Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Seek The Old Paths

"Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."  Jeremiah 6:16.  I like the statement, "Thus saith the Lord."  I like the statement because I know that God is always the same.  If God were changing, He would abandon the old and innovate the new.  We are always looking for something new.  We never seem to be content with the old.  A new car, a new suit, a new mate, always something new for us.  The people of God who continue in the old path are considered to be old fashioned and out of touch.  But, God directs us to ask for the old path because the old path is the good way.  The path is good because God has designed it.  God does not make mistakes.  We see the ways that men have designed.  Many and varied are the directions of man.  This new thinking says that God can be served in any way that one might please.  Jeremiah says no.  Just follow your heart, man says.  Jeremiah says "walk in God's way."  Those who hear God are at rest.  New paths bring disturbance.  The "old path" has been tried and has stood the test.  New paths are forsaken for new paths.  The "old path" is best because it is God's path.

Monday, March 30, 2015

God Forgives Sin

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."  Romans 3:23.  Sin is a universal condition.  One commits sin when God's law is transgressed.  Sin will enslave.  Sin will separate us from God.  Sin will ruin one's character.  Sin will scar the conscience.  Sin will cause one to be eternally lost.  But, God forgives sin.  Sin can be forgiven because of God's love.  Sin can be forgiven because of God's grace.  Sin can be forgiven because of the blood of Jesus Christ.  The message of the gospel is the good news of forgiveness.  All people can be forgiven.  Any sin can be forgiven.  God longs to forgive.  Forgiveness is God's work.  But, we must respond in obedience unto God so that we might receive forgiveness.  Forgiveness will come when we confess our sins.  I John 1:9.  Forgiveness will take place when we repent.  Luke 13:3-5.  When we are baptized into Jesus Christ, all sin is removed.  Acts 22:16.  Forgiveness brings about a relationship with God.  Forgiveness makes us the sons of God.  Forgiveness brings peace and hope.  Forgiveness is God's offer of eternal life.  Seek His forgiveness now.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Be Not Afraid

"The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?"  Psalms 27:1.  Fear will rob life of peace and happiness.  Fear will erode the spirit.  Fear will move us into a realm where we will lose our way.  Fear is disturbing.  In our world, we have many things that we could fear.  Ideological forces are at work in our society.  Natural disasters are constant.  There is the movement of life toward old age which causes many to fear.  Some fear the future because of the uncertainty.  We can find ourselves afraid because we fail to remove ourselves from the physical.  This passage speaks of a trust beyond this world.  The physical world offers no lasting security.  Peace can be destroyed in a heartbeat.  Our place with God is lasting as long as we choose.  Light, salvation, and strength come from the Lord.  The Lord is the author of light, salvation, and strength.  God sheds His light upon us.  God provides salvation from our enemies.  God gives strength in times of weakness.  The Lord offers a personal relationship.  The Lord is my light, my salvation, and my strength.  Is He yours?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Earth As In Heaven

Jesus was teaching His disciples the manner of praying.  Among the petitions which we ask, we are to pray, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."  Matthew 6:10.  Effective prayer calls for a commitment to the will of the Father.  God's will is always done in heaven.  Even the angels which sinned were cast out of the divine realm of heaven because they refused to do His will.  II Peter 2:4.  The will of God upon earth demands that the inhabitants of earth submit themselves to the will of God.  We who yearn for fellowship with God must give ourselves to His will.  We who desire that our petitions be granted must be obedient to His will.  Jesus could teach us to pray for God's will to be done because Jesus Himself always did the will of the Father.  John 8:29.  Jesus not only taught us to pray such a request, but also gave us the example to follow.  Jesus lived in the manner that He wanted us to live.  Communicators with God in prayer are to pray that His will be done on the earth.  We aid in that request as we do the will of the Father.  Our desire and hope is that all upon the earth would do His will.  Think of a world where everyone did the will of God.  How blessed we would be to live among such a society of people. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Words of Life

Jesus Christ speaks the words of eternal life.  The confession of Peter was “thou hast the words of eternal life.”  John 6:68.  His words are life because Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus had said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.”  John 6:63.  The testimony of our love for the Lord is our response to His words.  “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my father will love him and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”  John 14:23.  We must listen to the words of Jesus for those very words give us life.  Our journey here is very brief.  And so, we must prepare for the life which is to come.  The words of Jesus prepare us for that life.  His words give us hope for the future of our existence.  Our relationship with God is through the words of Jesus.  As we hear and obey His word, we come to know God and the plan that he has for our life.  His word gives us the instructions that we need to be the child that He wants us to be.  His word provides us with a peace and a contentment that cannot be found otherwise.  His word lifts our troubled soul and elevates us to a place of calmness and tranquility.  His word will remove the anxiety and worry from our mind.  His word will purge the impurity from our heart.  His word will cause us to seek Him in all of His purity and grace.  His word will enlighten our mind.  His word will envelope the life with joy.  His word will cause us to see the dignity of our own self worth.  The blessings which heaven seeks to bestow upon humanity are found in the words of Jesus.  To what other source would we go to seek true and lasting wisdom?  Only Jesus has the words of life.

Monday, March 23, 2015

More Shame Is Needed

Today,  I saw a woman with a very filthy word on the shirt that she wore.  What she told me was that she lived in the gutter.  She was announcing without any shame that she had no code of morality and that decency was not in her thoughts.  But, she is only one among many.  The magazines in the check out counter at the grocery store tell us that many in our society are without shame.  The dress that people wear and their speech inform us constantly that many no longer blush.  Jeremiah told Judah of old that they had no shame and could not blush at their evil and wickedness.  "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?  nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush."  Jeremiah 6:15.  Wickedness abounds.  Evil is everywhere.  The pure and the decent cannot avoid contact with the sins of a society.  But, we can blush.  I felt shame that I have to witness such a violation of morals.  A society that feels no shame and that cannot blush is on a downward spire.  It is headed for destruction.  Jeremiah informed Judah that because of their condition of heart that "they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord."  A people that cannot be ashamed of their abomination and that does not blush at their evil will be visited by the Lord and they shall fall.  And great will be the fall thereof.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Struggling With His Will

One of the members of the church where I preach informed me that she struggles at times with God's will.  I do not believe that she is alone.  I stand with her because we as Christians have an enemy.  Jesus told a parable about an enemy sowing tares in a wheat field while the servants slept.  Matthew 13:24-30.  Jesus described the enemy as the devil.  "The enemy that sowed them is the devil."  Matthew 13:39.  Sleeping servants of God are always at a disadvantage.  We must be alert and vigilant.  While we struggle, we must not allow the devil to overcome.  God is more powerful than Satan.  Jesus has bruised the head of Satan.  But, Satan comes at our weakest moment.  Satan came while the servants slept.  Satan wanted Jesus to turn the stones to bread after Jesus had fasted for forty days.  Matthew 4:2-3.  We are not isolated from the struggles of life.  We are equipped to be the victors.  We will face the adversary.  The enemy will try our souls and test our resolve.  But, we must know that "we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."  Romans 8:37.  How we handle the struggle will determine who we are.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Most Important Verdict

The most important verdict of all time will be handed down at the judgment of God. That judgment will come in the final day. God has declared that Jesus Christ will be the judge. “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” John 5:22. Jesus Christ has been appointed to be the judge of “the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” II Timothy 4:1. Jesus will sit upon the “throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31) which is described by John as a “great white throne.” Revelation 20:11.

The judgment will be a time of accountability. “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12. None shall be absent. None shall be able to escape from this judgment. The small and the great will be summoned before the Lord Jesus Christ. All must give an account of their lives. That which is done in the darkness will be made known in that hour. This time will be a time of revelation of deeds committed, words spoken, and thoughts conceived.

The judgment will be a time of separation. The good will be separated from the bad, the just from the evil, and the righteous from the unrighteous. Time will have ended and eternity will have begun. Those placed upon the right hand of Jesus Christ will be rewarded with everlasting life and those placed upon the left hand of Jesus Christ will be punished with everlasting destruction.

Increase Our Faith

Jesus was speaking to His disciples concerning offenses and forgiveness.  They probably looked at themselves and wondered if it were possible for them to forgive seven trespasses in a day.  How about one trespass?  They requested of Jesus, "Increase our faith."  Luke 17:5.  At least, they did not simply dismiss the teaching.  They asked for help with the teaching.  Do we on occasion have difficulty with the teaching of Jesus and need more faith to do what He says?  We live in a world where at times there appears to be more hate than love, more bad than good, and more distance than closeness.  This teaching in Luke 17:1-5 is personal.  Jesus wants me to forgive those who offend me if they ask for my forgiveness.  Not just one time, but as often as is needed.  And, within the framework of that teaching and other teaching, I need more faith.  When I view the world scene and see all the horror, I need more faith.  When I see people dismissing God and plunging into destruction, I need more faith.  There are moments, perhaps, in the lives of all of us where we have the faith, or lack of faith, of Peter walking on the stormy water.  We want to have at all times the faith of the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace.  A request of more faith is a yielding to God and His help.  The disciples knew that they would have difficulty with the action that Jesus was calling them to make.  They needed His help because they would be unable by themselves to follow this teaching.  You and I cannot live the life that Jesus wants us to live and needs us to live by ourselves.  We need His help.  My prayer is, "Lord, increase my faith."

The Fulness of Blessing

A phrase which Paul used in his letter to the Romans was "in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." Romans 15:29. The gospel brings a blessing to those who will hear and believe. The gospel is a complete revelation that requires no addition. The gospel is a perfect revelation that needs no alteration. The blessing which is provided by the gospel overflows and abounds. What fallen humanity finds in the gospel is acquired in no other message.

The gospel brings the fullness of blessing in the restoration which God has offered unto man. The fellowship known in the garden becomes the reality of the fallen. Access unto God has its avenue through the proclamation of a message. Jesus spoke of "the blessed" in His Sermon on the Mount. These would know the "perfection of God." Matthew 5:48. Heaven's truth brings the fullness of joy in knowing God and wearing the blessed title, "children of God."

The gospel brings the fullness of blessing in the redemption from the bondage of sin and the beauty of holiness. The believer of this revelation comes to know purity of heart and life. The blemishes and flaws that stain and blot are clean removed from the soul. This full blessing allows us to "walk in the light" of God's righteousness. The character of God is achieved by those who receive the "fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ."

Friday, March 13, 2015

Demas Hath Left

Demas is a co-worker of the apostle Paul.  Colossians 4:14.  “Demas, greet you.”  When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy a few years later, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.”  II Timothy 4:10.  When Paul wrote the letter to the church at Ephesus, he did not “cease to give thanks” for their “faith in the Lord Jesus.”  Ephesians 1:15-16.  A few years later in the letter of Revelation written by John, he called upon the church at Ephesus to repent because “they had left their first love.”  Revelation 2:4-5.

Regular church attendance is now less than 20% among all religious bodies.  More than one million members of the church of Christ no longer attend services of worship.  One in five people claim no religious affiliation at all in this country.  While this is alarming, our real concern is with those who were once faithful members, but have left the body of Christ.  Satan continues to have an influence with those who have become free from sin through obedience to the gospel.  Jesus had warned during His ministry that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  Matthew 24:12.  The “perilous times” mentioned in II Timothy 3:1-7 would be a time when many would be “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.”  II Timothy 3:4.

Our time, as is true of every time on earth, needs real and genuine commitment.  We, who have confessed Christ and have been united with Christ in baptism, need to stand in our faith.  We need to flee from the devil and refuse friendship with the world.  We need to be loyal to the Scriptures and faithful in our service to God.  We need to love Christ more than anything else in this present world.  We need to know that the devil will not cease to pursue us because we are Christians.  We need to decide what is important to us as far as our time is concerned.  We need to be awake rather than slumbering.  Let us not become a Demas.  Let us not be a statistic of the fallen and removed, but let us be willing to march through hell to reach heaven.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Walking By Faith

"For we walk by faith, and not by sight."  II Corinthians 5:7.  The spiritual realm is not a realm of sight.  God cannot be seen.  We believe in the reality of God and all that pertains to God through faith.  Faith is our evidence of His existence.  We do not look to science to prove God.  We do not depend upon the test tube and the science laboratory.  The power of faith has been witnessed by the faithful of God.  Jesus taught that faith as small as a grain of mustard seed could move mountains.  Matthew 17:20.  Because of faith, lives have been committed to Jesus Christ and His way of life has been followed.  Because of faith, the hope of heaven has been embraced and the redemption offered through Jesus has been secured.  Faith lightens the darkness.  Faith comforts the weeping.  Faith breathes life into the dead.  Faith secures the future.  Faith begins small and grows large.  The faith that saves is not achieved in a single step.  Faith is a life's work.  That which is seen disappoints.  That which is seen ceases.  Faith neither disappoints nor ceases.  Faith delivers.  Faith empowers.  The leap from the seen to the unseen is faith.  Faith clasps the hand of God and journeys to the unseen world of eternal joy. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Delight In God's Law

“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is my members.”  Romans 7:22-23.  The spiritual man delights in the law of God.  That law provides direction and purpose.  But, the law of sin interferes with that desire.  Life is a struggle between what is right and what is wrong.  “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Ephesians 6:12.  We must choose either to please God or please the devil.  God seeks our good, but the devil seeks our destruction.  God speaks truth while the devil speaks a lie.

In this struggle against evil, God has provided for us the power to overcome.  The writer of the Roman letter understood Christ to be that power.  “I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”  Romans 7:25.  As we accept Jesus as our Savior by obedience to the gospel, we have access to the power that overcomes sin.  Jesus has battled the devil and has been victorious.  He has defeated Satan and provides us with the ability to overcome.  Jesus died and was raised “that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”  Romans 7:4.

Sin will continue to be our struggle while we live in the flesh.  He, through his various devices, will seek to control, and finally, destroy us.  But, God wills that we overcome.  Let us “delight in the law of God.”  Let us allow that law to serve us so that we might fulfill God’s grand purpose for our lives.  The law of sin can always be controlled by the law of life.    

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Communion With God

Do you enjoy daily communion with God?  The child of God has easy access to God.  But, we might fail to commune as often as we should.  Enoch and Noah “walked with God.”  Genesis 5:24 and Genesis 6:9.  What a blessing they enjoyed, and, as a result, Enoch was taken by God and Noah was saved from the flood.  Jesus was the Son of God, and yet, saw the need and found the time for daily communion.  “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  Mark 1:35.  Away from the crowds and from his disciples, Jesus sought alone time with God.

Daniel was one who sought daily communion with God.  This young man who sought to develop a character that was pleasing to God “kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God.”  Daniel 6:10.  Communion was found by being alone in his room as he prayed and gave thanks.  The Psalmist speaks to our soul as he writes, “As for me, I will call upon God: and the Lord will save me.  Evening and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”  Psalms 55:16-17.

We miss something very special when we fail to commune with God.  He is all about us.  We cannot go from His presence.  He loves us as no one can.  Let us “walk with Him” in daily communion.  Let our heart seek Him and our voice cry unto Him.  Let us adopt the philosophy of the aged apostle, “For to me to live is Christ.”  Philippians 1:21. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Stones Cry Out

Jesus is making His entrance into Jerusalem.  This will be the end of Christ's life upon the earth.  He is coming here to die.  Christ is riding into the city seated upon a donkey.  The multitude is crying His praises.  They are mindful of the mighty works which this man has performed.  Some of the Pharisees want Jesus to silence the crowd.  The arrogance of the Pharisees would not allow them to see Jesus for the person that He was.  Their stubborn heart would not accept Him as the One whom God had sent to redeem the world.  The response of Jesus to this request is, "I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out."  Luke 19:40.  In a few days, the Son of Man would be rejected.  At this moment, there is a multitude who praise Him.  Later, in the week, a multitude would degrade Him and slander Him.  Now, He is praised.  As He comes here to die for the sins of the world, the stones would honor Him if men would not.  Jesus was worthy of the praise of all men.  Jesus is worthy of our praise today.  Even in our time, there are those people who do not desire for Jesus to be praised.  They want our voices to be silent.  Are we mindful of the mighty works which have been performed by this Jesus?  Are we willing, even amidst the rebuke of the multitude, to shout praises to His name?  Let us who know Him as God's Son and our redeemer shout praise to His name.  And, may we ever be grateful for His final journey to Jerusalem.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Mouth of the Lord

Zedekiah was 21 years of age when he began to reign in Jerusalem.  Concerning this reign, scripture says that "he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the Lord."  II Chronicles 36:11-12.  Jeremiah was a called prophet of Jehovah.  God told the young man that "whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."  Jeremiah 1:7.  The evil of Zedekiah prohibited him from listening to the word of the Lord.  Pride would not allow him to listen to the wise counsel of Jehovah.  The prophet Jeremiah was not the one that was speaking and the message given by him was not his message.  Jeremiah spoke what God instructed him to speak.  Sound advice can be given and words of wisdom can be spoken.  But, the only authority for spiritual well being and a sound relationship with God is to listen to the "mouth of the Lord."  In our day, many prophets speak.  The question that one must ask is, "Do they speak from the mouth of the Lord?"  The voice of the prophet must be proven.  Every word must be tested.  God's word teaches us to put away evil and humble ourselves before Him.  The word of the Lord is right and true.  His word is to be without compromise.  His word is to be heard and obeyed.  Right living and humility will follow.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Age of the Universe

The Big Bang Theory places the beginning of the universe to be 13.8 billion years ago.  Science has never been content with all the theories that have been proposed concerning the age of the universe.  The minds of scientific thought continue to be fascinated with how and when the universe began.  A scientist at the University of Lathbridge in Alberta, Canada is now proposing that the universe may have had no beginning at all.  This would suggest that the age of the universe may be infinite.  In regard to the beginning of the universe and the age of the universe, there are believers and unbelievers.  The unbelievers are known as evolutionists.  The believers are regarded as creationists.  Evolution continues to take its toll on the minds and lives of individuals.  My belief has and continues to place God as the Creator of the universe.  I believe as Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."   This single sentence tells me that the universe had a beginning, and thus, will have an ending.  I choose to believe in an eternal mind that set everything in motion and continues to control that motion.  I believe that at a set time in history the universe will be brought to nothing just as it was "in the beginning."  As the mind of scientific thought continues to change, my mind does not change.  The future of evolutionary thought is nothingness.  My future is the hope of an eternal home with the God who created it all.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Healthy Churches

A workshop will be held on "Healthy Churches."  This workshop will present several speakers who will describe a system to maintain a healthy church.  God gave His view of a healthy church.  If God's view is followed, the church will always be healthy and strong.  "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong.  Let all your things be done with charity."  I Corinthians 16:13-14.  A healthy church will always hold fast to God's standard of strength.  We must have a vigilance against error.  We must continue to worship and work as God has directed in His word, the Bible.  We must stand for that which is right and good and we must oppose that which is wrong and evil.  We must be strong in God's strength to "fight the good fight of faith."  I Timothy 6:12.  We must do all things with the spirit of love and good will.  A healthy church will never cease to preach the gospel with fervency and commitment.  A healthy church will never depart from the "old path."  Healthy churches will not seek new innovations to grow simply because they have decided that the old way no longer works.  When God and His will govern and control the life of the church, the church will always be strong and healthy.