It Is Right And It Is Truth

For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth. (Psalm 33:4)

It Is Right And It is Truth

When a thing is right, it is a matter that conforms to unalterable facts. It is genuine and real. Truth is along the same lines as what is right as the foundation of real and factual. The elements of being right and truth conform to the authority of the one who establishes what is right and true. In sports, delegating organizations establish rules that apply to football, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc., individually. Governments pass laws directing which side of the road to drive on and penalties for breaking the laws. A body of truth is how the authorities delegate and regulate the letter of the law. What is right is determined by the precedent of the governing authorities. This is all true except for how men view the word of God.

The Bible is the mind of God revealed to humanity for understanding, guidance, direction, and knowing the will of the Lord. From the Garden of Eden, Satan has challenged the truth of God by suggesting the question, “Has God indeed said?” His ploy has been successfully used against the word of God as men refuse to obey the commands of the Lord. Moses wrote the law down for the people of Israel to read, but they still disobeyed. Jesus taught for nearly three years the will of His Father, and the Jews rejected and killed Him. After two thousand years, the Bible is still viewed with suspicion and distrust, and religions pick and choose which parts of the Bible they will accept. Sadly, while the Bible is the most prolific book in history, it is the least read and understood.

God’s word is right. There is no deviation from this principle. It’s not right about some things; it is right about everything. What makes people uncomfortable with the word of God is that it invades every part of life and demands recognition. Man desires to establish his own code of what is right so that he can enjoy the pleasures of sin. If he calls evil good and calls light darkness, he feels good. Calling evil good does not make good evil, and trying to change the light to darkness does not diminish the light. God’s word is right all the time, and it is unchanging. No man can change the word of God without permission from God – and that will never happen.

Truth comes from the body of what is right. If God’s word is right, His word is truth. The measure of truth is determined by establishing the body of law determining what is right and wrong. This becomes the truth. God’s word is true because everything God says is right, just, perfect, everlasting, and represents the only truth that will bring man happiness. Sin is rebellion against God’s truth and always (without exception) fails to get the pleasure expected. The truth of God is the right way and the only way to find happiness. Mixing the truth of man with the truth of God denies the righteousness of the Lord. Truth is pure. It comes only from what is right in the eyes of God. What is right is what God says is right, which establishes the only truth that will save a man. To reject what is right is to deny truth. Believing the righteousness of God will bring the heart of man to the truth of righteousness and salvation.

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Glorifying God In Me

Afterward, I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” And they glorified God in me. (Galatians 1:21-24)

Glorifying God In Me

Saul of Tarsus was a driving force against the church of Christ as he sought to destroy all remnants of the early church. He went everywhere to destroy those of the Way. The authority given to him by the high priest in Jerusalem was sweeping in its reach to destroy all those who professed Jesus Christ as Lord. No laws were protecting the Christians from Saul barraging into their homes without provocation, arresting people, and committing them to prison. He was not sympathetic to men or women. The threats of Saul’s persecution reached a fever pitch of threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. Many of the Christians in Jerusalem were thrown into prison. Saul cast his vote to have Christians executed. He forced followers of Christ to blaspheme God. His wrath against the church was so intense he persecuted them to foreign cities. Saul did a lot of harmful things against the Lord’s church. All the disciples feared him.

On a trip to Damascus to arrest Christians, the Lord met Saul on the road and changed his life. In the mind of God, Saul was a chosen vessel to bear His name to the world, including kings and the children of Israel. The Lord told Saul to go into the city and wait. Three days later, Ananias comes to the house where Saul has been staying and baptizing him for the remission of his sins. Saul immediately begins to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ and to preach its message with great zeal. The Jews plotted to kill Saul, but he escaped. Coming to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were terrified of him. Barnabas brought him to the apostles and declared to them how Saul had become a disciple of Christ. Saul was accepted as a follower of Christ.

Much of the work of Saul, who would later be called Paul, was in the region of Galatia and other parts of Asia Minor. Writing to the churches in Galatia, Paul recounted the story of his conversion. He was unknown to the churches of Judea, and the brethren were afraid of him because of his past. The people were puzzled because the one who used to persecute them was now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy. This did not cause them to shrink back from him but to embrace him. Paul said that people glorified God in him because of his life and his willingness to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s life was a testimony to the abundant grace of God and His love for a man who called himself a chief sinner. No one would have imagined that Saul of Tarsus would become one of the staunchest defenders of the faith. Saul was not at the top of the list of possible candidates for a Bible study. He would not have been someone a Christian tried to approach with a tract or an invitation to worship services. Even Ananias was scared to go and see Saul and this came from the request of the Lord. His faith overcame his fears, and he went. What an amazing scene when Ananias walked into the room where Saul, the great destroyer of the church, sat hungry and blind, and soon after, Ananias lifted him out of the waters of baptism. God’s grace is so compelling.

The story of Saul’s conversion serves a purpose. That purpose is to show the glory of God’s grace. Paul said the disciples glorified God in his story. His conversion was a remarkable event. The least likely person in the world answered the gospel call. God washed away the sins of Paul in the waters of baptism, and the early Christians glorified God for His grace. His conversion story was a hallmark for all the early saints to teach the lost – and those who seemed really lost. Stories that Paul abound in the church today. It seems hard to imagine a Moslem obeying the gospel, but my son-in-law did. God is glorified by his willingness to accept the gospel of Christ as true. Stories abound of prostitutes, drug users, drunks, immoral and ungodly people hearing the gospel of Christ and obeying the word in baptism. Their stories glorify God. How did you learn the truth? Let your story of conversion glorify God. The church needs to hear those stories.

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Spirit Fruit: Longsuffering

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Spirit Fruit: Longsuffering

With each passing day, the world becomes a little older and its history longer. Known historical records date somewhere beyond five thousand years. While this seems infinitesimal to the staggering billions of years suggested by those who deny God, the span of man’s history is small compared to the eternal landscape stretching out before and after the existence of humanity. During this short time, God created the world, destroyed the world save eight souls, and has permitted humanity to engage in wars, destruction, wickedness, and for the majority of souls, deny the existence of God. Most of the world refuses to follow the teaching of the Lord. Many people follow other gods. All in all, the world has no desire to believe in or follow the grace of God. And yet, the world continues for a time.

Longsuffering is when love suffers long. The longsuffering of God is to understand how He allows the world to continue in the face of the world’s hatred of Him. He does not act according to the whims of human wisdom that would destroy the universe if given a chance. God’s love is beyond the comprehension of carnal men who thrive on personal pride. The love of God allows time to continue giving men an opportunity to find Him. If the wickedness of men were the gauge to destroy the world, it would have been destroyed long ago. Long-mindedness is where the Creator bears with the frailties and provocations of men. It is to this kind of love, the fruit of the Spirit implores the child of God to show longsuffering to others.

Life is filled with troubles and difficulties. It can be unfair and unjust at times. The fruit of the Spirit instills in the heart of a Christian the calm patience to endure the inequities of life, knowing that God sees and cares for His children. Longsuffering changes the outlook of life because the ‘up-look’ of life comes from the Holy Spirit. The world can only see despair, hatred, prejudice, misery, and life as a single moment with nothing beyond. For the Christian, life is about loving the unlovable, helping the defenseless, and praying for their enemies. David Lipscomb writes, “Love leads the Christian to bear with the mistakes and wrongs that grow out of weaknesses, infirmities, and evil designs of others.”

Longsuffering is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and its full worth cannot come but through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Human wisdom does not understand longsuffering. Without the divine morsel of patience, the Christian becomes like the world. It is a strong passion that brings men like Paul and Silas to sing in prison or for Peter to be awakened from a sound sleep with a death sentence hanging over him. Longsuffering is the love of Paul writing to the church at Corinth with all of its problems. Jesus gave an eternal example of longsuffering with His willing sacrifice on the cross. The church of Christ needs to be filled with longsuffering saints who look out for others more than themselves. This is how the Holy Spirit dwells in the child of God.

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Shine, Sweep, Seek, And Sing

Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!” Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:8-10)

Shine, Sweep, Seek, And Sing

Jesus tells a story about a woman who had ten silver coins. These coins were valuable to her as she cherished them for her livelihood and security. Imagine the horror when she realizes that one of her coins is missing. Frantically, she begins seeking her lost coin. It is not a matter of greed she seeks the coin. Losing the coin is misplacing a thing of great worth and value to her. It brings with it enumerable blessings that would not be possible if the coin is lost. A wealthy man may look at the loss as part of doing business. Losing ten percent is not desired, but those who can endure such loss will not seek one lost coin. The woman is desperately seeking the coin because of its value. How she seeks the coin shows the importance of great value and the limits she will go to find one lost coin.

The first thing she needs is light. Finding her lamp, the woman lights the oil lamp to look under the table, in the dark corners, and all the places in her home the coin may be. The worth of the coin demands shining light throughout the house. Without the light, she would probably miss the coin and lose it forever. Oil is expensive for this woman, but she uses her valuable oil to find something of greater value. It becomes a sacrifice to being the search, but she is undaunted.

One of the common problems in any home is the clutter and dust accumulated over time. Finding a lamp to give light to the room, the woman begins sweeping the floor seeking the lost coin. She sweeps the house. All of the house. There is not a corner left that is not swept. It takes work to sweep the whole house, but she is diligent in taking whatever measures are necessary to find the lost coin. Sweeping is work, and the woman puts her hand to the task.

With the lamp shining brightly and the room well swept, the woman seeks for the lost coin. Her efforts are focused on one single purpose: find the one coin. She has treasured the nine coins, but she must find the one lost coin. After exhaustive searching, the coin is found. It matters not where the coin is found. Rather, the story reflects the worth of the coin and the extent of effort the woman puts forth to find just one lost coin. She cannot afford to lose one coin. The ten coins mean more to her than anything. She lights a lamp to SHINE a way to find the coin and SWEEPS the whole house so that she can SEEK for her one lost coin. Her efforts pay off, and the coin is found.

The joy of finding one coin can be lost on those who have many coins. What the woman does is remarkable as she shares the tale of the lost coin with others. She brings her friends and neighbors into her home to celebrate a single coin that was lost and joyfully found. Did her friends understand how important the coin was? Could they have laughed behind her back for making such a huge production over one lost coin? One thing was sure in the woman’s mind, and that was the worth of the one lost coin and the extensive efforts she was willing to go in finding that lost coin. She shone, she swept, she sought, and then she sang. Her joy was finding the one coin. Its value was beyond measure. Her efforts were rewarded with joy.

Jesus tells the parable of the lost coin to show the intense desire of the Father to save a lost soul. Everyone matters to God, and not one lost soul is pleasing to the Father. The other parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son illustrate the grace and mercy of God for His people. But there is also a beautiful story of a woman who realized the worth and value of one coin. She had nine other coins, but she was not satisfied until she had the one lost coin. There was a lot of work to be done to find the one coin, and she was willing to expend whatever energies necessary to find the one coin. She lit a lamp to shine light throughout the house. Her hand took to the broom to sweep the house, removing those things that hindered her search. After cleaning the house, she looked for the coin. She knew the coin would not just suddenly appear on its own. The woman had to seek the lost coin. When the coin was found, she sang with rejoicing.

God does not want anyone to be lost. The value of a lost soul is the great lesson in the parable for those willing to light a lamp (shine), sweep, seek and sing when a friend, coworker, spouse, or stranger obeys the gospel. A Christian should let his light shine and keep his heart and mind swept clean of the world so they will have a heart of seeking the lost. When the light of Christ shines in the heart of a child of God who lives a holy life, they will desire to find lost souls and bring them to the Lord. Then the rejoicing will take place. Shine – sweep – seek – and sing. Glory to God for the salvation of ONE soul.

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What The King Learned

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. (Daniel 4:37)

What The King Learned

The world has always had great nations exerting supreme power over the affairs of men. From its early days, the nation of Egypt was one of the most powerful nations on earth. The Chinese dynasties ruled for nearly three thousand years with their zenith during the Qin Dynasty. One of the largest empires to rule over much of the world was the British Empire. Other nations rose to great prominence like the Roman, Spanish, German, Inca, Soviet Union (USSR), and a host of other empires that ruled. In the history of the nation of Israel, the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered God’s people through His divine will. Following the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman Empires, the Kingdom of God was established on the day of Pentecost.

One common factor is found in all of the empires and nations that have ruled the world. Almost all have disappeared on the pages of a long-forgotten history. All that remains are the remnants of a once proud and powerful people. There are nations today seeking their place on the stage of world affairs and, for a time, will exert great influence. History is the great teacher of what happens tomorrow if the student of today will take notice. Pride lifts a nation to great glory, but that pride will also be their destruction. Since the building of the tower of Babel, the history of mankind is measured by the habitation of the Lord restricting the spread of global domination by any people. What God has established as the borders of any nation will not change.

During the captivity of Israel, Babylon exercised world dominance under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar. Among the captives brought from Judah, a young man named Daniel served in the King’s palace. After a troubling dream that no one could explain, Nebuchadnezzar sought the counsel of Daniel to tell its meaning. With great courage to speak plainly to the most powerful man on earth, Daniel told King Nebuchadnezzar that his pride would be his downfall. One year later, as the King was walking among the splendor of Babylon, a proud heart proclaimed the great achievements of Nebuchadnezzar. The Lord drove the King from man, and Nebuchadnezzar ate grass like oxen, and he lived in the wild. His hair grew like eagles feathers, and his nails like birds claws.

At the end of the time, the Lord brought the humbled King back to his throne. The experience changed the heart of Nebuchadnezzar, and he proclaimed the glory of the Most High and praised and honored the Lord who lives forever. His final statement was praise and extolling and honoring the King of heaven. The King had come to know who rules in the affairs of men. He realized as great as his kingdom and as powerful a man he was among men; God was greater. The King also recognized the work of God was the truth, and all of the ways of the Lord are right. It was a hard lesson for Nebuchadnezzar to learn, but he realized all men who walk in pride, God is able to put down. The angels are amused at the pride of men. There is nothing that man has done that warrants glory. Pride is a destructive spirit that only destroys. There are men and women who exercise great power in world affairs either in politics, business, social and global influence, but all are made in the similitude of Nebuchadnezzar. Their time of greatness will be short-lived. Those who exalt themselves in pride will be brought low. Angels laugh at the arrogant hearts that seek to elevate themselves above their habitation. Man is made a little lower than the angels, and this will never change. When men begin to think of themselves as gods, the heavens shout with laughter. Those who walk in pride will be put down—all of them

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Jesus Taught Baptism

After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. (John 3:22)

Jesus Taught Baptism

The religious world denies salvation by baptism. Very few people who believe in Jesus Christ will affirm that baptism has anything to do with salvation, teaching a faith-only doctrine of redemption. They will cite the “Sinner’s prayer” as the means of washing away sins. Accepting Jesus as a personal Savior is how many believe a person becomes a child of God. Protestant churches deny baptism as essential. They teach a person can receive eternal life without baptism. For example, it is stated in the Hiscox Standard Manual for Baptist Churches that “Baptism is not essential to salvation, for our churches utterly repudiate the dogma of ‘baptismal regeneration; but it is essential to obedience since Christ has commanded it.” The Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches teach justification by faith alone. For the most part, the religious world denies baptism can save.

Followers of Jesus Christ are people who abide by the teaching of Jesus Christ. It is remarkable (and sad) that so many religious folks dedicate their lives to serving the Lord and denying what He does and what He teaches. Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. His baptism was not to wash away sin but to fulfill all righteousness. God the Father accepted what Jesus did as part of the divine plan when He spoke from Heaven that He was pleased with the baptism of Jesus. If baptism was not an essential part of the coming kingdom, why did Jesus go into the land of Judea and baptize? It seems incredulous that followers of Christ would deny something Jesus preached regularly during His ministry.

Many believed Jesus to be the Son of God but refused to give their allegiance to Him lest they fall out of favor with men. Many of the Pharisees and lawyers who heard the teaching of Jesus rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by John the Baptist. They denied it had anything to do with salvation. Holding fast to the Law, they rejected the teaching of Jesus and the prophetic word of John the Baptist. It does not seem remarkable the attitudes of the Pharisees and lawyers remain today for those who firmly deny the essential nature of baptism for salvation. And yet, Jesus went into Judea, and many were baptized.

The moment of salvation is a crucial part of a person’s life. It is the single moment in time when the soul darkened by the stain of sin is washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. Through the grace, mercy, and love of a kind Father, redemption is granted that places a person into a covenant with God for eternal life. That moment is not when a person accepts Christ as their personal Savior. It is not the moment a good feeling comes over a person. The eternal moment in a person’s life that grants him acceptance into the body of Christ is when they are baptized in water for the remission of their sins. Not a moment sooner. There is no hope of salvation without Biblical baptism (immersion; not pouring or sprinkling or infant baptism). The final words of Jesus to the eleven were unambiguous and demonstrative: if a person believes and is baptized, they will be saved. If they do not believe and refuse to accept baptism as essential for salvation, they will be lost to perdition. Jesus taught baptism throughout His ministry and left the Father’s word for all those who seek eternal life to obey His command. Baptism is essential. Jesus said so.

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My Message Is Not Mine

Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. (John 7:16-18)

My Message Is Not Mine

The gospel of Jesus Christ has been taught for two millennia, yet most people have refused to follow His teaching. God has revealed the message of salvation in clear language that all men from all ages and all walks of life can read and understand. There is unity in the teaching of Christ. The Bible is the most prolific book in history and the least read and accepted. Many books have been written contradicting the Bible establishing man-made churches and teaching doctrines never found within the pages of God’s word. The problem does not come from the Bible but the pride of men who seek their own glory desiring to establish doctrines that fit their wisdom.

Jesus faced criticism when He taught the multitudes because He was not trained in the schools of the Jewish world. He was a carpenter’s son of no significant importance from a backwater town in Galilee. Yet His teaching was convicting, powerful, and no man could trap Him in His speech. What made the message of Jesus convincing was that it came from the mouth of God. His doctrine was not the doctrine of Jesus but the word of God. His Father had sent Him on a mission to preach the message of hope. Everything Jesus did and all the words He taught the people came from His Father. Like the people of Berea during the early days of the church, men could search the scriptures and find everything Jesus taught was from the word of God. There was no contradiction. Jesus taught the word of the Father.

If a man wants to do the will of the Father, He will realize what Jesus is saying is the word of God. He will know if what is being taught is from God or not by testing the message with the written word. Authority comes from speaking what is established. It is necessary to verify authority and Jesus taught the multitudes in accordance with the law of God. When a man investigated the scriptures and compared the teaching of Jesus, they would find harmony. The simple effort of comparing the words of Jesus with the words of the Father established truth. Jesus never forced His teaching on any man. He only asked that men take the Father’s word and compare it with the teachings of Jesus. If they were the same, what Jesus taught was the word of God.

When a man takes the liberty to speak on his own accord, he does so for personal gain and glory. If a man speaks from himself, he places glory on himself, not God. The wisdom of men creates a prideful heart. False doctrine has also been predicated on the need for men to elevate their wisdom above God’s will. He becomes a false teacher as one who is untrue. When a man seeks the glory of the Father, his word will be true, and there will be no unrighteousness in him. The contrast is as clear as night and day. Teaching the wisdom of man exalts human glory, and following the word of God glorifies the Father. One is false, and one is true. Righteousness comes from the word of God and is always true.

Jesus came to earth to show the Father’s image through His life, teaching, and ultimately in His sacrifice. Everything Jesus did point to His Father. His doctrine was not for His glory but the manifestation of the majesty of the only true God. Satan tempted Jesus to take the mantle of authority upon Himself, but the Son of God refused. He came to serve the will of the Father, and when He prayed in the garden for the cup of agony to pass from Him, He submitted to the will of what had been established before time. The followers of Jesus imitate Him in their submission to the complete will of the Father. Everything in the life of the Christian imitates the character of God so the world can glorify the Father. The teaching of the Christian is not his own but the word of God. If the world does not accept the word, they reject God, not man. Let the word of God be true and every man a liar. Truth comes from the word of God.

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Spirit Fruit: Peace

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Spirit Fruit: Peace

There is a lot of worry in the world. Concerns over how to pay the bills, prepare for the future, face health worries, and a host of nagging problems that sap the strength out of the soul. The world offers many answers to worry, but they never satisfy. Those who seek peace in the bottle open their lives to greater troubles. People who drown themselves in wealth seeking happiness never find the golden pot at the end of the rainbow. Trying to prolong life and regain youth is a futile attempt as aging keeps marching on. What is greatly lacking in the lives of many is the feeling of peace.

Arthur Somers Roche said worry is “A thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” Sadly, the lifestyles of most people seldom experience the joy of a peaceful mind and contented heart. A materialistic world propagates the fears and worries of the heart, keeping peace far away. One of the joys of being a child of God is to find peace that passes all understanding and can guard the heart against the worries of life. The peace found in the fruit of the Spirit is the revitalizing experience of hope, love, and happiness. Jesus taught in the mountain sermon not to be anxious for life. A heart absent of peace will be filled with hatred and strife. Adam Clarke writes about peace, “The calm, quiet, and order, which take place in the justified soul, instead of the doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings, which every true penitent less or more feels, and must feel till the assurance of pardon brings peace and satisfaction to the mind. Peace is the first sensible fruit of the pardon of sin.”

The peace found in the fruit of the Spirit gives direction to life. Instead of being consumed with the worries of life and the affairs of the world, a peaceful heart trusts in the will of the Father. Jesus said the birds do not sow seed nor reap nor gather into barns because the Father cares for them. Birds do not have worry lines on their brow. They are at peace as they depend on their Creator to care for them. Babies are happy and at peace, because they are fully trusting and filled with love as their parents care for them. The child of God must have the heart of a child to trust in the Lord, depend on His care, and trust in His judgment. That is when peace will rule the heart.

A heart that is not at peace is a heart that is not with God. The Lord does not promise to take the pain and suffering away but provides comfort to enjoy the peace of God. Jesus was asleep in the boat during a storm because He had peace with His Father. Peter had to be awakened by an angel when he was thrown into prison with a death sentence hanging over him because the apostle had peace with God. Many Christians faced death before the fires of Nero through the peace they had with their salvation. The fruit of the Spirit fortifies the human spirit with the blessings of love, joy, and peace that will give courage in the face of trials and hope in the time of sorrow. There is no peace as great as the tender hand of the Heavenly Father embracing His child, protecting them, and guiding them. True peace can only come from the fruit of the Spirit.

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The Right Hand Of God

Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:20-23)

The Right Hand Of God

There is no authority greater than what is possessed by God the Father, Creator of all things. He rules over the universe, and all things are subjugated to His word. Jesus acknowledged His words came from the Father, and everything He spoke was the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles through the will of the Father. John describes the brilliance of the throne in the eternal as filled by One who sat upon the throne with the creatures surrounding the throne giving glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne. They call Him “Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come.” Everything known to man in the universe comes from the throne of the Almighty, who rules above all humanity.

As the One who sits upon the throne as sole occupant, the Lord God exercises His authority according to His will. When Jesus offered Himself as an offering for the sin of all men, God raised Him from the dead and seated the Lord Jesus Christ on His right hand. To be raised to the right hand was significant of favor, trust, and power. Jesus lived a perfect life and died to bring men back to the Father. His love, humility, and devotion to His Father were rewarded with all authority both in heaven and earth. This authority comes from sitting at the right hand of God. Jesus was received up into heaven forty days after the resurrection and sat down at the right hand of God. He was exalted to a place of complete authority. Stephen, the martyred saint of God, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

There is no authority on earth greater than Jesus. He died, arose, and sits at the right hand of God, making intercession for mankind. The Christian lives his life with the rule of Christ as He who sits at the right hand of God. All authority was given to Christ when He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever. Jesus has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. Ruling at the right hand of God shows His preeminence, dominion, and power. There is no greater authority in the church than the head, Jesus Christ. His rule is one of a groom adorned for His bride cherishing her with the loving grace given to Him by His Father. As the church submits to Christ, they recognize He sits at the right hand of God. All authority in the church comes from Jesus Christ.

Sitting at the right hand of God shows the relationship of Christ with the church. He dominates by the authority granted Him by the Father. Everything flows from that headship as one who sits at the right hand of God. Members of the body are subject to all things under the headship of Christ. There is never a question of what a man must do to be saved. The word of Christ establishes the will of the Father. Jesus told His disciples when a man believes and is baptized, he will be saved. If a man refuses to believe, he will be lost. The authority of salvation comes from the mouth of Jesus, as one who sits at the right hand of God. To dismiss baptism as nonessential is to deny that Jesus is at the right hand of the Lord God. Denying the teaching of Jesus is rejecting the authority given to Him by the Father. All the Lord’s commands rest upon the authority of the One who sits at the right hand of God.

Jesus will relinquish the authority given to Him when all things are completed, and He Himself will be subject to the Father. Until that time, Jesus Christ rules at the right hand of God with all the authority granted Him by His Father. When men deny the teaching of Jesus, they deny His authority. Rejecting the authority of Jesus is to deny God. Accepting the rule of Christ is to follow the will of the Father and to be found pleasing in His sight. Sitting at the right hand of God impresses upon all men to listen to Jesus Christ as One who has all authority. Thank God for He who sits at His right hand.

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The Eyes Of The Lord Are Seeking

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said to him: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand. Were the Ethiopians and the Lubim not a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:7-9)

The Eyes Of The Lord Are Seeking

Twenty years after the death of King Solomon, his great-grandson Asa became king of Israel, ruling 41 years. The previous two decades were marred with the wicked king’s Rehoboam and Abijam. When Asa ruled the southern tribes, he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did David. The years were filled with prosperity and a period of restoration to the law of God. There was no war for thirty-five years. During the thirty-sixth year of the reign of Asa, Baasha, king of Israel, came up against Judah to wage war. Instead of seeking the counsel of the Lord, Asa chose to appeal to Ben-Hadad, king of Syria, with silver and gold from the house of the Lord and the king’s house. He sought a treaty with the Syrians to fight against Israel. Ben-Hadad attacked Israel, causing Baasha to withdraw from his conquest of Judah.

The Lord was displeased with Asa for making a treaty with Ben-Hadad. Hanani the seer came to King Asa, scolding him for not trusting in the Lord’s power to defeat Baasha. The prophet reminded Asa how God had delivered him from the Egyptians and the army of Lubim. At the critical moment of decision, Asa should have sought the Lord’s counsel to fight against Baasha. Hanani reminded the king the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. Asa had acted foolishly, and the peace he enjoyed for thirty-five years would end.

God has always desired hearts that are fully committed to Him. He has demanded first place since the beginning of time. When the Jews received the law at Sinai, it began with the declaration that God was why they had escaped Egypt and nothing but His power and might saved them. They were not to put any god or any man before their allegiance to the Lord God Almighty. Anything less than complete devotion was not acceptable. Jesus taught in the mountain message that unless a man seeks first the kingdom of God, there are no blessings. The example of a fully committed heart is the life of Jesus Christ, who willingly sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world. The One who had never sinned died to save those who had sinned.

Being fully devoted to the Lord is not a fanatical persuasion without reason. It is a life that is measured with each step examined under the microscope of God’s will. Asa had a big decision to make, and he chooses to ignore the power of God. Life is filled with big decisions that must be gauged by what God would desire for the individual or the selfish desires of self. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, seeking hearts that are loyal to Him. God wants to see His people dedicated to Him in every part of their life. They should not allow the pressures of the world to decide how they live. The Christian walk is a cross-bearing journey guided by the word of the Lord, the Good Shepherd.

There are many decisions to make in life that must be measured by the will of the Lord. When a young man and woman decide to marry, their first thoughts may be because of their love for one another. What must come first is whether this individual will help me or hinder my journey to eternal life. Marrying someone simply because of their beauty is like buying a house because of the paint. What is important is what is on the inside. That is who God is seeking. When a career is being considered, few put at the top of the list whether their jobs will glorify God or dishonor His name by the nature of the work schedule, influences, and conflicts with the word of God. Asking what God thinks of the job decision is seldom considered and should be the first thing to think about. If a young man is very talented in a sport that takes him to the highest peaks of his athleticism, will he deny the Lord to play sports on the day when he should be worshipping God? So many make decisions without consulting God first.

The church needs souls whose hearts are found by the eyes of the Lord as fully committed to Him. Families that center their marriages and parenting with God-first principles will be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord. Young people who choose careers that give glory to God will find the pleasure of the eyes of God. When life is molded in a spiritual world of the word of God, the example to others will let the light of Christ shine in a dark world. Neighbors will come to Christ by the example of men and women entirely devoted to the Lord. Friends will understand the seriousness of how much the Christian loves the Lord and is dedicated to the kingdom of God. It takes fully committed hearts. The eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the earth. What does He see in your life?

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The Moment Of Salvation

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. (Romans 6:3-7)

The Moment Of Salvation

When a child is born, the day and time are recorded on his birth record. This shows the moment of birth. Before the day and the minute, the child remained in the womb. When he is cut from his mother’s umbilical cord, he begins his life independently. His journey has started. Most people remember the day they were born and are reminded each year when the birthday cake blazes with candles. Few remember (or know) the moment they were born. What is significant about that moment is the realization of life’s beginning. It is important because it marks a dividing time from one stage to another. The life experience is marked from that single moment of the day. 7:34 am (for example) is an exact moment when life outside the womb begins. It is an amazing time stamp.

 Jesus told Nicodemus that a man enters the kingdom of God by being born again. The imagery of birth is found throughout scripture, describing the moment a person leaves the dark womb of the world to the light of God’s love and grace. John writes in his first epistle the beauty of being born of God as the joy of being redeemed. Paul uses the analogy of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the new birth. In the figure of coming out of the tomb, salvation is found when a man rises from the watery grave of baptism to the renewal of the resurrection in Christ. A man is buried with Christ through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead, salvation is granted to those who have been united together in the likeness of His death. What is significant to consider is that moment in time, a man is no longer a lost, condemned, and hopeless sinner – but a child of God. The moment of salvation.

Every man struggles with sin and becomes a slave to sin. He is without hope, walking according to the desires of the flesh like the rest of the world. Life is filled with the passions of the world with no way to save himself. He is a servant of the devil, following the passionate desires and inclinations of a sinful nature. God’s wrath is against him. Being a good man will not put him in favor of God. Acting religious does not take away the anger of the Lord. Seeking the wisdom of human acceptance fails. And then a day comes when the gospel of Jesus Christ enters the dark heart of disbelief, and a change begins to take place.

The grace of God is shining through the clouds of doubt, and hope rises. There is an understanding of God’s love, the sacrifice and the price paid by the Son of God to redeem man, and an urgent need to obey. The voice cries out, “What must I do to be saved.” From the throne of a loving Father comes the reply to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Hearts overcome with fear are now consumed with hope as the water washes away all sin. It is a moment of cleansing. A new birth has been marked by a single moment where the lost soul becomes a new creation. Joy fills the heart. A journey of faith begins. God’s love has overcome another soul.

In the life of all of God’s children, a moment comes when they are no longer servants of the devil but slaves of God. It is that moment that is the glorious realization of God’s grace. One hour before, a man was lost. Thirty minutes prior offered no hope. Obedience to the will of the Lord marks a single moment in the life of the saved when they were born again. He was lost, but now he is saved. Without that moment of God’s mercy to take away all sin, there would be no hope. The day of one’s birth is important to remember the power of creation and God’s love. Knowing and considering the day of one’s spiritual birth has eternal consequences. That is when life really begins. Thank God for that moment of birth.

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All Men Will Be Judged By The Word

Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.” (John 12:44-50)

All Men Will Be Judged By The Word

There is a great day of judgment coming. All nations will be gathered before the Creator. The dead, small and great, will stand before the Lord. From every age from Adam until the final day of earth’s existence, every person stands before a Holy God to be judged. There will never be an assembly like the gathering of all souls before the throne of the Lord God. Social status will not be a factor of judgment. Kings will stand next to peasants, and the rich will mingle with the poor. There will be no famous people exalting their accomplishments or despots forcing their will on the oppressed. No one will think of themselves better than another. All souls will be standing in the same place doing the same thing waiting for the judgment of the one who sits upon the throne. And then a voice will speak, and divine separation begins. Most will go to the left into a dark abyss of damnation while the few enter the portals of heavenly splendor. Judgment is completed. Hell is closed. Heaven abounds with the singing of the faithful. Eternity fills the void as time without end.

Believing in the day of judgment is not imperative to its reality. Most do not think there will be a day of reckoning. To them, life is lived here, and then everything is over. There is nothing beyond the grave. Sadly, in the reality of death, they awaken to the certainty of how vast eternity will be. Every soul will know the judgment of God is righteous. No one in the pit of Hell will believe they deserve eternity in heaven. They will know the verdict passed down was correct. Their doom in the eternal flames will come from a truth they learned too late. It is not so much the presence of God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit that convicts them. Every person standing before the judgment bar of a Holy God will know the word of God judged them.

Jesus came into the world to bring the light of God. He taught the multitudes the gospel of the Father, and while multitudes accepted His teaching, most did not. In less than three years, the world turned against Jesus and His preaching, and they killed Him. In the past two thousand years, the word of God has been challenged. Many have denied its truth. Other books were written casting doubt on the word of God. Churches with different dogmas arose leading men astray from the word of the Lord. Sadly, many souls follow a corrupted teaching of the word of God. Mormons follow the Book of Mormon. Moslems believe in the Koran. Denominations hold to their creed books. The Roman Catholic Church blindly follows the Pope and his word. Everybody has their own belief.

Judgment is coming, and the Book of Mormon will not be there. The Koran will not be there, and all the creed books of man-made churches will be burned up in the fire when the world comes to an end. The Pope will be before the Lord, but he will not be a Pope. He will be a man, and that is all. His words will mean nothing. Joseph Smith’s words and Muhammad’s words will mean nothing. The religious leaders and their human wisdom will mean nothing. Whatever Kent Heaton says and writes will mean nothing. What will be on the lips of every soul gathered is how they lived up to the word of God.

Jesus declares to the Pharisees to reject Him is to reject God. When a man rejects Jesus and will not receive His words, he has that which judges him – the word spoke by Jesus will judge him in the last day. Everything Jesus said came from the Father. The Bible contains the words of God in totality, and every word is pure. Refusing to obey the words of the Bible will bring the wrath of God. Judgment will come from one book, and that book is what is contained between Genesis and the Revelation. There is no other book with that power. No message can promise salvation as can the gospel of Jesus Christ. Eternal life is found in the words of God. You and I will stand before the judgment bar of God, and the book we have in our hands will be our judgment. If we do not listen to His word now, we will listen on the day of judgment. Do not let that day come without knowing the word of God. Your soul depends on it.

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Seeking The Wrong Praise

Nevertheless, even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43)

Seeking The Wrong Praise

The admiration of others is an important part of relationships and how many people identify themselves. Goals are set early in life to become an accomplished athlete, musician, business entrepreneur, or remembered as a historical figure. Men strive for the gold ring of excellence to hear the applause of others praising who they are. They become stars and famous people with accolades of self-importance. Trophies are given, awards bestowed, names flashed across the screen, and for some, they see buildings and structures named after them. The praise of men. It can be very heady, alluring, and intoxicating.

What happens after the awards show is over, and the cleanup crews are putting everything back together? Where do the golden trophies reside? How long will a famous name be remembered? Who can identify the name inscribed on a building in generations to come? The Oscar for best actor in 1956 is long forgotten. Few will know who won the World Series in 1959. Thomas Starzl was a world-renowned doctor who, in 1963, did something very few people know about. There are myriads of buildings named after people that are long forgotten. This is the praise of men that is so powerful in life and yet easily forgotten in the next generation.

The futility of the praise of men is that it is so fleeting. The span of a man’s life is so brief, and when he dies, his memories fade into distant images of days gone by with little or no significance to the next generation. People get older and more feeble in time no matter how rich or famous they become. When older men and women try to retain their youth by looking thirty years younger, they only succeed in making themselves look ten years more foolish. The praise of men is temporary – very temporary. Nothing is lasting about fame. It flourishes for a time and then vanishes away as quickly.

It is difficult to imagine how those living when Jesus walked among them could not embrace His teachings and His message. The miracles proved beyond doubt that He was God. When He preached before the multitudes, hearts were stirred with either the passion of goodness or the zeal for hatred. There was no middle ground. Jesus was the Son of God, or He was a fraud. Among the Jewish rulers, many believed in Jesus. They accepted His teaching as divine. There was no doubt about His divine powers. His message was always a moving and challenging experience. These men believed in Jesus Christ, but they could not acknowledge any allegiance lest they fall from favor from their peers. They were unwilling to admit they believed in Jesus for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue.

Jesus knew why the rulers would not acknowledge Him as the Son of God. They loved human praise more than the praise of God. If they confessed Christ, they would lose their influence among their fellow Jews. People would shun them and treat them as the offscouring of the world. If they wanted fame and power, they could never admit to believing Jesus was the Son of God. So, they held on to the praise of men, and when they died, the praise of men died with them. Their attempt to have praise failed. It was of no value.

Today, there are those in the world who can never devote their lives to serve the Lord as it would harm their social status, job security, or position among their friends. They deny any allegiance to being a Christian because they love the praise of men more. No one knows they are a Christian, and they want to keep it that way. Their lives become empty shells of hypocrisy, showing the world a face of social acceptance, believing that God will accept their pretense to save them. Death comes to all men, and the praise of men ends. What happens next is the tragedy of the story. The praise of men cannot save a soul from condemnation. Only the praise of God can do that. When it is too late, every heart will want to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant; who loved My praise more than the praise of men.” Sadly, few will hear these words. Why? The praise of men is strong, powerful, alluring, and deceitful. The only question left to be asked is whose praise are you seeking? Men or God? Choose.

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Spirit Fruit: Joy

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Spirit Fruit: Joy

There is a lot of sadness in the world. When Adam and Eve spent their first day outside the garden, they reflected on the gladness they had when they walked and communed with God. Sin blighted the happiness of the first couple, and now they stood alone in an uncertain world. They would find joy as they trusted in God and learned to devote their lives to Him. The struggle for humanity has always been how to answer the need for happiness. Sin presents an allurement of great pleasure as a means to obtain joy, but it never delivers on what it promises. The reason sin is so alluring is that it has a lot of joy and pleasure to it. It has an enticement that is irresistible with a promise of grandeur far beyond the norm. Sadly, what is sought for in the moment of pleasure is quickly lost. Sin never lasts.

Joy is the desire of every human being. How they find that joy is what makes a difference in their lives. Some seek after the works of the flesh to find joy. They seek pleasure in sexual immorality, impurity, and lustful pleasures, and while enjoying a temporary euphoria of gladness, it never lasts. Many lost souls live their lives with drunkenness and wild parties and find nothing at the end of the road but misery and heartache. Joy escapes them. Happiness is never found. Sadness fills the heart. Misery overshadows every part of their life. Death comes, and all hope is lost.

The fruit of the Spirit is joy because it comes from God, and it is eternal. Finding joy in the blessings of God brings gladness to the heart and promise to the soul. Life is a hard road to walk and can be filled with challenges that can overwhelm. Finding the joy of God does not take away the problems of life. Paul’s great letter of joy was written from a Roman prison cell. The book of the Bible that mentions joy more than any other is the prophet Isaiah. He lived in a time of great wickedness and turmoil, yet his message was joy and hope in God. Having the joy of the Spirit will not take cancer away, bring back a loved one, increase the bank statement or solve the world’s problems, but it changes the view. Joy brings a faith-lift to the broken heart and soothes the troubled soul.

Joy brings hope in the glory of God. It finds its worth in righteousness and the peace of God. Joy is the measure that helps the eye see the Lord, who, having not seen, is loved and worshipped with gladness. There is joy in the knowledge that sin has no dominion and that through the blood of Christ, sins are washed away. Worship is based on the joy of being a child of God addressing the Father with thanksgiving and love. Remembering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a Roman cross fills the heart with gladness. Singing with fellow saints fills the heart with joy. The fellowship of the body of Christ fuels the spirit of joy. Death is no longer feared when the fruit of the Spirit of joy faces the end of life with courage and hope.

Because of the joy awaiting Him, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame. He faced His life and His death with the joy of the Father, and now He is seated at the right hand. Followers of Jesus will find that same joy, and when life becomes a heavy cross to disregard the pain of this world for the joys of eternal life. Joy on earth will end. Joy in Heaven will never end. Let joy reign in the heart. Joy.

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In Christ And In Him

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

In Christ And In Him

For those seeking the blessings of God, the fellowship of spirit has always been where the covenant of God is established with the heart of man. Whether in the Garden of Eden, the Law of Moses, or the New Testament church, the Lord always provides a haven of redemption. God is a jealous God demanding the will of men bow to His glory and follow His will. This requires a relationship of obedience. When men seek to find salvation outside the bounds of God’s law, they fail to receive the blessings of the Father. Adam and Eve rebelled against the Lord’s command when they took of the forbidden fruit, breaking fellowship with God. When the nation of Israel refused to keep the Law, they were rejected by God and lost their blessings. Jesus came into the world to bring all men to the Father through one covenant, one church, one redemptive plan, and one Lord. If there are any blessings to be enjoyed with the Father, it can only be in Christ.

The importance of being in Christ is highlighted by the possibility of not being in Christ. It is a fundamental lesson of receiving blessings if one is in Christ, but if a person is not in Christ, there will be no blessings. Paul said that all spiritual blessings are in Christ and in Him. God chose His people to be in Christ before the foundation of the world. Only in Christ will the redemption through His blood be found. The inheritance of eternal life is in Him and no other. The Ephesians had trusted in Christ after hearing the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. Every aspect of salvation is found in Christ and in Him.

All spiritual blessings are found in one place and one place alone – in Christ. If a person is not in Christ, they receive no blessings. Many believe in Jesus but are not in Him. It is possible to be religious and follow a pattern of worship and still not be in Christ. To be in Christ means a person has followed the will of God to do what He demands a person to be in Christ. Paul reminded the saints in Rome they were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, showing how a man enters a covenant with God. Through the grace and mercy of God, salvation is offered to all men, but not all men are willing to come into Christ. One of the most seditious teachings of Satan is to convince men that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Baptism is the avenue that puts a man into Christ, and without baptism, there is no entrance and no blessings.

Sin separates man from God, placing him outside the realm of blessings from the Father. God desires all men to come to repentance, but while He pleads for men to go in, He will not force anyone to come through the door. All spiritual blessings are in Christ. Redemption is in Him. If a man stands outside the door and does not enter into Christ, he receives no blessings, forgiveness, and hope. There is no eternal home for those who are not in Christ. Being religious does not put one in Christ. Living a good life will not place a man in Christ. Following the doctrines of men has never put a man into a covenant with God. To be in Christ demands the heart follow the will of God. A man is saved by the grace of God and the obedience of the heart to be baptized for the remission of sins. Until one is immersed in water, there are no blessings. They are not in Christ.

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The Defilement Of Death

And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images and filled their places with the bones of men. Moreover, the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. (2 Kings 23:14-16)

The Defilement Of Death

Josiah was eight years old when he became king in Judah, ruling thirty-one years. His life would end tragically in a battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo at the age of thirty-nine. In a world filled with the darkness of idolatry and pagan worship, Josiah was a reformer to God’s people seeking to bring the hearts of the nation back to righteousness, truth, and devotion to the true God. According to the law, he restored true worship as found in the book discovered during renovations of the Temple. Much of his reform was tearing down. He removed the idolatrous priests that served Baal and worshiped the sun, the moon, the constellations, and all the powers of the heavens. The wooden image of Asherah was removed from the Temple, taken outside the city, and burned. Josiah tore down the homes of the male and female idolatrous prostitutes who lived inside the Temple of God.  

Throughout Judah, the king tore down and destroyed the images of Baal, Asherah, Chemosh, and Milcom. When he broke down the gods’ sacred pillars and wooden images, he filled their place with human bones. Seeing the tombs on the mountain, the king took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord. He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Everywhere Josiah went, he removed the idols and desecrated them with the dead bodies and remains.

The Jews and heathens both considered the body of a dead man as defiled. Under the Law of Moses, a man who touched a dead body was unclean for seven days. The Gentiles recognized the defilement of a dead body. Josiah’s action was a message both to the Jews who rejected idolatry and those who embraced the pagan rituals of the severity of rebelling against the one true God. Filling the places of idol worship with the bones of men showed the putridity of death and the consequence of rejecting God. Burning the bones of men on the altars made them unclean and unholy.

Touching a dead body was not forbidden by God for sanitary reasons. It was a lesson to show how death is the defilement of body and soul. The reason that death reigns is because of sin. Adam and Eve lived in the garden with the tree of life but when they rebelled against God, He cast them away from the tree of life and death ruled over men. The process of the body decaying in death is a testimony of how powerful the pungent stench of sin becomes in the heart of men. Josiah’s act of burning men’s bones on the altars was to show the power of God over those useless idols. The defilement of the bones highlighted the defilement of the idols.

Josiah’s act of burning men’s bones has a powerful fulfillment many centuries later when the disciples of Jesus came to His tomb early on the first day of the week. They found the tomb empty. The angel told the women who entered the tomb that Jesus has risen, and He was not there. They would find no bones. There would be no defilement. Jesus would rise on the third day so that His flesh would not see corruption. Death reigned until the resurrection of the Son of God, and then the defilement of sin was taken away. Josiah defiled the altars with the bones of men. God removed the stain of sin with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The hope for those who follow the Son of God is that death has no power and will not defile the spirit. Death is a blessing as the body embraces the bones but the soul – eternal life.

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Religion On Campus Fades

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)

Religion On Campus Fades

The heading in a recent news article reflected the trend that most U.S. adults avoid church, and college students are becoming increasingly disassociated with “organized religion.” Young people suggest religion has not played a significant role in their lives as they begin to form their opinions of life. The changing world values and technologies of the modern age have shifted the attention of young minds away from the values of their upbringing to the desires of self-expression, rejection of establishment, and buying into a culture bent on canceling anything that offends. This new trend is an old path with a fresh coat of asphalt. In the 60s, the same song filled the airways with the hippie movement and protested against the Vietnam war. Women’s liberation, Black Panther, social injustice, and defiance against law and order were the mantra of the day fighting against the establishment. Now the grandchildren of that lost generation are putting on the same clothes with a different style.

There is an appeal for “religious organizations” to adapt to the needs of young people. According to James Cavendish, a University of South Florida sociology professor, churches need to be “less emphatic and less absolutist in its religious pronouncement about issues, whether it be abortion or sexuality,” according to James Cavendish, a University of South Florida sociology professor. There is agreement that what are termed “religious organizations” need to adapt to the needs of young people because they have never represented the pattern of the New Testament church. All of the denominations (Protestant churches) have become social, political, and moral bastions of self-serving, accepting institutions catering to the whims and notions of the masses. Instead of men adapting to the word of God, the will of God must bend to the will of men. That is total nonsense (if I may be so bold).

The popular saying among many is they are “not religious, but they are spiritual.” Religion has become a melting pot of blending the spiritual notions of carnal desires to become the new gods of modern America. It is impossible to be a follower of Jesus Christ and believe abortion is a right. The Bible teaches God created man in His own image, and when a woman has an abortion, she commits murder. Those who argue against this do not defend their belief with scripture but with their own opinions. Accepting sexuality at any level is what society demands. Homosexuality (and all of its cousins) is condemned throughout scripture, but “religious organizations” bow down to the social pressures to accept the perversion as viewed by God. It must be understood that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is condemned, infidelity is condemned, and men with men and women with women is condemned. That is what God says. But that is not the opinions of the liberated, spiritually conscience minds of those who are not religious.

Fundamental to the failure of the modern view of religion is that men have created their own totems of what they want to worship. Instead of men drawing themselves to the Lord God, they demand God come down to their level and become the god of human wisdom. The angels laugh at the absurdity of man’s plight. Created higher than humankind, the angels worship God as sovereign and supreme. Jesus tells a woman from Samaria that worship is based on a clear, demonstrative, and power model: worship must be according to truth, and it must be according to spirit. Anything less is vain worship.

The newest polls showing a decline of worshipers is not new. When men begin to fill their hearts with their own self-deluded grandeur and worth, there is no room for God. They will boast in their arrogance until they die, and then they will discover that God must be worshiped according to spirit and truth. It is a sad commentary to see so many souls lost in the wilderness of pride, believing they are their own gods. Two things are certain: there is a God, and you are not him.

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Leaving Nothing Undone

Joshua turned back at that time and took Hazor, and struck its king with the sword; for Hazor was formerly the head of all those kingdoms. And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire. So all the cities of those kings, and all their kings, Joshua took and struck with the edge of the sword. He utterly destroyed them, as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded. But as for the cities that stood on their mounds, Israel burned none of them, except Hazor only, which Joshua burned. And all the spoil of these cities and the livestock, the children of Israel took as booty for themselves; but they struck every man with the edge of the sword until they had destroyed them, and they left none breathing. As the LORD had commanded Moses his servant, so Moses commanded Joshua, and so Joshua did. He left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:10-15)

Leaving Nothing Undone

The northern conquest of Canaan was a hard-fought and bloody campaign. Israel faced insurmountable odds with their enemies numbering as the sand that is on the seashore in multitude, with very many horses and chariots. The Lord told Joshua not to be afraid when he saw the vast armies standing before him as victory would be brought by the hand of God for Israel. All of the kings camped against Israel, and their armies were decimated as the people of God attacked their enemies until they left none of them remaining. Joshua hamstrung all the horses and burned the chariots with fire. The Israelites completely destroyed every living thing in the city, leaving no survivors. Not a single person was spared. And then Joshua burned the city.

When Moses wrote the final chapter of the history of Israel and the law of the Lord for the nation, he reminded the people that whatever God had commanded them to do when they entered the land must be obeyed. He warned them not to add to or take away from the word of the Lord. Part of those commands included the will of the Lord to destroy the idolatrous people of the land and let nothing that breathes remain alive. God commanded His people to utterly destroy the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Joshua fulfilled the word of the Lord to the letter of the law.

It is hard to see God’s people slaughtering every human being, leaving no survivors. Not a single person was spared. Why did Israel do this? The word of the Lord demanded it. It was the fulfillment of the word to Abraham concerning the iniquity of the Amorites, and judgment was passed upon an ungodly, idolatrous, and rebellious people. Joshua left nothing undone. He did not go outside the bounds of God’s law, presume to know more than God by refusing to destroy all the people or change the word of the will of the Lord. Joshua followed the word of the Lord from a heart believing God’s righteous judgment was the right thing to do. Many years later, Saul would refuse to do what God said, and he lost his kingdom.

The Bible contains the mind of God, and on every page are the instructions of the Divine to the human heart. All scripture is inspired through the Spirit and must be applied in its proper place. The Law of Moses have been stricken from the pages of authority for salvation. Jesus Christ is Lord, and His will is the authority for salvation. Nothing can be left undone when it comes to what a man must do to be saved. When men refuse to obey the word of the Lord, they find themselves like King Saul, without the blessing of God. The heart must have the courage of Joshua to do all that the Lord commands. Obedience is necessary without exceptions, changes, or revisions to the word of the Lord. Joshua did as he was told, carefully obeying all the commands that the Lord had given to Moses. Can we do any less today?

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Here I Am Lord

Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” (Acts 9:10)

Here I Am Lord

The apostle Paul is one of the great characters of scripture taking center stage for the volume of material preserved in the New Testament. He was an incredible missionary for the kingdom of God. His travels are traced through the book of Acts as he and his companions brave the elements, face opposition, suffer persecution and baptize multitudes of men and women, establishing churches throughout the Roman Empire. Paul’s conversion was a measure of the grace of God as he was a chosen vessel of the Lord. Before he became a Christian, another man played a significant role in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus.

There was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. When Saul of Tarsus left Jerusalem with letters from the high priest to the synagogue of Damascus, he was looking for men like Ananias. He planned to take them and throw them into prison in Jerusalem. After Saul arrived in the city, the Lord came to Ananias in a vision. When God called out to Ananias in the vision, the disciple of the Lord said, “Here I am, Lord.” It may seem a trivial thing, but the answer of this devout disciple was the key to the fulfillment of God’s plan for Saul of Tarsus. Ananias knew the voice of God, and he was ready to obey at a moment’s notice. It is unknown if this had ever happened before for the disciple, but he would be asked to do a dangerous yet remarkable work.

The Lord tells Ananias that Saul has come to Damascus but is staying at the house of another disciple of Christ named Judas. This man lives on a street called Straight, and Saul is there praying. In a vision, the Lord tells Saul that Ananias is coming to speak with him and restore his sight after being blinded outside the city. Ananias responds to the Lord’s request with an appeal to the nature of Saul’s work and how much harm he has done to the saints in Jerusalem. The Lord reassures Ananias that Saul is no longer a threat and will be a chosen vessel for the kingdom of God. Ananias immediately goes to the house of Judas, and the rest is history.

What is important to see about Ananias is he is a disciple of Christ ready to hear the voice of God and respond to the call of duty. He was not the first that received this type of call. The Lord called Abraham to sacrifice his only begotten son, and Abraham answered, “Here I am.” The angel of the Lord spoke to Jacob in a dream, and the grandson of Abraham said, “Here I am.” From the midst of the burning bush, the Lord called out, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Young Samuel was in the house of Eli, the High Priest when God called out to him four times, and the answer of the young lad was, “Here I am.” Isaiah the prophet heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” It was Isaiah who said, “Here am I. Send me.” In all of these instances, God calls His servants, and they respond with a willing heart and a ready hand. Saul’s conversion was by the grace of God and obedience of an honest heart to the word of the Lord. The agency of his becoming a Christian was a man who, when he heard the voice of the Lord, stood ready to work. Ananias knew the voice of God and obeyed the call to face a challenging task, fully trusting in the Lord.

The Lord continues to speak to the hearts of men today through His word. What is needed more than ever are saints who are listening for the voice of the Shepherd and who are willing to say to Him, “Here am I.” Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, and he did. Moses became the leader of the nation of Israel establishing the law. The prophets answered the clarion call of the Divine, with many dying for that message. Twelve men answered the call of Jesus to follow Him. Men and women who listen for the word of God will respond with the willing heart to share the good news of Christ with people like Saul of Tarsus or Rahab the harlot or Simon the sorcerer and a group of women by a riverbank and a black man from Ethiopia. Here am I? Are you listening? Better yet – are you ready to work?

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Spirit Fruit – Love

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Spirit Fruit – Love

The foundation of humanity has always been the essence of love. Creation was established through love as the Creator formed the perfect union of a man and woman for His glory. Adam immediately recognized the beauty of the creation before him when God brought the woman to him. He knew she would be a part of him as the union of their souls was united in the bond of marriage. Love was in its infancy, but it would fuel the relationships of humanity and the bond between God and man. Sin destroyed the nature of love as designed by God. Through the word of God, love can find its divine worth to rekindle the need of love for God, love for a spouse, and love for others.

Love is a multifaceted and complex word defined in many ways but at its root it means to have an affection for and show goodwill. The nature of love is essential to the human soul. Developing love becomes how relationships are made and kept. Central the character of love is to never seek anything but the highest good for another. True love removes selfishness, exalting the needs of others above self. Many parts of love come naturally, but more complex avenues of love must be learned.

The Holy Spirit is a blessing given to every Christian when they obey the gospel of Christ. Every disciple enjoys the gift of the Holy Spirit and enjoys all the blessings received from the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is the character of righteousness produced within the godly spirit by the influence of the Spirit of God. Foremost in the fruit of Spirit is love. It does not seem to be a coincidence that when Paul defines the fruits of the Spirit, it begins with love. Walking in the Spirit and being led by the Spirit starts with love. The other fruits of the Spirit come from the foundation of love.

What is unique about love is that while it is an amazing feeling and experience, it can only be known from the action it prompts. God loved the world, but He showed His love by sending Jesus to die for all men. If a man tells his wife he loves her but never shows it; love is vain. Love is defined by the manner it expresses itself to another. The Bible is full of examples of God’s love for man. The Lord wants men to love Him, which is found when God’s commands are kept. Throughout scripture, the Lord admonishes His people to show their love by obeying His word. The Christian’s love is expressed in obedience.

The disciple of Christ must show their love for God and His Son, Jesus Christ, with something more than lip service. Loving others is a part of the character of the Christian, including loving enemies. Husbands and wives are to love one another as God designed the home, including loving the children. Loving others takes courage and faith. This kind of love does not come automatically and without effort. The fruit of the Spirit is where the more profound kind of love comes from. Without spending time in the word of the Spirit (the Bible), love will not be defined. If love is a fruit of the Spirit, love must come from the Spirit. The Holy Spirit teaches in His Word the divine will of love, and as the Spirit leads a man, he will find the fruit of love expressed in his life. Finding the fruit of the Spirit in love will remove the guilt of sin, depression of the soul, prejudice of others, the anxiety of the present, and fill the heart with great confidence and courage.

There is a great need for the people of God to get into the fruit of the Spirit and begin each day with love. Jesus taught in the mountain sermon the test of one’s character is the fruit he bears. The person of God is a person whose heart is directed by love. It must be the beginning. Everything that follows must be fused with a love for God and others. When the fruit of the Spirit is living and active in the life of a Christian, they will bear fruits of love in their lives. Let the Spirit lead with love.

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Four Words On A Wall

In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. The king spoke, saying to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Now all the king’s wise men came, but they could not read the writing, or make known to the king its interpretation. (Daniel 5:5-8)

Four Words On A Wall

The feast seemed to be going well. It was a grand affair for a thousand of the king’s nobles filled with wine, women, and merriment. Everything was going along so well; the king ordered the gold and silver vessels his predecessor had taken from the temple in Jerusalem to be brought and used for the debauchery. Quickly, the servants went to the storehouse, gathered all the Jewish vessels together, and brought them to the grand hall. His lords, wives, and concubines filled the vessels with wine and continued the drunken feast with great enthusiasm. As they lifted up the vessels of Jehovah, they praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. It was a time of extravagant feasting as the carnal spirits of ungodliness filled the hall.

In the same hour of the abomination of Belshazzar, the fingers of a man’s hand wrote upon the wall opposite the lampstand. The king saw part of the hand that wrote the words. His face turned pale with fright. His knees knocked together in fear, and his legs gave way beneath him. He demanded his astrologers, wise men, and soothsayers to declare the meaning of the words. The king promised a reward to any man who could tell the meaning of the words purple and gold and third place in the kingdom. All attempts to read the words failed, and the king was left without an answer.

Hearing what had happened, the Queen comes to the hall to find the king trembling with great fear. She assured him there was a man in the kingdom with whom the spirit of the Holy God was upon who could tell the meaning of the words. Daniel was called to tell the interpretation of the words “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin,” meaning the king the Holy God whose vessels the king had defiled had numbered the days of his kingdom, and it was at an end. Further, the kingdom of Belshazzar would be given to the Medes and Persians because the king had been weighed in the balance and had not measured up to the grace of God. Daniel received the honor promised by Belshazzar, but that night Darius the Mede was already outside the city of Babylon. In the same night, the Medes entered the city and killed Belshazzar, just as the word of the Lord had said.

There is a contrast of worldly views found in the story of Belshazzar and the writing on the wall. On one side is the carnal pursuits of the fleshly nature fulfilled in the debauchery of the feast. It was a feast filled with drunkenness, sexual immorality, lewdness, and blasphemy. None of those gathered had a thought of what tomorrow would bring. They lived for the moment. In the midst of their frivolity, a sign was given to remind them of who was in charge of the world. Ironically, all the wisdom of Babylon gathered in one room could make no sense of its meaning. The best and brightest of the kingdom were oblivious to interpreting and explaining the meaning of the words. Their passions were centered upon their self-indulgence. Trying to understand four words escaped them. They were doomed and did not know it.

Daniel is on the other side of the story. The words were not complicated or hard to understand, but the need was to see them from God’s mind. Belshazzar was king of Babylon, but the Holy God of Israel, whose vessels the king had defiled, was the Creator of the universe holding the king’s breath in His hand. God owned all the king’s ways, and the king did not glorify the true God. All the wisdom of Babylon or the world could not make sense of four words. The wisdom of man is useless in the face of the divine word. It took a humble servant of the Lord to explain the meaning of the words. Daniel showed an incredible amount of courage to tell the king – to his face – his kingdom was over, and he would die.

The world is filled with souls who go through life enjoying the sensual joys of fleshly indulgence with no care or concern for God. All the wisdom of humanity will never bring them true happiness, answer the more profound questions of the human equation, or promise anything of value. Like Babylon’s knowledge failed as it faced the word of God, desperate hearts seeking worth in themselves will fail. God’s word is not four words but the message of a graceful God found in the Bible. Only when men turn to the Creator and listen to His words can happiness in life be found. Who do you follow? The wise men of the world or the voice of God?

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Is There Life On Other Planets?

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

Is There Life On Other Planets?

The news recently rekindled an age-old question of flying saucers, UFOs, and the quest to find life on other planets. Presently, NASA’s Perseverance rover is on the planet Mars to collect samples and find evidence of ancient life. Missions to Mars have taken place since 1965, with plans to launch manned flights to the lunar south pole by 2024 as proving ground for strategies to reach Mars. Neil Armstrong found when he first stepped foot on the Moon the same thing when vehicles landed on Mars – no extraterrestrial beings live there. Scientists believe they will find evidence of life on the planets to understand the origins of the Earth, which is contrary since the only life to be seen is on Earth.

When Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon’s surface, it was a remarkable feat of human engineering. Since 1969, other men have walked on the Moon with Gene Cernan, the last man to stand on the lunar surface in 1972. Mars is the next closest planet to land vehicles upon but requires nearly seven months to arrive on the surface when Mars and Earth align, allowing for a quicker and more efficient journey (occurring every 26 months). While the pictures coming back from the surface of Mars are outstanding, there are no primitive buildings, smiling Martians, and evidence of life. It is a barren, frigid, inhospitable world half the size of Earth.

Is there life on other planets? Will the day come when, like early explorers, new lands and new peoples are found dotting the landscape of the vast tapestry of the star-filled heavens? Long before the advent of Flash Gordon’s Hollywood productions, My Favorite Martian, Star Wars, and Star Trek, men have imagined aliens from the heavens landing on Earth. In 1938, Orson Welles scared the world with his rendition of the War of the Worlds, suggesting Martians had landed on Earth terrorizing the world. Sightings of unidentified flying objects find their way into the news, fueling speculation the government is hiding a covert program of extraterrestrial beings used for science studies. Many believe the day will come that space travel will be as common as going to the store for milk.

The Bible is a book that answers many questions, and it addresses the question of whether there is life on other planets. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Whatever is seen in the sky was made by the hand of the Divine. The Moon and Mars did not take billions of years to form. They were created at the instant the Creator spoke. Moses reveals that when creation was finished, God formed man from the dust of the ground (Earth) and then took a rib from the first man and created the woman. Adam’s name means “red earth.” Paul will later tell the saints in Corinth that Adam was the “first man” and that he was “of the earth, made of dust.” Whatever beings are in the universe were created by God.  Since Adam was the first, all beings are human or in Adam’s image. The first time a human left the bounds of Earth to travel into space was in 1961 when Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, entered the void above the circle of the Earth. He was not a Martian or a being from another planet. The search for life on other planets is an exercise in futility because God created Adam as the first and all other creatures follow in his similitude.

A final reason there are no extraterrestrial beings running around the universe is found in the words of Jesus. He told Nicodemus that God so loved the world – limiting the geography of God’s grace. Jesus came to Earth to become a man and die for the sins of the world, not for Moon-people, Martians, or Klingons. If God created all that is in the universe and Jesus only came to Earth to die for humankind, there are no other civilizations on planets spread throughout the universe. UFOs do exist, but only in the context; they are flying objects that are not identified. It may do well to consider governments’ secrets creating machines that are unknown to the public (stealth technology, for example). One thing is sure about UFOs – they do not have little green creatures that look like an octopus on steroids flying them. The suspicion is they are human-made, earthy, and secret. Look to God. He is real.

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Bring Your Glove To Church

Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12)

Bring Your Glove To Church

The American Baseball season is well underway, with games dotting the landscape of towns across America. It has been called “America’s Pastime” and the essence of the American spirit. A most unusual game took place recently. The time was set for the teams to play, and the fans gathered to watch a rival match between two champions. Batting first, the visiting team sent their first batter to the box to prepare for the opening pitch. As he gazed over the field for a strategic place to play the ball, the batter noticed that five or six of the nine players did not have gloves, including the catcher. The visiting team routed the home team as players were unable to handle the balls without the glove.

Tim Kurkjian writes, “A player’s glove, especially for a good defensive player, is his most personal piece of equipment, and it is treated with great respect and care.” No one would imagine a game where the teams would show up without their gloves. Kurkjian relates how “former Indians pitcher Brian Anderson once forgot his glove on a spring training bus trip to Winter Haven, Fla., so, in full uniform, he borrowed a car to go buy a glove” at Walmart. The glove is one of the most important tools a player has to play the game. If a player refused to bring his glove to the game, he would not last long in the sport.

When Jesus promised the apostles that He would build His church, there were expectations included in that promise. The saints would gather on the first day of the week to worship the Father, remember the Son of God’s sacrifice, and fellowship as saints in the grace of God. Every first day of the week would be when God’s people would gather together in the same place for the singular purpose of obeying the Lord, receiving edification and instruction, and admonishing one another in love. The focus of the assembly would be worship. Reading from the pages of holy writ would be the primary foundation of worship. It would be impossible to worship God in spirit and truth without the written word. As the canon of God’s word was established, it became known as “The Bible.” This book would become the foundational rock of truth in the church of Christ.

For many years, the Bible was considered a person’s most personal possession, and it is treated with great respect and care. Families would go to church each Sunday carrying their Bibles in their hands. Children learned early how to find the books of the Bible. Memory verses were learned to gain knowledge of scripture. Preachers would preach from the Book, citing many passages the audience would turn to and read along with the speaker. Almost everyone had a Bible, and if they happen to forget their Bible, they used the one found in the pew. Worship service was a time of investigating, learning, and opening up the word of God.

Sadly, so often in today’s busy world, many of God’s people come to services without a Bible. Pew Bibles are available to open and follow along, but many sit dispassionately listening to the message. Few Bibles are opened. With the advent of media, there is no need to open the Bible as all the scriptures are displayed on the screen for the audience’s convenience. There is a good reason for showing the passages on the overhead because many of those sitting in the pew have no idea where the books of the Bible are located, much less how to find chapters and verses. This again is a sad commentary on how God’s people have little knowledge of God’s book. The church is like a baseball team showing up to play but without their gloves.

Sometimes, the innovations of men have crippled the instructions of the Lord. When churches begin to fill with saints who do not bring their Bibles and who do not open a Bible to read along with the message or spend time examining the text, the work of the Lord suffers. A lot. Bible class teachers who do not teach the Bible in class but instead spend the hour playing – are preparing a generation to forget God. Churches who do not put the word of God first will be first in apostasy and worldliness. The Bereans were more noble than those of Thessalonica because they knew what to do with a baseball glove.

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Lovers Of

For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

Lovers Of

The world at large is made up of those who love themselves and those who love God. It is not hard to distinguish the two apart from one another. The majority of the people of the world have little or no interest in God and live to please themselves. Life for the mass of humanity consists of waking each day to fulfill whatever desires and wishes they deem necessary and valuable to their lives. It could be their job that brings them complete satisfaction. Life can be measured by schemes to make more money. Many spend endless hours grooming their bodies to be the most beautiful, glamorous, and seductive allurements for others to gaze upon. The fame of the red carpet is where the heart of prideful spirits seeks fulfillment. Young minds are filled with the desire to be a famous athlete or musician, or actor to be looked upon with admiration.

Paul offers a concise list of challenges facing the majority of souls in the world. For most, life is about self and the love of self. Those who are lovers of themselves believe the world revolves around their life. They have the spirit of entitlement expecting the world to cower to their whims and desires. Lovers of money spend their lives conniving, scheming, and manipulating to gain as much wealth as possible. Many faithless hearts boast in arrogance to their self-worth. Pride is the spirit of the self-entitled men and women who view the world as their playground to do as they wish. Blasphemers are people who become their own gods, creating an air of self-worship and personal exaltation.

Family relationships have no meaning to lovers of self. There is no honor to parents or older adults as families are abandoned for the pleasures of self-indulgence. Life is characterized by what can be taken without any thankfulness or gratitude for others. The daily life of lovers of self is wholly unholy, immoral, and ungodly. They are unloving, unforgiving, and will slander others, and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. It will mean nothing to betray friends, act reckless, and boast of their superiority to all the world. These hearts are filled with the love of pleasure and nothing else.

Jesus told the multitude on the mountain most people will follow the broad path to destruction, and few will find everlasting life. It will only take a moment to see the picture of carnality in the world. These traits fill the landscape of the human experience. Look around and see how many lives follow the path in one form or another described by Paul. Sadly, the lovers of pleasures will enjoy life until they die and find no happiness after life. Lovers of God will be the only souls who find peace, happiness, and hope in this life and enjoy eternal rest in the life to come. The greatest tragedy for lovers of themselves is they live for pleasures that have no lasting value. It never brings the happiness they desire. Misery and hopelessness is the only answer they find. Lovers of God lived fulfilled lives full of value and worth. There are two kinds of people: they are both lovers of something. What they love is what makes a difference in their life now and, more importantly, what they find after life is gone. Your choice. What do you love?

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Throw Jesus Over The Hill

So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way. (Luke 4:28-30)

Throw Jesus Over The Cliff

Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus where He grew up with his brothers and sisters in a village known for its carpenters. The family of Joseph and Mary was well-known among the tight-knit community. Beginning His Galilean ministry, Jesus returned to Nazareth where he had been brought up, and as His custom was, went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He had often read from the scriptures, and when he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah, Jesus read from the section of the text describing the coming Messiah and how the Spirit of the Lord would be upon Him. Closing the book and handing it back to the attendant, Jesus sat down, and the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

No one in the synagogue could have expected what happened next. Following the reading from Isaiah, Jesus told the crowd the He was the fulfillment of the passage from Isaiah. Jesus spoke graciously to the crowd, but they became angry when He suggested they were hard-hearted and unwilling to hear His teaching. The only thing the people of Nazareth could see was a lowly carpenter’s son. They refused to accept Jesus was anything but common. As Jesus spoke, the fury of the people increased to murderous anger. Grabbing Jesus roughly, the crowd shoved their fellow citizen out of the town to throw Him headlong over the cliff in the hopes of killing Him. Jesus did not fight back or resist. Tussled along the road and out of the city, the men held Jesus firmly with rough hands, screaming at him and threatening His life. As they neared the place at the top of the hill, Jesus passed through them and went His way.

A miracle was done in their presence, and no one seemed to take note. As the men carried Jesus to the hill, He disappeared. Were they so intent on their murderous plot, they could not see the miracle before their eyes? Jesus went to Capernaum, about 30 miles, and began teaching in the synagogue. He healed many people in the area and spent time preaching throughout the synagogues of Galilee, but no one from Nazareth came and acknowledged what happened in their city. How did they explain what happened to Jesus when they returned to the city? Throughout His early ministry, Jesus would visit the area around Nazareth, and again, the people of the city made no special effort to acknowledge what Jesus had said and done.

God has always made Himself visible to the world. His Son came in the flesh and through teaching and miracles showed Himself to be the Son of God. The spirit of the people of Nazareth pervades the hearts of men who shut their ears to the teaching of Christ and would rather throw Him over the hill headlong to kill Him than to accept His message. Many opportunities are given for the people to see the power of Jesus, but they refuse. The Bible is the mind of God revealed to help man find peace and truth, and like the people of Nazareth, men squander the opportunities until it is too late. Their disbelief did not change the fact that Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah. He died to bear the sins of humanity and to open a pathway to the grace of the Father. Pardon cannot be given to a man who refuses to accept it.

Jesus came to show men He was the only begotten Son of God, and through Him, salvation is found. Everything man needs is provided in the Bible to direct him to God. The words of Jesus are true, and He is the light of the world. Sadly, none of this will matter to hearts that are stopped up. Men would rather throw Jesus over the hill than listen to Him. When the miracle of the final day comes, there will be no more hope. As Jesus disappeared from the crowd the day they wanted to kill Him, so will the opportunities for salvation fade away. What will you do with Jesus?

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The Word Of God Is Pure

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

The Word Of God Is Pure

In metallurgy, metal is refined to its purest form purifying the metal of all impurities. 24-karat gold is the purest gold, but it is only 99.9% pure. Its value is increased from 9-karats to the highest of 24-karat. The word used by the wise man about the word of God is that it has been purified like a refiner’s fire. Every word of God is pure without any contaminants. It is not 99.9% pure – it has nothing added to it, giving it a purity rate of 100% without a mixture of error and dross. Whatever trials it may be exposed to, it is always like gold: it bears the fire and comes out with the same luster, the same purity, and the same weight. The difference is that every word of God is pure, and nothing is added that will contaminate.

The problem has always been the meddling of human wisdom mixed with the word that has created a tainted gospel. It is not uncommon for men to take the word of God and incorporate it in their own doctrines, and while retaining a luster of gold, it is not the pure word. To the untrained eye, there may be a slight difference between 14-karat gold and 24-karat gold. It will require investigation to determine the mixture of metals in the gold, but a trained eye will notice the subtle differences and, upon examination, declare the gold impure. Every word of God is pure when it is received as it is, the word of God. The warning of the Lord has always been not to add to the divine will. If a man presents a piece of gold and tells the buyer it is 24-karat when it is of less value, the man will be found a liar. Preaching a gospel that is not the pure word of God makes the man a liar.

Gold can be found in different qualities and value, but the word of the Lord is of one quality and one value. It is the purest of all things on earth. Another mistake human wisdom will make to God’s pure word is to reject one part of teaching. The wise man said every word of God is pure. When a man refuses to accept one piece of scripture because he does not like it, he rejects the whole word of God. A man will say that he believes in Jesus Christ and believes Him to be the Son of God but refuses to follow all the teachings of Christ. Religion becomes a choice of what pleases men rather than what the word of God demands. Satan is careful to allow a man to believe in God and taint the picture of God’s word with a mixture of human wisdom. There are 2 billion followers of Christ in the world, but the large majority of that number will not accept the whole word of God. Either a man must take every word of God as pure or reject the entire message of God as error. Every word of God is pure without exception, or it is not the word of God.

There is a figure by which everyone must be a spiritual metallurgist. In other words, when the Bible is presented in its golden form, the true disciple of Jesus Christ will examine the quality of the word to make sure it is 100% pure the word of God. The best gold can be refined to its highest value of 99.9%, but God’s word is 100%. This requires investigation, comparison, and examination to know if what is being taught is the word of God. Too many souls have accepted the golden message of God tainted with the impure metals of human wisdom and carnal doctrines. Like gold, mixing in other metals decreases the worth of the word of God. The true value of God’s word is when a man accepts every word as pure – with no exceptions.

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Repent Or Face The Lord’s Anger

Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O undesirable nation, before the decree is issued, or the day passes like chaff, before the Lord’s fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s anger comes upon you! Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the Lord’s anger. (Zephaniah 2:1-3)

Repent Or Face The Lord’s Anger

The message of Zephaniah begins with an immediate, forceful, and demonstrative declaration of the wrath of God. He begins his book by declaring the Lord will utterly consume all things from off the land because of the people’s idolatrous practices. God’s people had turned back from Him and did not seek the Lord nor inquire of the word of the Lord. Zephaniah fearlessly proclaimed the day of the Lord. If the people were to be saved, they must repent or face the Lord’s anger. God warns Judah, including the scope of divine judgment if the nation fails to change their hearts. Hope is found in the remnant of Israel to be restored.

Judah, under the rule of Josiah, will experience a time of restoration. The young king did that which was right in the Lord’s sight and walked in all the ways of David his father. Along with Jeremiah the prophet, Zephaniah will seek to bring the people’s hearts back to the Lord. Zephaniah’s message is with a clear tone of divine warning that there would be no hope without repentance. The prophet begins his message with the terrors of the judgment of God to demonstrate the holiness of a jealous God who demands obedience from His people. There is an unmistakable tone of doom against those who would refuse to turn away from sin. Judgment would come in certain terms without regard to the person. Sin defiles the heart of man, and the wrath of God cleanses the filth of sin. The message of Zephaniah is loud for all the people to hear and for them to know the coming judgment of the Lord was absolute.

The language of Zephaniah speaks of the Lord’s fierce anger and the day of the Lord’s anger. Repentance demands recognizing the wrath of God. Sin will not go unpunished. When men seek to come before the Lord, they must change their hearts not because they are worthy of anything but to know how terrible sin is to the eyes of the Lord. Fear is a motive behind repentance as well as godly sorrow. To say one is sorry for a deed without remorse or fear cannot bring repentance. Zephaniah pleads with the people to seek the Lord, seek righteousness and seek humility. A man who does not fear God will not seek Him. Righteousness demands knowing the wrath of God. Humility is found when the heart of man meets the will of the Lord.

Forgiveness is joyful because the wrath of God is hidden. No one deserves the mercy of God, yet, through a penitent heart, the Lord will take away His wrath and accept the contrite person who knowing the anger of the Lord, seeks His favor. The words of the Publican who could only pray to the Lord for mercy as a sinner knew the fierceness of God’s wrath and the soothing peace of forgiveness. A man will deceive himself into believing he can seek forgiveness without a heart filled with the fear of God’s wrath. The joy of God’s grace is His willingness to remove sin as far as the east is from the west and take away His anger. What a joy to know of the divine love of God and His eternal mercy.

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