As we all get ready for the weekend wherever you may be we need to remember our charge given to us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit “to be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.” 2 Tim. 4:2. That charge is given to Timothy by the apostle Paul toward the end of his life and was to serve as a reminder to Timothy that in that generation there would be people who would leave the truth to listen to also teachers that would tailor their message to suit what they wanted to hear. In today’s generation we see even more false doctrine being taught than in the first century. We see though that if we do our part we will please God and that is the most important thing. It is necessary for us to be ready, though, that is what we should be as servants in the kingdom. If we are putting into practice the instruction that Paul gave Timothy then we will assemble with the saints on the first day of the week and start our week off the way a servant of God should and we will be ready both in season and out of season.
When we have friends, or loved ones, that are at the end of their journey on this mortal plane what emotion takes over? For me I am filled with sorrow for not being able to see that person anymore and share things with them. When I give it more consideration, though, I think I should feel differently. I am reminded that Paul said in his epistle to the Phillipians “For to me,to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:21. Later Paul writes “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Paul looked forward to the end of his life. This did not make him a suicidal nut or anything of the sort, rather it made him one who had a full scope of the big picture. He understood that this life is temporary and he planned to be with Christ when this life ended. In the Phillipian epistle Paul also writes in chapter 4 verses 6 and 7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”. We are reminded also of what Paul wrote to Timothy in chapter 4 of the second letter to Timothy and verses 6 through 8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Every day in this world someone passes from this life and they are mourned. It is right that we mourn. The Preacher in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verse 4 says “A time to weep, and a time to laugh, A time to mourn, and a time to dance.” There is a time for everything in this life. While we mourn let us remember that if these have the peace of a strong faithful relationship with God we don’t need to shed tears of sorrow. We need to see to it that we finish the race as Paul had and we can be with them again in Abraham’s bosom awaiting our final judgment and entry into our life eternal with our Father, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit and rejoice for all eternity with those who have gone on before. Let us all search for, and attain that peace that comes from serving God as we have been commanded in the New Testament.
I cannot speak to the schedule habits for those in the denominational world, but one thing I look forward to in the middle of the week as a New Testament Christian is the opportunity to be with my brothers and sisters in Christ to study the Bible and edify one another through song and prayer. It gives me a nice “pick-me-up” to finish the week. The encouraging thing about this is that I am with those of “like precious faith.” 2 Pet. 1:1. While not commanded by God the midweek study is one that allows us more time to commune with our Father and certainly that is something both He and we should enjoy. In coming together for this Bible study we accomplish something else as well we work on showing ourselves approved as Timothy was encouraged to do in 2 Timothy 2:15. We gain a better handle of the truth and we also become “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:17. If ever there was any area to become complete in it is this area of knowledge of God’s word. in doing so we set ourselves up to be able to attain that home which Jesus has gone to prepare for us as He noted in John 14:2-3. Have a blessed day in His service.
It is a bright sunny day here in west Texas and while this time of year is not a traditional harvest time we, as Christians, are to always think about whether we are bearing fruit or not. When we think about the topic of bearing fruit the Christian should consider John 15:1-8 as a passage that tells us what will happen to those branches that are unproductive. As we consider the topic, though, the question is what is bearing fruit? Is this determined by how many souls I bring to Christ? Is there some kind of tally board in heaven that says “he got his numbers, this one did not”. No that is not the case. To bear the “fruit of the Spirit” we need to be living our lives with the characteristics, or qualities, that are given to us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”. These are the qualities we should have in our life. Going back and considering John 15:1-8 we see that if we abide in Christ these qualities will easily and naturally reveal themselves. In having the qualities in our lives we show that we abide in Him. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5. If we choose not to abide in Jesus we have something else to look forward to. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” John15:6. As those whom Christ wants in His kingdom we have things to consider in our lives. If we do choose to abide in Christ we have waiting on us a home in heaven which Jesus said He has gone to prepare for us. “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I got to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3. Let us bear fruit everyday in our service to God!
On the 4th of July this nation celebrates our independence from England and this is a great celebration throughout the country. What I want to remind us of as we celebrate our country’s independence is our individual independence. Individually we were given the opportunity to be independent from sin when Jesus died on the cross and was risen the third day. We were in bondage to sin with no way to be released from those bonds and then our Savior went to the cross willingly and gave Himself that all might live. John 19:17-30 show the events involving the crucifixion of our Lord. You can also find accounts in Matthew chapter 27, and Mark chapter 15 and Luke chapter 23. My point in this short article is to remind us that we need to put as much effort into remembering our individual independence from sin granted by God and His Son Jesus as we do our nation’s independence. We are to remember our individual independence from sin each and every first day of the week in partaking of the Lord’s Supper. I encourage you to keep these thoughts in your mind today and every day as you walk through this life.
In our blog posts this week we have talked about issues that are affecting the direction this country is going. I wanted to write today about something we can do to help the future of this nation. What I want to discuss today is how we are raising our children. In light of our previous topics it is important to discuss this as they will face these issues for probably all their life where some of us will only deal with them for about half of ours. I am not here to tell you how to raise your kids. Some would say I have my own struggles and am not an authority on the subject and they would be right. I, like most fathers, struggle with my children from time to time, but it is important that we understand how God wants these little souls raised as He wants them to be with Him in heaven. How do we know that God wants them with Him in heaven. We see Jesus talk about this in Matthew 18:3 “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”. This is not the only passage where Jesus speaks of little children. In Matthew 19:14 Jesus says “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for such is the kingdom of heaven.” What Jesus means there is that we have to become innocent like little children to enter heaven and we do so by confessing Jesus as our Lord and being buried with Him in baptism and rising up a new man innocent of sin ready to walk with Him the rest of our days. It is important that we reach the hearts of our children with the word of God. The task is a difficult task in today’s society as well as we see many two-income families who hardly see their children and it makes it even harder for them to take the time to teach the truth to the souls that should matter the most to them. I know that was a challenge for my wife and I, until I became a full-time preacher. This charge of teaching our children falls to us as fathers. We see this in Eph. 6:4 “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” The challenge for us as parents is not to get frustrated with our children as we try to teach both through example and through words. It is how we show them we love them. In Matthew 25:35-46 we get a lesson from Jesus on how we should care for others. Our children are no different than any other soul out there. We need to be sure that we have taught them the truth and pray for it to sink into their heart and take root so that they can develop into the strong Christians the next generation will need to help fend off the “fiery darts of the wicked one.” Eph. 6:16. In doing this we also must make sure that we have not provoked our children to anger and wrath as Paul warned against in Ephesians chapter 6. It is a difficult balance and we should incorporate prayer in the effort and trust that God will help us be the parents He wants us to be and that He will open these hearts so His word can fill them up with the love for God that we have.
I have written in my last couple of blogs about religious freedom and asked the question “who is wise?”. I have done so to get the thought out to those who see and read these articles that there is a clear change in how God and His word are viewed in this country. President Obama, in announcing the Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, spoke of what a great step forward this country had taken in granting same-sex couples the right to have their “marriage” witnessed as legal in all 50 states. A giant step forward? I think we as a country may have just gone flying off the cliff like Thelma and Louise. Our leaders have in the past given lip-service to God, but now we have people making decisions that just fly in the face of what the Bible teaches and we are told to think of this nation as still a great nation. From the time of infants through our elementary years we are taught the creation story. We are told that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the seventh. We are told that He created light and darkness and separated them so that there was evening and morning. We are told that He created the heavens and the earth. We are told that God created land and sea and vegetation on the earth.That is ALL manner of vegetation. God created the sun and the moon “to govern the day and the night” Gen. 1:18. God created all the creatures of the water, the birds that fly in the air. God also instructed those to “be fruitful and multiply” Gen. 1:22. Then God made all the beasts of the field and He made man “in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Gen. 1:26. When God made man in His image He realized that “it is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” Gen. 2:18. Having realized this God puts Adam to sleep and took one of his ribs and fashioned a….? Was it a man or a woman that GOD determined was suitable for man. It was woman and in verse 24 of Genesis chapter 2 it is written “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” It does NOT talk of leaving his two mothers, or his two fathers. The institution of marriage was set here in the creation. One man and one woman. In the Bible I am reading from as I write this article these quotes are taken from pages 1-3. That is not very far into the Bible that this topic was addressed. The lack of wisdom spouted by these leaders today is unbelievable and at the same time believable. This is similar to the downfall of the Roman empire as it devolved, and yes devolved is the best term, in their sexual roles and relations and eventually were no more. So we in the United States of America can look forward to our own decline and eventual removal as a nation of influence in the world and we have this generation of leaders to thank for it. We always need to look to God for wisdom and strength. Consider James 3:13 “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”. Leaders today are not showing themselves to be wise or understanding of the things they need to be understanding of. Jesus says in Matthew 15:14 ” let them alone . They are the blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall in the ditch.”. This identifies what type of foolishness is revealed in this country on almost a daily basis. A blind man would be FOOLISH to follow a blind man. Likewise to allow ourselves to succumb to the “wisdom” of this generation would make us fools. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness….” Matthew 6:33.
In yesterday’s blog I addressed some of my thoughts on religious freedom in light of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages in all states. I referenced several passages that spoke clearly about how Christians should react to this in their everyday affairs.
Today, I want to ask and answer a question that parallels that conversation and that is “who is wise?”. The Bible answers this question for us. In Job 9:4 it is written “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?” The writer here answers succinctly one who is wise and implies that if man wishes to be considered wise not to harden our hearts against Him. In today’s world we do not live under the Old Law, or the Law of Moses, that should not keep us from looking at all the Holy Spirit has given us in the Bible.
It has been given us for several reasons. The Old Testament allows us to see the history of God’s people and where they fell short so that we might heed the warnings history gives us. We are also given insight into some of the wisdom of God. Proverbs 10:19 reads “in the multitude of words sin is not lacking,but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 12:15 reads “the way of a fool is right in his own eyes,but he who heeds counsel is wise.”. How does this flow with the Supreme Court you may ask. It flows in this manner, their decision teaches the edicts of Satan and hardens their collective heart against God. Not only the Judicial branch of the government also the Executive branch likes and endorses this decision.These are men who have had their hearts hardened against the truth of the Gospel. Men who use their “wisdom” to rule against God are not wise. James 3:13-16 reads “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy, and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.” James addresses earthly wisdom in this passage. This wisdom does not lead any to please God which, as Christians, is our primary focus. It leads another direction altogether. That direction is toward Satan. We need to seek wisdom from above and we do that in our study of God’s word. If we are to be wise we need to seek the counsel of God always in our affairs and encourage those around us to do likewise. In doing that we may be considered wise. If we do not seek the counsel of God then we are the fools that the write speaks of in Proverbs.We will be like the people James wrote about in the third chapter of his epistle. Who is wise? God and those who seek Him.
As I begin this week I have looked back at the Supreme Court’s decision last week regarding marriage and can’t help but come to the obvious conclusion that they completely missed on that. We live in a country that always speaks of the separation of church and state and now the high court has involved religion in the state. How am I, a full-time preacher, supposed to exercise my “religious freedom” if it disagrees with their decision. Well I take my counsel from the New Testament instead of this liberal court. Romans 13:1 and 1 Peter 2:13-17 speak about our responsibility in regards to the governments we live under. These passages encourage us to obey the laws of the land as that is part of our service to God. When we harmonize all of God’s counsel on this we see something else. 1 Corinthians 6:8-10 lists homosexuality as among those who are unrighteous and they will not have a home in heaven awaiting them. The latter part of Romans chapter one deals with this as well. In verse 27 it speaks of men “leaving the natural use of the woman, burn in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty their error which was due.” Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, gives us God’s feelings on this and we, as Christians, must first serve God. We see an example of this in Acts 5:29 when Peter says “we ought to obey God rather than men.” We must take our counsel from God and continue to teach against the practice of homosexuality and “watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” 1 Cor. 16:13