"Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." Hebrews 4:11. Live without work; benefits without labor; reward without toil; harvest without sowing? God's rest comes with toil and work. Those who do not work do not need to rest. Life lived for God invites labor. The rest is before us. The rest is at the end of the day. We must be careful that we do not fall. Our eye must not be taken off the prize. Our journey can lose its focus. The rest has not just been promised. We must enter into the rest. The pursuit must be continued. Vigilance is required. Unbelief marks the gravestones of many. The wilderness contains the remains of the fallen. Some turn back and others give up. God's eternal rest to His blessed children is reached by "patient continuance." Romans 2:7. Trials must be endured and battles must be fought. The enemy of our soul must be overcome. The rest of God beckons us to enter. Oh, what joy that hour will render unto those who have endured the heat of the day.
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings:" Philippians 2:14. The will of God is to be obeyed without complaining. The commandments of God cannot be improved by anyone. And yet, many continue to make the attempt. Some question whether or not God really means what He says. Is there really any disputing that God has spoken and His rules are without validity? What about Adam and Eve and their exit from the garden? God does not speak idly. His words have power. We are to respond in precise obedience. God is not too strict as some would argue. Nadad and Abihu knew that God did not sanction "strange fire." God is not too harsh. Lot's wife knew that she should not look back. The fiery eruption from the alter and the pillar of salt stand as memorials that we must not murmur against God. The forgiveness of sin cannot be attained by murmuring. Heaven is closed to the complainer. And, we cannot pick and choose the laws that we would obey. The passage says that we are to "do all things." Obedient works are required for the salvation of the soul. Murmuring removes the "fear and trembling" that God requires for salvation. It, after all, is God who in benevolent grace offers pardon from the doom of sin. Let us simply follow what He has spoken without murmurings and disputings. A free gift from the Creator of the universe and the Savior of the human family surely has the right to set the terms of pardon.
Friday, April 24, 2015
"For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel!" I Corinthians 9:16. Preaching is a charge that is God-given. II Timothy 4:1-2 ; Mark 16:15. Preaching the gospel is the vehicle by which God has chosen to reveal the message of salvation to lost mankind. The apostle Paul was a "chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel." Acts 9:15. Those who preach are not to glory in their preaching, but rather, glorify the God who has entrusted unto them the "gospel of your salvation." Ephesians 1:13. Preaching carries a weighty responsibility for the preacher must "preach the gospel." Only one message can be proclaimed. God does not want men to be confused about grace, love, and faith. The ship wherein lies redemption is the gospel. The gospel is a word that can be authenticated. Every preacher must be tested by divine truth so that the hearer hears only the gospel. The passage shows the burden of preaching, but also, the glory of preaching. The preacher of God's truth has the wonderful opportunity to help those in darkness find light and help those who are in the valley of despair find the mountain of hope. The preacher brings "glad tidings of good things." Romans 10:15.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." James 2:1. Jesus Christ is Lord and He is without respect of persons. Jesus treated all men with respect. He helped the poor as well as the rich. He healed the lowly as well as the exalted. All who needed His help received it. All who need His redemption have access to it. His message to His followers was that in order to be great, you must serve; to be first, you must be last. Jesus gave Himself for all of humanity. The call of gospel truth is made to everyone. None are too poor to come. Neither are none too rich. His disciples were even thought to be "unlearned and ignorant men." Acts 4:13. The followers of Jesus are to be without respect of persons. We are not to mistreat others because of the example of the Lord of glory. All men have come from the one Creator. All of the nations of men have been made of one blood. Acts 17:26. Our cultures differ; our abilities differ; our languages differ; but we all have been created in the same image with souls that will not cease to exist. We must elevate ourselves to the place of Christ's glory as we follow the example left by Him. Let us embrace all others for Christ embraces them. Let us love all men for Christ loves all men. Let us not have respect of persons as the Lord that we seek to follow had not respect of persons. Let us allow His faith to fill our hearts and embrace our lives.
Friday, April 17, 2015
"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" Amos 3:3. In John chapter 17, Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers. And yet, those who claim faith in Jesus walk apart. We are unable to walk together in the name which we wear as believers. We are unable to walk together in the manner in which we receive the salvation which God offers to everyone. We are unable to walk together in the activities of our worship. Still, we have the idea that we will all go to heaven and live with God throughout eternity. The claim is made that all roads lead to heaven. This passage in Amos teaches that the road which believers walk must be one road. The followers of God in our time walk apart when God wants us to walk together. That which can lead us to the same path where, indeed, we will walk together is the word of God. All of the writers of the New Testament, the covenant of Christ by which He speaks unto us today, walked together. All of them were inspired by the "one Spirit" (Ephesians 4:4), and thus, all spoke in unity. If we follow the teachings which were given by inspiration, we will walk together. God's followers and Christ's disciples must be agreed. "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." Philippians 1:27.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
"And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, said unto them. Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him." Luke 23:13-15. Pilate had a conviction about Jesus. The governor saw Jesus as a man that was unworthy of death. Even Pilate's wife saw Jesus as a "just man." Matthew 27:19. Did Pilate give consent for Jesus to die because he wanted so desperately to be "Caesar's friend?" John 19:12. Perhaps, Pilate wanted the popularity of the Jews. Whatever the reason, Pilate failed to follow his conscience. We can be persuaded so easily by sin. We can fail to do what is right because of the desire to be found in favor with men. The need to be in the favor of the world can cause us to crucify Jesus. All of us face the dilemma that Pilate faced on that fateful day. We either embrace Jesus as our Savior or we give him to die. The dilemma of Pilate cost him everything and gave him nothing. Such is also true with us.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." I John 2:3. The whole of the Bible rests upon the foundation of keeping the commandments of God. God has revealed Himself unto us not only through His creation, but also through His revelation, the Bible. We know God through the keeping of His commandments. Later, in this epistle, John will declare that "his commandments are not grievous." I John 5:3. Paul, the apostle, stated that presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice is our "reasonable service." Romans 12:1. When Jesus invited us to follow Him, He offered a yoke that was easy and a burden that was light. Matthew 11:30. Following the commandments of God is not a difficult task because we have His help and strength. God offers conversation with Him through prayer. As we read and study the commandments of God, we understand that God wants for us what is best for us. His commandments make us better. The commandments of God invite us to live on a higher plane. His commandments offer us hope and comfort. We can know that we know God as we keep His commandments. And to know the sovereign Creator of all things is to possess a knowledge that cannot be surpassed. Each day should draw us closer unto Him as we learn and keep a law that is greater than all law. Know God's law. Keep God's law. And, know God.
Monday, April 13, 2015
I heard this statement when I overheard a conversation, "God will surely understand." Many people apparently believe that regardless of what actions we choose to take that God will understand. The statement which I overheard suggests that in certain situations God will simply overlook or ignore the laws which He has made. Did God understand when Nadab and Abihu "offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not?" Leviticus 10:1. The following verse states, "And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." Leviticus 10:2. God's laws are immutable. His laws are not to be ignored or disobeyed. "Every disobedience and transgression received a just recompense of reward." Hebrews 2:2. God wants man to hear and obey His will. His will is not to be questioned. We may not understand the reason for the law which He has given. We may not agree with the law which He has made. His laws, rules, and commandments are to be obeyed. If we choose to disobey, God will visit His divine wrath upon us. Those who violate His will "receive in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." Romans 1:27. We must understand obedience rather than God understanding our disobedience.
Thursday, April 9, 2015
At Philippi, Paul and his coworkers were "shamefully entreated." Nonetheless, "we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention." I Thessalonians 2:2. The gospel is the announcement from God for the salvation of humanity. The gospel has been preached since the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When Paul and his coworkers went to Philippi, the gospel which they preached was met with opposition. Not everyone wants to hear the gospel. On occasion, the gospel simply brings an attitude of indifference. But, many times the gospel is met with contention. The devil opposes the spread of truth. The devil incites warfare against the gospel. Those who choose to preach the gospel must be ready to fight. Our only weapon against the devil is the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Ephesians 6:17. The church which is armed with the gospel of truth must always be prepared to cast down "every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God." II Corinthians 10:5. Many who proclaim the gospel have been cast into prison, reviled, persecuted, and even died. The truth of God, the gospel, brings contention. We must be ready to stand, even against the enemies of truth.
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." I Timothy 2:4. God's will for the salvation of mankind has no boundary. All men have been created in the image of God and God desires for all men to know Him and be saved. God's grace has allowed Jesus to die the death of the cross "for every man." Hebrews 2:9. "God so loved the world." John 3:16. Man is lost due to sin. The devil desires that all men be lost. The devil draws men into his web of deceit and leaves men in emptiness and despair. The lost are without hope. The only means of salvation is God and the knowledge of His truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32. The truth brings us to God and His design for our redemption through Christ. The God of love and the God of salvation has invited all men everywhere to come unto Him through Christ. God offers His salvation and man must accept through obedience to the gospel. The gospel is God's truth that reveals freedom from sin and restoration to the favor and goodness of God. Will you come and receive the greatest blessing ever offered to humanity?
Monday, April 6, 2015
"This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." Ephesians 5:32. I recently saw a sign which suggested, "Why don't we rethink the church?" Over the many centuries since the church was established, men have tried to rethink the church. During this period of time, the sacredness of the church has been destroyed. We have churches with different names, different beliefs, different doors of entrance, and different ways of worship. Many offer different lifestyles of those within the church. Men are constantly rethinking the church. But, man has no authority to rethink the church. The church originated in the mind of God. Ephesians 3:10-11. The church was built by Jesus. Matthew 16:18. The church was purchased with the blood of Jesus Christ. Acts 20:28. The church is perfect because God is perfect. The church is complete because Jesus Christ is the fullness of God. Colossians 1:19. When men rethink the church, the church will become flawed. When men rethink the church, the church will lose its distinctiveness. When men rethink the church, men will be lost.