Archive for the ‘Christian Life’ category

True Liberty

September 4, 2016

The theme of “Moments for You” for the third quarter of 2016 is liberty. View it here.

Specifically, articles deal with the Christian’s liberty in Christ. We have freedom to do–and not do–many things. But we must understand who we are in Christ and what God’s grace has done for us.

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The Good Samaritan – Have We Gotten it Wrong?

May 22, 2016

Luke 10:25-37–
25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26. He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28.And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34.And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

No doubt you’ve heard sermons preached on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Usually they’re about how we should be a good neighbor, or they raise the question of who our neighbor is.

It’s those messages on being a good neighbor which hit the mark.

It pains me to admit this because too many sermons about being a good neighbor and doing good to others have left out the Gospel. Anyone can do good to others, but it’s been said that the devil wants us to do good–without Christ.

But back to the Scripture passage quoted above. It starts with a lawyer asking Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Rather than answering directly, Jesus quizzed him on how well he knew the law.

In turn the lawyer quoted the top two commandments of greatest importance. Jesus assured him his answer was correct. It was well that he knew truth. All he had to do was live up to what he knew to be right.

But that wasn’t good enough for the lawyer. Apparently he thought knowing the law was enough to get him by. So he focused on a technicality and asked Jesus who his neighbor was. Who was it that he was supposed to love as he loved himself.

Rather than give the lawyer a direct answer, Jesus told a parable. Two prominent Jewish religious leaders didn’t help the man who had been victimized and left for dead. Like the lawyer Jesus was speaking to, the leaders in the parable knew the law well.

It was a Samaritan–despised by the Jews–who showed compassion and helped the wounded man. Most likely he wasn’t a scholar of the law.

Jesus asked the lawyer who the neighbor was. The lawyer knew right away it was the Samaritan–the one who showed mercy. Jesus told him he should do likewise.

The bottom line? The lawyer’s understanding of the law needed to be acted upon. It wasn’t enough to know the law. The whole message of the law was to love God to the utmost and love others as much as we love ourselves.

We can debate all we want about who our neighbor might be. But I believe Jesus deliberately didn’t answer that question. His emphasis was on telling the lawyer that he needed to be the neighborly one.

Never mind the fact that the Samaritan was not someone the lawyer would have wanted to emulate. Jesus taught His lesson in a poignant way to drive the message home.

A few other Scriptures reinforce the lesson for us today.

Micah 6:8–He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Romans 12:18–If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Galatians 6:10–As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

It’s About Worship

February 21, 2016

The issue of Moments for You for the first quarter of 2016 is available. The theme is worship.

I enjoy this quarterly magazine, and I hope you’ll appreciate the issue linked above. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing online.

God Makes Things Simple

January 31, 2016

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Yet God makes things simple.

The message of the Gospel is simple. It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

3.For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4.And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:…

Many believe we must do good works to earn our salvation. Would you believe Jesus says that’s true? According to Jesus in John 6:29, all we have to do is believe in Him. How simple is that?

28.Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29.Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

Here’s how simple God makes believing. According to Ephesians 2:8-9, He gives you and me the ability to believe.

8. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9.Not of works, lest any man should boast.

It’s the grace of God that leads Him to give you and me the faith to believe on Him for salvation. That faith doesn’t come from something you or I stir up.

But it doesn’t stop there. That faith goes well beyond salvation. According to Romans 10:17, it grows as we grow in the knowledge of His word.

17. So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The Christian walk is a forward walk, according to 2 Peter 1:5-8.

5.And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6.And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7.And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8.For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God makes things so simple that He gives us the Holy Spirit to enable us to walk in His ways, according to Romans 8:14-16, 26-27.

14.For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15.For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16.The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:…
26.Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27.And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Because He makes things simple, simply trust Him.

The Nine and the One

November 29, 2015

Luke 17:11-19–
11. And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13. And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15.And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16. And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18. There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

The Sunday before Thanksgiving our pastor preached from Luke 17:11-19 on the need for us to be thankful, like the one leper out of ten who came back to give thanks to Jesus. His message prompted a couple of thoughts I’d like to share with you.

When the lepers cried out for Jesus to have mercy on them, He told them to go show themselves to the priest. According to Leviticus 13, there were several reasons those with skin diseases should show themselves to the priest. Jesus wasn’t asking anything unusual of these men.

Had they been to the priest before? We don’t know, but it’s possible they may have been, since they kept their distance, knowing they were unclean.

Notice they obeyed Jesus’ command. They had enough faith to follow His word. And their obedience was rewarded. They were cleansed–healed physically and no longer unclean.

Did they have any idea that would happen? We’re not told in the passage. Jesus hadn’t promised them anything.

I see an important principle here. The lepers obeyed and were rewarded with something they may not have anticipated. So it is with us. God’s word doesn’t always tell us everything we think we ought to know. Nonetheless, when we obey His word by faith, we are rewarded, perhaps with something good we hadn’t expected. Perhaps, like the lepers, we’ll get it sooner than expected as well.

Now comes the critical part–gratitude.

Nine of the lepers kept going on their way to the priest. The tenth turned around, raised his voice to glorify God, and bowed in worshipful thanks to Jesus.

Notice the passage mentions he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and Jews didn’t want anything to do with each other. Jesus Himself referred to this man as a stranger.

Keep in mind, we who are believers in Christ were once strangers, spiritually speaking.

Perhaps it was leprosy that brought Nine Jews and a Samaritan together in a common bond because no one else would have them. Adversity can make strange companions.

Yet it was this Samaritan who showed his thankfulness to Jesus. And he was rewarded for it. Jesus told him his faith had made him whole.

Hadn’t the others exercised faith, too? They obeyed Jesus’ words, didn’t they?

But it was only the one who gave glory to God and showed gratitude. Perhaps it’s safe to assume he was not only healed physically, as were the others; but he was healed spiritually, too. In other words, Jesus gave him salvation.

Shouldn’t we be like that one leper?

Where Are the Other Nine? – Geoff Moore

They Don’t Really Hate Us…Do They?

September 27, 2015

John 15:18-27–
18. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
20. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
21. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.
23.He that hateth me hateth my Father also.
24.If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.
25. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.
26. But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27. And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.

The verses quoted above are the words of Jesus to His disciples the night before His crucifiction. I don’t think we who are believers in Christ give them enough traction in our lives.

We’ve got it too easy in America. We’re fat and prosperous. We do our best to get along with everybody, overlooking faults and pretending they don’t exist. Christians rush to cozy up to the world, supposedly to be relevant and win some to Christ.

By the way, how’s that working out?

As my late friend Gerald Franz observed, when you stick a white glove in the mud, you get a muddy glove, not glovey mud.

Don’t get me wrong. We do need to get out the Gospel.

Nonetheless, we’re lulled to sleep and don’t see the hate the world has for Christians. Or we’re prone to overlook it.

Why? Consider a phrase in verse 20 of the passage above. It says, “If they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.”

Yes, sometimes the world quotes Scripture. Or at least they say the right things and do many good deeds.

Oh, sure, we hear about persecution now and then, such as the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for not granting marriage licenses to homosexuals. But for the most part, we’ve got it pretty good.

We know we’re at variance with the world on many things, but they don’t really hate us, do they? If they do, they’re being nice about it, aren’t they?

Maybe. So far. At least in America.

But you can’t turn on the radio or TV without being bombarded by the world’s views. It’s easy to see what’s in their hearts. And it’s not friendly toward Christians.

How many TV shows are prohomosexual and ram it down our throats. This is supposed to be great entertainment, after all, and we’re supposed to lap it up.

How many discussions on science have you heard or read that take a totally proevolutionary stance? Nearly always Christians are portrayed as narrow minded and stupid. After all, science knows the truth.

I enjoy reading science fiction stories. Yes, I admit, they can be quite antiGod. And that makes them less enjoyable. I may read less of it in the future, because the antiChristian attitude becomes more blatant all the time.

I was going to give you an example and summarize one such story I read the other day, but I’ve decided not to dignify it. I think you get my point.

We’re immersed in what the world has to offer. That seems natural I suppose because we do live here. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking the world doesn’t hate our Savior and Lord. And it extends that loathing toward us, too.

Right now we coexist relatively peacefully. It may not always be so. Therefore, as the Scriptures admonish in a number of places, let’s encourage and edify one another as believers as we see the last days and their perils rolling toward us.

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.