christian life as an athlete in training. (…they which run in a race run all…So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible – I Corinthians 9:24, 25; Hebrews 12:2)
The Crown of Glory – this is for those faithful in feeding the flock. (The elders …Feed the flock of God…ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (I Peter 5:1-4)
The Crown of Rejoicing – this is for those who win souls. (…crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? – I Thessalonians 2:19)
Leading a soul to Christ produces joy in heaven (Luke 15:7), provides treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:21) and it places your affections in the right place, in heaven. (Colossians 3:2)
What does it mean to be a saint? A religious opinion column recently stated that the Coptic Church in Egypt canonized (declared to be saints) the Coptic Christians killed by ISIS. In modern vernacular, a "saint" is anyone who is kind, generous, or follows the rules.
The Bible, as always, has the answer. The word "saint" in the New Testament is the Greek word hagios and in its simplest form means “holy.” Every Christian is instructed to be “holy.”
“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:16)
Nowhere is the term restricted to a particular class of people granted the title by the organizational authorities of a religion.
The Bible defines the saint as anyone who follows Jesus Christ. Every Christian is set apart from the world, to do good works through Jesus Christ. The term "saint" is a reflection of the changes God makes in us, not our success in embodying those changes.
“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's:” (I Corinthians 1:2)
A saint is not someone who is particularly pious, whose prayers cause miracles, or who sacrifices a great deal for their faith. According to the Bible, a saint is just someone who has accepted Christ as their savior.
Many define self-esteem as “feelings of worth based on their skills, accomplishments, status, financial resources, or appearance.” This kind of self-esteem can lead a person to feel independent and prideful and to indulge in self-worship, which dulls our desire for God. James 4:6 says, But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. This does not mean that Christians should have low self-esteem. It means that our sense of worth should not depend on what we do, but rather on who we are in Christ. We need to humble ourselves before Him, and He will honor us. Ephesians 1:6 says, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. The Christian’s sense of worth is based on a right relationship with God.
In one sense, low self-esteem is the opposite of pride. In another sense, low-self-esteem is a form of pride. Some people have low self-esteem because they want people to feel sorry for them, to pay attention to them, to comfort them. Low self-esteem can be a declaration of “look at me” just as much as pride. It simply takes a different route to get to the same destination, that is, self-absorption, self-obsession, and selfishness.
Instead, we are to be selfless, to die to self, and to deflect any attention given to us to the God who created and sustains us. We should conduct ourselves with humility, thinking of others as better than ourselves. Philippians 2:3 says, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
Nehemiah 11 and 12 shows us the handling of the important, and sometimes controversial, matter of church and state. The priests and Levites are seen carrying out functions commissioned by God, And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people…l (Nehemiah 12:30). Nehemiah, as a political official, was very careful not to interfere with their ministries, …and I after them (Nehemiah.12:38). The separation of Church and State is one of the fundamental principles of our republic. The concept is often perverted.
The idea of separation was born of the desire of the people to keep government from interfering with the church. In other words, the sovereignty of God and His church was to be protected, not the sovereignty of the state. Both cannot be sovereign! To be sovereign is to be chief, highest or paramount; in dealing with each other one MUST be higher. It was the intention of the framers of our Constitution to have the church influence the affairs of state, never the opposite. The only wall of separation that our forefathers built against the churches’ influence was that which would keep any one particular Christian denomination from becoming the officially endorsed State Church.
The First Amendment of the reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the free press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A strong spiritual commitment is essential in a republic (government by laws), if it is to succeed. Without adequate Biblical values it is impossible to maintain the involvement of the people necessary in insuring that the laws of the land are upheld. The principles of OBLIGATION and RESPONSIBILITY among the people are lost without a strong spiritual commitment. THE STATE SHOULD HELP PROTECT THE FREEDOMS OF THE CHURCH. If the state fails to do this, it will do so to its own destruction.
SIN, WHAT IS IT AND WHERE DID IT COME FROM
Sin is described in the Bible as transgression of the law of God and rebellion against God. I John 3:4 - Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. The word transgression means the act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty. Sin had its beginning with Lucifer, probably the most beautiful and powerful of the angels. Not content with his position, he desired to be higher than God; his pride led to his downfall, the beginning of sin (Isaiah 14:12-15). Renamed Satan, he brought sin to the human race in the Garden of Eden, where he tempted Adam and Eve with the same enticement, “ye shall be as gods.” Genesis 3 describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God and against His command. Since that time, sin has been passed down through all the generations of mankind and we, Adam’s descendants, have inherited sin from him. Romans 5:12 - Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Death was passed on to all men because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
We are all condemned due to inherited and personal sin. The only just penalty for this sin is death, not just physical death but eternity in the Lake of Fire. Revelation 20:14 - And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Thankfully, sin has been crucified on the cross of Christ, and now by faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior “…we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7).
One of the common challenges thrown at Christianity today is, “If there is a loving God, how can He allow suffering to occur?”
In his 2008 book, God’s Problem, author Bart Ehrman uses 278 pages to complain that the Bible fails to answer the question – Why We Suffer, which is part of the subtitle of the book. His conclusion, the Bible gives answers, but they are not “satisfying intellectually or morally.” His conclusion, he doesn’t know why we suffer either, but we should “work to alleviate” it. The Bible devotes an entire book to dealing with the problem, the book of Job. Suffering, like all other human experiences, is directed by the wisdom of God. In the end it is true, we learn that we may never know the specific reason for our suffering, but we must trust in God. Suffering and death are part of the curse of sin on the world (Genesis 3:16-19). Adam and Eve fell, and when they did, they brought to all the suffering of death.
The question of why some suffer at death and others do not could be summed up in one statement: "God is sovereign." That is not just a trite and easy statement.
When Jesus healed a man born blind, the disciples asked, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3) The principle here can be applied to our question. God allows some to suffer so that the work of God may be seen and others not to suffer for the same reason. It is His will that determines each circumstance. Romans 8:28 contains some comforting words for those enduring hardship and suffering: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God orchestrates every event in our lives, even suffering, to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit.
Therefore, we can say that no suffering is without a purpose in the plan of God, though we as finite humans may not see that purpose clearly.
This week we observe a national day of Thanksgiving. David wrote in Psalm 92:1, It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
But this week of thanks, that should be a spiritual time for our nation in general, and Christians in particular, will for many be a superficial time. Americans are beginning to forget the important origins of our national Thanksgiving holiday. Its spiritual significance is no longer taught in our nation’s public schools. In fact, most school children today are taught that Thanksgiving originated when the Pilgrims invited their Indian friends to dinner to thank them for providing sustenance after the Mayflower landed. As with much of modern American revisionist history, there really is much more to the story.
Christians have many reasons to be thankful. We can be thankful for the resurrection of the Christ and the free gift of salvation. The Apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 9:15, Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift, and in Ephesians 2:8, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: We can be thankful for fellowship, which is a partnership in shared interests as seen in Acts 2:42 among believers in the early church, And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. This thankfulness should be a constant in the life of the Christian, as we are reminded in I Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Remember to be thankful.
WAR, THE SOURCE OF
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (James 4:1) The Bible asks embarrassing questions. It is clear that the Author of the book knows man thoroughly. John 2:24 – But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, The Bible not only asks embarrassing questions, it then provides embarrassing answers. Since Mankind left paradise in the Garden of Eden, they have been fighting with each other. Why does man fight? There is something wrong with his heart. Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Man’s desires lead to uncontrollable passions, then war. Like a fire that is never quenched. The source of war is not:
Economic Systems – Karl Marx; Segregation – Martin Luther King/Nelson Mandela; Isolationism – FDR; Nationalism – Mao Tse-Tung; Patriotism – JFK or Ignorance – academia; the source of war is man’s basic Adamic nature.
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. (James 4:2) The lust of the flesh will never be satisfied. Lust makes fools of people and leaves them disappointed with unfilled dreams. Israel’s lusts, failures and resulting judgments are an example to us to keep us from lust. I Corinthians 10:5-7 – But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…
Walking in the Spirit [conduct directed by the Spirit] will keep us from lust. Galatians 5:16 – This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Recently Fox News commentator Bill O’Riley, playing the “Devil’s advocate”, ask Franklin Graham how can it be fair that Jesus is the only way. In John 14:6 it say, Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Christ stated that He is the only WAY to the Father; this is a stumbling block to many. They consider this UNFAIR, that it excludes many from salvation, and therefore cannot be God’s plan.
But, it is the only way that IS FAIR compared to the many man-made “plans of salvation” offered. Consider Buddhism with its ultimate goal in life to achieve “Enlightenment” through the “Four Noble Truths” and the “Eightfold Path.” Or Mormonism and its gospel of works that leads, not to salvation, but “Exaltation” as evidenced in the following: The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds the keys of salvation for all men now living because he is the only one by whose authorization the sealing power of the priesthood can be used to seal up men to salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God. Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce R. McConkie, p.411
The Bible says God’s grace appears to all men (Titus 2:11.) How? There is 1) the GENERAL REVELATION OF GOD IN NATURE. He is seen in the Material Universe (Romans 1:20; Psalm 19:1-4). God has placed in man the Inner Witness (Romans 1:19; 2:15). This is evident from the Universal Belief in the Existence of God/a god. All cultures through the centuries give evidence of the belief in a supreme being who they seek to reach (Acts 10:1-5). Also, there is 2) the WRITTEN REVELATION OF GOD IN SCRIPTURE (John 14:6.) Acts 4:12 – Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
God’s way, the only way, is fair, just and within reach of all. But, There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12
TIME WITH GOD
In Acts 20:13 you find the Apostle Paul walking alone the approximately 20 miles from Troas to Assos, instead of traveling the distance by ship with his missionary team. What was his motive? Paul wrote in I Corinthians 7:35, And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. The trip will take a few days; this allows Paul time to seek God’s will concerning his visit to Jerusalem, without distraction. No TV, videos, DVDs, radio, computer, phone, cell phone, Blue Tooth, CD, cassette, 8 track or reel to reel player, iPod, MP3, internet, pager, Postal Service, UPS, FedEx, carrier pigeon or Pony Express.
You are bombarded daily with attempts to obtain your attention. Listen to the words of James F. Engel and Wilbert Norton in their book, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest? (1975) and Alvin Toffler in his book, Future Shock (1970):
Attempts to influence the individual come from all sides, and the result is an exceedingly high noise level that any given communicator can penetrate only with difficulty. People must, of necessity, develop defenses against these attempts at persuasion, or the consequences will be future shock –
…the distress, both physical and psychological, that arises from an overload of the human organism’s physical adaptive systems and its decision-making process. Put more simply, future shock is the human response to over-stimulation.
Paul clearly wanted the fellowship of other believers (Acts 20:4) but he knew he needed time alone with God without distraction to seek His will. Purpose to spend more time with God in the New Year.
The word tradition appears eleven times and traditions two times in the Bible. Eleven times the context is negative. The word means, The handing down of information, beliefs and customs; an inherited pattern of thought or action. In Matthew 15, Mark 7, Colossians 2, Galatians 1 and I Peter 1 the Bible warns against humanistic and religious traditions where they are referred to as “traditions of men”, those who “make the word of God of none effect by your traditions” and the “vain traditions” of ancestors. In II Thessalonians 2 and 3 you are commanded to follow the traditions delivered by the apostles in the New Testament. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. – II Thessalonians 2:15 Also, you are instructed to withdraw from the traditions of men, Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. – II Thessalonians 3:6
Humanistic and religious traditions find their source in the wisdom that James warns against as earthly in James 3. The Apostle Paul says this earthly wisdom robs you of that which is valuable. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. – Colossians 2:8 To spoil means to rob of that which is valuable. The traditions delivered to the New Testament saints are valuable because they are part of, …the wisdom that is from above... – James 3:17 If it is contrary to the Scriptures it is to be avoided, exposed and rebuked.
Nevertheless what saith the scripture? – Galatians 4:30
I know someone who jokingly says, “Wherever you go, there you are.” But, this is true of the two natures in the believer; the “old nature” and the “new nature”, and it’s no joke. When Nicodemus made his night visit to Jesus, Jesus said to him, "Except a man be born of water, and of the SPIRIT [Holy Spirit], he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God." (John 3:5) And He gave the reason why. For "that which is born of FLESH is FLESH; and that which is born of SPIRIT is SPIRIT." (John 3:6) Here we see two lines of HEREDITY. The "Flesh" line, and the "Spirit" line. The Scriptures speak of the first as the "Natural Man," and the second as the "Spiritual Man." (I Cor.2:14-15) You come into this world as the “Natural Man.” When you are saved (“born again”), the “Spiritual Man” is added. When the “new nature” goes somewhere, the “old nature” is there with him. The apostle Paul knew the “two men” well. Paul speaks of a conflict within him, a conflict between sin and righteousness. He said, “Now then it is no more I [new nature] that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me [old nature].” (Romans 7:17) The Two Natures are opposed to each other; fighting for the control of the same body like two tenants fighting for control of the same house. “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal.5:17) How do you win the battle? You must “feed” the "New Nature." “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” (I Pet.2:2)
Famed UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who led his teams through the years to 10 national championships, died last year at the age of 99. He was known for his words of wisdom. He said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts” and, “The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.”
The Bible says, Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? – I Corinthians 1:20. If God has made “foolish” the wisdom of this world, where can real wisdom be found? James said, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally...it shall be given him. – James 1:5.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge; the exercise of sound judgment. The promise in James is a general promise for all men. The Christian does not need to grope around in the dark hoping to somehow stumble upon the answer, James said, …it shall be given him. Every Christian should pray for wisdom because God promised to answer this prayer. One exception…no wisdom for the fool who despises it. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7
Wisdom is practical discernment that begins with fear of, and respect for, God. It leads to right living and results in increased ability to tell right from wrong. God is willing to give us wisdom, but we will be unable to receive it if our goals are self-centered instead of God-centered. To receive wisdom, we must read God’s word, ask how to obey it, and do what God instructs us to do.
There has been much debate since 2009 about societal responsibilities and obligations toward the unemployed, uninsured, and uneducated in our society. While many of those affected by economic downturns truly desire to work and can’t find employment, there are a number of U.S. citizens who have become generational welfare recipients, preferring to remain on the government dole. It is interesting to note that the biblical welfare system was a system of work (Leviticus 19:10, 23:22). The Bible is harsh in its condemnation of laziness; “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” (Proverbs 18:9). Health care, like food, is argued by some to be a basic human right. But God requires man to work for even his necessities; “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (II Thessalonians 3:10).
The origin of work is depicted in the book of Genesis. In the opening passage, God is the primary worker, busy with the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-15). God was the first to do work on the earth. Therefore, legitimate work reflects the activity of God. God created man in His image with characteristics like Him. (Genesis1:26-31). He created man to work with Him in the world. God planted a garden and put Adam in it to cultivate and maintain it (Genesis 2:8, 15).
The Fall of Man depicted in Genesis 3 generated a change in the nature of work. In response to Adam’s sin, God pronounced several judgments in Genesis 3:17-19, the most severe of which is death. God cursed the ground. Work became difficult. The word “toil” is used, implying challenge, difficulty, exhaustion, and struggle.
Work itself was still good, but man must expect that it will be accomplished by “the sweat of his brow.” Although God’s original design for work was perverted by sin, when Christ returns, God will restore work without the burdens that sin introduced (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 15:1-4, 22:1-11.)
The word worship first occurs in Genesis 22:5, And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. The word is derived from an Old English word that means, worthiness; it means to do reverence or homage (humble; humility) to a superior being. In Matthew 2 the wise men travel from the east to worship Christ (Mt.2:2, 11.) When Christ is temped by Satan in Matthew 4:10, He quotes the commandment to worship God, Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Worship can be illustrated in the following ways: (1) “The overflow of a grateful heart, under a sense of Divine favor.” Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil – Psalm 23:5, (2) “The outpouring of a soul at rest in the presence of God.” As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. – Song of Solomon 2:3-4 and (3) “Worship is the occupation of the heart, not with its needs, or even with its blessings, but with God Himself.” Wherefore thou art great, O LORD God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears. – II Samuel 7:22
The result of true worship is that God is glorified and the believer is blessed.