The Epistle Of My Brethren

brethren

James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:1-3)

The Epistle Of My Brethren

There are few books in the sacred writings that are as practical and applicable to daily living as the small epistle of James. Spanning a little over 2,300 words, the half-brother of Jesus (as suggested by many commentators) exhorts the disciples to mold their lives in the fashion of Christian conduct. James is the epistle of brethren as he uses the term frequently in his epistle. Fifteen times in the text, James exhorts the “brethren” to be examples of trust and faith as they faced trials, prejudice, neglect, abuse, and the ever-present danger of the devil in all forms of temptations. Eight times he calls them “my brethren” and three times “my beloved brethren.” Each writing exhorts to a different admonition.

At the beginning of his letter, James pleads with his brethren to face their trials as an opportunity for joy. The early Christians suffered from persecution and it would take courage and faith to endure the hardships of the testing of their faith. Through prayer and the wisdom of God, the heart would be able to endure the trials and temptations placed upon them. James reminds the saints not to blame God. He calls them his beloved brethren to remind them that all good and perfect gifts come from the hand of the Father. A second time he implores his beloved brethren to be careful of their speech. It is a time to remain resolute in doing the will of God without question. James warns against allowing the wrath of man to destroy the blessings of God.

In the second series of admonitions, James encourages the brethren to hold fast their faith in Jesus Christ without showing partiality to others. The danger of pride can lead the people of God to think of themselves more highly than they should when they honor the man wearing fine clothing and gold rings. At the same time as they honor the powerful and rich, they dishonor the poor man as rejected and despised. A third plea for his beloved brethren to consider how God views all men and the Lord has chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith. Showing partiality is sinful because God does not do not with His creation. Within the body of Christ, all men are the same. This will be evident by the works of those who show their faith through their works in caring for others. If a man is naked and destitute, the love of God will extend a hand to help and supply what is needed. There is great hypocrisy in saying you love God and yet deny a brother the necessities of life. Faith without works is dead. For a third time, James addresses the saints as “my brethren” to ask if someone says he has faith but does not have works can that person be justified? Abraham and Rahab are used to illustrate the need for faith to be justified through works as brethren take care of one another. Like a lifeless body that has no spirit, faith lacking works cannot save.

The fourth exhortation by James to his brethren is to be careful with the unruly tongue as a little member that boasts great things. Many of the sins afflicting the heart of men fall under the heading of the tongue and without taming the tongue will destroy the soul. Like a bridle in a horse’s mouth or the rudder of a great ship, the small tongue is a powerful instrument of either good or evil. Again, James calls the saints “my brethren” when he admonishes them against speaking blessings and cursing from the same mouth. Emphatically, James says these things should not be for brethren of Christ. Immediately he emphasizes the need of his brethren to recognize that what proceeds from the mouth comes from the heart. This can only be earthly, sensual, and demonic wisdom. When the wisdom from above possesses the heart the tongue will only speak blessings. Wars and fighting come from unruly hearts. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

James reminds the disciples to not speak evil of one another, to be patient, and not to grumble against one another because they were brethren. In his final message, James implores the disciples as “my brethren” to be reminded of the prophets who left an example of suffering and patience and to let their speech be without swearing but in honesty and truth. His final sentence as he closes his message is asking the brethren if someone wanders away from the truth to seek every opportunity to bring them back. When they do so (as brethren showing faith and works) they can be sure that whoever brings the sinner back from wandering will save that person from an eternal judgment of God and to bless them with the hope of salvation. Brethren must look out after brethren because all are brethren who are in Christ. James wants all the disciples of Christ to care for one another as brethren. Your fellow Christian is your brother and your sister. Be a family.

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We Are Unworthy Servants

unprofitable servant

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:5-10)

We Are Unworthy Servants

Finding the courage to forgive another takes a lot of faith and can seem an impossible task at times. The early disciples faced this when Jesus taught them to forgive someone even if he sins against them seven times in a day. They asked Jesus for greater faith and the Lord told them a story about a slave who served his master after a long and grueling day of service before preparing his own meal. Servants were common in the Biblical days and the disciples could easily see the lesson. A man works in the fields plowing or tending the sheep and when the work is done enjoys the respite of the end of the day. When the servant comes to the house, the master requires him to fix his supper and serve the master before preparing a meal for himself. This was the common practice of master and slave. Jesus asks the disciples if the master thanks his servant for the work he has done. It was not likely the servant would receive any remuneration for what he was required to do. The conclusion Jesus teaches the disciples is while it may be hard to forgive others for the harm done to them, the Father grants mercy to all men who have never deserved His mercy.

Man must serve God. There is nothing more fundamental to the existence of all humanity than to see their place in the scheme of all things. No man is more important than another and no man matters more to God than another. The reason is that all men are unprofitable slaves who are indebted to the grace of God. Jesus did not die for worthy men. God loved the world so much He gave His only begotten Son to die for those who His enemies, who were ungodly and those who had no strength. What right has a man to demand anything from God when the Creator is the Master of all men and holds their breath in His hand? When an individual does all he can do to please God he remains an unworthy slave who has simply done his duty.

Pride calls for the heart of men to demand freedom from servitude to the Lord. The world revolts against the law of God demanding their rights to live the way they choose. From the story of Jesus, it seems the slave comes in from the field and tells the master to fix his own meal and to make himself an equal. Man can never be equal to God. The teaching of Jesus is to show how unworthy, unprofitable, undeserving, and unfit every man is who stands before God. This does not diminish the character of man but exalts him if he submits to the rule of the Lord. God so loved the world (every man without exception) that God gave (His grace) His only begotten Son (His gift) to die for every man and woman that walks on the face of the earth. Jesus died for the rich and the poor because they were all slaves to sin. All nations are welcomed to the throne of God for grace if they would accept His will. It does not matter what color skin a person is, whether he is educated or not and it matters not if he lives three centuries ago or in the modern world; Jesus loved and died for all men because all men matter.

Every person needs Jesus Christ because all men are unprofitable servants. There is no grace greater or love higher than what God did in allowing His creation to kill His Son. In the body of Christ, all distinctions are removed as the blood of Christ cleanses the hearts bowed in submission. When the final judgment comes the souls of men will be presented uncolored before the Eternal Judge for either His love or His wrath. The unprofitable servants who have devoted their lives to serving Jesus Christ will be blessed. Those who have refused to submit to the servant-hood of Jesus Christ will face eternal darkness and suffering. At the end of the day, every man is unworthy. You chose whether you want to be a bond-servant of Christ.

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Why The Man Of God Was Killed

11013024 FST - 1 Kings 13 24 - A lion kills the prophet from Judah

And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’” And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out.”

So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, that he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, “Arrest him!” Then his hand, which he stretched out toward him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself. The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the Lord.

Then the king answered and said to the man of God, “Please entreat the favor of the Lord your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.” So the man of God entreated the Lord, and the king’s hand was restored to him and became as before. Then the king said to the man of God, “Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.” But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house, I would not go in with you; nor would I eat bread nor drink water in this place. For so it was commanded me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’” So he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.

Now an old prophet dwelt in Bethel, and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel; they also told their father the words which he had spoken to the king. And their father said to them, “Which way did he go?” For his sons had seen which way the man of God went who came from Judah. Then he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” So they saddled the donkey for him; and he rode on it, and went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak. Then he said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” And he said, “I am.” Then he said to him, “Come home with me and eat bread.” And he said, “I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. For I have been told by the word of the Lord, ‘You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.’ ” He said to him, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (He was lying to him.) So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water.

Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back; and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord, and have not kept the commandment which the Lord your God commanded you, but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’”

So it was after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt. Now when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard it, he said, “It is the man of God who was disobedient to the word of the Lord. Therefore the Lord has delivered him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke to him.” (1 Kings 13:1-26)

Why The Man Of God Was Killed

The commandments of the Lord are not burdensome. No command given to man is impossible to obey and God has never asked of any man more than he can do. Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the forbidden fruit but they disobeyed the word of God. The world of Noah rejected the counsel of the Lord and died in the flood as a consequence of their rebellion. When Moses instructed the Hebrews on the law of God, he declared that disobedience would be met with the severe penalty of God’s wrath. The history of Israel is a testimony to the rebellious heart of humanity and God’s punishment on those who trifle with His word.

During the divided kingdom when Jeroboam ruled over the northern tribes, a man of God visited the king to warn him of his rebellion to the will of the Lord. Jeroboam had set up golden calves in Bethel and Dan for the people to worship. On a day when Jeroboam was in Bethel burning incense before the golden calf, an unknown man of God approached the king warning him of the doom of those who follow idolatrous worship. Jeroboam tried to have the man arrested by was cursed with a shrunken hand. Pleading for mercy, the man of God entreated the Lord and the king’s hand was restored. Jeroboam asked the man of God to join him at the palace for something to eat and the king would give him a gift. The man of God replied that he had been forbidden to eat or drink anything in the place and was to return to Judah differently.

An old prophet heard of the man of God and went looking for him. He too invited the man of God to join him for a meal and to refresh himself at his home. The man of God said again the word of God prohibited him to do so. But the prophet told the man of God that since he was a prophet also that he could trust his word. The old prophet went on to tell the man of God an angel had told him it would be permissible by God for the man of God to enjoy a feast at the prophet’s home and rest up. He was lying to the man of God but the man of God believed him. Returning to the old prophet’s home, the man of God ate bread in his house and drank water.

For his disobedience to the word of the Lord, the man of God would be killed. After leaving the old prophet’s house a lion found the man of God and killed him. Remarkably, the lion did not devour the man but stood by the corpse along with the donkey. Hearing of the death of the man of God, the old prophet took the torn and mangled body of the man of God and placed him in his personal tomb for burial.

The story of the man of God is a purposeful examination of the meaning of obedience and the consequence of disobedience. This is highlighted by the story of the man of God because God is not a respecter of persons. Men of God must obey the word of the Lord as much as anyone. The man of God had a clear mandate to follow and in regards to his work of warning Jeroboam, he excelled. Why the man of God failed became apparent when he allowed another prophet to dissuade him with something he fully knew conflicted with the word of God. Just because the old prophet said an angel had told him the word of the Lord had changed did not change the word of the Lord. The man of God was not permitted to eat bread or drink water in that place and was commanded to return to Judah by another route. This is not hard to understand or difficult to follow. What God said was clear, plain and easily understood. He disobeyed the word of God and it cost him his life.

Blame can be placed on the old prophet but to what degree? He did not force the man of God to return with him but challenged his understanding of what the Lord had said. The man of God should have told the old prophet that even if an angel from heaven gave any other word than what he had been instructed, he should be accursed. There was one truth and the man of God failed to honor that truth. The men were alike in their duties as prophets but this did not allow one prophet to change the word of God.

There is religious division today with many different churches because so many people have been lied to by those who call themselves followers of Christ and are not. Televangelists, pastors, and religious leaders are leading the multitudes to an eternal slaughter because they, like the old prophet, are weaving webs of lies. There is one truth and that is found in the word of God. The man of God should have remained steadfast to the only truth he knew and he would have lived. God has revealed His will to all men who can read and understand what they must do to be saved. The siren call of apostasy rings loud in the world appealing the senses of the unsuspecting and unaware. Are you listening to another man or are you listening to the voice of God?

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Three Things Every Man Must Do

three things Paul Agrippa

Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. (Acts 26:19-20)

Three Things Every Man Must Do

The apostle Paul preached throughout the Roman Empire to kings, queens, dignitaries, governors, religious leaders, and more often the common man. His message was the power of the cross of Jesus Christ persuading souls of the grace of God. Sent by the will of God to the Gentiles, Paul never hesitated in declaring the unvarnished gospel of salvation. His message was radical to the thinking of his peers because it demanded personal accounting and a willingness to give up the pride of the heart in submission to one God. Further, the gospel did not save a man alone but required continued obedience in showing the manifestation of faith in works showing the good things of righteousness in the heart. Paul’s three-point lesson to King Agrippa illustrates the simple message of salvation that saves men then and will bring a soul to Christ today.

All men need to repent. The first word of the gospel is repent. John the Baptist paved the way for Jesus when he taught the people to repent. Jesus began His ministry with the same message. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s first message was to repent. The early disciples went through the world preaching repentance. Without repentance, no one can come to God. The challenge of repentance is it will require a man to empty himself and many are unwilling to give up the rule of self-determination and accept the will of God. They say they have turned to God but without a penitent heart emptied of self-will. Conversion for the prideful heart is to declare allegiance to the Lord without having to accept the terms of God’s authority. Repentance demands an emptying of all of self. It realizes the need for salvation because of sin. There is nothing man can do to save himself apart from the grace of God. Repentance is the first sign of man’s submission to the will of the Father.

Every man needs to turn to God. Repentance pricks the heart with the sorrow of sin crying out for salvation but salvation is not granted yet. There can be repentance but without the act of turning to the Lord, hope is lost. No man can be saved by repentance alone. When Peter told the Jews at Pentecost to repent they had to turn to God to be saved. They heard the message of the apostles what they had to do to be saved and then turned to God in obedience. Jesus said in the mountain sermon that many will call upon the Lord but unless they do the will of the Father they will not be saved. Turning to God is the action of a contrite heart doing what the Lord requires a man to do to be saved. Salvation is not just a good feeling. Many believed in Jesus but refused to join Him. Refusing to turn to God will bring the wrath of God. Paul’s message of the gospel was for all men to repent and to turn to the Lord. And there is more.

The grace of God requires a follower of Christ to do works befitting repentance. A man must repent and then turn to God but this is not a once saved always saved type of religion where there is nothing more required of a man. Turning to God is the act of obedience to the will of the Lord and then works befitting the act of repentance. A man must prove they have changed by the good things they do. This is the message of Paul to King Agrippa who was an expert on the customs and questions of those things pertaining to the Jews. The king was not unaware of religious requirements as taught in the Law. Paul emphasized the same principles in the message of Christ that every man must repent and turn to God and do works that show their faith in the Lord. Without these works, there can be no salvation.

Paul’s words continue to resonate for lost souls today who must first change their lives through repentance and turn to God. There is no hope apart from the grace of God. All men stand to face the wrath of God if they do not repent. Turning to the Lord requires a life of devotion and worship to the will of the Lord. A man cannot be saved by grace alone nor is he justified by works alone. The character of obedience is three-fold with repentance, turning, and doing. There is no reason a man should be lost when the mercy of God is revealed in His word. Hearts turned to the message of the gospel will find God’s love in sending His only begotten Son and the blood that will cleanse them of their sins. What have you done? Listen to Paul. Repent, turn to God and prove yourself worthy of the name of Christ in works worthy of repentance.

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Three Pillars Of Righteousness

righteousness path of

Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” (Hosea 4:1)

Three Pillars Of Righteousness

There are three basic foundations of righteousness that when present will exalt a people and destroy a nation if absent. Truth, mercy, and knowledge are the building blocks of God’s grace upon the world. From the beginning of time, these principles have remained the same. Noah’s world was destroyed in the flood because there was no truth, no mercy and God had been abandoned by men. Israel was destroyed for the lack of righteousness that made them a great nation. Their history was replete with the warnings of the Lord against denying the truth of His word, showing mercy and kindness to others, and filling their hearts with the word of God. When the people turned away from the Lord they denied His truth as law becoming a law to themselves. As a result, they did not show love for one another through acts of mercy but rather they sold one another for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They crushed the helpless in the dust and pushed the oppressed out of the way. To make matters worse, both father and son sleep with the same woman. Without the knowledge of God, there was no restraint. Righteousness had been abandoned for the carnal pleasures of the flesh. There was no truth or mercy or the knowledge of God in the land.

When the world at large rejects the truth of God’s word it becomes a place of darkness in the putridity of man’s abuse of others in impurity, lustful pleasures, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, envy, drunkenness, and the wanton pleasures of self. Without truth, there is no law. In the absence of law, there is no restraint. Society breaks down to lying, killing, stealing, sexual immorality of adultery, homosexuality, and perverted sexual abuse. There is no restraint. Knowledge is rejected. Unrighteousness is the mantra of the day. Humanity implodes on itself is self-destruction. The wisdom of man is seen for the failed system of self-gratification that it is. Only when truth is restored, mercy is given and the knowledge of God retained will peace come to the world.

Jesus came as the truth of God to show mercy in dying for all men so that lost souls can come to the knowledge of salvation. The three pillars of righteousness are found in Jesus Christ. He is truth. Everything He said is the faithfulness of the will of God. No man has lived in perfection but Christ became flesh and was sinless. His truth is pure because there is no falsehood in Him. Truth is measured by the word of God and Jesus is the Word. Righteousness is Jesus Christ. His word is truth. The example of Jesus shows the incredible gift of God to willingly offer His Son as a sacrifice for the sins of all men. Mercy is discovered at the cross of the One who is Truth. Jesus offered to humanity the kindness of God to leave His place with the Father and endure the sufferings of the flesh so that righteousness could be exalted before the heart of men. The cross is righteousness.

Without knowledge, man is destroyed. The Word became flesh and expressed the love of God’s mercy. Jesus came to open the portals of eternal life through the knowledge of God’s grace. Through the knowledge of God, no man should be lost but Jesus said that most men will not find eternal life. Sadly, the knowledge of salvation is given to men but they reject this knowledge for their carnal wisdom. Righteousness is establishing what is right in the eyes of the Lord and this knowledge can only come from the One who formed man in His image. What is right is what God says is right. When the Lord declares a thing to be evil it is because it stands against His will. Righteousness is the word of God.

The three pillars of righteousness are truth, mercy, and knowledge. When these characters are absent in a person’s life they will never find joy, happiness, or fulfillment. All of the tragedies of humanity come from the absence of truth, mercy, and knowledge. For the child of God, filling their hearts with the truth of God’s word, showing kindness to others, and growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ will transform their lives to a full and complete life. The greatest joy of living righteous lives will be found when the Father says, “Enter in.” Without truth, mercy, and knowledge men are destroyed. Their doom will be eternal. Build your house on the rock. Everything else is sand.

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Two Views

two views

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:14-15)

Two Views

Jesus often found Himself at odds with the Jewish leaders of His day because of His teachings, miracles, and condemnation of their religious hypocrisy. One of the remarkable causes of disdain from the Pharisees and scribes came from the willingness of Jesus to accept the common man and to eat with them. The offscourings of the world were the tax collectors (also called “publicans”) and the morally destitute sinners. Jesus was willing to spend time with them and show them the love of God in teaching how to rise above their sins. He told the parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin to show the Pharisees and scribes that everyone is important to the Father. In the parable of the prodigal son, it was the elder son that stood aloof against the humility of the repentant son. The failure of human wisdom is to forget when men try to justify themselves in their own sight they are trying to make themselves greater than God. Jesus dined with the publicans and sinners to show them the way of God. The religious leaders despised those who were not like them esteeming themselves righteous by their own standard.

The common failure in religion is the importance of looking pious to the world while having a heart that is filled with pride and arrogance. What the world gives as honor and praise means nothing to God. Accolades of men are hollow when they do not measure up the standard of the Lord. The root of the problem is when men fail to understand the two views of life are found in what man sees and what God sees. One is fantasy and the other is reality. The view of man is skewed by his own self-importance. God looks directly on the heart and all that man is can be seen from the eyes of God. The infinite power of God knows all that a man thinks, what he says, where he goes and nothing is hidden from His sight. God knows the heart. When man was created the Lord did not allow him to have the ability to see in the soul of another man but as Creator God holds the keys to the mind, soul, and heart of every person. Jesus is reminding His disciples that man has his view and God has his view.

The second part of Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees who scoffed at Him was to know that it did not matter what man said was good and what man said was evil. The eternal challenge of humanity has been to try and change the will of God. Sin is defined as a transgression of the law. Man thinks he can change the law to redefine what sin is. The prophet Isaiah warned the people of calling good things evil and evil things good; or putting darkness for light and light for darkness; trying to change bitter to sweet and sweet to bitter. Israel of old justified themselves by declaring idol worship as the gods who delivered them but that did not change the reality of the word of God that said idolatry was an abomination. When Aaron created the golden calf at Mt. Sinai he told the people it was the god that delivered them from Egypt. What he said did not change the truth of God and the Lord punished the people because of their rebellion. Man’s view conflicted with the truth of God and nothing man could do would change the will of the Lord.

Every generation attempts to rewrite the word of God to fit their code of immorality. There are many churches today that appear as followers of Jesus Christ when in reality they have recreated the law of God to fit their own religious needs without any Bible authority. Their view is very different than what can be read in the word of God. There is an abundance of accepting sexual immorality like fornication, adultery, and homosexuality among religious groups but Jesus says that what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God. It is an utter failure for human wisdom to try and establish its code of morals apart from the word of God. Being religious does not change the word. The final reality is that when a man dies he learns the view of man has no bearing upon his eternal state. There will be no arguments at the throne of God, no debates, no appeals, and no attempts to justify self. Everything will be laid bare at the judgment bar of God because what man esteems is a stench in the nostrils of a holy God. The only view that will matter is the one that comes from the mind of God.

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The Eleventh Hour Saints

The Eleventh Hour

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. Now when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.” So they went. Again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour, he went out and found others standing idle, and said to them, “Why have you been standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and whatever is right you will receive.”

So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, “Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.” And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, “These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.” But he answered one of them and said, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?” So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen. (Matthew 20:1-16)

The Eleventh Hour Saints

The parables of Jesus taught the disciples eternal lessons that would continue to dominate the teaching of the church for generations to come. Taking stories from everyday life, Jesus helped His followers to understand the will of the Father, and these same stories are used today in preaching the gospel of Christ. After some hard discussions with the Pharisees about marriage and divorce, Jesus took His disciples aside and explained further the word of God. A rich man sought eternal life but was unwilling to pay the price required. This astonished the disciples as they watched the young ruler walk away but Jesus reaffirms the love of God by telling the parable of the workers in the vineyard. This was a common scene throughout the Bible lands where workers would gather in a place waiting for someone to hire them. Throughout the day, the landowner would hire men to work for him. The object of the lesson came at the conclusion.

As the story unfolds, Jesus describes what happens when the day’s work is done and the landowner tells his steward to pay the laborers. He instructs his steward to pay the workers who were hired last before paying those who were hired first. When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a denarius as agreed upon when they were hired. When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more than a denarius. To their surprise, they received the same amount as those hired near the evening.  When they saw what they received was the same as those hired in the evening, they protested to the landowner. It seemed unfair that while the first group had worked all day in the heat they should be paid more than those who came so late in the day. The landowner replied that it was according to his will how the servants would be paid and what he was doing was a good thing.

There are many lessons to take from this parable but one that stands out is the joy of knowing the power of salvation is not measured by the length of time a person serves the Lord. The illusion to the workers in the kingdom can be viewed as those who obey the gospel at different times of life. One man may become a Christian when he is twenty years of age and serve the Lord for fifty years. However, another man may not learn of the gospel until he is in his eighties. The first man served the Lord for fifty years and dies and the other man becomes a Christian in his eighties and dies soon after. God is not a respecter of persons to deny the latter man the same joys of eternal life as the first man. This point is driven home in an amazing story of a woman named Sharon.

There was a family of three sisters with the youngest of the siblings named Andrea. Sharon was the middle sister and was battling Stage-4 cancer for some time. Andrea was a faithful child of God and wanted very much to visit her sister who lived nearly two thousand miles away. Because of COVID-19, Andrea was unable to see her sister. Tragically, Andrea got sick and passed away suddenly. Andrea and her sisters talked often about God when they would call one another as they often did. After the death of Andrea, her husband and daughter traveled to see Sharon. That Sunday morning, Sharon was baptized into Christ for the remission of her sins. The rejoicing was overwhelming and hearts were lifted to the throne of God in joy. It was not an easy task for Sharon to be baptized. She was in the hospital battling Stage-4 cancer. They took her to the burn unit where they had large metal tubs. They filled one and used a Hoyer lift to pick her up and lower her into the tub.  Only her head was above water so it was easy to completely immerse her after her confession.  She had done pretty well all day, but after the baptism and upon returning to her room, she took an almost immediate turn for the worse.  No reason to continue to fight.  She was ready to meet her Lord.  Her last words before being placed in the tub were, “I don’t know why I waited so long.” Sharon died Monday morning called to be a saint of the Most High God. Joy found its way in the heart of sorrow.

The lesson of the parable and the story of Sharon is not to wait until the eleventh hour because many a man who thinks he can wait until the midnight hour to obey will die at 11:30. But there is joy in knowing that even someone who obeys the will of the Lord at 11:55 can enjoy the blessings of heaven as those who became a child of God early in life. What are you waiting for? No one knows when death will come. Today is the day of salvation. Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. Be saved from this perverse generation – today! (Sharon’s story used by permission of the family. My thanks to Dave Shamblin for helping with the story).

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Building Walls That Are Torn Down

Nehemiah

So the wall was finished on the twenty-fifth day of Elul, in fifty-two days. And it happened when all our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things, that they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God. (Nehemiah 6:15-16)

Building Walls That Are Torn Down

Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem was a herculean feat that was accomplished in fifty-two days. After the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, the city lay in ruin for 142 years. A cupbearer for Artaxerxes, king of Persia, became the man to lead the people to rebuild the city walls and burned gates of the city of David. Nehemiah cared deeply for a city he had never seen but worshiped as the place where God dwelt. In the year 516 BC, the Temple had been rebuilt but the city still remained in shambles. Facing an insurmountable task and persecution from his own brethren, Nehemiah rallied the people to work on the repairs of the gates, towers, and walls. The fear of retribution was so great the builders had swords on their sides as they worked with watchmen keeping guard over the project. In the face of all the fear and opposition, the walls were completed in fifty-two days.

The efforts to rebuild the walls were not accomplished through the miraculous power of God. When Israel entered Canaan and came up against the city of Jericho, the city was taken through the intervention of the hand of God that at the sound of the trumpet the walls of the city fell flat. Nehemiah guided the hearts of the people to rebuild the walls through the determination of their will to show the world the glory of God. It was hard and difficult work that seemed at times impossible. Many tried to discourage the hearts of the workers. Nehemiah was targeted with threats to his life. Still, the workers labored in their sections rebuilding the walls. Some of the people refused to work. Others stepped in where others failed. The unity of the people was an incredible infusion of devotion to a cause, to a purpose, and a common goal. What became of the spirit of the people was a unity to accomplish what the enemies of God were unmanageable. Fifty-two days after they began, the people stood and gazed at the restored walls of Jerusalem.

The world took notice of what was happening in Jerusalem. When the enemies of the Jews and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized this work had been done with the help of God. The hard work of the people had shown the world what kindred spirits can accomplish when united together as one. It was hard labor. The days were long and the work labor-intensive with massive stones being moved and timbers restored. Hanging the gates of the city was not easy but the people persevered. The purpose of restoring the city walls was for protection but the greater lesson was what people united under the banner of God’s will can accomplish. For many years the walls had remained crumbled and strewn about in piles of rock but when one man stood in the gap declaring the work of God as good, the people united and did the impossible. Hearts united with hands working diligently for a common cause produces incredible rewards. There was a feeling of exhilaration when the workers stood before the restored walls of Jerusalem. They could see the glory of God in their work and the world also took notice.

Nehemiah was only a cup-bearer but he found a purpose in his life to be remembered as the one who helped rebuild the walls of the city of David. His story is one of courage, faith, determination, and a will to show the glory of God to the world. When he died he may not have considered his life accomplishment as anything more than rebuilding the walls of a torn down city but the example of a simple man continues to move the people of God. He accomplished an incredible work because he believed in God. The world saw what the people did and took notice. Rebuilding the walls in fifty-two days disheartened the spirit of the enemies of God. They could see what the people of God could accomplish when united.

There is no greater task in the world today than the church to rise up and build the walls of the gospel to a lost and dying world. Fear, hatred, prejudice, and discontentment reigns in the hearts of men and the message of Jesus Christ will be the only answer that will solve the malcontents of a troubled nation. While things are being torn down the spirit of God’s people must rebuild with the grace of God. Light always dispels darkness and the light of God must shine in a dark world. If there is any hope for our country it will begin with Jesus Christ. He is the light and in Him is the peace that passes all understanding. His peace will change hearts. Let him live in your heart first and then share that message with your neighbor without regard to who they are. God loves the world. All of it. Jesus died for everyone because everyone matters. Roll up your sleeves and unite in rebuilding the walls of a tattered world with the faith and courage of Nehemiah. Let the world see what God’s people can do. Are you ready?

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Joining The Disciples

body of Christ 2

And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. (Acts 9:26-28)

Joining The Disciples

The New Testament church began on the Day of Pentecost as the Lord added the saved to the body of Christ in Jerusalem. In time, disciples began to establish congregations in the surrounding areas of Judea, Galilee, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Luke describes the work of Paul, Barnabas, and Silas taking journeys to Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece to establish churches and ordaining elders in every church. Local congregations sprang up in Ephesus, Colosse, Thessalonica, Rome, and Philippi and throughout the region of Galatia. The church in Antioch of Syria was a vibrant, active, and missionary congregation where Paul spent much of his time before taking his three preaching trips. It was an event at the beginning of Paul’s work as a preacher that is fundamental to the nature of the church.

Following his conversion in the city of Damascus, Saul of Tarsus immediately began preaching Christ in the synagogues confounding the Jews, proving that Jesus was the Christ the Son of God. A plot to kill Saul was discovered and with the help of the disciples in Damascus, Saul escaped and came to Jerusalem. Arriving back at the city, Saul tried to join himself with the church in Jerusalem but was received with great fear. The saints in the church at Jerusalem did not believe the former persecutor was a follower of Christ. Barnabas took Saul and brought him to the apostles declaring the wonderful story of Saul’s obedience to the gospel and that he had boldly preached in Damascus in the name of Jesus. Saul was received as one of the saints in the church of Jerusalem where he stayed for some time.

Luke says that Paul tried to join himself to the disciples. What Paul recognized and would later discuss with the elders from Ephesus is the need and the importance of being a part of a local congregation in the work of the kingdom. The Greek word used by Luke describes a gluing together, cleaving, joining, or keeping company with showing Paul desired to be part of the group in an active manner. Paul wanted to be recognized as part of the church in Jerusalem. He understood as did all the New Testament converts the work of the church including being a part of or have a membership with a local congregation of God’s people. Paul could have come to Jerusalem and become a ‘Christian-at-large’ but that was not his understanding of the will of God. After his trips to Galatia, Macedonia, and Greece, Paul returned to Antioch and reported all the things God had done. The apostle was part of the church in Antioch under the eldership of the church.

When Paul called for the elders of Ephesus to meet him in Miletus, the apostle warned the shepherds of the duties given to them by the Holy Spirit. He tells them to guard themselves and care for God’s people like a shepherd does his flock. They were to feed and shepherd the flock that was among them indicating a fellowship of members who were overseen by their leadership by the authority of the Holy Spirit. Church membership was a vital part of the New Testament pattern of church authority. Paul admonished the church in Corinth concerning their actions when they assembled together showing the pattern of discipleship as a collective effort. Every Christian should strive to find a congregation to join with and cleave in the effort of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ in that community. At-large-membership is not authorized in the New Testament and defeats the work of the shepherds of the flock and the ministry of Jesus Christ.

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The Amazing Word

in-the-beginning-god

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him, nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:1-5)

The Amazing Word

When Moses began penning the history of humanity the Spirit directed him to begin with the only place that man can begin: the word. God reveals Himself through natural revelation as the heavens declare His glory and the earth is a manifestation of His power but without the written word the character of the Creator remains unknown. From the beginning of creation, God spoke to man words whereby he would know what to do to be pleasing to the Lord. Through various ways over eons of time, God spoke to the fathers directly or through prophets so that all men would come to a knowledge of the truth. The imperative of the divine was to speak words to His creation and without a word He never failed to place a man in a position of accountability to obedience. Without the revealed word, God could be held to blame for the failure of men. There has never been a time in the history of humanity where men have been ignorant of the word of God. The creation often rejects the word of God but they must acknowledge the presence of the word.

What is amazing about the word of God can be seen in how the world was formed by the word of God. On the first day of creation, God said (spoke) for light to appear and it did. Throughout the process of creation, the word was spoken and creation was formed. Gazing into the limitless sky of stars that fill the night a man must acknowledge that everything is in its place because God spoke and it was ordained. The apostle Peter will declare that all the world is held in place by the same word that created it. In the beginning, God spoke and the earth and universe came into being and the sun rises and sets with the seasons filling each year and all of this is held together by the word of God. The breath of life that fills the body of a mortal man exists because the word of God declares it to be. Man’s habitation or boundary is established by the word of God and cannot be changed. Nations rise and fall by the declaration of the word of God. There is nothing that man can do to escape the word of God.

Creation was ordained by the word of God and the world that now stands is determined by the word of God held until the day the word of God speaks and the universe is destroyed. When the final day of man’s existence comes and the Son of God returns with His holy angels in flaming fire it will be because the word of God has spoken. This word will be an instantaneous moment of destruction and salvation. Most men will hear the word of the Lord to depart into outer darkness and the blessed with hearing the words of salvation when the Father says, “Enter in.” What separates men from the curse of eternal perdition and the joy of eternal life will be words. All men will be judged by the word of God and no one will escape the word of the Lord. His judgment is based on divine the truth that is fully revealed to all men in every generation. The word of God created the world, sustained the world, and destroyed the world. This same word opened the doors of salvation for all men, gave the creation of God the knowledge to save themselves from His wrath, and will either condemn or save the soul in eternity.

Two thousand years ago a baby was born in the city of Bethlehem to a virgin named Mary. This little child would grow to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Jesus is the Word, He was with God as the Word and as the Word He is God. The love of the Father sent His Son to die for humanity so the fullness of the Word could be revealed to the sinful nature of men. Jesus created the world, He gave His life for the world and at the word of His Father will return to take the saints home with Him. He is the embodiment of the Word because salvation comes through Jesus Christ as the eternal word. Life comes from the divine Word and eternal light is created by the sacrifice of Jesus through the word of grace and the word of mercy. While Jesus was dying He spoke seven sayings to show the great love of the Father to all men. Shortly thereafter the word of God was contained within the pages of the holy writ as men called the book, “The Bible.” Reading the words of the Bible creation is revealed, salvation declared and Heaven opened through the amazing revelation of the Word.

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Keeping The Name Of God Holy

name of God

So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Luke 11:2)

Keeping The Name Of God Holy

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, the Lord presented a powerful message of the character of His Father and the respect due to the Almighty. He was not giving them a formula to follow in some rote manner of vain repetition but an understanding that when addressing the Holy God of Heaven the man must come with fear and trembling. God is not the fishing buddy or golf pal where men can speak to and with God in a cavalier and casual manner. When a man approaches the Father in prayer it begins with the honor due to His name. Without this kind of respect, nothing else matters what the man says. Failing to hallow the name of God or respect the name of God as holy will bring the wrath of the Divine upon the prideful heart of man.

Moses instructed the Hebrews not to take the name of the Lord God in vain because the Lord will not hold a man guiltless who takes His name in vain. There will be severe punishment upon those who misuse the name of the Lord. The Ten Commandments was not the first time God told men not to use His name in vain. When the Hebrews came to Mount Sinai God gave them a law as a peculiar nation set apart for His purpose including various laws that had been established since the beginning of time. It was a sin to commit murder when Cain killed Abel. The first son of Adam did not break one of the Ten Commandments. He dishonored the name of God in taking a life. Sexual immorality was an abomination to God before Abraham was born and the lineage of Israel rose from his loins. Using the name of God in vain was sinful in the days of Adam and Eve.

The Ten Commandments have been abolished through the blood of Jesus Christ but the respect due to the name of God remains as clear as to when first established by the Creator in the beginning. Jesus taught through the avenue of prayer that His Father will not hold innocent those who either use the name of God in vain or allow His name to be defiled. It seems among some that as long as they do not use God’s name in vain in their speech they are not accountable to the Lord. At the same time, they will watch entertainment that uses the name of God and Jesus in an obscene and dishonored manner. Television shows, videos, and movies are filled with profane speech including the abuse of God’s name. What is tragic is when a Christian will ignore the use of God’s name being profaned as if it is part of a culture that is acceptable. Where did God change His mind about His name? How can a child of God justify the use of “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” or the profaned name of God being damned as pleasing to the ears of the Almighty?

An illustration of how full the world has become in disrespect to the Lord God is to see the popular movies of recent years. In 2019, a movie sequel was released called, “Jumanji: The Next Level.” It was rated PG-13 which might put parents and children at ease. However, examining the context of the movie will find frequent uses of “damn”, “hell”, and the use of God’s name damned. Other foul words are included. And this is family entertainment? Television series found either through cable, YouTube, internet companies, and popular video programs are filled with entertainment laced cursing.

How many times in a movie does God allow His name to be used in vain before He is offended? It is easy to shrug off the words as what is heard every day but how insensitive the people of God have become to the holiness of God’s name. Does God mind if every other word is “My God” or “Good God” or “O my God?” The world has no respect for the name of God and many saints who call upon the Lord through prayer lie when they say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” They are not honoring the name of God. Yes, the world is going further away from God and denying His authority. What is sad is when the Lord God looks down on the church His Son died for and see what His children are watching and allowing to be part of their homes. There are times when watching some entertainment a sudden burst of unholy language is used and the opportunity is taken to change programs. How often before renting movies like Jumanji do we verify the language content and decide not to purchase damnation to our souls? God’s name is holy and it will remain holy. What becomes unholy are the hearts that ignore the respect for His name.

The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

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Christian Behavior In Times Of Conflict

Conflict

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:9)

Christian Behavior In Times Of Conflict

The world by nature is reactionary. Newton’s law that states for every action there is a reaction is true with the elements of earth and can sadly define the character of a man negatively. Everyone reacts to something whether good or bad. If a man slaps another on the cheek there will be a reaction. Either the abused man will strike back or he will choose to refrain from returning the insult. What separates the children of God from the children of the world is how they behave in the face of conflict. It is accepted in the world view the old principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and more often than not carried to extremes by those who are retaliating. A slap on the face can lead to murder. Cursing and insults can result in chaos, fights, and injury. Wars have been fought between nations over matters of insignificant minutiae. Cain killed Abel because he did not get respect from God. The history of man is filled with the legions of stories born from the inability of one man to refrain from retaliating against another.

Sin has always been at the root of the problem. The carnal heart demands justification and reprisal for any slight done against another. God has given man a law to curb his appetite for revenge and payback by establishing principles of character that will bring peace rather than war. Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father but then the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with him and took his wells. He moved to another place and dug more wells. The herdsman again quarreled with Isaac and took the wells. Isaac once again moved from there and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth which means “open space.” Isaac exemplified the character of divine patience by not seeking revenge. He honored God saying “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”

The lesson from Isaac is the character of God’s people looks for peace. When reviled they do not revile in return. Jesus taught His disciples if they are sued in court and their shirt is taken, let them have the coat, too. Paul the apostle exhorted the Corinthian saints that when a brother takes brother to law against another it brings shame to the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit told the Christians why not just accept the injustice and leave it at that? Why not let yourselves be cheated? The child of God seeks peace in the face of chaos. This may mean that wrong is done to a person or he may even be cheated on something but at what cost will a man lose his soul?

Reviling is a harsh pill to swallow. When a man insults another the first reaction is to seek recourse for the slight. The Lord God does not suggest but demands His children to act in a certain manner by refusing to return an insult with an insult or injury with wrong. Jesus was reviled worse than any human being can ever lay claim but Jesus Christ never reviled in return. How dare the children of God take it upon themselves to return insult with insult when vicious words of defamation are leveled against another. There is a lot of hatred, prejudice, envy, animosity, bigotry, and bitterness in the world but this should not be in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Evil must never be repaid with evil and insults can never be solved with retaliatory insults. A Christian rises above the chaos of the carnal world fueled by the wiles of the devil who delights in destroying lives. The godly character of a child of God is one of blessing because they have been called to be a blessing in a world absent of blessing. The Christian character in the face of conflict is a model of Jesus Christ. If you want to know how to act in our world of conflict – go read the life of God’s Son and then live it.

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Who Will Follow Jesus?

follow Jesus

Now as they went out of Jericho, a great multitude followed Him. And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. (Matthew 20:29-34)

Who Will Follow Jesus?

It was less than a week before Jesus would die. The events of the next few days would be a grueling and difficult mission to prepare for what Jesus knew was going to be a horrible experience. His ministry would be completed. The work He had come to do would find its fruition at Golgotha. In the past few months, Jesus had told His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things but His followers were unaware of how short their time with the Lord was going to be. In a few days, the complete plan of God to save all men from His wrath was coming to pass. No other event in the history of man would have such significance.

As Jesus and His disciples came out of the city of Jericho, two blind men sitting by the road began to beg mercy from the Lord calling Him the Son of David. The multitudes reproved the two men warning them to be quiet but they cried out the more. On this first day of the week, Jesus was going to Jerusalem where He would be received with a triumphal shout from the people. Would He take time to heal two blind men? There was much to do and time was short. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus had shown His power by healing the lame, the deaf, and the blind. Why take time now to heal two blind men?

Jesus stops and asks the two blind men what they desired for Him to do. They asked the Lord to take away their blindness. Having compassion for them He touched their eyes and instantly they could see! The first thing the two blind men could see was the face of Jesus. They could see a face of compassion and kindness. What joy must have filled their hearts as their eyes filled with the wonder of the world they had never seen. Jesus turns and continues His journey to Jerusalem and the two blind men gather their meager belongings and follow Jesus. Why would they follow Jesus? What motivated them to leave the comfortable surroundings of their lives and follow after this man? Jesus had done the impossible. He had opened their eyes. The wonder of the miracle flooded the souls of two men who could now see the world about them. Darkness was no longer their captor and demon. The light of the world flooded their eyes and their hearts filled with joy.

A sad tragedy of the story is what the two men would see in the next few days. The record is silent to where the men went and if they continued to follow Jesus into Jerusalem. Did they witness His crucifixion? After the death of Jesus would they become the early disciples of the church? What is clear is that when they received the sight they followed Jesus. He had changed their lives by doing the impossible and the immediate response was to follow the One who set them free. Their fears had been taken away by Jesus. They followed Him because of what Jesus had done to their lives.

Jesus is the great physician that heals the spiritual darkness of sin. Obedience to the gospel of Christ translates a person from the power of darkness into the kingdom of light. Christians are children of the light and the day. Through the grace and mercy of God sin has been defeated and the blindness of Satan’s wiles has been removed. People of God do not belong to darkness and night. The two blind men received their sight and followed Jesus because they knew what He had done for them. It changed their lives. They could not but follow Jesus. When a heart is touched with the gospel of Christ and sin is removed, it should be the natural response to follow Jesus and obey His will in everything. If nothing more than a heart of gratitude fuels the soul, how can anyone not desire to follow the one who saved them from the wrath of God?

The two blind men did not make demands of Jesus after their eyes were opened. They followed Jesus and that was enough. Humbly bowing to the power greater than any the two blind men received their sight and dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ. A Christian is someone who was blind but given sight by the power of God. Who will follow Jesus? Those who honor the Lord with an obedient life and devoted life in service to the one who saved them will show their love in gratitude. Thank God He saved me from the darkness of sin. There is nothing I can do that will repay the grace of God but I will live every day showing my love for Him. Where He leads I will follow.

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The Heart Of David

David heart

And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.” (2 Samuel 24:10)

The Heart Of David

Character comes from the heart and the Holy Spirit described the heart of David as one that was like the heart of God. Jesus taught His disciples that what comes out of a man is what dwells in the heart. If the heart is evil the spirit of the man will be evil and when a man has a good heart his character will show goodness. David, son of Jesse, was a man after God’s own heart and this is found repeatedly in his life. He had a heart of courage to face the giant, Goliath. His heart of humility recognized the rebuke of the Lord when Nathan came to him after the sin with Bathsheba. David did not argue about his sin but admitted that he had sinned against God and begged for mercy. Near the closing years of his life, it came to the heart of David to count the people to know the number of the nation. Joab, commander of the army, tried to dissuade the king from asking this thing but the king insisted. When the final count was made 800,000 valiant men drew the sword and the men of Judah were 500,000.

The numbering of Israel was a plan devised in a heart of pride and mistrust for the power of God. David was a righteous man plagued by the nature of sin. He knew that with little or many God would be able to win the victory. It did not matter how many men were ready to fight. The king had defeated the bear and the lion that came against his sheep when he was a young man. Goliath was killed because of one boy who stood in the Valley of Elah with the Lord God on his side. David had gained victory over his enemies through the will of the Father. The grace of God had forgiven David and Bathsheba of their grievous sins. Satan had succeeded in tempting the man of God to do something he knew was wrong.

After the census was completed, David had a change of heart. His conscience began to bother him. The heart tendered by the mercy of God acknowledged what he had done was sinful and David asked for forgiveness. He admitted what he did was a foolish thing. Repentance demands recognizing that sin is an affront against God and that only with a contrite heart will forgiveness be granted. Pride hardens the heart to believe that nothing was done that was wrong. The Lord did not come to David nor did Nathan the prophet. David was convicted by his own heart. He responded to the Lord in the spirit of humility seeking the favor of God because his heart was moved to please God.

Godly men make mistakes and righteous men have a heart willing to admit sin and seek the favor of God. Refusing to repent will not bring forgiveness. A heart like David will condemn actions against the will of the Lord. It seemed like a good idea at the time to number the people but after consideration within his heart, David realized his mistake. It is not easy for the human spirit to admit wrong. The true character of a Christian is to stand before the Lord and bare the soul with the honesty of sin’s influence and consequence. David’s heart condemned him. May more hearts be condemned.

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Tradition

scribes-and-pharisees

Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:1-9)

Tradition

G. K. Chesterton said tradition was the “democracy of the dead.” He said that “tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.” By definition, the word tradition implies a handing down or to hand over a custom or practice. There are many good traditions among families that are passed down from generations. Cultures hold dear certain traditions that make them unique among men. Traditions play a large part in so many aspects of life that endear groups as one and establish life-long cherished principles within certain disciplines. Religion does not escape the role of tradition and while often is harmless can become counter-productive in understanding the will of God.

The scribes and Pharisees in the time of Jesus were firmly entrenched in the traditions handed down from generation to generation. Some of the greatest battles between the Lord and the Jewish leaders of the day came from a conflict with the perceived traditions of men and the will of the Father. The disciples of Jesus were ignoring the age-old tradition of ceremonial hand washing before a meal. When the leaders came to Jesus they complained His disciples were not following the tradition of the elders or customs long held by the Jews. These traditions were not commanded in the written law but which the scribes and Pharisees viewed as law and accountable to God. Albert Barnes adds, “They had many foolish rules about it respecting the quantity of water that was to be used, the way in which it should be applied, the number of times it should be changed, the number of those that might wash at a time, etc.” The scribes and Pharisees were offended not because the disciples broke the Law of Moses but the tradition of the elders.

Jesus appealed to the commandments of God as a contrast to the long-held traditions of men. When men impose their traditions as law upon the people when God has not spoken in His word, they transgress the commandment of God. Jesus was not against washing hands but to make it a law with the consequence of sin if a man fails to wash in a proper manner created sin by its conclusion. The Lord illustrates with how the scribes and Pharisees failed to keep the basic elements of the Law regarding honoring parents and that by their skewed interpretation and abuse of the law made the commandment of God of no effect. The result was hypocrisy. They would fain keeping the Law of Moses but impose regulations never suggested by the Lord as commandments for the people to follow.

Tradition can create an apostasy of vain worship. Jesus quotes from the prophet Isaiah when he described the actions of the people as very religious but in their hearts, they defiled the worship of God. Outwardly they draw near the Lord and honored the Lord with their lips but their hearts were filled with the traditions of men and far from the will of God. Worship becomes a farce or a travesty of apostasy when man-made ideas have greater significance than the truth of God. Jesus condemned the traditions of men that have no foundation in truth.

The doctrine of God is established upon concrete principles of truthfully revealed in His word. Every man can read and understand the mystery of God as it has now been revealed. There is no reason for a soul to stand before the Divine Judge and plead ignorance. God has delivered the message of salvation to all men. Only the Bible can shed light on the grace of the Lord and through the power of God, the Bible has been preserved intact so that all men can come to the knowledge of the will of God. Some traditions are harmless because they do not conflict, add or take away from the word of God. Traditions are acceptable as long as they do not teach doctrine not found in the Bible. There are so many religious bodies that teach and practice things not found in the word of God. They transgress the commandment of God because of their traditions. The traditions of men have made the will of God of no effect or useless. Worship becomes vain because it comes from man-made ideas.

Traditions of men must be challenged and rejected when not in keeping with what a man can read in the Bible. It is an easy exercise to examine the teaching of men with the word of God. If what a man is doing is found in the context of the will of God, he pleases the Lord in following divine tradition. When a man or group practice things that have no Biblical foundation, these are man-made traditions that make worship vain and can destroy the soul in the pretense of false doctrine. Do not follow a tradition unless it comes from God. Traditions of men will die with them but God’s word will remain eternal.

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The Word Is The Good Part

martha mary

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

The Word Is The Good Part

There are many things in life that are necessary. Providing food and clothing is as old as time itself. From the time Adam was expelled from the garden life has been about toil, labor, and work. Nations were built on the industry of its citizens. Families survived because of the need to survive. God made provisions in His message to remind humanity of the honor of work. In the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, the wise man exhorts his readers to consider the ant who without a prince or governor or ruler to make them work, labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. Jesus taught his disciples the honor of work and the early church exhorted Christians to be an example of industry with admonitions to the church at Thessalonica to mark those who refused to work. Being busy about the day to day affairs of life is a godly profession to follow.

On the occasion, Jesus visits with his dear friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, many things needed to be done to make ready a great meal for their guests. Martha was scurrying around the home making preparations for the meal. No doubt she wanted everything to be fully ready so that Jesus could be refreshed and revived after another arduous day in His ministry. Martha was a wonderful example of industry. She was not a lazy person. There was the clattering of utensils and dishes and arranging and preparing throughout the house as Martha anxiously worked to prepare. All the while Martha was working; her sister Mary was not moving a finger. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him talk.  This was not the place for a woman to be sitting with the men listening to the Teacher. Her role was to be busy in the background making preparations as Martha was doing.

Martha was frustrated at the lack of help her sister was giving and she complained to the Lord. It did not seem fair with so much to do that Mary was neglecting her duties. Martha had a lot of things to do and Mary was not so much as lifting a finger to help. Mary needed to get up and help Martha so that everything could be ready for a meal. Jesus did not rebuke Martha but gently reminded her that while the affairs of a busy household were important and commendable before God, there were times that something different was more important. Preparing a meal was a wonderful example of industry but listening to the word of God was more needed at the time. Jesus knew His time on earth was short and while He tried to exhort His disciples to redeem the time they did not understand how short time was. Mary had chosen the better thing for the moment. A meal could wait. Learning about God could not. Being a hospitable host was a sign of great honor but the meal would pass and the house would be cleaned again as the day came to a close. What Mary received that day would never end.

Luke does not tell how the story came out. Did Martha stop working and sit and listen to Jesus? Did the Lord interrupt His time and allow Martha to finish the meal and then continue teaching? The scriptures do not reveal the rest of the story. What is revealed in this story is the nature of the word and how important the divine is above the carnal. Everything in this life will fade and pass away but those things that are eternal will not. There is great value in the knowledge of the world and the mind is strengthened with the wisdom of study. Jesus tells Martha that Mary had found something better than the passing activities of life. The word of God will never fade away. Sitting at the feet of Jesus will always enrich the soul. Mary needed to hear what Jesus was saying and so did Martha. What Martha was doing was good but what Mary was doing was better. Martha’s work would fade away. Mary’s love for the word of God would not be taken away.

The lesson from Martha and Mary is to know how God wants the home to be a place of diligence with busy souls engaged with much service. However, if it becomes a distraction from the word of God it becomes too busy. Every person needs quality time with quantity effort to spend in the word of God. The home will fade away in the dust of time. God’s word will never be taken away from hearts eager to hear the word. Nothing can compare to time spent in the meditation of the word of God. Work as God desires in the home but work harder to clean the hearth of the soul from the distractions of the world to know the will of the Lord. Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ and this will not be taken away.

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What We Have Done To God

we have done to God

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. (Psalm 103:8-10)

What We Have Done To God

The mercy and goodness of God are eternal. There is nothing man possesses to measure the immensity of abundant kindness of a wrathful Creator held in check by His omnipotent love for humanity. God created the world in perfection and with willful disobedience man destroyed it in one stroke. During the days of Noah, the moral fiber of humanity had deteriorated almost to being an animal and God destroyed everything with the breath of life except Noah and his family. The flood did not stop man from sin. It changed the consequences and paved the way for the coming of Christ. God sent His Son to die for all men but this did not stop sin. Sadly, the character of man continues to rebel against the will of God. Sin rules in the heart of the majority of humanity leaving the vast multitudes of those who die facing eternal perdition.

Jesus did not take away sin but He prepared a way to find peace in the face of God’s wrath. His blood cleanses the repentant from the scourge of sin making them holy in the sight of the Lord. Among the many blessings of a Christian is the power to stand before the throne of God seeking forgiveness. Through the grace of God’s love, He is willing to remove sin as far as the east is from the west. When a man becomes a child of God he obtains the love of a Father who is tender and compassionate to those who fear him. As a Father full of forgiveness, the Lord knows how weak men are and that the life of a man is nothing more than dust. The measure of God’s mercy is boundless.

When a man understands the love of God and how by grace a man is saved, he must come to terms with the reason for God’s love and grace. There is nothing worthy in man to justify the sacrifice of God to give His Son. Jesus died on the cross because of His love for His Father and then because of His love for those who killed Him; and that did not happen two thousand years ago. It is easy to blame the envious Jewish leaders for the death of Jesus and to feel secure in the misguided thought that no one else is to blame. Jesus died on the cross because of what Adam and Eve did, for the lies told by Abraham, the murder committed by Moses, and the smugness of the many sins David committed in the story of Bathsheba. The Lord told His disciple He was dying for the salvation of the world and that extends through every generation. Saints were living in the Black Forest of Germany in 1325 that Jesus died for. Far way in the sun-drenched plains of the African safari, Jesus died for believing Ethiopians. In the eastern reaches of the Mongol lands of China, the Christ died for those who turned their hearts to serve the one true God. In modern America, Jesus died for all those who obey His commands. Jesus died for me because of my sin.

Pride clouds the memory of a man who does not recognize what he has done to God. Sin is an abomination to the Lord and the frequency of sin continues through every person. None is perfect suggesting that every man sins – no matter how good they are. The apostle Paul called himself the worst of sinners but in truth, no one can claim that title because every man is the chief of sinners. Every person stands before God with the stain of sin. Sadly, those who have not washed their sins away in the blood of Christ through baptism will never enjoy the promise of cleansing. And yet – those cleansed must still contend with sin.

God is merciful and God is kind and God is slow to anger. What we must believe is God has not punished us according to our sins and He has not punished us according to our iniquities; and thank God He has not. Has it crossed our minds how often we sin against Him and He continues to forgive us as we repent? His unfailing love toward us is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. There is no end to His love when His children seek His kindness. As we grow older in Christ we will be able to strive more effectively against the wiles of the devil. It is possible to sin less in our lives but we can never live sinless lives. Even if we were able to sin but once in our life would we still not feel shame toward the cost of God’s love in sending Jesus? Imagine our greater shame when we sin more than once? Thank God for His incredible love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Bless the Lord, O my soul.

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What Song Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

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Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)

What Song Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

Tillit S. Teddlie was born in Swan, Texas on June 3, 1885. He lived to be 102 years old and is fondly remembered by his contribution to spiritual songs that have filled the hearts of God’s people in the past one hundred years. He wrote 130 hymns and published 14 different songbooks. Tillit was baptized into Christ in 1903 and held singing meetings all over Texas for 61 years and also labored in the kingdom as a preacher of the gospel. It is said he began each morning reciting the books of the Bible and naming all of the Presidents of the United States.

“One day around 1932, Tillit S. Teddlie was able to visit his old home place where he had lived as a child. In his memory, the place was as new as when he was a boy. But when he arrived at his home years later, it was in shambles. The barn was ramshackle and falling down; trees were dead or gone. I’m not even sure the house was standing. Teddlie sat on the ground, leaned against a tree, took out his pocket-sized Bible, and turned to a blank page in the back. There he wrote the words, “Earth holds no treasures but perish with using, however precious they be. Yet there’s a country to which I am going. Heaven holds all to me!” The hymn, “Heaven Holds All To Me” has motivated many thousands of worshippers since then to put things in perspective, the unseen over the seen; the eternal over the temporal.” (Kippy Myers, World Evangelist, 1996, December, page 8, Under The Column, Illustrations That Illustrate).

The tombstone of Tillit Teddlie has inscribed on the bottom, “Heaven Holds All To Me.” A tombstone is a reflection of the life of the person entombed. It tells the name of the person and the years of their life. Often quotes are added and elaborate decorations. Some markers are very ornate and many are simple in design and purpose. Families visit the markers to reflect upon the life of their loved ones and to remember the impact of their lives. Tombstones can be a testimony to the character of the person good or bad. Talking about death and dying is not a comfortable thing for most people but the Lord reminds all men that death is a certain appointment.

While the words inscribed on a tombstone do not judge the heart of a man in the eyes of God, they do reflect a perception of the person’s life. Tillit Sidney Teddlie characteristically is remembered by a beautiful song telling the story of eternal life and how much it meant to him. He recognized the value of things on earth but he looked forward to the invaluable worth of a heavenly home. Things of this life are temporal. The glory of heaven is eternal. Life can be summed up by the words of a song. Earth holds no treasures and perishes with using, however precious they be. Brother Teddlie knew that.

There are two choices people make in life: either to live with a view of the world and its attractions or to toil in life with a vision of heaven in their hearts. Life should be filled with song and possibly each person should find a song that best describes their love for God. What song would you want to have inscribed on your tombstone? There is no doubt you will die and a monument will be erected with your name and date of birth and date of death. The only thing that will change this is the coming of the Lord but the outcome will be the same. You will have a song that describes your life. For many, it will be the hymn by Phillip P. Bliss, “Almost Persuaded.” The final refrain reads, “Almost persuaded, harvest is past. Almost persuaded, doom comes at last. Almost cannot avail, almost is but to fail. Sad, sad, that bitter wail – almost but lost.” In 1935, Teddlie wrote the song, “What Will Your Answer Be?” So what will you put on your tombstone? Which song will you ask to be carved into marble? What is your answer? My song is “Nearer, Still Nearer.”

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Jesus The Prince Of Peace

prince of peace

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Jesus The Prince Of Peace

The first consequence of sin was fear. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the day without fear but that changed when Satan deceived the woman and the fall of man was complete. Hearing the voice of God, Adam and Eve hid from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Adam would admit that for the first time when he heard the voice of God, he was afraid. The second consequence of sin is shame. Before Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they were both naked, but they felt no shame. The fear of shame overwhelmed them immediately when eating the fruit and they realized they were naked before God. Trying to hide among the trees and sewing fig leaves together did not take away their fear. Cast from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve stood alone in a world desolate of people.

Fear never left the soul of man. As humanity grew in number the consequence of sin overshadowed the hearts of the world. Fear ruled and there was no shame as wickedness, lewdness, immorality cast its sting of death upon all men. It was not long before the world was completely overrun with the ungodly. Only Noah and his family found grace in the eyes of the Lord. The Lord determined the time of man was shortened and He commanded Noah to build an ark for the saving of his household. When the wrath of God poured forth its judgment upon the world, fear became terror as all those who had the breath of life perished. After the flood men continued to struggle with overcoming fear and sought to find peace in human wisdom. Giving the Hebrews the Law of Moses did not take away the fear of sin. Centuries passed with the darkness of sin consuming the world. The world was at war with itself and there was no peace.

In a small town not far from Jerusalem with the shadows of night enveloping the world, a little child was born and placed in a manger. Angels appeared to shepherds watching over their flock outside the city proclaiming the good news that would bring great joy to all people. A Savior had been born that day in Bethlehem, the city of David. This Savior would be Christ the Lord, born of a virgin and He would be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” The Christ would be the Dayspring to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide all men to the path of peace. For the first time in the long history of man, a prince was born that would bring peace to all men of all generations for all time. Unlike the kingly rulers and princes of human governments, the Prince of Peace would bring a message of peace eternal in its nature. His peace would not be for one nation or one time but all men for all time. The peace of Jesus is the only thing that can take away the fear and shame first felt by Adam and with which every person struggles.

The coming of Jesus did not take away fear and shame. Wars continue to rage across the planet. The injustice of prejudice, hatred, murder, sexual immorality and the debase nature of the carnal man continues unabated. Jesus came to offer His life as a way to peace, a means of life, and the only truth where a man can find happiness. When peace does not exist in the world it is because of the void of Jesus Christ. His name is Wonderful because there is nothing to compare to the majesty of His glory. He is the greatest Counselor with the wisdom of the eternal ages contained within His word. The Christ is Mighty God of ages, with all authority and power invested in Him by the Father. Jesus is the Everlasting Father as the Great Shepherd who cares, protects, and provides for His sheep. As the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ is the only source of happiness that man will find.

When the world is filled with chaos, unrest, and anarchy, men are not seeking the Prince of Peace. Fear rules in the world from hearts that will not accept the rule of Christ. Peace will not come at the end of a gun, the voices of hatred, hearts filled with malice and hatred; peace comes from Jesus Christ. The most remarkable trait of the peace of God is to see those who were enemies worshiping together in harmony. Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace that will take people separated by race, religion, nationality, and political cause and unite them together in peace through His message of God’s love. Satan is the author of sedition. Jesus invites people to come to Him for peace. When the heart accepts the grace of God and obeys the will of the Father, peace will reign. The answer to strife in the world is Jesus Christ. He is the Prince of Peace.

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Knowing The Terror Of God

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For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11)

Knowing The Terror Of God

There is such a thing as the terror of the Lord. It is denied by men because the view of God is only as a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God. These attributes are clearly taught in scripture but the wisdom of the carnal mind changes the God of scripture to a god that looks more like the totem of men which brings the Lord God to their level. In other words, a man will accept God as long as the Lord maintains commonality with the needs of man. Humanity doesn’t need to respect God as a higher being since God and man are equal. Nothing is further from the truth. There is so much about God that is defined by love and goodness. What man denies is the true nature of the Creator of the world who has determined the habitation of all men under the requirements of His law and His law alone. Disobedience or rejection of the commandments of God will bring about His wrath.

The terror of God is exactly what the word implies. Paul used the Greek ‘phobos’ from which the word “phobia” comes. The personification of fear is illustrated by the apostle to describe a side of God that must be respected. To disobey the will of God will bring a harsh judgment and terror. Denying this side of the Lord is an excuse men use to pretend they love God and yet continue to live according to their desires. It is remarkable how many so-called ‘religious’ people espouse a belief in God but live following the world. A person can drink, swear, sleep around, and even wear religious jewelry and with the same mouth praise Jesus and thank God. When the heart believes and accepts the terror of the Lord, they will be persuaded to change their lives.

Knowing the full nature of the Lord will demand respect for His word. The Bible is not written to comfort the deceived to believe they are okay but to instill in the fear of the Lord into hearts that do not live by the will of God. When a person disobeys the will of the Lord and they refuse to repent, the terror of the Lord will be what they face. A society without a law is a lawless society. If the lawbreakers are not punished, society becomes a reckless and lawless rabble of self-serving people seeking their demands and living the way they choose. Without consequence, there is no law. That is not the case with God. No man can change the will of the Lord and when the law establishes a certain thing as sinful and adjudicates a punishment to that sin, God’s law will not change. Sadly, most people will face the terror of the Lord because they have never obeyed His will.

Jesus taught the terror of the Lord. In the mountain sermon the Son of God said that most people will follow the broad way to destruction. The terror of the Lord is what destruction means. If God did not punish those who did not follow His will, why would Jesus suggest such a thing as destruction? From what? Jesus taught there was a place called eternal fire, hell, damnation, and perdition. If there is no such thing as the terror of God then Jesus would have to be labeled a liar. This is not a wise road to travel because the end of the road will be destruction.

The terror of God is exactly what it means: terror. This kind of fear is something no man has ever experienced. Many things are done to men that are horrific, unbelievably cruel, and bring about great fear. This is nothing compared to the terror of God that is real, large, and eternal. The best man can do is to torture another for a time and then death releases the pain. When the terror of God grips the heart of man, there is no end – literally. Whether the mind can grasp the meaning of eternity, the weeping and gnashing of teeth are symbolic of the terror of the Lord and it will never, never, never, never end. Ever. No end in sight. Unending. It would be one thing to endure perdition for a century and then be over. This is not the case of the terror of God. When a man touches the hem of the garment of God’s terror, he will cloak himself in every part of the wrath of God. Sin is lawlessness and lawlessness is disobeying the will of God. By the grace of God, a man can be saved from the wrath of God but it demands obedience. No obedience no peace. Know obedience know peace. Are you persuaded?

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Finding The Peace Of God

peace of God experiencing

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Finding The Peace Of God

Peace is hard to find in a world fired by the unrest and anger of the ungodly. When men take it upon themselves to live by their own rules ignoring the laws of the land and the laws of God, peace dissolves. The derivative of peace comes from the character of God alone. Peace in the wisdom of man is faulty and always fails. Human wisdom defines peace according to the carnal needs of the individual. Finding peace in God is the only true nature of where the creation meets his Creator submitting to the rule of the one who holds the breath of life in His hand. Paul shows the true nature of peace when the mind is settled upon the character of godliness, truth, holiness, and obedience to the will of the Lord. There are many things to be anxious about in life. Satan constantly throws in the face of his victims the anxieties, worries, doubts, fears, and anger of the world to cloud the minds of a man to subdue his nature to fleshly temptation. Hatred comes from the absence of peace. Prejudice is fueled by the lack of the peace of God in the heart. When the heart is filled with the chaos of sin, life becomes an experience of turmoil, rebellion, and hopelessness.

The peace of God can only be found in the submissive heart that seeks the will of the Lord through prayer and supplication. Worry does not come from the word of God. Prayer is pleading the promises of God when the heart understands the peace of God through His will. Telling God the needs of life and thanking Him for all He has done turns the heart of anger away from a neighbor and submits to the gentle hand of the Lord. Experiencing the peace of God will exceed anything that a man can understand and will give him a clear mind to seek the welfare of others. God created man to be in harmony with one another. Rebellion flies in the face of what the Lord created man to be. Having respect for a neighbor and honoring one another is the foundational truth in which the law of God is built. When the Lord gave the law to the Hebrews He demanded they honor Him first but the final parts of the commandments were given to show honor to the neighbor. Peace comes from God. His way is the path of true wisdom to find harmony and unity. Discontent, malice, revolt, and uprising do not come from the peace of God.

Peace begins with submission to the will of the Lord. As Creator, God formed man with a purpose and a design. Wars and unrest are the results of human wisdom gone awry. Man has never been able to find peace when he does not submit to God. Prayer is an expression best served on knees bowed rather than an angry hand with a brick. The heart and mind guided by the hatred of the world will bring about upheaval, turmoil, and mayhem. Prayer brings the peace of God. Finding the peace of God begins with God and ends with God. Without God, there can be no peace. No God no peace. Know God know peace.

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A Message Of Peace

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Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:11-14)

A Message Of Peace

The church at Corinth was filled with division, animosity, and prejudice and divided along lines of personal choice. It was a congregation of God’s people but the people of God were not united in their love for one another. Paul wrote a very harsh letter to them exhorting them to consider the influence they had on one another and the example left for the world to see. It was not an example of Christ living in them. They allowed carnality to fill their hearts. The resulting division came because the wisdom of man was exalted above the wisdom of God. Paul’s letter had a positive impact on the attitudes of the Corinthians as they began to change their attitudes and worked diligently on growing united in love. His second letter evidenced a change of heart and he commended them for the new creation that had moved them to be more Christlike.

When Paul began his letter he addressed the church of God at Corinth with grace and peace from God and the Lord Jesus Christ. As two bookends of the message, the apostle concludes his letter with the admonition of comfort, unity, love, and peace. He closed his letter asking the brethren to be filled with joy and to grow in their maturity toward one another. This would be done by encouraging one another and seeking to live in harmony and peace as the people of God. A Christian is a person who seeks the good and welfare of others. Joy in Christ is something shared from a heart of love. Mature minds put aside the petty differences of a carnal heart embracing the love for others. There is a need to exhort and encourage others with words of grace and acts of kindness. Harmony and peace come from people who refuse to be divided along lines of prejudice, hatred, and anger. The church at Corinth had suffered greatly from the division and Paul wanted them to be joined together as one.

A child of God is the express image of the Father. If the Lord is the God of love and peace then His children must be children of love and peace. This brings about comfort. Unified as one in the body of Christ, Christians stand for one another and live in peace regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity, or economic status. God so loved the world that He gave Jesus as a sacrifice. He is not partial to any one group of people. Jesus died for every man that walks upon the face of the earth. Peace comes when the followers of God show the example of faith and trust in seeing peace and love with others. The God of love and peace will be with those who seek unity under the banner of God’s love.

Corinth experienced division because the hearts of the saints were not united in the comfort of God’s love. Becoming complete would only come from unity and peace when the saints of God would show the love of God in their lives. The world is filled with unrest and uncertainty but one thing that should be the stabilizing force in a world of chaos is the peace of God seen in the lives of the people of God. As a beacon of light shining bright in the dark world of sin, Christians stand against injustice, prejudice, and hatred. Only through the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit will these feelings of carnality be diminished. Let all men see in Christ the unity of souls who seek for peace. Paul’s farewell message of peace was the beginning of the gospel of peace shown in the lives of God’s people. May God bless our land with peace.

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He Had An Excellent Spirit

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It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom one hundred and twenty satraps, to be over the whole kingdom; and over these, three governors, of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them so that the king would suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him, and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. (Daniel 6:1-3)

He Had An Excellent Spirit

Life can be very hard. It can turn out in ways unexpected and plans made in youth can be lost in adulthood. This is the story of Daniel and his three friends who lived during the final days of Judah and captivity in Babylon. At the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, Daniel was a young man. He was a strong, healthy, good-looking, and gifted with knowledge and good judgment. As a young Jew, he would have so many things to look forward to. That all changed with the Babylonian army arrived at Jerusalem and destroyed it. It was an uncertain future for the youthful Daniel as he watched the land of his forefathers disappear over the horizon. He would never see the fertile lands of Canaan again and never worship in the temple of his God. His life took a drastic turn but he was not going to allow the circumstance of his surroundings to change the depth of his love for God in his heart.

When Daniel first arrived in Babylon he faced a lot of changes that would impact the rest of his life. His name was changed from giving glory to God to a name with an homage to a Babylonian god. Along with his three friends, Daniel would be taught the literature of the Chaldeans and learn the language of the empire that enslaved them. For three years, the young men would spend their days immersed in the Babylonian culture which was so foreign to the customs of their homeland and the Law of Moses. But these godly men purposed in their hearts that while their names were changed and the culture of the Chaldeans would be a large part of their lives, the heart that had served the Lord God would not be compromised. The first test came when the king required the young men to eat of the king’s delicacies and wine which he drank. Daniel asked the chief of the eunuchs for permission not to eat the unacceptable foods. This was a bold request. Daniel and his friends were blessed by the mercy of God to be allowed to not eat of the king’s delicacies and the king found them ten times better than all the wise men in his court. An excellent spirit guided their hearts and God was glorified.

In the second year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the king had a dream that would put Daniel and his friends in peril. Demanding the wise men tell the dream and the interpretation, the king began killing the wise men because of their inability to tell him the dream. Daniel interceded and along with his three friends prayed to God for an answer to the king’s demand. Again the mercy of God revealed the dream and its interpretation saving all the wise men along with the three Hebrews. The excellent spirit of Daniel gave him the courage to ask God for the impossible. His friends prayed together and found deliverance through the power of prayer. The captivity had not diminished the faith of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Nebuchadnezzar erected an image of gold ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. He commanded all of his counselors to attend the dedication of the image and required everyone to fall down and worship the image when the music began to play. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah attended the dedication but refused to bow down to the image. Infuriated by their public demonstration of defiance, the king ordered them thrown into a blazing furnace of fire which consumed the soldiers who threw the three Hebrews into the fire. By the mercy of God, the three young men were delivered from death and came out of the furnace unharmed. It did not matter whether God would have delivered them from the fire as the three Hebrews had excellent spirits to serve the one true God with no concern for the consequences of what the king would do to them. To deny the explicit command of the king of Babylon and face the fury of a fiery death did not dissuade the hearts of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah to stay true to their heart of devotion for God.

After the fall of the Babylonian empire and the rise of the Persian kingdom, Daniel remained in a place of authority within the new hierarchy. His character was immediately recognized by Darius the Mede and the king planned on placing Daniel over the whole realm to govern all the officers of each province. What set Daniel apart was he proved himself trustworthy, honest, loyal, and dedicated but in a way that Darius would later come to know as the spirit of the living God. Daniel was not a party politician that served the interest of the king but a loyal child of God who served the Lord of all. The heart of Daniel had purposed itself to serve God and to serve God alone. From the tragic day he was taken away from the homeland of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Daniel purposed in his heart to be an excellent man. A person of virtue. Honor would be his badge. His credentials were written on a heart of obedience to the will of God. The chief of the eunuchs under Nebuchadnezzar and the kings of Babylon and Persia saw in Daniel something few men possessed. Daniel distinguished himself because he served God.

The days in which we live are hard and filled with uncertainty. Men and women of God must let the world see the spirit of excellence in the hearts of God’s people so they can see the Son of God. This is a time when the righteousness of true virtue is exalted in the language, actions, and lives of the church of Christ. There is a great need for hope in a world filled with anger, hatred, and prejudice. Love is not the answer – Jesus Christ is. The calming spirit of those dedicated to the love of God will show in their lives humility of submission to the grace of God and an example of faith in facing whatever uncertainties arise. Christians must distinguish themselves with an excellent spirit and a heart filled with the word of God. Let Christ shine in your life so that others can see God living in you. Be an excellent spirit.

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They Forgot The Baby

jesus shepherds

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:17-20)

They Forgot The Baby

The perception of the Jewish mind to the coming of the Messiah was a hindrance for the people of Jesus’ day to see Him as the fulfillment of the prophetic word. Jesus did not fit the mold because He did not appear in the manner expected of the coming Savior. His earthly father was a carpenter and Jesus came from the city of Nazareth. There was no royal heritage that elevated His status among the people and from the viewpoint of the religious leaders; Jesus was an uneducated unimpressive common man. The story of Jesus did not interest the world of the perceived ideas of the coming Messiah. Everything about the life of Mary’s son was dull and meaningless. When the true Messiah comes He would appear suddenly from concealment and show Himself by power miracles.

In the fields outside the city of Bethlehem, shepherds kept watch over their sheep in the comfort of the vibrant spring night. It was a beautiful time of year with new birth and warmer days from the harsh nights of winter. The men settled into gathering their sheep together and joining one another for a quiet meal and conversation. Suddenly the night sky erupted in brilliant hues of divine light as an angel of the Lord stood before them and the shepherds trembled in fear as to the meaning of the manifestation. The angel told them not to be afraid and that He would tell them the great news of joy to be told to all people. In the city of David, a baby had been born that was Christ the Lord who was the Savior. The shepherds would find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.” When the hosts of angels had gone away, the startled shepherds went into the city seeking the newborn babe lying in a manger.

In a short time, the men found Joseph and Mary huddled around a babe lying in a manger. They made widely known the events of that night when the hosts of angels appeared to them and the marvel at finding the infant child lying in a manger. The message of the shepherds was the announcement of the coming Messiah. Long promised and desired by the people, the Christ would deliver them and set them free. There was great joy among the multitudes who heard the story of the child born in Bethlehem. They marveled at the news of the Christ being born and found in a manger. The shepherds continued to tell the story of the child and how the promised Messiah of God had finally come. It was a time of rejoicing and anticipation. Messiah had arrived. There was great hope. And then the news died down. A few years later some men from the East arrived in Bethlehem and after they left the Roman army sent its troops into the small city and killed every male child two-years-old and under. Bethlehem was overwrought with grief at the murder of the innocents. It would be twenty-eight years later before anyone heard about the Messiah again.

The scriptures do not tell what became of the shepherds. Their story faded into the forgotten memories of the people. The baby born that night left Bethlehem when He was around two-years-old and lived in Egypt for a while before going to a city of Galilee called Nazareth. He would grow up the son of a carpenter and have five brothers and some sisters. His life was uneventful for thirty years. One day a man came preaching the coming of the kingdom and the gospel of repentance. His name was John and he foretold the coming of the Messiah. Soon after, a man from Nazareth began to show divine power through miracles and astound the multitudes with His teaching. He would teach among the people for three years before the Jewish leaders would have him killed. The story of the shepherds was forgotten. Their wonderful news of the arrival of the baby in the manger fell to the dust of yesterday. No one could see in Jesus the story of the Messiah. He was from Nazareth and the Christ was to come from Bethlehem. It seems no one took the time to ask Jesus where He was born. If they had, the story of a group of shepherds finding a baby in the manger would have told them Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God.

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The Christian In The Workforce

Christian In The Workforce

Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 3:22-4:1)

The Christian In The Workforce

The perilous times of 2020 have seen the impact of the COVID-19 virus on the economic landscape of the world. Few global events have shaped the markets of commerce as a single virus than what has been experienced in a year of unprecedented changes. The year 2020 was foreseen as a year of vision with great expectation the new decade would usher in a thriving hope of prosperity and promise. These dreams have been dashed for many who have experienced compromised health, loss of loved ones, financial ruin, and jobs lost. What seemed to be a year of anticipation is now a time of fear and dread. The political world is in greater chaos and disharmony than at any time in America. Anger and frustration have foamed up in communities around the country with protests, boycotts, and rebellion. The spirit of freedom has unleashed personal choices against one another. These are perilous times.

When God sent His Son to establish the divine kingdom of righteousness, He created a body of people that would stand in contrast to the carnal wisdom of the world. Principles of truth and godliness were transcribed on the pages of inspiration to create a body of people that would stand in contrast to the world. In a remarkable body of teaching the Holy Spirit directed men like the apostle Paul to admonish those who were slaves and masters to act in a manner that was against the norms of society. Slavery was never condemned per se but the character of the slave would change when the grace of God came into his life. The Lord exhorted slaves to be obedient to their masters and not treat them with disrespect, dishonor, or disobedience. Slaves were to seek to please their masters all the time serving sincerely with a reverent fear of the Lord. Whatever the slave was asked to do he would do so with vigor and enthusiasm as if he were visibly working for the Lord. The slave recognized that his true reward came from heaven, not the praise of men. This was not the normal relationship of the slave toward his master.

Masters would be the example of righteousness toward their slaves as just and fair men who knew their own master was the Lord God of Heaven who had no favorites. This changed the dynamics of the master-slave relationship when the master treated the slave with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Likewise, the Christian slave would reciprocate the same towards their masters. Master and slave knew that with God there was no partiality. The Lord wanted both to honor Him in their lives and to show that honor in the way they treated one another. This would have turned the world upside down in the First Century and this will change the world of today.

Christians shine brighter in times of peril. The character of the child of God is more evident in the days of toil and despair than any other time. In the uncertain days of this year the certain character of the Christian will shine as a light in a dark world. The admonitions of the slave-master relationship correspond to the nature of the employee-employer relationship. If there are any people on the payroll of a company that can be trusted for honesty, fidelity, timeless, and an above-average work ethic, it belongs to the children of God. This a time for the world to see the true nature of righteousness in the lives of God’s people. The Christian must be the model of Jesus Christ in every part of life and this especially holds true in times of uncertainty. Many churches have put on hold evangelistic efforts to reach the lost but Christians in the workplace can show the grace of God by their example of trust and faith in the will of the Lord. The virus of 2020 should not diminish the work of the church when the work of the saint is seen on the job – ready to be an example of righteousness.

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But That Is What It Says

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There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21)

But That Is What It Says

She was a remarkable woman for the circumstance she found herself in. Linda had many health problems that limited severely her ability to walk and move about resulting in her remaining in bed 24-hours a day. She lived alone with caretakers coming by to help with various chores. Surrounding her bed was everything she needed including the ability to fix hot food and provide meals. Her spirits were good considering the plight of her handicap. Through the suggestion of a friend, I began to have Bible studies with Linda. She had a sharp mind and enjoyed the discussions about the Bible. We talked about her health problems and how difficult it was to live each day with the many problems she faced. One of her favorite shows to watch on television was the televangelist Benny Hinn who claimed to heal people. On occasion she would send money to the program and one year wrote to the preacher asking him to come and give her some healing. About a year later some men came by and talked with her laying their hands on her and when they left she remained in bed with the same afflictions she had before. No healing for Linda.

During our discussions we talked about baptism. The study focused on the necessity of immersion and how the Bible said that men are saved by baptism. Linda said the Bible did not teach such a doctrine. She denied the scriptures said anywhere that baptism saved. Turning in the Bible to 1 Peter 3:21, I handed the Bible to Linda and asked her to read the passage. She carefully read the passage out loud and when she finished her mouth dropped open in complete surprise. I could tell by the reaction on her face that she had never seen this passage before. About a minute passed and she closed the Bible and firmly stated that baptism did not save a person and handed the Bible back. I asked her what the passage had said and she continued to deny that baptism had anything to do with salvation. Shortly after these studies Linda did not desire to study anymore and a few months later quietly died in her sleep.

The Bible is a book of words filling the pages of sixty-six books. Through the written word God has revealed His mind to men so they could read and understand the mystery of the Divine. The essential question for humanity has always been to find salvation from the wrath of God and never in the history of mankind has man not had the ability to know and understand the will of the Lord. Through the grace of God the Bible contains the whole counsel of redemption and when the heart opens to the merciful message of salvation in Jesus Christ, the word of God convicts, rebukes, establishes doctrine, and instructs a man in the way of righteousness. Faith will blossom from the hearing of the word spoken and read as the words of truth declare the eternal majesty of God’s love. But there is a catch and a challenge: the word of God will have no effect if the heart is unwilling to accept what is written.

God has never made it difficult for a man to understand His will. The Bible is a book of clarity showing all men the path to eternal life. What kind of God would He be if the Lord gave man a book so hard to know and understand that no one could find salvation? The Bible is not a book of mazes with impossible conclusions or riddles hard to understand. Salvation is a plain as the written word. The religious world denies that baptism has anything to do with salvation in denial of what is plainly written down in words for men to read. No one is saved by baptism alone and the Bible never teaches the doctrine of salvation alone by anything whether faith alone or grace alone. But it does teach that there is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism. Denying it does not remove the ink from the page. Satan has done well to convince religious hearts to believe in God but never receive the remission of their sins. The greatest tragedy will be when the religious lost stand before the author of the Bible, He will sadly remind them of what was written in the book. God’s word has not changed. Read 1 Peter 3:21 again. Has it changed since Peter wrote it two thousand years ago? It will never change but you must.

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Priestly Bullies

Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. And the priests’ custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Also, before they burned the fat, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, “Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw.” And if the man said to him, “They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires,” he would then answer him, “No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force.” Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:12-17)

Priestly Bullies

Israel during the time of the Judges was a land filled with chaos, rebellion, wars, and a world where everyone did what was right in their own eyes. No king ruled over the people and for many years a cycle of God’s wrath followed by deliverance by the Lord defined the early history of the people of God. During the final days of the judges, Eli was High Priest and his sons Hophni and Phinehas served as priests. Their gross misconduct disgusted the people with their bully tactics of forcing the worshipers to give them meat beyond what was prescribed in the Law of Moses. The Law defined the portion of the sacrifice that was to be given for the food of the priesthood but Hophni and Phinehas took more than the law allowed. They forced the worshipers to stop while the servant took the meat out of the pot with a fleshhook.

Eli served as High Priest for forty years and lived to the age of ninety-eight. However, he did not restrain his sons and while he admonished them for their wickedness, Hophni and Phinehas did not heed the voice of their father. The immorality of the two priests was so gross the scriptures describe how the sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle. This was a terrible time for the people of the Lord as those who were in the position of spiritual leadership were filled with corruption, wickedness, and bullied the people with their carnal demands.

The reason Hophni and Phinehas were corrupt is they did not know the Lord and had no respect for the Lord or the duties of priests of the Most High God. They treated the sacrifices of the Lord with contempt and abused their power. Life for the sons of Eli was filled with their desires and wants and no one was able to stop them. Their father’s pleadings fell on deaf ears. The people could not withstand them. It seemed hopeless. Then came the day Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. At the end of the first battle, four thousand men of the army of God lay dead in the field. Appealing to the elders of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant was brought from Shiloh by Hophni and Phinehas. When the people of Israel saw the Ark of the Covenant coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake! They knew that victory would theirs against the Philistines. So the Philistines fought against Israel and thirty thousand soldiers of God’s army died by the hand of the Philistines. Included in the carnage were the sons of Eli who were guarding the Ark of the Covenant. Hophni and Phineas would no longer be a scourge among the people. The Philistines killed the sons of Eli and captured the Ark. When Eli heard the news he fell over backward and breaking his neck, died.

Bullies are those who believe they can run roughshod over others with impunity. Sadly, the sons of Eli abused their office as representatives of God for their own purposes. For a time they had free reign to do as they pleased. What they failed to understand is that their days of oppressing the people would come to an end by the hand of God. The Lord told Eli by the word of a man of God that his two sons would die on the same day. Hophni and Phineas died as determined by the counsel of God. In a field between Ebenezer and Aphek, two men felt their lives slipping away by the hand of a Philistine sword. They were no longer bullies but pitiful men moments away from meeting the Lord God Almighty. When they stood before the Judge of all men they would not demand anything but eternal grace and mercy and find none. The days of their bully tactics came to an end.

The remarkable conflict of a man is to think he is the most powerful being on the planet. Many abuse their positions, their power, and their wills upon others. They will be able to subdue their victims for a time but when death calls these despots will come to know a power so great they cannot fathom its breadth. Hophni and Phineas were priestly bullies abusing their power as spiritual leaders of the people. Their reign of terror ended as all plans of men will come to naught. The greatest need of the world is for all men to realize how great and powerful the Creator of the world is and how all that has the breath of life will one day stand before one throne and be judged. Bullies are misguided and misinformed. God is not.

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