Archives for : October2012

Watch your Facebook posts!

Imagine that you see the following statements posted on a “social networking site” like Facebook.

Monday:  Stopped by a cop on the way to work for speeding (42 in a 30 mph zone), but managed to lie my way out of the ticket!  Cops are idiots!!!

Tuesday:  Bought ten lottery tickets at lunch and only won a dollar.

*Wednesday:  Had a light supper and golfed till dark; what a GREAT night!

Thursday:  Down to my last beer in the fridge…ugh.

Friday:  Got a *$%#@& virus on my computer.

Saturday:  Getting up early tomorrow for an all day fishing trip at the lake. Hope we catch as many fish as last Sunday.

Sunday:  Girlfriend’s parents are out of town this weekend…can’t wait to spend the night at her place.

Which of the preceding statements would we associate with a person who is trying to live a faithful Christian life?

We might not be surprised to find vulgar and sinful things posted by the unsaved, but Christians should not be among those who post this kind of material.  Saying non-Christian things online, and this includes flaunting sin, is just as bad as saying it in person.  Too, online comments often reach a much broader range of people.

Bottom line:  Think before you post.  Make sure all your online comments truly affirm that you are a follower of Christ.  Too, if you see a post from someone professes to be a Christian but posts inappropriate things, kindly remind them of verses like Mt. 5:16.  If we do not set a good example, who will?

*The point about Wednesday assumes the person has the option to attend a Wednesday night Bible class.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

ARE YOU STARTING TO FORGET?

There’s a beautiful story about a little boy who couldn’t wait for his
new baby sister to come home from the hospital.  He couldn’t wait to be near
her, to talk to her.  But his parents didn’t want him to be left alone with
her.  After all he was only four years old, so they wanted to supervise his
visits.  He kept begging to be alone with her, so one night his parents
finally relented.  The boy tiptoed into her room, stood next to his sister’s
crib and said:  “Tell me about God – I’m starting to forget.”

There are times when we as adults get so caught up in the “rat race”
and all of our responsibilities.  Perhaps we need to go to the children
around us and say, “Tell me about God — I’m starting to forget.”

There are weeks when we’ve been dealing with irate customers and heavy
traffic.  We need to fellowship with the saints and worship God together
because “I’m starting to forget.”

There are weeks when we’ve had to focus on crying babies, the paying of
bills and doctors’ appointments.  We need the reminder of the Lord’s Supper
to see God’s love and grace because “I’m starting to forget.”

There are days when we’re so caught up in deadlines at work and getting
the kids to soccer practice, days when we need to slow down a bit and spend
time with God in prayer because “I’m starting to forget.”

“Only take heed to yourself, and diligently keep yourself, lest you
forget the things your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart
all the days of your life.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)

Are you starting to forget?  Ask someone to tell you about God once
more.

Alan Smith

The Visit and the Speech

The three of us stood in front of the apartment building, as Jorge depressed the buzzer to #2. As the chosen spokesman for the brethren, I silently rehearsed my little speech while we waited for the tinny little speakerphone to come to life.

One buzz. Two buzzes. No one home.

As we returned to Jorge’s car, one part of me felt relieved, but an inner voice expressed dismay that love would not have its opportunity this day to confront in an effort to correct.

The address we’d sought out belonged to a brother returning to our town after a two-year stint elsewhere, bent on teaching false doctrine.

Several men had already met with him just to listen and understand better what he was really saying. And the result was dismay and deep disappointment.

At the end of the meeting, he’d wanted to know if the church was going to let him participate in its meetings. We promised an answer, after consulting among ourselves and consulting the Word of God.

Now, here we were on his doorstep, a couple of weeks later, after this brother’s absence from the church for two Sundays, to give him his answer.

I suspect he sensed from our questions that we were not happy with his new teaching. That’s probably why he hasn’t returned to church. But rather than wait any longer, we decided to go to him.

The first part of my speech to this brother, after affirmations of love and appreciation for him and his family during the many years we’ve known them, centered in what the Word of God tells us to do.

It would have been far more convenient to stay at home and rest that Sunday afternoon, much easier to read a good book rather than visit and confront and risk his disapproval.

But as God’s people, we stand under the Word to obey its commandments.

We were not coming to him as authorities or masters or manipulators, but as obedient followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We were doing what we’d be told to do in the Bible.

That opening would segue into an appeal for his repentance, that quaint old concept that few preach or expect anymore. Quaint, but still valid in the Lord’s kingdom.

For the moment, however, my speech still goes unsaid.

Perhaps next Saturday or Sunday, Lord permitting, the three of us can share this message with the wayward brother, that the door is still open for those who will put away foolish ideas and speak where the Bible speaks, and no more.

by J. Randal Matheny @ www.forthright.net

Life is full of swinging bridges

Crossing Bridges by Michael E. Brooks

“Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, ‘Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you’ ” (Isaiah 35:3-4 NKJV).

I like bridges. My father was a contractor who spent much of his life building bridges and culverts in Alabama. I loved to go with him to his job sites while I was a child, and as an adult still enjoy crossing bridges which his company built. Some of the world’s great engineering feats and structural wonders are bridges (as for example the Golden Gate Bridge in California).

There are bridges in Nepal however that are not quite so enjoyable to cross. I am speaking of the swinging bridges which span so many of the deep gorges in the Himalayas. Some are hundreds or even thousands of feet above the bottom of the chasm. Many are quite old with rusting cables supporting them, and broken or missing boards on the walkway.

All of them share the sense of instability that is inherent in their design (that is, they sway and tremble when you walk on them). It is not unusual for me to show one of these on a pictorial report and have someone in the audience respond, “I could never cross that!” I must confess that there have been a few times when I took one look and thought, “Am I sure I have to go there?”

Life is full of swinging bridges. That is, there are many occasions when we must attempt something that puts us at risk and makes us feel insecure. Dangers abound. Much of what we do involves placing ourselves in situations where support is dubious and threats are real. Unlike risks undertaken for thrills however, these are necessary and often unavoidable. I

In Nepal, there are no ways around the deep crevices between the mountain peaks. If one wishes to go from one place to another, there may only be one path, complete with its bridge(s). If the trip is essential, so is the danger.

Isaiah speaks to a people threatened by many enemies and also facing the promised judgment of God. Some dreadful things were due to be experienced by Judah over the next several decades. Yet beyond these God promised rescue and redemption. The Israelites would face difficult times, but if they endured God would bless them.

They must simply cross the bridge! So the prophet encourages them to strengthen their weak hands and feet and not to fear because God would be with them.

Later in this same chapter Isaiah elaborates on this theme.

“A highway shall be there, and a road, and it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, though a fool, shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; it shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:8-10).

Nepal’s swinging bridges may seem unstable, yet one thing is sure; there are no wrong turns on them. The way is clear and one’s destination plain. You won’t lose your path or confuse your sense of direction.

One is reminded of Jesus’ description of the way of salvation. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). Just as the bridge is the only way to a particular destination in Nepal, so Jesus is the only way to an eternal home with God (John 14:6). The key to successfully navigating either is to “be strong, do not fear”, and to trust in God who will sustain us.

www.forthright.net

“Have You Never Read?”

March 5 was World Book Day, celebrated in various places with librarians’ enthusiastic support. To draw attention to the esteem people generally give to reading, a poll was conducted on the web site that promoted the day. Over 1,300 people participated in the survey.

The questions were simple: People were asked if they had ever lied about reading a book and, if so, which book? Two-thirds of the respondents admitted that they had at some point not been honest in their claim of having read a certain book. The books about which people most often lied were George Orwell’s “1984” (42%), Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (31%), James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (25%), and the Bible (24%). The books most people said they enjoyed reading were the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (61%).

What do we make of these findings? There are many who attempt to make themselves look more impressive by lying about their reading habits. Somewhere along the way, however, the truth will likely come out. The dishonesty of the pretenders is often unveiled.

Jesus encountered those who claimed to be “experts” in the law of Moses. They challenged Jesus’ popularity by trying to make him look blasphemous, or by flaunting their own supposed superiority in education. These enemies of the Lord never succeeded in their quests.

On one occasion Jesus struck at the root of their problem: “Have you never read?” (Matthew 21:42, NKJV). He then quoted from one of the Psalms to show the accuracy of his teaching and the fallacy of their own. Did Jesus mean to imply that they had never actually read from that psalm? More likely he was charging them with failing to consider the entirety of God’s word.

Reading the revealed word of God is one of our most basic tasks. There are those who claim to read it regularly, but their errors and oversights reveal that they’re not at all familiar with God’s word. Others read it but allow preconceived ideas to overshadow the truth that is actually taught.

The Christians of Berea set the standard: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). In each of us are shortcomings of understanding of God’s will, or erroneous views of certain aspects of that will. The only way to be complete (“perfect,” KJV) is to come regularly to the scriptures God has given us (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

One day the Lord may ask us a simple question: “Have you never read what was written?” Let us be diligent so that we will not be ashamed at the honest answer we’ll have to give (2 Timothy 2:15).

–by Tim Hall

Another con artist

Tonight, after our evening service had concluded and most members of the congregation had left, a man walked into the church building and said he was seeking “help.”  He correctly identified me as the minister and asked if he could present his request.

This man said he lived in the state of Michigan and he was on his way to Indianapolis, IN because his 2-year old son had been hit and killed by a car earlier in the day.  His son had been in the custody of his ex-wife and she had failed to properly watch him.

This fellow’s story sounded sincere and it was convincing.  After listening to what he had to say and asking if there were any other details I told him we always verify the details of a person’s story before helping.  In his case we would be glad to give him the money he wanted once we verified his story with the Indianapolis police department.

After introducing the police into our discussion some subtle changes were evident in this fellow’s behavior.  He said he understood that verification was necessary because “some people lie” and “we should check with the police while he went to his cousin’s house down the road to collect some money he was owed.”

In spite of the attempts to tell this man we would give him the full amount of money he wanted after verifying his story, he insisted on “going to see his cousin.”  Although this was suspicious and suggestive of a con artist, if our visitor had truly lost his son a few hours earlier, perhaps the shock of the event was interfering with his ability to correctly reason.  Thus, in view of his unusual claim, we agreed to call the police department while he went to see his cousin.

The police dispatcher in Indianapolis had not heard of a two year old being killed earlier in the day; he also said this type of event would have surely been discussed among the officers.  He said I could check with the Coroner’s office so a second call was made to the morgue.

Fellow Christians waited with me at the building for a reasonable amount of time and the man never returned.  The calls to the police department and the Coroner also failed to validate this man’s story.

The time spent with this man was interesting as well as insightful.  Consider the following thoughts.

Some people lie.

Some of the lies people tell are “whoppers.”

The Bible teaches us to give people the benefit of the doubt, but we must be mindful that con artists are in the world.  We have no obligation to help people be freeloaders.

Try to go the “second mile” with people, even if it seems they do not deserve it.

Jesus said if we could “gain the whole world” this would not be worth our eternal spirit.  Sadly, we find people who will “sell their soul” for a few dollars or a free night in a motel.

Brad Price
www.lordletmegrow.com

 

Weren’t the stars beautiful?

IT WAS JANUARY 13 and Frank and Cindy had gone outside to look around after the ice storm was over…

The night was clear and very cold. Returning to the cozy confines of their den and sipping on hot cups of coffee, the couple began sharing their recent observations. Frank said, “Did you see those trees that were uprooted by the weight of the ice? I bet we will have some roof damage, and I sure hope the pipes under the house don’t freeze tonight.” Almost oblivious to her spouse’s grumblings, Cindy exclaimed, “Weren’t the stars beautiful?”

They both were standing in the yard surrounded by the same icy devastation, but there was one key difference. Frank was looking at the damage, while Cindy was looking at the stars.

Exactly the same thing happened, when the twelve spies entered Canaan shortly after they were freed from Egyptian bondage. All of them saw the same beautiful, productive land, but ten of them focused on the giants that inhabited the land. Only Caleb and Joshua were able to see God and His power waiting to give them the land of promise.

Our challenge for 2012-2013 is to look for the blessings of God rather than the problems of the world. May we spend our time walking through the doors that He opens for us rather than complaining about the ones that are closed.  Don Loftis

“Then Caleb quited the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”  Numbers 13:30

Mike Benson

 

World War I veterans.

While watching the History channel, I was telling my children that when I was their age, I knew many World War I veterans. The very next day, one of the lead news stories was the passing of the oldest American veteran from World War I. His name was Frank Buckles. He was born in 1901 and lived to the age of 110. Are you kidding me? How can it be? Where have all these people gone? How can it be that the last of that generation was 110 years old? Where has time gone? While generations have come and gone since the beginning of time, this one has come and gone in my lifetime, and it has caused me to pause and think about the brevity of life. Time moves on.

It seems like yesterday that I watched as men from both WWI and WWII marched down the streets in Veterans parades. But apparently, it’s been longer than yesterday. Friends, you better serve the Lord while you can, because sooner than you realize, your time on earth will be done. “What is your life? It is but a vapor that appears for a short time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14).

Steve Higginbotham

 

Common lies

In a few instances, New Testament passages speak of people who delude themselves or are deluded by others.  Paul was worried about the Colossians being deluded by a persuasive argument made by false teachers (Col. 2:4).  He had warned Rome about those who deceive the unsuspecting (Rom. 16:18).  Then, Paul talks about those whose hearts are hardened by sin who God allows to be deluded so that they believe what is false (2 Th. 2:11).  While his immediate concern is the man of lawlessness discussed in context, how needed are his words in our current climate?  Sadly, so many today like those of every generation, believe the lies told by those in places of influence or who possess a resonating voice in the culture.  What are some lies people believe?

  1. Evolution is a flawless theory and creation the simpleton’s choice.
  2. Money equals happiness and poverty equals misery.
  3. An affair is fun and exciting and marital faithfulness is boring and unfulfilling.
  4. Since there are so many more people in religion who reject baptism as essential and embrace instrumental music in worship, “they” must be right and “we” must be wrong.
  5. You are only young once, so live life to the fullest and be willing to try anything once.
  6. Honesty does not pay.
  7. Children should be allowed to make their choices without interference from their parents, even concerning how involved in the church they should be.
  8. If I am not happy, I should be allowed to do whatever it takes to be happy.
  9. It is my life and I will do as I please (or, “It’s all about me!”).
  10. Everybody’s doing “it” (substitute any number of things for “it”).
  11. Christians are delusional, sheltered, and the most judgmental, intolerant people on earth.

There are many more, but these are some with which you should be familiar.  So, how do we keep from believing a lie?  We must know the truth, and we can know it (John 8:32).  We must believe the truth (Eph. 1:13).  We must obey the truth (cf. Gal. 5:7).  The only antidote known for such lies is the truth.  Let us stick with that, and we will build immunity from some very deadly and deceiving philosophies out there.

–Neal Pollard

What you should know about seaweed

The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.
–Source unknown

 

The Accuser Has Been Thrown Down

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down.” Revelation 12:10 NET

Satan is the accuser. His mission is to keep man away from God. His methods are many, his wiles devious.

The very word “Devil” means an accuser, a slanderer. While purporting to help and point out a more advantageous way to get through life, the prince of demons is setting a trap.

He accuses man before God. “See, he does righteousness for what he can get out of You, not for Your sake.”

He accuses man to himself. “You are really nothing more than dust, a worm, lowdown scum.”

He accuses God before man. “And you think the Almighty could really love you?!”

He accuses man to man. “It’s a conspiracy! They’re out to get you.”

Around the table of the Lord, the shrillness of Satan’s slander is still. The artificial lilt in his friendly voice fades away.

Eating the bread and drinking the cup reinforce our knowledge of God as just and justifier of men.

Communion binds us together in love and sacrifice.

Our repeated thanksgiving drives home our desire for the one great good, the presence of God.

Replaying the scene of Golgotha softens the heart as we see the divine mercy.

Just as Judas left the first Supper, we note at our gathering today the absence of the one who put it in his heart to do evil.

The accuser has been thrown down.

The salvation of God has come.

— by J. Randal Matheny @ www.forthright.net

4 common but false ideas:

1. Confessions imply we are bad people.

2. Our children always need a positive image of themselves.

3. Guilt is damaging; we need to think positively.

4. Our time at worship should always be uplifting and make us feel good.

–Source unknown

Galatians 6:1

Galatians 6:1 reveals truly spiritual people going to those who have left the Lord.  These spiritual people filled with gentleness and a healthy sense of their own shortcomings humbly encourage the erring to come back to the Lord.  There is no indication in that passage about the “go-er” being offended by the “go-ee.”  In Matthew’s gospel, the circumstances center around what to do when there is an offender and an offended.  Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17.

First, we have the occasion.  Specifically, Jesus focuses on an occasion where a brother trespasses against us.  What does that mean?  It means he has hurt or wronged us in some way.  Have you ever been hurt by a brother in Christ?  Has someone sinned against you?  That offense can be a powerful negative influence in your personal, spiritual life.  You can let it make you bitter, wrathful, vindictive, hateful, or manipulative.  It is easy to let the sin of another lead us to behave sinfully in return.

But, then, we have the operating procedure.  In other words, what does Jesus say we are to do when a brother sins against us?  Notice carefully.  Keep it private, a one on one matter.  The way you execute that private confrontation hearkens back to Galatians 6:1.  You do not go angrily or as a wounded martyr.  How we rebel against God here!  The most common response when we are sinned against is to sin by disobeying the Lord here.  We tell others about the offense without ever having gone to the brother.  Not only is this the coward’s way out, often it is a carnal response of lashing out and trying to get even.

So, we must remember the objective.  The objective, which is clearly stated, is to win your brother.  It is not to win back your pride and honor, it is not to win an argument, and it is not to win an upper hand in the relationship.  Remember that any of us could easily find ourselves in the “offender” role.  How would we want to be treated?

Yet, there is an unmistakable obligation.  If the one on one confrontation, carried out in a godly manner, is unsuccessful, we are to take one or two with us, and if that fails to win the offender back  we must take it to the church.  The worst-case scenario of that obligation is to withdraw fellowship from those who simply refuse to repent.

But here is what happens if these procedure is followed as laid out by Jesus.  We will have had to show great love and compassion to do what the Lord says in a way scripture says to do it (cf. Gal. 6:1-2).  We will have had to show the highest form of love in being willing to go to the farthest lengths to bring them back to Christ.  We will have had to exercise humility, compassion, and dependency upon God.  It is amazing how often handling offenses the way Jesus commands results in restoration rather than rebellion.  If a brother or sister has offended you, give up the grudge.  Release the resentment.  Part with the pride.  Have the humility and spirituality to handle your wound His way!

–Neal Pollard

The dangers of compromise

Compromise is defined as, “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions.”/1 In negotiating a treaty or a business arrangement, compromise is often necessary to completing the deal. Each side must lay aside their egos for the higher good.

In the church, in matters of opinion, compromise is indispensable. The Lord’s body is far more important than anyone getting their way or winning or losing. We must be mature and wise enough to discern the best path to take.

In matters of doctrine, though, the matter of compromise becomes exceedingly dangerous. It can have no place in Biblical discussions.

Men and women of God will compromise on doctrine in order to find peace with a non-believer or one who follows a different gospel. Both sides take what they believe and rework them until they both feel comfortable with them. The dangers should be obvious to thinking individuals.

There are three significant problems with doctrinal compromise.

First, God’s Word does not belong to man, so we have no right to compromise it (Psalm 119:89). Light has no fellowship with darkness (Ephesians 5:11). We cannot take what belongs to God and change it (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

Second, compromise means concessions. The definition of compromise means that we give up part of what we believe in order to make another person happy. Those with the truth must concede to error for compromise to occur. Which part of God’s Word would we give up in order to get along with men? How much false doctrine is acceptable to God?

Compromise is often a false promise. “One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”/2 “It is the weak man who urges compromise—never the strong man.”/3 Will we be weak of faith and choose error so weak hearts can be appeased?

Third, compromising the Word of God means that we are placing the feelings of men over the love of God. Scripture is overshadowed by sentimentality when we place hearts above truth. We have no right to relegate God to the backseat where he tags along like a lackey.

God wants us to be courageous and bold to stand against sin because we have the power of God at our disposal. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Ephesians 6:10). We have God and his word. We don’t need compromise.

–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

1/ http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/compromise 2/ http://thinkexist.com/quotations/compromise/ 3/ Ibid.

Are your prayers beautiful?

Today I conducted a funeral for someone I had never met.  After the service a family member came up and said my “prayers were beautiful” and he would “like to have a copy of them.”

I tried to tell this man that truly beautiful prayers come from the heart.  The words may not be flowery or impressive to men.  Beautiful prayers are those which openly and honestly communicate with God.

In Mic 6:8 we find these words:  “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Looking at things from God’s perspective, are your prayers beautiful?  B

Deceiving Yourself

Have you heard about the Bible class teacher who asked her class the following question…”What has four legs, a bushy tail, stores up nuts for the winter, and climbs trees?” There was a long silence before finally a little boy answered by saying, “Well, it sounds to me like it is a squirrel, but I’ll go ahead and say, ‘Jesus’ anyway.”

The little boy shares a similar problem with us. You see, he thinks that because he’s in a church setting, there are “right” answers that are expected of him. Think now, aren’t we sometimes guilty of the same? If one was asked, “What’s the most important thing in your life?” I know what the “right” answer would be, but I also know that the “right” answer would be offered up by people who, in reality, were practicing something far different.

Friends, don’t deceive yourselves. God doesn’t just want “right” answers, he also wants “right” living. Remember, you won’t be judged just by what you say, but also by what you do. Give it some thought.

by Steve Higginbotham

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure

Temperatures allegedly dipped to -17 Fahrenheit overnight.  Once, yesterday morning and then again yesterday evening, our neighborhood lost electricity.  The morning outage went half an hour and the three outages last night together amounted to about ten minutes of lost power.  As this storm has gone east, many people are having to brave the cold without electricity for what may wind up being days.

We all have experienced power outages.  Those who live in other countries often find having electricity the greater novelty than losing it.  Some experience rolling or scheduled outages or brown outs (drop in voltage).  Many times, we may experience what are called transient faults, those very brief losses in power caused by a fault in the power line.  When the power goes out, there is darkness, there may be discomfort, there is often that eerie stillness and quiet, and there is uncertainty.  When the power goes out in extreme conditions, like yesterday, there is concern.  In each circumstance, there is a feeling of powerlessness.  We cannot do anything about it, and we are at the mercy of those hardworking people who can.

Spiritually, we have all experienced that feeling of powerlessness.  We may feel insignificant, forgotten, and in the dark.  So often, we feel like there is nothing we can do.  We may experience discomfort and even fear.  These are the times we have disconnected ourselves from our power source.  Life, when good or bad, may lull or throw us into an inconsistent or even non-existent prayer and study life.  We focus inwardly and forget that God, who has all-power, is still in control.  Perhaps, it is then, most of all, that we need to remember His power and the way He empowers us.  Paul wrote, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Eph. 3:20).  To Philippi, he said, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  As long as there is a God in heaven, there will never be a power outage in our spiritual lives–unless we disconnect ourselves from the power source!

–Neal Pollard

A TRUE story

A mother and her teenager daughter were shopping in a department store.  They stopped at a “sale” table and had the following conversation.

16 year old daughter:  “I want one of these tops.”

Mom:  “I don’t have the money for that and we have had this conversation many times before.  If you want things, do what I told you.  ‘Get pregnant and start getting the checks.’”

Prov. 14:34:  “Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people.”

Judge not, that ye be not judged

Today I’d like to spend a little time discussing a topic that seems to pop up every now and then, usually in a class study situation. I’m I’d like to spend a little time discussing a topic that seems to pop up every now and then, usually in a class study situation. I’m referring to someone saying something like, we can’t judge others because the Bible says we can’t and then they cite the above verse.

I deliberately only provided verse 1 of Matthew 7 and did not cite the whole thought being expressed by Christ there because that’s the usual pattern the questioner’s use. They only quote verse 1 as a basis for their belief that we can’t judge others – in anything! I think that the main reason that someone has a false belief in the matter of “judging” others is because, even though they’ve heard or read the above passage, they’ve probably never really studied it. That’s what we’re going to do right now.

As a prelude to the spiritual part of our lesson, I’m going to relate to you a little story that will serve as an illustration to our study of “judging.” To our lesson regarding the type of “judging” that Christ is speaking against there in Matt. 7. We’ll look at the whole statement made by Christ and we’ll also look at a couple of other Bible references on this subject of “judging.” But first, the story….

This story was told many years ago by a man who’s probably remembered today by only a few reading this editorial. His name was Gabriel Heatter and he was a radio commentator for the Mutual Broadcasting Co. The few who remember him will probably remember his opening line each evening which he started off his WW2 news broadcasts with: “There’s good news tonight.” Here’s his little story that he entitled, “Golden Shoes.”

He said that he had met a man who had an unusual watch fob hanging from his vest – a tiny pair of golden shoes. He asked the man what was the significance of the shoes, if they were an award or something like that. The man replied that they were not an award, simply a reminder. He then asked the man what the shoes could possibly remind him of. It’s the man’s answer that serves our subject.

The man was an executive of a large business organization. He and four other men made all of the decisions for this business. For a matter to be acted upon it must be unanimously agreed to by all five of them or it was to be dropped. One of the matters that once came before them was a proposed promotion of a young man in their company. The other four agreed to the promotion, but this man said, “No, that he felt the young man wasn’t qualified. That he filled his current position well, but didn’t seem serious enough for a more responsible position. He always had a ready laugh or a funny story for every situation.” The matter was dropped.

The executive said that a few days later he happened to be passing by the young man’s house and met a doctor just leaving it. He asked the doctor if someone there was sick and the doctor told him “Yes” and that it involved a very strange case. It seemed that the patient was the young man’s wife who was very ill and the doctor told him that if it weren’t for her husband doing everything he could to keep her spirits up, she might have died a long time ago.

The doctor said that the young man must never let his wife see his concern that she might die at anytime. He must always be ready to encourage her and cheer her up. He added that the young man had just about worn himself out trying to find funny and hopeful things in order to keep her life bright and full of courage. The doctor said, “I couldn’t have done it. He changed his whole personality so that he can cheer her up. It’s miraculous how he has given her life.”

The executive said that he couldn’t sleep that night for thinking about how he could get the executive board back together and revisit the matter of the young man’s promotion, and what he could do to remind himself, to make him remember a very important lesson. His wife had given him the watch and he had the golden shoes made by a jeweler to always remind him: “to never judge a man unless I could put myself in his shoes and know all the reasons why he conducts himself as he does.”

Okay, let’s apply our little story to the spiritual aspects of our lesson. First off, we have to add verse 2 to our beginning scripture which is usually neglected by those who misinterpret Christ’s teaching in Matt. 7. Verse 2 reads, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

You see, what Christ is talking about here is not that we can’t make judgments, but rather HOW we are to judge. Think about it, we make judgments every day. Most of the time we call them “decisions” but aren’t our “decisions” based upon our judgments? Of course they are. We even make decisions on who we choose to associate with based upon their actions or deeds. Based upon the open and visible aspects of their behavior. His admonition in verse 2 simply means that, when we judge, we are to do so fairly and righteously, considering that this is how we want to also be judged.

There’s a passage, again from the 7th chapter of Matthew, from the same portion of the sermon being preached by Christ where He said, “Judge not…….” He says that we are to “beware of” and thus avoid “false prophets (teachers)” and we’ll know who they are because we’ll “recognize them by their fruits.” (Vs 16 & 20) We’ll be able to see their actions, hear their words and can judge them by those things.

Here’s another quick example of exercising judgment from the scriptures: Romans 16:17 says we are to “watch out for those who cause divisions,” who teach contrary to the Gospel and when we recognize them, we are to “mark and avoid them.” Again I ask you, aren’t we judging, making decisions regarding who we, as Christians are to associate with?

A classic example of “judging” righteously can be seen by looking at good old Job and the judgment passed on him by his three friends. They were looking at all of the terrible things happening to Job and seeing those things as evidence that Job was lacking in righteousness. That he was evil in some way. Of course Job was denying this and rightly so, he was righteous. They couldn’t see his heart.

Here’s our final thought on this subject today. We cannot judge the “heart” of someone. Only God “knows the heart” (Acts 15:8) thus is the only Judge qualified to judge it because He is the “righteous Judge.” (2Tim. 4:8) And, because we want to be judged fairly and righteously, we have to exercise that same spirit when we make decisions based on our judgments.

The same principle involved in “judging” can be seen in teaching and directing others in their Christian walk. In James 3:1 we can read this principle and what it’s telling us there is that we are not the standard by which they are to live. IE: we have “warts” just like everyone else. Therefore, we don’t want to be judged by the standards by which we judge others.

When it comes to the judgment of another’s “righteousness” or “heart” it’s not our judgment to make. David gives us who the only Judge qualified to do that in his Psalm 9:8. “He shall judge the world in righteousness, He shall administer judgment to the people in uprightness.”

Ron Covey

Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:15; etc

Frank Crowninshield related a time when Clarence Darrow spoke to a woman’s club on the civilization of ancient Phoenicians.  He finished his lecture, and the chairlady said, “Oh, how can we thank Mr. Darrow for the fascinating lecture he has given us tonight?”  Darrow returned to the podium and made one final observation:  “I entirely forgot to tell you that it was the Phoenicians who first invented money.”

Darrow wanted to be properly “appreciated.”  To him, that meant money.  Today, in a world where the thank you note is getting to be like an ancient manuscript, where “common courtesy” is scarce, and “manners” are to too many a mystery, there is a great opportunity for a revolution and a revival.  Our society is primed for thorough thankfulness.  It is due employers,  teachers, law enforcement, neighbors, friends, family (both physical and spiritual), waitresses, cashiers, and even strangers.  But, most of all, it is due Almighty God!

It should be so natural to join in with David and ask, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” (Ps. 116:12).  He answers both in this Psalm (“I will call upon Him and pay my vows to Him”-13-14) and in Psalm 103:2 (“Bless the Lord” and “forget not”).  This gratitude will show itself in our giving, but it will also show itself in our living.  By developing a spirit inclined to find blessings and express gratitude, we will draw people to the Lord.  We will also improve every conversation, activity, and relationship in which we find ourselves.

New Testament writers repeatedly urge thankfulness and show it themselves (cf. Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 5:4; Col. 3:15; etc.).  New Testament Christians ought to be characterized by it, too.  Sure, there will always be plenty about which to be depressed and discouraged-taxes, health, betrayal, disappointments, sorrows and losses.  But, even in these things blessings and benefit can be found.  The old adage, “Have an attitude of gratitude,” is the need of the hour.  If you are wanting to shine like a light in a world of darkness (cf. Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:9), a grateful spirit will do the trick.

–Neal Pollard