Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ category

Remember

August 30, 2015

“Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2015 is out, and the theme is Remember. I encourage you to read it here. (A new window will open when you click the link.)

Encouraging articles talk about God’s faithfulness, the hope we have in the salvation He offers, and how we should remember to trust Him.

One article handles the old saying “Forgive and forget” better than I’ve ever heard anyone else explain it. It’s likely not possible we can forget what someone has done to us, especially if the act is grievous. But with the Holy Spirit’s enabling, we can forgive and deal with the person as if he or she had not committed any wrong against us.

That’s good advice.

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Come to the New World

July 5, 2015

A conversation I had with my wife this morning brought to mind a novel I finished reading the other day. We had a discussion we have all too often about how things aren’t going to be OK.

I despise a glib attitude exhibited by too many Christians. The ideas are: Everything will be all right. All will be well with the world. God is in control.

OK, it’s true that God is in control. But he has given Satan plenty of latitude in this present world. And God allows things to happen that surely must not please Him.

For example, take the Old Testament account of Israel splitting into two nations–Israel in the north and Judah in the south. God said this would happen if His rulers and people did not follow Him. He couldn’t have been happy with what Israel did. Yet He allowed it to happen.

Today you and I are beset with tragedies of all kinds. Financial, health and family problems plague us in our everyday lives. They’re difficult burdens to bear. We’re deluded if we think things are OK. Yet God allows bad things to happen.

The U. S. has now legalized same sex marriage. Other gross immoralities will follow, and they’ll have consequences that will astound the average person.

Does this sound like things will be OK? Do we really think God is pleased? Nonetheless, it happens, and it is happening.

Yes, God is sovereign. But things will not be OK. They’re going to get worse and worse. That’s how the world operates.

So what’s the answer for you and me?

We must realize two things. We live in a sin-sick, cursed world. And America is dead.

The sooner we get over things like patriotism and confidence in this world, the better off we’ll be. Our allegiance and confidence are to be in the Lord.

The sooner we become unattached from this rotten world, the better. How can God fully use us if we’re centered on idealism about the human condition or the status of our once great nation?

Now, what does this have to do with the novel I mentioned above? Broadly speaking, it was about colonists who came to America. They came looking for new opportunities in a new world.

Shouldn’t we be thinking about the heavenly world we’ll be living in one day? It’s clear we don’t love that new world enough. If we did, we would be telling others how to get there. Shouldn’t we be inviting others to come to Christ and the new world He promises us?

Many of the old Negro spirituals had heaven in view. Do we have to become oppressed slaves before we get sick of this present world? That’s how it seems to me.

2 Timothy 2:3-4–
3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
4. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

Philippians 3:7-9, 13-15, 20-21–
7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:…
13. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you…
20. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:
21. Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Are You Smarter Than a Dolphin?

May 24, 2015

I can’t answer the question in the title. I can only make assumptions, which I trust are in your favor. But I do intend to mention dolphins and intelligence in a way I’ll bet you hadn’t thought of.

I read an article in the May 2015 issue of “National Geographic” which discussed the language abilities and intelligence of dolphins. One of the scientists quoted made a profound point.

This isn’t a direct quote, but here’s the idea. Rather than trying to figure out how smart dolphins are, we should find out how dolphins are smart.

I believe this is an attitude we should have toward people. You may know somebody who you think is a brick short of a load, so to speak. But do you know how that person is smart? What are his or her real talents and abilities?

The following selected verses from Romans 12 give guidance to born again believers in Christ.

3. For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith…. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;… 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Holiness Baptists?

April 26, 2015

For the past several weeks my wife and I have been regularly attending an Independent Baptist church. It’s a new church to us. People are friendly, and the atmosphere is welcoming. They’re old fashioned and sing all the old hymns. We’ve enjoyed the preaching. The Bible teaching is sound.

Last weekend my wife’s cousin came to visit us. He’s the one who’s wife died in November of 2013 at age 52 from a horrible case of cancer. He came down to visit her parents who are now in a rest home. Sunday morning, in deference to him, we went to the church where he and his wife attended.

That church is a Church of God Holiness church. They sing all the old hymns. No contemporary music. They’re a friendly group. The preaching wasn’t bad, but not as good as I’ve heard it the two or three other times we’ve been there over the years.

It occurred to me during the service that there are plenty of people in the pews at both the holiness church and the Baptist church who could be transplanted into either church, and they wouldn’t know the difference. So many in the pews of these churches don’t know enough Bible truth to discern between the two churches.

While there are a few outward differences in how the two churches conduct their services, both are a throw back to an earlier time. That in itself has a certain appeal for many.

Maybe I’m underestimating the respective congregants, but I think not. Maybe I’m being too critical, but it’s frustrating and disturbing to me that so few Christians have the wisdom and discernment to be where truth is taught and avoid error. It makes a big diference in how we live our daily lives.

But then another thought came to me. I imagined Jesus looking out over a large crowd. What must He have thought?

Matthew 9:36–But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

On Being a Doer

February 15, 2015

From time to time I link to “Moments for You” because it’s an excellent little publication. It’s available in print if you want to get it that way, but the current issue for the first quarter of 2015 is online now, and I encourage you to take time to read the brief, thought provoking articles. The theme is “Being a Doer.” It sheds light on how we can best serve Our Lord and follow His Word. Find it here.

God Doesn’t Play Fair

February 8, 2015

There’s an amazing passage in 1 Kings 22. First. let me set up a little background.

Ahab was an evil king who ruled Israel, where the northern 10 tribes of the Jews resided. Jehoshaphat was king over the tribes in the southern part of the land called Judah. Ahab called on Jehoshaphat to go into battle with him against the Syrians.

Ahab called 400 prophets together to give him affirmation as to the outcome of the battle. All said he should go up, and he would be successful. Only one disagreed. That was Micaiah. He was the only one who told the truth.

But let’s take a step back for a bit. Near the end of 1 Kings 21, the prophet Elijah told King Ahab he was going to die, and none of his heirs would rule. Ahab was killed in battle, as described in chapter 22, and the rest of God’s prophecy about his heirs came true later.

Now to the amazing passage. Here’s part of what Micaiah told Ahab, Joshephat and all those gathered together before the battle.

1 Kings 22:19-23–
19. And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
20. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
21. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
22. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persude him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
23. Now therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee.

Isn’t this startling?

God Himself allowed a lying spirit to speak through the majority of the prophets who encouraged Ahab to go into battle. We would assume prophets would be wise and truthful as spokesmen from God, wouldn’t we? But God didn’t have it that way in this instance. He used them to direct Ahab into battle and to his death, as foretold by Elijah.

Think about that. God put a lying spirit into the mouths of those prophets.

Now recall the story of Job. Isn’t it astounding that God allows the devil to have his way with him? We can’t help but wonder why, when Job was such a righteous man.

We think of God as holy, perfect and righteous. And He is. But we have to stand back and realize He doesn’t play by our rules or our conception of Him.

Think of how many times Jesus told parables which, in reality, disguised the truth, except to those disciples He revealed it to.

How many times have you heard someone say, “There are many ways to interpret the Bible” Let’s face it. The Bible can be a confusing book, full of strange stories, seeming contradictions and uncertainties.

Of course, I believe that’s all the more reason we should study it to understand what it really says.

I read a book a number of years ago about the history of church denominations in the U.S. I came away with the impression that every denomination picked a favorite Scripture passage and ran with it to create its own distinctives.

Think of how much lying and false preaching there is out there today. Even the so-called good preachers get things wrong.

How in the world is anybody supposed to get the whole truth of God’s counsel?

The other day an acquaintance e-mailed me with links to articles about how the president is deliberately carrying out deeds that damage America, rather than build it up. He was indignant. I understand where he’s coming from, but I replied that this may be happening because America has forsaken God, and we (collectively) get what we deserve. I don’t like it, and I wish things were different.

I’m sick of this world’s evils. It’s sometimes overwhelming. I try to live a righteous life, but sometimes it all seems so futile.

It’s distressing to me that so much of our present reality is based on fairy tales. For example, nearly everyone believes the government’s official story of 9/11. Our country has gone to war in many places as a result. The war on terror is phony and meant to take away our freedoms and give power to evil elites. But who sees things as they really are?

Yet it seems God would have it this way. This is a prelude to a time when the Holy Spirit will be pulled back from the earth and people will be sent strong delusion. Considering the delusion we’re living under today, I can’t help but wonder how strong that future delusion must be.

But look what the Scriptures say is the reason for this coming delusion, particularly verses 11-12 in the following passage.

2 Thessalonians 2:8-12–
8. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12. That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

God doesn’t play fair. At least not according to our standards. Perhaps our standards are amiss somewhere, no matter how righteous we think they are. As I’ve heard it said, it’s His universe, and He can do whatever He wishes. And He will because He does things for His glory. That’s not always something we understand or appreciate.

I acknowledge that I must remember what God says in Isaiah 55.

Isaiah 55:8-11–
8. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:
11. So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

I admit. I find God’s ways perplexing, and I wish He would straighten out everything right now. But, alas, it isn’t to be until His people are together with Him in Glory. He’ll set all things right, and I believe He’ll explain it all to us. As J. Vernon McGee has said, the Bible will seem like an ABC book when He teaches us.

I can hardly wait. How about you?

Something You Don’t Have to be Ashamed of

January 18, 2015

A few weeks ago my wife had two children she was babysitting with her in the car when one of them started singing along with a song that came on the radio. A popular soft rock station was tuned in, and my wife was appalled by what the young girl was singing. But the girl said her mom lets them sing to that song all the time.

The children are from a Christian family, but the parents are divorced. My wife didn’t want to be a bad influence on them by what she was listening to. She had an attack of conscience, and she wondered if she should be listening to such questionable material herself.

Since then, she has listened to one of the contemporary Christian music stations in our area. Not ideal as I see it, but it’s at least a better alternative.

It’s the matter of conscience I want to follow up on in my thoughts for today. I read a book called The Vanishing Conscience, written about 20 years ago by John MacArthur. He had much to say about the need for those of us who are believers in Christ to live our lives in such a way that we can have a pure and clean conscience.

He cited several verses from Paul. I’ll mention just two here. I Timothy 1:5 says: Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: The first part of 2 Timothy 1:3 says: I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience…

It’s so easy to enjoy what the world enjoys and dismiss it as something that can’t get to us. We take the attitude that we’re sanctified, after all, and the world is just the world, and it’s going to do whatever it does. Besides, we’re in the world, not of it.

Yet, as helpful as our conscience can be, MacArthur points out, our conscience is like a sky light, not a light bulb. It lets in light and doesn’t originate it. Our conscience can be shaped by what we choose to put into it or by what we choose to ignore and overlook. Thus, it’s important to steep ourselves in God’s holy word.

Somewhere along the way, MacArthur mentioned Romans 1:16-17, which says:For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

I now see this passage in a new light. Let me explain.

When I hear preachers quote this passage, I hear a guilt trip being laid on me and his other hearers. It’s as if he’s saying, “Paul was not only not ashamed of the gospel, but he was proud of it. You should be, too. What’s more, not being ashamed of the gospel motivated Paul to witness to thousands, and you should go out and do that, too.”

Sorry, but that doesn’t help me be a better witness.

Here’s what makes more sense to me. There are so many things that bring shame to our lives, if our conscience isn’t dulled or stamped out. Singing along to filthy music should be one. Using profanity is another. (Guilty as charged on both counts.) Or how about drinking too much wine at the company Christmas party?

Those are little things perhaps, but the idea is that the gospel of Christ isn’t like those things. It isn’t something that brings us shame.

Paul wanted to live life with a pure conscience before man and God. If anybody knew about things to be ashamed of, he was the one. After all, he had killed Christians. In 1 Timothy 1:15 he refers to himself as the chief of sinners. He knew how to put things in proper perspective. That’s why he could indeed say without reservation, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.”

Isn’t that a more attractive way to see Romans 16-17? It is for me.

Want to do something that’s clean and wholesome? Get immersed in God’s word. Then share the gospel with others. It’s nothing you have to be ashamed of.