God Still Provides In 2020

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11)

God Still Provides In 2020

The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years since the Great Depression. With the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) raging around the world and 1.5 million deaths worldwide, the economic, political, and scientific repercussions have yet to be fully realized. The next few years will tell the measure of how great the impact of COVID-19 will be upon the world. Economies around the globe have been hard hit. Families have torn apart with the loss of industries, jobs, closures, and financial ruin. In the United States, seemingly secure business is struggling to find ways to continue amidst the social distancing and masking regulations imposed by various institutions. In many places, churches are not meeting as a result of legal impositions or decisions by leaders of the congregation to mitigate the spread of the virus. The disruption of the assembly has been a heavy burden on the church. What was taken for granted before is now a challenge to find ways to fulfill the will of the Father.

As the year draws to a close there is one truth that has remained constant. In the face of the viral turmoil of COVID-19, God has remained constant. Many parts of society have been altered permanently but the word of God remains as true as it has been from the beginning. God’s grace and providence continue to fill the world. The people of God have suffered much loss in the year 2020 but for the spiritually acute souls, it has been a year of deep reflection. God has not abandoned His people. He remains constant in the face of turmoil. Like the persecuted saints of the first century, God’s message to the beleaguered hearts of the downtrodden is that He still rules and reigns in the affairs of men. His purpose remains the same. The work of the church continues. Souls must be saved through the power of the gospel. That is God’s way of showing the world the power of His love and the purpose of His Son.

Looking at how God has continued to bless His people with courage and faith, there is a need for the family of God to remember its commitment to the will of the Father. God has remained constant in His love and He expects His children to continue their commitment to His kingdom. One such example is the reciprocation of gifts received from the Father in the manner of laying aside the bounty of giving. The churches of Macedonia were a great example to the early Christians in their example of sacrifice. In the face of a great trial of affliction, the brethren abounded in the liberality of their giving. They did not allow the present distress to dissuade them from showing God their joy in the face of deep poverty. First, they gave of themselves and then to the Lord in actions of gratitude. Paul is admonishing the church at Corinth to follow the pattern of the Macedonian churches to give as they purpose in their hearts, not grudgingly or of necessity but cheerfully pleasing God.

Laying aside the contribution to the Lord is a way to show faith and courage in the dark days of COVID-19. The work of the church will continue and His people remain obligated to fulfill their role in laying aside a gift required by the Lord. It comes from a purposed heart that trusts in the providence of the Lord. Giving during the days of peace was easy; having a trusting heart to do so in these troubled times shows a greater faith. God will generously provide all the needs of His children. They will always have everything they need and plenty left over to share with others. Christians will be enriched in every way so that they can always be generous. And when a faithful child of God ministers their gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. Don’t forget to show loyalty to the Father.

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I AM The Alpha And The Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:8-11)

I Am The Alpha And The Omega

Everything about man is finite. He has a beginning and he has an end. Life begins in conception and concludes in death. Time is measured by days, weeks, months, and years. When a man dies the inscription on his tombstone reflects a beginning point and an ending time. This is the nature of man’s mortality. The habitation of man is limited by space and time. There are depths the human body is unable to bear. While technology has allowed men to explore the vast oceans of the world and walk on the moon they cannot live there. Life on the International Space Station is limited by time. The longest single stay in space is 14 months. Travel to Mars is a one-way ticket (if even possible by humanity). The nearest star to the solar system is Proxima Centauri at a distance of about 4.22 light-years (40 trillion kilometers or 2.48548477 x 10 to the 13th power miles). And there are billions of stars in the universe. A French woman lived to be 122 years of age dying in 1997. She lived a very, very long life but she died. Everything about man is finite.

The early Christians were under the heavy hand of persecution and the Lord comes to the apostle John with a revelation to give hope and peace to the tormented saints. In the book of the Revelation, God reassures His children that life will be hard, filled with great trials and adversity and many will suffer great hardships for the cause of Christ. The reality of persecution is the inability to see a larger picture of what these trials will mean in the greater scheme of God’s plan. Faced with torture and cruelty, the early disciples needed the courage to endure to the end and to see hope in the victory of Jesus Christ. The Revelation will unfold the “behind-the-scenes” divine will of God for His church which the suffering saints could not see. To bolster the faith of His people, Jesus declares at the beginning of His message that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end; and He has a message for them. The Greek alphabet has 24 letters including seven vowels. Alpha is the first letter and Omega the last. Jesus declares that He is the Alpha and the Omega because He is not finite, He has no beginning and He has no end. He is everything.

The reassurance needed by the early Christians was to remember that the Divine was from eternity to eternity. Man was created on the sixth day but God existed before the first day. The history of mankind began when God formed man from the dust of the ground. This is the emphasis of the Alpha and the Omega to see that God existed before the creation of man. All men die and even though Methuselah lived to be 969 years old, he died. God does not die. The Divine has power and presence beyond death. The span of man’s life is limited in every way but God is unlimited in everything. There is no comparison to how great God is and how small man is. As someone said, “Oh God how large your ocean and how small my boat.” The infinite wisdom of God is beyond the scope of human knowledge. His power is so great the same sun, moon, and stars beheld by Adam and Eve on the first day of their creation is the same sun, moon, and stars filling the sky today.

Jesus is telling the Christians that He is the beginning and the end as the totality of all things measured by the will of God in the affairs of men. There is nothing men should fear when they serve the One who fills the time with His presence. No ocean is so deep the Lord cannot dwell. No particle of the universe is not touched by the finger of God. Life can be filled with sorrow, pain, and tears but the Alpha and the Omega will wipe away those tears. It was encouraging for the saints to be reassured that God cared for them and knew their trials. The Alpha and the Omega is larger than man. He is the entirety of all things. What is there to fear? Courage comes from knowing that the One who made the world still rules in the affairs of men. It matters not what happens in this life when the King of King and Lord of Lords rules with all power, dominion, and authority. He is the Alpha. He is the Omega. Praise God.

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There Is No Comparison

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

There Is No Comparison

Wisdom is the quality of possessing the knowledge to discern and apply various disciplines to life. Admittedly, many people possess a higher level of knowledge than most men. Some surveys suggest the top four individuals in history who excelled in knowledge were Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Johann Goethe. These men had an intellectual prowess far beyond the common man. Albert Einstein is famous for the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). His name is synonymous with being smart and having an incredible mind. History has been molded by the theories of Newton, the beauty and designs of da Vinci, and the conclusions of Einstein. Much of the modern world still revolves around the conclusions of great men who shaped the course of humanity. While the lives of great men and women who lived genius lives are admired and sought after, there is a rudimentary knowledge that young children possess and common men and women have that far exceed the greatest minds in history. The foolishness of God is greater than the heights of man’s wisdom.

In 1969, an incredible human accomplishment took place when Neil Armstrong stepped foot on the moon. Few things come close to how human wisdom was able to transport three men to the moon and back especially considering the technology available at the time. What is forgotten is who put the moon there in the first place. Science has launched spacecraft to deep recesses of the universe and put machines on Mars sending back incredible pictures. By comparison, the wisdom of man has put a few men on the moon, perused the Martian terrain and opened the depths of the seas, and unraveled many mysteries of disease but cannot explain the order of the universe, its creation, and the love of God. The story of a carpenter from a small Galilean village of Nazareth who lived two thousand years ago does not cause a ripple in the curious wisdom of humanity. If the story is to be believed, this itinerant early century teacher was convicted as a criminal and executed by the Roman government. Where is the wisdom in that story?

The comparison between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of man is separated by such a wide chasm there is no tool to measure the infinite disparity of the two. At best, the foolishness of the Divine is greater than all the minds of humanity since the beginning of time – combined. It’s like comparing an atomic particle of dust (human wisdom) to the expanse of the known universe (God’s wisdom) and that pales in comparison. Jesus Christ dying on a cross does not compute to the wisdom of men. It makes no sense. There is no purpose. To most of humanity in the last two thousand years, the death of Jesus was of little or no consequence. Human wisdom could not and would not accept a story so outlandish. And yet in the story of the gospel of Jesus, the incredible wisdom of God is found.

To those who are drawn to the cross of Jesus, there is power. The wisdom of God unfolds every day through creation. When the heart spends time in the word of God, the value of God’s wisdom fortifies and solidifies the soul with peace, knowledge, understanding, joy, and hope. Human wisdom cannot give this. Only through the word of God will man find his role in life and the answers to what is beyond the vale of death. Great men can change the world and leave their mark on the pages of history. But the real question is what happened when Albert Einstein died and discovered the world beyond the grave. How important was the theory of relativity? The only thing relative to Einstein at the moment of his death was his relationship with God. That is the wisdom of God compared to the wisdom of man. The wisdom of man ceases at death. Knowing the wisdom of God will take one safely through the valley of the shadow of death. I love the foolishness and weakness of God because it makes me wiser and stronger.

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Who We Are Is What We Are

A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

Who We Are Is What We Are

There is one thing in life that we had no choice in yet defines everything about us. The choice of being born was made by our parents and the name given in birth was not by our design but the will of others. We learn early to recognize the name when it is used. From a young age, children respond to a name. Like blank pages of a book, a child’s mind is receptive to the language that identifies them without regard to the meaning. All children are born with an open and receptive mind to accept whatever culture they are born into. A child born in a German family will respond to the German language much like a child born to an Italian family will grow up speaking Italian. No one tells them why they speak the language. They accept it as natural. The name given is the same identifying marker that separates them from all the billions of people on earth. A name is who we are in the world we grow up and identify with.

The influence of a name is determined by what a person does with that name. A name begins as a neutral identity with no significance or importance. If the character or reputation of the person becomes evil, the name becomes evil. In April of 1889, a little boy was born to Alois and Klara Hitler that was as unassuming as any boy in Austria. However, the name Adolf Hitler is synonymous with evil and hatred. In the late 1700s, a family migrated from a German village near the French border to America where the family would settle in Kansas. The family moved to Texas for a short time where they had a son born whom they called Dwight David Eisenhower. This name would be recognized as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe that would help bring World War 2 to a conclusion. Dwight Eisenhower would become the 34th President of the United States. His name is respected in the annals of history as a soldier and leader of the free world.

There are many things to seek in life, but the only thing left on a marble headstone is a name and a date. The name inscribed speaks to the volume of life. It speaks to the character, reputation, and influence of the person. When all is said and done, all that a person leaves behind is their name. Solomon writes that a good name is better than anything a man may attain in life. A costly perfume will pass away but a good name will endure. The day of death is what seals a name in the eternal vault of knowledge. It takes a lifetime to create a good name but only a moment to destroy it. King David is remembered as a man after God’s own heart but his name will always be soiled with the story of Bathsheba. A good name is hard to come by and even harder to keep.

The Bible begins with a name. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The Lord identifies Himself immediately by telling a man what His name is. This name must be revered and honored and respected. The end of the Bible also includes a name: the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything between Genesis and the Revelation is about the name of divinity. The Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit give their names to identify who they are and what they have done for mankind. Every child is given a name by their parents and God will use that name to either inscribe it on the pages of the Book of Life or to cast it away from Him. God knows the names of every person that lives on the earth and He will recall that name on the final day of judgment. The day of death seals our names in eternity. What we did with that name will determine our destiny whether it is a good name or an evil name. That decision is yours. What you do with your name is who you are and who you will become. A good name is to be treasured above all things.

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I AM Not Of The World

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:14-18)

I Am Not Of The World

Jesus is the Son of God. There can be no doubt of His divinity. Paramount to the acceptance of God’s scheme of redemption is the acknowledgment that He who was God left His place with the Father and became a man to die for the sins of humanity. Jesus was born in the natural process, but His conception was divine. He walked among men with the same burdens of the physical flesh when He hungered, thirst for water, grew weary and had to sleep. Everything about the visage of Jesus was as common as all those around Him. Many people of His day had trouble distinguishing Him as divine because He was so much like other men. His teaching was powerful and astonished the people, but this did not make Him as God. The Jews accused Him of blasphemy when He said that He was God and He knew the Father – and on the surface the Jews were correct. However, what the leaders refused to accept was that no man could do the miracles of Jesus unless He was God. They killed Jesus for envy and calling Himself God failing to believe the man from Nazareth was the Son of the living God.

In the final hours of Jesus’ life on earth, He spoke to the eleven apostles about something they had no idea was going to happen. As the eleven walked with Jesus to Gethsemane, Jesus poured out His heart to His Father and tried to explain to the disciples the impact His death would have on their lives. They could not imagine that in a short time Jesus would be arrested, tried, and convicted sentenced to death on a Roman cross. The garden was drawing near and the soul of Jesus was troubled. As He prayed to the Father, He acknowledged the will of the Father had been done through the Son to deliver the gospel of good news for them to carry to the whole world. Because they were followers of Jesus, these men would become marked opponents of the world. Judas had given into the wiles of Satan and was preparing to deliver Jesus to His executioners. The remaining apostles would take the gospel into the world in a little over fifty days when Pentecost came. Their lives would be in contrast to the world as they lived separate and holy lives preaching the gospel of salvation to the Jew and Gentile alike. This would make them hated by the world. Jesus knew they would accomplish the will of the Father because they were not of the world.

The truth of God is what sanctified Jesus from the world. His word conflicted with the wisdom of men. Jesus had never committed a wrong in His life and yet the world hated Him. He went about doing good and teaching a gospel of peace with a message of judgment. The world despised Him. He was not of the world as something more than being divine. His life contrasted with the carnal wisdom of men who sought to please themselves. Jesus left an example of holiness, purity, and dedication to the will of the Father. He was not of the world because He was of the Father. His example is what God desires of His children to be in the world but not of the world. The truth of the gospel sanctifies or sets apart the heart of those who abide by His will. No man can serve God and be like the world. Jesus was not of the world because He kept the word of God. The Christian cannot be of the world when he keeps the word of God.

Jesus came into the world to not become like the world but to die for the world. Every Christian must be in the world but not be like the world. This is found in obedience and servitude to the kingdom of God. The cross is the defining moment when a man chooses to not be of the world. His life, goals, desires, and plans become the will of the Father. While he walks an earthly pilgrimage, his soul is heavenward bound. Jesus lived with His eyes on the Father. The Christian must know this world is not their home and they are walking toward the Father. Everything about the life of a child of God is measured by the word of God. This will make them enemies of the world, but they are not of the world as Jesus was not of the world. To be a follower of Jesus is to walk the same path as he did. Jesus was not of this world. Are you?

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What Is Your Goal?

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

What Is Your Goal?

An unknown author said, “In the absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” Everyone can achieve the goals they set for themselves. When a man has no goals, he will always reach what he has aimed at. Some goals take longer to attain but the purpose is not so much the goal but the journey that takes a person to that goal. Climbing a mountain may seem to be an impossible dream but if a man seeks to reach the top, his character will be forged in the spirit of the attempt. Even if he does not reach the top of Everest, his life is changed because of the purpose he possessed attempting the goal. The reality is that most people have no goals and they aimlessly go through life achieving little and having nothing to hope for.  

There are many blessings for the child of God in Christ. One of the joys for the Christian is the ability to lead a goal-oriented life in service to others and God. The apostle Paul was an extraordinary worker for the kingdom of God. His life is a pattern of a person driven by a single goal and the fortitude to seek nothing else in life but that goal. Paul’s goal was to reach the end of his life and to receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, called him to seek. His highest desire was eternal salvation. Every day of his life was tuned into the cause of grace, the purpose of the gospel, and the building of his character to imitate Jesus Christ. He had a goal. There were many things in his past that could hinder his journey because as Saul the persecutor, he had violently sought to destroy the church of Christ. Those things were put behind him as he enjoyed the forgiveness of a loving Father. He pressed forward with a purposed vitality of a certain goal promised by a faithful Lord.

Paul lived with a goal and that changed his life. His goal was to please God. He was not concerned about the praises of men and his preaching reflected Christ crucified and nothing else. In his ministry, he sought to live a quiet life and to work diligently in the cause of Christ. His aim was measured by the daily goals he set for himself to be an example to others. He left an example for Christians to follow. The child of God must have goals to work toward the goal of eternal life. Like Paul, life must be measured by the desire to please God, showing no concern for the whims of men and to live quiet lives filled with godliness and righteousness. This cannot be done if the heart is not focused on those goals.

Michelangelo said, “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Too often the Christian has no goal in life and meagerly serves God at the minimum. Bible study becomes humdrum, worship is boring and there is little joy in the life of the Christian. Why? There are no goals. When life has no goals – those goals are always met! Make it your aim to put aside anything that hinders you from accomplishing growing in Christ and longing for eternal life. Your life will change incredibly. What is your goal?

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Have You Tasted What The Lord Offers?

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Have You Tasted What The Lord Offers?

There are five basic senses of the human experience. They are taste, touch, sight, smell, and hearing. Each of these sensory systems responds to stimuli that produce a response to the brain helping to understand the world around them. The five senses are necessary for the experience of life provided in the material world by the Creator. Taste is a gustatory sensation resulting from materials passing over the tongue and throat producing an experience of pleasure or pain. Through the mechanism of taste, conclusions are derived that will tell the person whether the ingested portion is good or bad. Those things that are most pleasant are desired and sought after. Tasting sour or distasteful things will immediately have a negative response. This is necessary to keep a man safe from harmful things that might enter the body without the warnings of taste.

In a spiritual parable, the five senses of the human experience replicate themselves in knowing God. Faith begins with hearing that moves the spirit to feel a need to change the heart. Seeing the word of God and the grace of God, the aroma of the will of God produces a change in the soul of man to touch the hem of the Lord’s garments for forgiveness. All these senses draw the open heart to taste or experience the wonderful love of a forgiving Father who shares His blessings abundantly to His children. The experience of taste is to discover the nature and quality of the character of God. Nothing is nobler for a man to seek than to experience the heavenly gift and enjoy the feast of God’s love.

The character of taste is to immediately recognize something unpleasant to the tongue or throat. To digest, a sour lemon brings about an immediate reaction. Tasting something that might be poisonous can easily be discerned as saving a life. Peter shows the two-fold character of the spiritual senses found in the Christian. Some things should be distasteful, disgusting, and revolting to the taste of the discerning child of God. Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking should be spewed out of the mouth as repugnant. These are things that should be rejected by the ‘spiritual taste buds’ of those who speak words of grace and live lives of devotion to the Lord. The heart filled with evil will show a life guided by wickedness. Rather, desire the wholesome milk of the word, to grow in the grace of Christ.

Newborn babies love the taste of milk and are one of the first things they experience in life. A baby long without milk will become irritable and unhappy. Without the proper amount of nutrients, the baby will die. Taste is one of the first noticeable experiences of a newborn. Like newborn babies, the Christian will crave the pure spiritual milk so they can grow into a full experience of salvation. No matter how old a child of God is, they still cry out for this nourishment. Those things that are distasteful are rejected and spewed out of the mouth.

Taste is the precursor to the enjoyment of what is digested. A hot cup of coffee warms the body. Enjoying a fine meal brings great satisfaction to the spirit. The sense of taste is fully realized when the experience is felt by the whole body. Tasting the grace of God is the most wonderful experience a man can ever know. Forgiveness is the sensation of pure joy knowing that God promises to wash away all sins (no exceptions) with the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no condemnation to those in Christ and what a delightful taste of joy to know the grace of God. Tasting that the Lord is gracious is to dine at the table of Lord daily counting all the blessings of what it means to be a child of God. There is no greater sensation than when a man comes to the table of the Lord and looks upon the feast of eternal grace. Have you tasted the Lord and found Him gracious?

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Despising The Word Of God

And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak; He gave them all into his hand. (2 Chronicles 36:15-17)

Despising The Word Of God

The word of the Lord is how the world was created. God spoke and the universe containing the earth and all heavenly bodies were formed, established, and determined by the counsel of His wisdom. Everything that exists in the world is held together by the word of God. Adam and Eve disobeyed the word of the Lord and suffered the consequence of sin. When the early world turned away from the word of God, the Lord destroyed all life except Noah and his family. In every generation, the word of the Lord has determined whether a man would live or die. God made a promise to Abraham to make of him a great nation and that his descendants would possess the land of Canaan. Through him, all nations would be blessed in the promise of a son through whom the divine Word would come into the world. Jesus was the Word that died for the sins of all humanity and in His blood, redemption was offered to those who would believe and obey.

Israel was the example of God’s grace, mercy, and love. The people of God also became the pattern to warn men of the consequences of rejecting the word of God. Israel had become an exalted nation among all nations. The Lord blessed them beyond measure, but the heart of the people turned away from God. Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel was divided into northern and southern tribes. The northern tribes of Israel immediately rejected the word of God and were destroyed by the Assyrians. In the remaining two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the people of God struggled to keep faith in the word of God. The ultimate failure of Israel came when after repeated warnings from the Lord through His prophets were not heeded and the Lord sent the Chaldeans to take the remaining tribes into bondage.

The fall of Jerusalem came about because the people would not listen to the messengers of the Lord. God sent the His prophets night and day pleading with Israel to change their heart. His love for Israel was full and He had no desire to punish them. Instead of repenting, the people mocked the messengers, despised the preaching of the prophets, and ridiculed the preaching of the word. The wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people. So, the Lord brought the king of Babylon against them who killed their young men with no pity on the people, killing both young men and young women, the old and the infirm. Then Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies taking the people captive to Babylon. The reason this calamity fell upon Israel is that they despised the word of God.

There has never been a time in the history of man that God has not revealed His word to them. From Adam until the coming of the Lord, the word of the Lord is the foundation of truth to save men from their sins. Jesus came as the word to show the way to the Father. He is the truth of the word of God and only in Jesus Christ will a man find eternal life. Through the revealed word of God (the Bible), a man can read and understand the mystery of God leading him to salvation. Yet, most men mock the messengers of God who preach the truth, despise the preaching of the word, and scoff at those who would declare the whole counsel of the Lord. Preaching against sexual immorality is frowned upon. Suggesting there is only one truth or one church is ridiculed. Showing from scripture the New Testament pattern of authority is reviled as out of date and antiquated for the modern world. Sadly, most people today do not accept the word of God as truth.

Israel faced the wrath of God for rejecting His word. There is no hope for those who fail to honor the Bible as the whole counsel of God. Denying the necessity of baptism does not change the word of God. Rejecting the belief the Lord will punish the disobedient in eternal fire will not make hell go away. There is a coming judgment on all those who despise the word of God. Nothing man can do will change the word of God. It is settled in heaven. Adding to the word or taking away from the word will only bring the anger of the Lord. There will be no mercy and no hope. That is how serious God takes those who trifle with His word. There is compassion in the heart of God as He desires all men to be saved. He has given His word to guide those who believe in Him and are willing to obey His word. Man must accept the word of God and obey.

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The Lord Does Not Roar Without Cause

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth if it has caught nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy? (Amos 3:1-8)

The Lord Does Not Roar Without Cause

It was the golden age of the northern tribes of Israel as the nation prospered with great luxury and indulgence. The moral fiber of the people filled with greed and corruption with the rich getting richer and the poor become more impoverished. There was a sense of ease in the land of Zion with the opulence of a haughty spirit that had no time for God. Worship was nothing more than a ritualistic exercise of empty promises filled with the paganistic pursuits of a carnal world. Entering upon the landscape of moral corruption came a shepherd farmer prophet who was outraged and appalled at the decadence he saw among the people of God.

Amos was a man of fiery temperament who despised the hypocrisy of the priests, the corruption of the leaders, and the injustice of the people against one another. He came to the history of Israel in the providential time of God’s wrath upon a rebellious and disobedient people. Within forty years the nation would be destroyed by Assyria. The Lord sent His “angry prophet” to warn His people of the impending doom. Israel was the apple of God’s eye. They had been chosen above all peoples on the earth to serve as an example of grace, love, and mercy. No people were more blessed and privileged than the Hebrews rescued from the bondage of Egypt and yet they were rebellious, defiant, wicked, and unthankful for the blessings of God. Amos declares that Israel will receive a heavier judgment above all nations because they were the chosen of the Lord.

At Mt. Sinai, the Lord and Israel had come to an agreement. The people declared their faithfulness to the covenant established with God through Moses. Less than 700 years later, Israel stood on the threshold of annihilation. Their hearts had turned away from the word of God. None of the kings of the northern tribes served the Lord. The corruption of the land had become a cesspool of idolatry, immorality, debauchery, and carnality. Through the prophets, the Lord sent warnings of impending doom to the people, but they did not repent, and they would not listen. Judgment was coming.

In a series of rhetorical questions, the Lord declares His judgment on Israel. When a man hears a lion roar in the forest, it is because he has caught his prey. A young lion will cry out in his den because he is about to feast on his victim. When a bird falls into a snare he does so because someone set a trap to capture the bird. A city will hear the trumpet warning of an approaching enemy bringing fear to the hearts of the citizens. They know danger is near. All these questions point to the warnings the Lord has sent to Israel to repent and turn back to Him. There will be no excuses offered when the Assyrians march in and take Israel captive. They were warned but refused to change.

The Lord roars today and the young lion is heard through the voice of His word. Through the message of the Bible God has revealed His divine will for humanity yet most men will refuse to acknowledge the warnings. There is a great day coming when the world ceases and all men will stand before the judgment seat of God. All those gathered before the great I AM will not have any excuses to offer of not hearing the roar of God’s wrath upon disobedience. Like the prophet Amos, men have sounded the warnings of doom to those who refuse to obey the word. Most will not hear, and most will be lost. The Lord does nothing unless He reveals his plans to the world through the voice of His word. The lion has roared. Who isn’t frightened? The sovereign Lord has spoken.

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He Is The Resurrection And The Life

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:24-26)

He Is The Resurrection And The Life

Death is the unwelcome guest of humanity. There is nothing more profound in the joys of life than the reality that life is measured by death. All men die and no matter how hard men have tried to preserve their lives for a future world, the end becomes nothing more than dust and bones. The Egyptian empire is a living testimony of the futility of trying to take the treasures of life through the vale of death. There is no hope in the grave. It is final. Darkness surrounds death. Man is hopeless over the power of death. His mortality is his greatest fear.

Jesus enjoyed a special relationship with His close friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. One day He received an urgent message that Lazarus was sick unto death and that He should come quickly. Rather than leaving immediately, the Lord remained two more days in the place where He was. Finally arriving in Bethany near Jerusalem, Jesus was told that Lazarus had died and had been in the tomb four days. Martha and Mary were distraught at the passing of their brother. Martha knew that if Jesus had arrived earlier Lazarus would not have died yet she believed that anything was possible with God. She had a glimmer of hope that good would come out of the death of her brother. Jesus assured Martha that Lazarus would rise again.

God has always told the faithful there would be a day of resurrection. Abraham believed in the resurrection when he was told to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Martha knew about the day of resurrection and she believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Her faith in the living God gave her hope that death was not final. She held out hope that Jesus could do the impossible, but she was not certain. When Jesus comes to the tomb and tells them to remove the stone, Martha tells Jesus that Lazarus had been dead for four days and he would be in a state of decomposition. The stench would be clearly felt. Her doubt is confirmed by Jesus when He assures her that if she believed He was the Son of God she would see the glory of God. Calling Lazarus by name, the Lord tells him to come forth. Amazingly, the dead man walks out of the tomb bound in the burial clothes but very much alive. Lazarus has risen from the dead on the fourth day.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life through the power of God who has power over the realm of Hades. God made Hades and one day God will destroy Hades. All men share in the consequence of sin when death passed upon the world. There is nothing man can do to stop death. He can try to live longer but even Methuselah lived to be 969 years and died. Jesus came to bring life in a world of death. It is hard for the human mind to grasp the idea of life after death. No man has gone beyond the vale of death and returned apart from the will of God. The last time anyone was raised from the dead was two thousand years ago.

Life is not a desperate and final journey to nothingness. There is hope in Jesus Christ. Life after death is greater because Jesus is the renewal of the spirit of man to a wonderful world of God’s glory. The greatest miracle man has ever seen is when Jesus died and rose from the dead – and He has never returned to the grave. Lazarus was raised from the dead but then died again. The hope of Jesus as the resurrection is that life after death is eternal. It is real. Jesus is not just the resurrection – He is life. Death is defeated by life and in Christ, there is no condemnation of death. The promise to Martha of life after death is the eternal plan of God to assure the desperate hearts of men that the sadness of this world cannot be compared to the glory of eternal life. Jesus is the resurrection because He lives. The Son of God brings life because He is the resurrection.

The joy of resurrection comes to those who believe that Jesus lives and reigns with the Father. Facing death can be a frightening experience but standing at the vale of tears with open arms is the Son of God who gives the eternal assurance that all who believe in Him will not taste the sting of death. Death for the child of God is a time of joy. Life is filled with tears and sorrow but death for the people of God is when the Father wipes away all the tears. Do you know a child of God that has died? Do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Our loved ones who have died in Christ live in the eternal joys of Abraham’s bosom. They live and they have no tears. If you believe this then you can find that same joy in your obedience to the word of God. He has promised life. Come to the only one who is the resurrection and the life.

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A Time Of Thanksgiving

A PSALM OF THANKSGIVING. Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100)

A Time Of Thanksgiving

Two of the most powerful words in any language is “Thank you.” It is a simple phrase yet powerful in its meaning. There is a feeling of gratitude given with an acceptance of grace received. When a kind deed is done followed by the expression of thanks, it creates an atmosphere of peace and harmony. In human language, to offer thanksgiving is the highest compliment shared between two people. The deepest expression of thanksgiving is discovered when the heart opens the portals of heaven to see the love and kindness of the Lord. There is nothing higher, nobler and completely filling as accepting the gifts of a benevolent God who created, formed, and fashioned every part of humanity. Without the blessings of the Lord, life would not exist. It is not by chance the sun rises and sets. The precision of the universe is determined by the counsel of the Creator. Perfection is found in nature from a perfect designer. The breath of life comes from the hand of God. Nothing in the existence of man continues without the will of the One who formed men from the dust of the ground. He is God. Man is a creation. Thanksgiving is the spirit of those who know the difference.

There are abundant reasons for men to give thanks to the Lord. Gladness must fill the hearts of the grateful who see and know the power of God. As the creation and those formed by a greater hand, all men must acknowledge their place in the scheme of God’s design to form man for His glory. The Lord created man to sing the praises of the Creator. A thankful heart sees the thumbprint of God deeply impressed upon his life in every way. There is nothing that exists that is not established by the will of the Father. It is not the Lord God that comes into the presence of men but those who are formed appearing before the might and power of the potter who fashioned them from dust. Thanksgiving leads the soul to know that the Lord, He is God. He made man. There is nothing made by men that rivals the power of God’s creation. Throughout history, men have created great edifices and monuments. The irony is the world is the true wonder and man had nothing to do with its creation. All that men can say of themselves is they are sheep serving the will of the eternal Shepherd. Who can ascend into heaven to challenge the Lord? The greatest feat accomplished by humanity was to put a man on the moon. Big deal. God holds the universe in the palm of His hand. Who deserves more thanksgiving – God or men?

Knowing the power of God brings a man to enter the presence of his Maker with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. There is none so great as the Lord and man must know that. Worship is when the soul stands before the Lord and blesses the holy name of God. The Lord is good because He is goodness. All men should be thankful for the goodness of God. The mercy of the Lord is without end. It is everlasting. His unfailing love continues forever, and His truth has remained the same since the beginning of time. When the soul of man looks at God and sees His goodness, His mercy, and His truth; what else can a man do but express thanksgiving? The psalmist suggests this kind of thanksgiving is best served with a shout of joy and the sound should fill the earth. Happy Thanksgiving. Let God know what you are thankful for. Serve the Lord.

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Lucifer

How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! (Isaiah 14:12)

Lucifer

A text without a context is a pretext. This is one of the most fundamental principles of Biblical exegesis. The Bible is written in such a fashion that requires diligent effort to examine the text in the framework of its context allowing the reader to conclude a meaning desired by God. It is impossible to consider the Lord giving humanity a book that could not be understood. The commandments of God are not burdensome or written in some vague language that few people can read and understand. What happens often is the wisdom of man clouds the meaning of scripture to fill some ideal or philosophy he is attracted to. This is the case with the identity of Lucifer in the book of Isaiah. Many believe Satan was a beautiful angel of God named Lucifer who rebelled against the Lord and was cast from Heaven. While this story fills the mind with fanciful images of intrigue and mystery, nothing is further from the truth.

Lucifer is found in one place in scripture. Isaiah is the only writer who refers to someone as the “day star.” Where the connection of the Lucifer of Isaiah and the devil first appeared is unknown. Some believe the correlation of Jesus’ remark to the returning seventy of how the Lord saw Satan falling from heaven connects the Lucifer of Isaiah with the devil. Nothing in the context of the gospel account says anything about Lucifer. Sadly, the label of Lucifer to Satan is an example of how easy the word of God can be distorted to teach something completely foreign to scripture. The context of Isaiah is clearly defined by a previous verse (Isaiah 14:4) that identifies the subject of the text as the king of Babylon. Whether Isaiah is speaking of Belshazzar, king of Babylon, or a reference to the Babylonian empire, it is clear the prophet is not speaking about Satan.

There are clear warnings against corrupting the word of God. In the Law of Moses, it was forbidden to add or take away from the Law. The apostle John warns in the Revelation not to add to or take away from his book. This principle is an abiding doctrine of God’s word that should not be tampered with by the philosophies of men. What is striking is how many things people believe and hold dear that is not found in the Bible. There is a long list of misguided and uninformed teachings readily accepted by most people. The following is a list of common doctrines never found in scripture: the Pope, a star over the manger of Jesus, wise men visiting Jesus at His birth, salvation by grace alone, salvation by faith alone, salvation by works alone, the names of almost every Protestant church, the early church using instruments of music; and a host of beliefs never found in the Bible too numerous to number.

Lucifer is not Satan. The lesson is a wake-up call for true disciples of Christ to be diligent about what they believe and practice that is NOT found in the word of God. What is forgotten is the danger of going beyond the word or denying the word. Will the Lord hold a man guiltless who adds to His book or refuses to acknowledge His word? It has an eternal consequence. If you find you believe in something you cannot find in scripture, you must reject it. You must let others know what they believe cannot be proven by scripture. When honest hearts follow the Bible and the Bible alone, the religious world will be turned upside down. Let’s start a revolution. Teach only what the Bible teaches. Believe only what the Bible says. Accept only what the word of God declares. Shall we?

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He Was Told What To Do

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:6)

He Was Told What To Do

The conversion of Saul of Tarsus is one of the great stories of grace. Paul will later admit that he considered himself the chief of sinners among men. He tried to destroy the early church with every means given to him. Men and women were dragged off to prison. Paul persecuted the followers of Jesus to the death, punishing them in every synagogue and compelling the disciples to blaspheme. On the way to Damascus to bring bound any he would find of the church, the Lord appeared to Saul and warned him against the purpose of his mission. A light shone around him and a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Trembling and astonished, he asked the Lord what He wanted him to do. The Lord told Saul to go into Damascus and he would be told what he must do. He obeys and is led to the house of Judas where he remains three days without sight neither eating nor drinking.

There was a disciple of Christ living in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord comes to Ananias and tells him to go to the house of Judas and talk to Saul of Tarsus. At first fearful of why Saul had come to Damascus, Ananias is reassured by the Lord that his mission to speak with Saul is a divine calling and the persecutor of the church will become a chosen vessel of God before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. Obedient to the divine will, Ananias finds Saul in the house and tells him he would be a witness for Christ to all men. Then Ananias tells Saul to arise and be baptized to wash away his sins. Saul is obedient to the word spoken by Ananias and becomes one of the most influential preachers of the first century.

Saul of Tarsus would become known as Paul the apostle. He would author many letters the early church would use as a foundation to establish the kingdom of God among men. His missionary journeys would open the borders of the church to foreign lands reaching even to Rome itself. The work of Paul is foundational to much of the New Testament doctrine of Christ. His story of conversion is one of the greatest stories of grace. It would be difficult to find many early saints who would have thought Saul of Tarsus would become an apostle named Paul.

When Saul was approaching Damascus, God had a plan for him. The Lord appeared to him and told him he must go into the city and wait for someone to tell him what he must do. God could have told Saul at that moment what he had to do. Jesus could have appeared to Saul and like Nicodemus explained everything Saul needed to know about being a Christian. The Holy Spirit could have miraculously filled the heart of Saul with the power of the gospel. That was not the plan of God. Saul was told to go into the city and he would be told what to do. No angel told him. A man came and opened the word of truth and Saul obeyed. He was not coerced into going into the city. There was never a time he was forced to be baptized for the remission of his sins. Saul was told what to do and he obeyed the word of the Lord. Through his obedience, Saul of Tarsus became a Christian.

The pattern of faith comes from hearing the word of God is the fundamental character of conversion. The Treasurer of Ethiopia had a man called Phillip to come and open the word of God to him. Peter was sent to Cornelius and his household to tell him words by which he and his household would be saved. The avenue of words is how the gospel works. Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus. His salvation did not come until three days later when Ananias came and spoke words to him. The Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, and his household, and Saul of Tarsus were told words whereby they could be saved. They all obeyed the word of God because they believed and accepted the word as truth. No one forced them to obey the word. They were told what to do and with honest hearts, obeyed. Salvation comes through the teaching of God’s word. No angel will appear to tell you what you must do. Jesus will not come and speak to you in some small still voice. The Bible is the word of God given to you to read, understand, and obey. If you do not obey the word, you will not be saved. Like Saul, you must go into the city and be told what to do. Without faith in the word of God and obedience to the will of God, there can be no joy and no remission of sins.

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Sent By God

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not, therefore, be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years, the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:3-8)

Sent By God

Joseph’s life is an extraordinary series of events that would crush the hearts of most men yet for the favored son of Jacob, he had a resilient spirit of faith. At the age of seventeen, the brothers of Joseph sold him into a world of slavery. Bound as a prisoner and no longer treated with great favors, Joseph was taken to Egypt where he was sold in the slave market to an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh. Life was harsh at first but changed for the better as the Lord blessed Joseph and the house of Potiphar. In time, Joseph was made overseer of the house. He enjoyed a respite from the hard circumstances of a slave until Potiphar’s wife began to cast longing eyes upon the handsome Hebrew slave. She tried to seduce Joseph but was rebuffed. This did not dissuade her until a day came when she tried to force herself upon Joseph. He ran from her but left his garment in her hand. Humiliated by the slave, Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her. Angered by the accusation, Potiphar threw Joseph into the king’s prison.

As a young man in his late teens or early twenties, Joseph must have reeled from the terrible circumstances that seemed to plague him. He had unjustly been abused by his brothers, treated like a slave, sold on the open market as nothing more than a piece of human flesh and when everything seemed to be getting better for him, he stood accused of trying to seduce the wife of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. As he sat in the king’s prison it would be easy for Joseph to give up and curse God. He had tried to serve the Lord with all faithfulness, but every turn was against him. Languishing in prison did not lend itself to help the young man see his path in life. Joseph had experienced the joy of overcoming the plight of a slave in Potiphar’s house as he was elevated to one of authority but now his life came crashing down upon him again.

Prison was a difficult world. Joseph once again picked himself up, trusted the Lord, and did the best he could do. His earlier experience in Potiphar’s house was confirmed again. The Lord blessed him in his prison work and the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. Life for Joseph was better, but he was still an inmate falsely charged with no end in sight of his sentence. Sometime later, Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker offended the king and placed them in prison. Joseph was a caring man and noticed the new prisoners were upset. After learning they had had troubling dreams, Joseph interpreted the dreams for the men. The butler would be restored to his duties, but the baker would be hanged. When the butler was released from prison, Joseph implored him to seek the mercy of Pharaoh and find a way to get Joseph out of prison. It would be two years before Joseph would be remembered and through another series of divine events with Pharaoh having troubling dreams, Joseph is released and elevated to a ruler of Egypt under Pharaoh. When the famine came upon the world, the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt to buy grain. They could not know the man they spoke with was their brother. In time, Joseph revealed himself to the brothers and the family has reunited again with Jacob seeing the face of his beloved son.

It was twenty-two years from the time Joseph was sold into slavery until he was revealed to his brothers. They had treated young Joseph cruelly and terribly. Joseph had every right of human wisdom to hate and despise his brothers and to be angry with God. When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he revealed an important characteristic of his faith that saw him through the impossible years of Egyptian slavery. Joseph believed everything in his life was in the purpose of God. He tells the brothers that while they sold him out of hatred, it was God’s plan to send the young Hebrew to Egypt to save the world. They thought he was dead, but Joseph would save their lives. God sent Joseph to Egypt, not the brothers.

The kernel of faith where a man trusts in the will of God to move and direct his life is a story of Biblical proportion. Joseph maintained his faith in God without reservation. The Lord blessed Joseph because Joseph trusted in God. To think a seventeen-year-old would possess that kind of faith is not remarkable; it is something established in him by his parents. The life of Joseph is the power of believing that I am here with a purpose and as a child of God I want the Lord to use my life for His glory. Overlooked and forgotten is the power of a godly life in a community, on the job, in a congregation, and the light that shines in the world as a faithful and devoted servant of the Most High God. When death comes and life is fading away, may it be said of our lives that God put us in this world to lead others to Christ. You did not send me – God did.

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The Cost Of Indifference

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-38)

The Cost Of Indifference

Martin Niemoller was a minister of a church during the turbulent years of Germany in the 1930s. Adolf Hitler had risen to power and was taking the nation toward a world war that would kill millions. Niemoller was arrested and killed in one of the many death camps. Before he died, he wrote: “In Germany, they first came for the Communist, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionist, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. And then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Indifference can be a costly experience. Failing to speak up at the right time can bring serious consequences. No one would fail to warn a young child of impending danger if they were engaged in something that would harm them. If they were walking too close to a cliff, a concerned parent would warn them of the dangers. Playing with fire could have catastrophic results if care is not given to teach a child the dangers. The natural response of humanity is to help their fellowman avoid danger. There are many dangers in life that can bring death and destruction but there is nothing as great as the consequence of sin. While the natural response for one human being to another in times of danger is to rescue them, this is not the case in spiritual matters.

Paul wrote to the Romans reminding them that all men sin. This is an incredible statement. What this suggests is that every human being on the face of the earth is in peril, danger, and the threat of eternal damnation. Without the blood of Jesus, most people will live full lives on earth and die with no hope. What can be more tragic is the number of people standing around these lost souls saying absolutely nothing. The price of indifference is eternal. It is not an easy life to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He requires cross-bearing. It will cost a full life of dedication and service to the will of God with no quarter given. Gaining the whole world is not just a problem for those who do not obey the gospel. Too many of God’s children are so busy gaining the world they have little time to share the word of truth with others.

The price of indifference is explained by Jesus when He said, “Is anything worth more than your soul?” What is the exchange rate for a soul? It becomes easy to live in a world cushioned by the casual pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness when souls are doomed to perdition. The modern religious climate within the church leaves the work of the gospel to paid professionals who themselves become so engaged in the affairs of their job that little is done to reach the lost. What becomes of the effort of the church is to have a sense of shame to let others know there is only one way, one truth, and one life. The Bible is no longer discussed as this might offend someone. Friends will never know the person they enjoy spending time with is a devoted Christian because they will never divulge that part of their life. Indifference to others is costing many lives to the consequences of eternal darkness. Maybe it is time for the Lord to take away the work of the church from this country and give it to a people who will stand up for truth and let their voice be heard. When we become indifferent to indifference we cannot make a difference. The light fades. Salt is good for nothing but to be trodden upon. Souls are lost. All because I did not speak up.

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Coming Out Of The Darkness

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Coming Out Of The Darkness

Nocturnal creatures are animals that are active during the night finding prey through physical traits such as sight, hearing, or smell. Owls are efficient hunters under the cover of darkness with their eyesight. Many animals live in the darkness like bats and the night is a prime hunting time for large cats. God created these animals to adapt to the cloak of darkness and to do so in an efficient way of surviving. The highest of all creatures was not made for the nocturnal world. It must have been an incredibly dark world in the days of Adam and Eve as they were the only people on earth for a time. Until the advent of electricity, the world was a dark place at night with only oil lamps or fires lighting the cities. A new term called “night pollution” is coined to show the impact of the progress of humanity against the backdrop of animals that rely on the darkness for survival.

Adam was not created to live in the dark. Eventually, he understood the principle of fire and was able to cook his food and light his way. God did not make man live in a dark world. The energies of man were focused during the daylight hours and night was a time of rest. Through the centuries man has adapted his needs to dispel the darkness but at the end of the day, man does not rule the night, he only invades it for a short time. There is a special fear of darkness that pervades the soul of man. Without the aid of a light source, it is difficult to navigate through the darkness because the vision of man hinders his ability to see through the darkness. He becomes disoriented, confused, and afraid. Darkness has that overwhelming dread of the unknown. A child lost at night is filled with terror. The morning brings relief because it brings light.

God did not create man to live in the darkness and this is especially true of the spiritual nature of man. It is not hard to convince a man lost in a cave of darkness because he feels the fear and knows the dangers. What is most difficult to do is to convince someone of the spiritual world of darkness that overwhelms them. All men will come under the power of darkness. The only man who never allowed the darkness of sin to overcome Him was Jesus Christ. He was the Light because He was never the darkness and He never allowed the darkness to enter him. That is not the case with humanity. Everybody who has lived and remains on the earth of the age of understanding will suffer the terror of the darkness. A man must see the darkness to know how dreadful a place the darkness is. There is no hope in the darkness. Futility is the only measure of a man lost in the darkness. He stumbles and falls and can never find his way because he was not created to be in the darkness. If he remains in darkness all his life and dies in the darkness he will remain in darkness in eternity. The terror of the eternal darkness is so much greater than any darkness man has ever experienced. But there is good news.

Darkness was not the design of man when God created him. Adam and Eve were created to walk in the light with their Maker. He warned them not to take of the forbidden fruit because the penalty was darkness. From that time forth, men tried to get out of the darkness but could never find the right path. When Jesus came, He came as the Light of the world to bring light to all men. Instead of believing He was the light, men loved the darkness and killed the Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus happened on the first day of the week in the early morning when the light was returning to the earth. Spiritually the resurrection of Jesus brought light to the darkness of humanity. This same light has shown brightly for two thousand years but most people desire to live in darkness. They walk in the darkness saying they can see. How dark is the darkness.

One of the greatest joys of being a Christian is to know that Jesus has brought the soul out of the power of darkness into a kingdom of light. This is the light of love and the sunshine of redemption through his blood. Those who walk in the light have been forgiven of the darkness that infused their lives for so long. The path is clear in the light. There is no fear in the light. Life is a joyful walk in the glory of God. The heart is filled with peace and joy in the light. There are many who walk in the light and the joy of fellowship is the family of those who live in the light. Jesus is the Light and in Him is life because there is light. Coming out of the darkness is the happiest day in the life of a light-walker. Let the light shine in your life so that others can see the light of Christ.

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Killed For The Word Of God

When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. (Revelation 6:9)

Killed For The Word Of God

Righteousness has always faced persecution. There is never a time in the history of mankind the conflict between right and wrong has not met on the battlefield of oppression. The character of evil must suppress the nature of goodness because it brings a sense of justification that if the righteous souls are taken away the immoral values are vindicated. It seems incredulous that a person can be killed only because of what they believe and hold dear. There is no justification for murder on any level but it becomes most heinous when a government sanctions the wholesale slaughter of thousands of citizens based upon what they believe. During the days of the Roman emperors Nero and Domitian, untold numbers of godly, law-abiding citizens and productive citizens of the Roman Empire were killed because they believed Jesus Christ was the Son of God. They had committed no crimes against society or led a rebellion against the government. For all practical purposes, those who were killed were ideal citizens with high moral codes who showed love for others, obeyed the laws of the land, and sought to live peaceful lives in a dark world.  And they were killed for the word of God.

Ideology is a threat to those who believe their existence is threatened by a moral compass that does not align with the carnal nature of man. Christians were being martyred on the altars of hatred, prejudice, fear, and envy. The foundation of the New Testament church was built upon the needs of every man to make them a better person in character, personality, and individuality to change the community to be a place of prosperity and peace. Slaves were obedient to their masters and masters honored their slaves. Citizens subjected themselves to the laws of the land as long as those laws did not countermand the will of God. Families were places of love where the father guided the home with an eternal eye, mothers nurtured their children in the grace of the Lord and children were subject to their parents with respect and honor. Christians were the noblest in the workplace as they knew their master was Jesus Christ. Everything the New Testament church brought to the society was for the betterment and expanse for the peace of the nation.

The reality became a harsh and cruel testimony to the empire of Rome as it persecuted the noblest citizens of its realm. These were people who believed in the word of God and died defending their faith. They were willing to believe in a force larger than the brutal Roman sword. Nothing could dissuade their allegiance to a king greater than the Caesars. The faith of the early Christians is testimony to the will of righteous men and women accepting their deaths for the cause of Jesus Christ. It would be easy for some to deny their faith to spare their lives but their hearts would condemn them with eternal guilt. Dying for the word of God comes from a mind that knows that life is not about the here and now but the joy of what death can bring. To die for the word of God is to believe with all the heart the revealed message of Jesus Christ is an eternal reward. Nothing could change the minds of the faithful. So here is the question: are you willing to die for the word? Am I willing to die for the word?

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Having A Passion For God

O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips. When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches. Because You have been my help, therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me. But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go into the lower parts of the earth. They shall fall by the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; everyone who swears by Him shall glory; but the mouth of those who speak lies shall be stopped. (A Psalm of David When He Was in the Wilderness of Judah. Psalm 63)

Having A Passion For God

Distress and trouble will drive the heart to seek a closer union with God and David finds himself in need of his Lord more than ever. He has been driven to the wilderness by a calamity of some type. His psalm seems to point to a time when Absalom was rebelling against his father as the psalm refers to David as a king. Trouble surrounded David after his sin with Bathsheba but he never lost his love and zeal for God. Some were seeking to kill David. He knew he possessed the protection of the Lord as he prayed for deliverance from his enemies. What makes the plea of his psalm so powerful is the passion David has for God. The troubles he endured only highlighted how much he loved the Lord and needed the presence of God in his life. Trials did not drive the king away from God but drew him closer.

Passion is an intense or overpowering feeling such as love and joy or even hatred and anger. David’s passion for God was a very strong emotion of dependence, devotion, and dedication to the Lord. He declares that God is his God and there can and will be no other. His love for God is singular, focused with a laser intensity that is not soon shaken. He had an earnest desire to seek the Lord early with a craving for divine communion. As a body thirst for nourishment, the king of Israel had a thirst for the Divine. His whole body longed for the presence of God as a man needs water in a parched and weary land. The world was a desert and the Lord was the only hope of salvation. David knew the power of worship as he had engaged the Lord in the sanctuary gazing upon the power and glory of God. There was a deep passion for the word of the Lord.

When David looked at his God, he saw an unfailing love that was more filling than life itself. His passion drew him to sing praises to God with his mouth proclaiming the joys of salvation. All that David was and all that he could become would be found in how he praised God for His enduring mercy and grace. He would praise the Lord with joyful lips. His nights were spent thinking about the Lord, meditating on holy things throughout the night. David was consumed by his love for God. His passion was real and demonstrative. He clung to the garments of God as a weary child seeks the protection of their father. Nestled under the shadow of the Lord’s wings, David felt secure, safe, and satisfied. David had a passion for God.

Many wanted to destroy the king but his trust was in the Lord. He did not fear what men could do to him. His faith was in the Lord because of his intense passion for the presence of God in his life. The only thing David could see was his love for God. It drove him, directed him, and declared his loyalty to the one true God. Worship to David was a passion. Faith in the Lord was his passion. Obedience to the word of the Lord became his passion. The king let everyone know where his passion lay.

The Christian has so much to be thankful for and to acknowledge the many blessings found in Christ. What is lacking in so many lives of God’s people is a passion for Him. They become churchgoers but not God lovers. Many profess to love God but never fall in love with Him. David’s passion is a zeal based on knowledge and a heart filled with the word of God. The more you know about God the more you fall in love with Him. And when a man falls deeper in love with God his passion grows and grows to where he becomes like David. O God, you are my God!

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I Am The Bread

Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.” And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. (John 6:34-35)

I Am The Bread

The human body is an incredible creation. It is designed in a perfect way to accomplish remarkable tasks that no human wisdom can recreate. The psalmist David declared the body a wonderfully complex testimony of the marvelous workmanship of its Creator. Adam was formed from the dust of the ground and woman was created from the rib of Adam. Made in the image of the Divine, Adam and Eve possessed a physical body that was dependent upon nourishment to survive. Even in the garden, man was a mortal being. The placement of the Tree of Life was to allow man to live forever but sin destroyed that promise. Satan deceived Eve to believe she would not die when in fact the sentence of physical death was already upon her. God had told them if they ate of the forbidden fruit they would die but He was speaking about spiritual death. As a penalty for their rebellion, Adam and Eve were cast from the garden and away from the Tree of Life.

Adam lived for 930 years and died. His long life is attributed to a basic part of the human anatomy that required a man to nourish his body with bread and water. These are the basic elements of life necessary for the body to function. Bread is often used as a common name of food. God designed the body in such a manner requiring a constant diet of nutrients that must be maintained daily. If a man does not take bread into his body he will die. He can go for long periods without food but with each day he grows weaker and weaker leading to death. One of the constants of life that is necessary for all men is the need for food and water. Man cannot live without bread (food). That is the way God designed the body and there is nothing men can do to change that. Bread is the source of life.

The children of Israel numbered nearly two million souls when they left Egypt. In the forty years of wandering their main complaint was the lack of food. God provided everything the Hebrews needed to survive. He gave them manna from heaven, water from the rock on more than one occasion, and brought in quail to satisfy the hunger of the people. They still complained. No one died from hunger because the Lord gave them everything they needed to survive the harsh conditions of the wilderness. What they murmured and complained about was they were not satisfied with the bread given to them by God. He gave them enough food and water to sustain them but this was not enough. They did not bring the manna or find the water to quench their thirst. The manna, water, and quail came as a gift of God through His grace and love for the people. God showed His power in bringing the Israelites the bread of life to satisfy their needs. As Creator, He knew the body needed to be sustained with bread and He provided everything they needed to survive. The people turned away and rejected the gift of God. If they would have accepted the gift of God they would live.

Jesus showed the power of the Father when He fed more than five thousand people from five barley loaves and two small fish. When the immense crowd of hungry souls was filled there were twelve baskets left over with the fragments of the five barley loaves. It was one of the most incredible miracles Jesus performed to show the power of God. He understood the physical needs of the people. Looking upon the thousands of people following Him to hear His teaching, He knew they needed to be fed. Through the power of the Finger of God, Jesus gave them what they needed. Leaving the multitudes, Jesus went up into the mountain by Himself and later went to Capernaum. The people followed Him the next day because they were hungry again. They forgot the miracle of the day before and could only see the need to fill their bodies. Jesus warned the people the physical body would perish and the greater need was to fill the soul. When the people hungered in the wilderness, food came by the gift of God. What the multitude should have seen the day before was the testimony that Jesus was the Son of God, the long-promised Christ. As the bread of God came down from heaven to feed the people, Jesus was the bread of life from the Father to give the world spiritual nourishment.

The body cannot live without bread and water. Without proper nourishment, the body will die. A greater need for man is not the sustaining of the physical body because even if a man lives to be 930 years old, he will die. Jesus is the bread of life because those who come to Him will never hunger and never die. The Hebrews learned the dependence of God’s grace in the wilderness that without the gift of God, they would die. Jesus uses the same story to show His life will be given for all men to live. He becomes the Bread of Life because through Jesus man will never die. Everlasting life is offered to those who take the Bread of Life and allow the spiritual nutrients of God’s grace to feed their souls and sustain their lives. Jesus said, “I AM the bread of life.” Come to the table of God and partake of eternal life.

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The Noble Thessalonians

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

The Noble Thessalonians

Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was filled with great expectations and hope. His first preaching trip had confined his travel to Asia-Minor but now on his second trip, the Holy Spirit had brought the missionary group into Macedonia. The work in Philippi was met with great success with the conversion of Lydia and her household along with the jailor of the city and his family. Arriving in Thessalonica, Paul went to the synagogue and for three Sabbaths taught the gospel of Christ. Some of the Jews were persuaded and also a great many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women. But the Jews who did not believe caused a riot against Paul and his company causing the group to leave under cover of darkness. The people of the next city, Berea, were more open-minded than the Thessalonians receiving the word of God more readily.

Luke’s history of the church includes a commendation of the Bereans as being nobler than those of Thessalonica because they received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out if the teachings of Paul were true. This creates a contrast between the people of Thessalonica and Berea because one was more accepting of the word than the other. This would change in time as Paul wrote his letter to the church of the Thessalonians while he was in Corinth. Commending the brethren of Thessalonica, Paul says they received the word of God not as human wisdom but the divine word of God. The hearts of the Thessalonians were open to the teaching of Paul only as it was examined in truth to be according to scripture. They would not accept Paul’s teaching or any other man’s doctrine as the word of men. If what was being taught did not agree with the word of God, it was rejected. Hearing the word spoken by honest men was examined in light of the will of the Father only.

An open mind to accept the teachings of God as the word of God moves men to action. The reception of the Thessalonians was not just an intellectual exercise but a life-changing moment. Many hear sermon after sermon who believe what is being taught is the truth but never take any action to change their lives. The Thessalonians not only examined the preaching in accordance with the word of God but they allowed the word to change their lives. That is the real character of allowing the gospel to effectively change the lives of those who hear the word. Paul’s desire for the brethren at Thessalonica was to abound more and more in their knowledge of the truth. His thankfulness of the Macedonian church was because the gospel had changed the lives of the people. That is the test of discipleship. Hearing alone will not save. It requires a belief the word of God is a moving and active force to recreate in the minds of men a need to be different.

The Thessalonians heard the word of God and received it on the value that was placed before them as the divine word and not the word of men. If they rejected the preaching of the gospel, they would reject God, not man. Preachers must be held accountable to preach the pure word but brethren must be held to higher accountability to act upon the word preached as the word of God and not the word of men. Listening to the gospel creates faith but faith without works is dead. Hearing the word and not doing the word is dead. The Thessalonian brethren were faithful to follow the teaching of Paul because it was the word of God. Can we do any less when the word is spoken? Welcome the gospel for what it is and act upon it. It is the word of God.

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The Woman’s Role Is Limited

Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression. Nevertheless, she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:11-15) Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church. (1 Corinthians 14:34-35)

The Woman’s Role Is Limited

Women have always had a pivotal role in the plan of God for the world. It was not good for Adam to be alone and the Lord created the woman as a helpmeet. Satan deceived the woman leading to the fall of man. Noah’s wife and the wives of their sons helped save the existence of humanity when God destroyed the world with a flood. Sarah bore a promised son at the age of ninety by her one-hundred-year-old husband, Abraham. Through the lineage of Leah, the unloved of Jacob, Christ would come into the world. The mother of Moses instilled in her son a deep love for Jehovah. During the period of Judges, Deborah, a prophetess, judged the people of Israel leading to forty years of peace. The stories of Ruth and Esther find their place in the canon of holy scripture. Jesus would be born of a virgin named Mary who would become the first citizens of the New Testament church.

In the early church, women continued to have an influence for good in the plan of God. Crowds of both men and women believed in the word of the Lord and were brought to the Lord. Women labored with Paul in the gospel and many were commended such as Phoebe, Priscilla, Tryphena and Tryphosa and the unknown sister of Nereus. Lydia and a group of women praying by the riverside in Philippi were the first converts in the Gentile city. Women had a vital part in the growth of early church but they were restricted to what they could and could not do. There is never an example of a woman taking the role of the preacher or the evangelist or the role of leadership such as an elder or shepherd of the church. She has a role but it is limited by the Holy Spirit. The key to understanding the role of a woman in the church is to establish authority by the word given through the Holy Spirit and not the opinions or social pressures of society.

The religious world sees a large population of churches with women preachers, leaders, and priests. There are many capable and talented women who have much to offer in the spiritual discernment of the word of God but that same word limits the role of the woman. What is lost in the discussion of a woman’s role is that authority must be based on the word of God – not the word of men. What God says is the pattern. In two specific scriptures of divine authority, God says the woman is not allowed to take on the role of authority over a man. Women who profess godliness and good works are to learn in silence with all submission. Remember this is the will of the Lord, not the view of human reasoning. Paul gives the reason women cannot be preachers because God made Adam first, then Eve; and Eve was the one deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived and sin was the result. Paul goes back to the fall of man when God tells the woman her desire will be for her husband and he would rule over her. Part of the penalty placed upon the woman was pain in childbirth and if that penalty has not been removed, her submission to man has not been removed. Paul does not suggest women are inferior but through the Holy Spirit forbids the woman from taking the role of a preacher.

In the letter to Corinth, Paul affirms the role of the woman is important but again with limitations. She is to remain without a role of authority in the church and to be silent. He is not suggesting she does not sing but rather she remains in subjection in public worship. When a woman defies the word of God she brings shame upon the church. This is very hard for the religious world to agree and many churches refuse to accept the limited role of women in the church. Denying the authority of scripture does not make error truth. Women have a vital and important role in the church and there is much work for them to do. However, according to the authority of the Holy Spirit, women cannot take on the role of preachers, evangelists, and elders or shepherds without disgracing the church and sinning against God. Where is the authority? In every place the New Testament church speaks about a woman’s role, it denies them the authority of leadership. God said her role is limited.

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The Law Of The Loo

Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you. (Deuteronomy 23:12-14)

The Law Of The Loo

There are hundreds if not thousands of laws contained within the Law of Moses. The Ten Commandments highlight the law with ten basic principles that serve as a preamble to the covenant made between the Lord and Israel at Sinai. There are laws governing the religious commandments of the priesthood, worship, sacrifices, and enumerations of consequences for rebellion against God. Included in the Law of Moses are social, economic, military, seasonal, and individual laws pertaining to the kinds of foods that are allowed and forbidden, types of clothing, marriage customs, and restrictions on travel. Every aspect of Jewish life was governed by the Law. Remarkably enough the Law also took into consideration sanitary measures when it came to the manner the people would relieve themselves.

The necessities of nature required action and the Lord did not desire for the camp to be filled with uncleanness. There is an old saying that says, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” and the Lord had this in mind when He wrote the Law of Moses. He did not want the people to be despoiled with the dirt of excrements and required the people to take certain measures to keep the camp clean. This served the purpose of hygiene for obvious reasons. Disease can spread through the inattentiveness of individuals not being careful about maintaining a level of cleanliness. The people did not understand the anatomic reasons for how disease spread through excrements but following the Law would help prevent the spread of plagues that could wipe out the whole camp. When someone went outside the camp to attend to their needs, they were required to take with them an implement with which to dig a hole and cover up it up. Considering the number of people traveling through the wilderness numbering around two-million souls, this would have a great impact for necessity.

General hygiene was one of the reasons God required the people to go outside the camp and dig a whole but there was a larger reason. The camp was a holy place where God’s holy people dwelt. He walked among His people to care for them and protect them from danger. It was not the intention of the Lord to walk among the camp and find excrements strewn around the camp. He did not suggest He would literally be walking upon the ground and find those things undesirable laying around but His desire for the people was to keep the decorum of cleanliness before Him to show godliness in their lives. A camp filled with the filth of the body would not be a place the Lord desired to visit. He incorporated into the Law of Moses, along with the laws governing murder, rape, false witness, and blasphemy (to name a few), the law of cleanliness for the camp. God did not give this as a suggestion to the people but rather emphasized the Law by reminding them that if He saw the unclean thing among the camp, He would turn away from them. The people had no choice but to obey the commandment of the Lord regarding how to attend to their needs as nature required. In the language of our English kinsmen, the Law of Moses contained a Law of the Loo. And God expected the law to be followed.

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He Did Not Like What Jesus Said

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ” ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)

He Did Not Like What Jesus Said

The heart of the rich young ruler was ready to secure a place in the kingdom of God. He came to Jesus seeking answers on how he might find eternal life. As a faithful Jew, the young ruler had sought all his life to conform to the rigid commandments found in the Law of Moses. He lived a pure and devoted life free from the entanglements of the world. Those who knew the young man would attest to his character as above reproach, his peers respected him for his shrewdness of financial wisdom and as a community, the ruler was held in high honor. There would be no doubt in the minds of any who knew or heard of this ruler that God had blessed him immeasurably. Everything seemed to be going very well for the son of Abraham. That is, until he met Jesus.

It was not the intent of the Lord to discourage or dissuade any man from serving the Father. What men failed to appreciate in Jesus was His divine nature that allowed Him to peer deep into the soul of a man and know what deeper challenges lay in the heart. Everyone saw the rich young ruler as a success of the blessings of God upon an Israelite. When the Lord looked into the heart of the man, there was a larger problem that others could not see. There is little doubt the man spoke the truth when he declared his allegiance to the Law of Moses in keeping the law from his youth. His blessings had become his curse. Jesus looked at the man and loving him, told him he lacked one important thing. The wealth he had attained had stained his heart with covetousness and eternal life could only come if he was willing to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor. Jesus did not suggest he give a tenth of his money to the poor or any portion to feed the poor. The Lord told him eternal life came at the cost of all he possessed.

Salvation for the rich young ruler would only come if he was willing to sell all his land, his house, his possessions, and take all of the money he gained and had and distribute to the poor. Only then, destitute of all worldly possessions, would the man be able to take up the cross and follow Jesus. There was not a partitioning or dividing. It was complete removal of all his wealth. He was a very rich man who needed to become very poor to enjoy the riches of Heaven. This was not something God demanded of every man. There were many righteous men who were very wealthy who served the Lord faithfully. Abraham and Job were two great patriarchs who were rich in goods but whose hearts were treasured in God. The young ruler who came to Jesus as a faithful Israelite and child of Abraham who loved his riches more than God.

The rich young ruler was sad at the words of Jesus and walked away. He turned away because of the word of the Lord. What Jesus told him to do he was unwilling to do. Did his rejection change the word of the Lord? When Jesus saw him walk away did the Lord call out to him and tell him that it would be okay for him to keep his riches but please come and follow Him anyway? How could Jesus allow a disciple to walk away? The word of God is a sharp sword that cuts both ways. Often it heals but more often than not it cuts deep. Many men refuse to obey the word of God because they love their riches more than God. To have treasure in heaven the heart must be empty of the treasures of the world. Jesus told the multitudes in the mountain sermon that it is impossible to serve God and mammon because the heart will be divided with loyalty. The ruler came to the right source, the right man at the right time asking the right question but when he was told what the word of God required, he walked away. Many hear the word of God and walk away. Their rejection does not change the word of God and the Lord will not change His word to accommodate their needs. His word stands. He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life because He is the only word.

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The Fall Of A Great Nation

Now Judah did evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked Him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done. For they also built for themselves high places, sacred pillars, and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree. And there were also perverted persons in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. (1 Kings 14:22-24)

The Fall Of A Great Nation

The zenith of Israel came during the forty-years of Solomon’s rule when the nation prospered and became a powerful and influential force in the world. Israel was the apple of God’s eye. The Lord blessed the people with the divine pleasures of His will as promised in the Law of Moses. There has never been a nation that had the personal hand of God working among them as the nation of Israel in the days of Solomon. Following the death of Solomon, the country became divided with Jeroboam taking the ten tribes of the north and the son of Solomon, Rehoboam, retaining the tribes of Benjamin and Judah to the south. It seems incredible that a shift could happen so quickly from the prosperous reign of Solomon to a divided nation that was corrupt, immoral, and filled with hatred. Israel was no longer the treasured nation of the Lord.

It did not take long for the people to turn away from the Lord and seek their own pleasures. Both Rehoboam and Jeroboam led the nation to be like the nations around them. The twenty-two-year rule of Jeroboam was marked by evil in the north. In the south, Rehoboam led the people of God to follow after the idolatry of the surrounding nations. The land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was filled with homosexuals. Egypt came against Rehoboam and ransacked the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple and the royal palace. They stole everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. Under the leadership of Rehoboam, the southern kingdom was reduced to the position of a vassal of Egypt. The kingdom of Judah sank more and more in moral and spiritual decay.

God allowed the rule of Rehoboam and Jeroboam to destroy His nation. The heart of the people had become hardened to the word of the Lord as they desired to seek after the hedonism of the world around them. Solomon had begun the process when his heart had turned away from the Lord. Rehoboam could have brought the people back to the Lord as Josiah would do many years later but he chose to cower to the whims of the people. Instead of listening to the sound counsel of the elders, the king favored the young men who had grown up with him. The policies of his government were based upon human wisdom instead of the word of the Lord. Immorality filled the land. Worship turned to the gods of men. Perverted persons, sodomites, and homosexuals were allowed to freely practice their craft. Israel became like the nations around them. God gave the people what they wanted and they suffered because of it.

The northern ten tribes of Israel would last for a little over two hundred years before the Assyrians destroyed them. Judah and Benjamin would be a nation for 345 years when the Babylonians would march against Jerusalem the third time, destroy the city and burn the Temple. Why did this happen? The kings of Israel and Judah led the people to commit sin and to seek after the folly of humanism, immorality, and self-gratification. Perverted people filled the land. Justice was measured by the political whims of arrogant hearts. Corruption guided the decisions of those in power with deceit, lies, hypocrisy, and abuse of power. Israel had been a people guided by the principles of truth and righteousness but no more. They rejected God and the Lord rejected them. He put men in office that would corrupt and destroy His nation because that is what the people wanted. In the end, the destruction of Israel came at the hands of the people who refused to hold their leaders accountable. Their destruction came by their own power and by their own making. The ruin of Israel was orchestrated by the will of the people.

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He Is Teacher, Lord, And Washer Of Feet

So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13:12-17)

He Is Teacher, Lord, And Washer Of Feet

Robert Ingersoll said of Abraham Lincoln, “If you want to find out what a man is to the bottom, give him power. Any man can stand adversity — only a great man can stand prosperity.” The 19th-century British politician Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” One of the strongest points of temptation is the sin of pride. It exalts the heart to a corrupt mind of arrogance, conceit, self-importance, and egotism. Leaders especially are tempted to take too much power for themselves wielding a strong hand upon the citizens. They always fall in time. Death is the great equalizer. Throughout history, great men have had great power over vast stretches of land with millions oppressed by their rule. There has never been a king who has possessed power like Jesus Christ.

The power of the Son of God was unlimited. Jesus was divine and through the power of the Holy Spirit, exercised dominion over disease, time, distance, death, and showed His rule over the spirit world in casting out demons. There was nothing Jesus could not do. He acted under the will of His Father. At no time did He go beyond the authority given to Him as the Son of God. His final plea to the Father in the garden was for the will of God to be accomplished, not the will of the Son of God. The cross is the emblem of complete surrender to the power that was not His. He died for the sins of all men because that was the requirement for redemption established by the word of God.

On the night Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own, the Lord rose from the Passover supper, took a towel, and girded Himself. He then poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the twelve men who He called His apostles. When He finished washing their feet, Jesus began drying them with the towel he had around him. After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing?” The twelve were amazed by their teacher and master washing their feet. Peter at first rebuked the Lord because he could not see what Jesus was trying to teach him. Jesus was their Lord and He was their Teacher, names of reverence which disciples of the Hebrew teachers were accustomed to offer to their masters. There was no doubt about the rule of Jesus in their lives but what they needed to see was that although He was Master and Teacher, Jesus had come to serve. He was a washer of feet.

Leadership begins with servitude. Jesus was the Son of God. He had the power to command the wind and the waves. With only three words, He brought Lazarus from the tomb. Through the will of the Son of God, Jesus commanded the demons with all authority. Yet, in the dimmed upper room of a Passover feast, the Son of God bent down and in a great act of humility washed the feet of twelve men. Incredibly enough, Jesus washed the feet of the man who soon would leave and betray Him. What was Jesus thinking as He took the dirty feet of Judas, caressed his feet with a gentle hand, and washed all the dirt away? When Judas stood before the Jewish council and sold his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, did he look down and see his clean feet? The Master and Teacher who was Lord of Lord’s washed the feet of His disciples to show them what love meant and to leave an example for them to follow.

True godly character comes from those willing to wash feet. Jesus was their Teacher but he washed their feet. He was Lord and He washed their feet. The twelve did not know that in less than 24-hours, their Teacher and Lord would be nailed to a cross. When Jesus washed their feet He was showing them a pattern of sacrifice that would be forever highlighted by His death on the cross. Jesus is Master and Lord because of the cross and because twelve men had their feet washed by the Son of God. Thank you Jesus for washing my sins away.

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Post-Election Christians

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. (1 Peter 2:15-17)

Post-Election Christians

The Holy Spirit is surgical when it comes to text and context. Many passages are listed in a specific order to emphasize a certain conclusion building upon one another drawing the mind to the absolute truth of God’s will. The Spirit does that through the writings of Peter. God’s will is the subject and focus of the passage for today. Being a good example before all men is the need to allow the light of Christ to shine for others to see. The Christian is bound as a slave of God to obey His word, His will, and His truth without reservation. First, honor must be given to all men. Second, the relationship of God’s people toward one another will show the world the disciples of Christ are united. Here comes the tough part: the king must be honored, respected, and recognized as one in authority established by the word of the Lord. This clause does not defer to noble and righteous leaders or seek a distinction between personal preferences in rulers, kings, presidents, or prime minister. The will of God demands the Christian honor the President of the United States. Why? Because they fear God!

Before the Holy Spirit tells the first-century saints to honor ‘Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus’ (his full name), He tells them God must be feared. Nero was known as a tyrant who lived an immoral, ungodly, and decadent life. Little if any of his life characterized righteousness at any level but he was the ruler of Rome and Christians living under his rule were obligated to honor him as their king. This did not suggest complete obedience to Nero without consideration of the will of God. Peter and the apostles established during the first persecutions that all Christians must obey God rather than men when the law contradicts the will of the father. Jesus honored Caesar by paying taxes. In so doing the Lord was not approving the life and morals of Caesar. Peter reminds Christians to honor the king because they feared God first.

It is hard to remember the object of the spiritual mission is to serve the Lord first when the world seems to be crashing down around the hearts of God’s people. Leaders are put in office who allow for the murder of millions of babies. They support and defend the repugnant lifestyle of homosexuality and pornography. Laws are added that remove God and the Bible from the consciousness of society. Religion is ridiculed and men and women with religious convictions are berated as fools. Individual rights are torn from the pages of civility with ruthless abandon. Churches are increasingly being scrutinized for what they teach and condemned if what they believe is against the norm of society. It is not the world of Nero but the present-day landscape of America.

The post-election Christians must face some harsh realities. The world is not moving in the direction of God. Society as a whole continues to move away from a faith in a Creator, the sanctity of the Bible, and the respect for religion. This is not a new philosophy that has suddenly appeared in the last fifty years. Someone remarked how bad the world has become. Folks, the world has been bad and messed up since Eve took of the forbidden fruit. There was a time in America when most people respected and honored God. Presidents prayed and read the Bible. Those days are long gone and may never return. Leaders in Washington have become more hedonistic in their corruption of character than ever before with platforms that deny the holiness of God. The word of God has not changed. Children of God fear God and honor whoever sits in the Oval Office because that is the will of the Lord. Be thankful that for the present time the church of Christ has not been forced into the corner of decision regarding laws forbidding the preaching of the word or assembling for worship. That day will come. But even then, obey God first and always honor the king. Above all things – pray. And pray hard.

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Rejoice – The Sun Rose Today

For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45)

Rejoice – The Sun Rose Today

Sunrise this morning came at 6:21 am. It is a cool morning with a Fall temperature of 60 degrees. As the morning rays began to filter through the dense woods, a rafter of turkeys sprinted towards the south field where corn was freshly dispersed pecking feverously for each succulent morsel. From a clearing beyond the tree line, two young deer bounded toward the corn scattering the feeding turkeys with their playful antics. As squirrels scampered around and the mist of morning settled thickly upon the ground, deer and turkey quietly grazed and pecked around the field unconcerned but for a moment’s alert attention to any danger that lay lurking beyond their sight. The morning slowly grows brighter as the sun eases itself above the horizon and tree line. Clouds fill the sky. Birds fly across the blue canopy with ease and grace. The world has awakened to a new day and everything seemed peaceful.

In contrast to the beginning of a beautiful day, humans are frantically preparing for the day. There is great consternation over the election of the night before that remains unsettled. Fear grips the hearts of the nation as one man or another will succeed in gaining the victory. Panic fills the minds of the masses who await the answer that will change the course of history forever – or at least that is what they are led to believe. It seems the events of the night before have brought about anxiety, worry, apprehension, and dread. Lost in the meat grinder of human foolishness is the reality that another day has begun, the sun has risen and the animals scurry about as they do each day and without a care in the world.

Human beings are a funny sort of creature. The birds do not plant or harvest or store food in barns, but God takes care of them. You don’t find worry lines on the brow of a bird. As a higher creation, human beings spend most of their life worrying about things they cannot change and trying to change things they cannot understand. The birds don’t worry because they know their Creator is in charge. Men worry because they forget who their Creator is. The sun rising each morning declares that God is still in charge and the world will continue according to the divine will. All of the affairs of men seem important for the moment but will fade to the memories of yesterday.

The sun does not rise again from the day before and will not rise again until the prescribed time of the next day. What happened yesterday is forever sealed in the capsule of time and unchangeable. Worrying about the sun rising tomorrow is futile as there is no promise of a new day. The sun rises only today and begins the day showing the glory of God. It is not dependent upon the fragile affairs of men. Electing a President does not change the rotation of the heavenly bodies. Animals are unconcerned about the events of a newscast or predictions of human affairs. Children of God learn from the birds of the air and the lilies of the field there is nothing to worry about. If God takes care of the birds and clothes the grass of the field, why should any man fear what the day will bring if God cares for him more than birds and grass? Take a moment and thank the Lord for a new day, a new sun, and a new opportunity to trust God more. Today is a beautiful day.

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