Archives for : December2014

True love

How many people have experienced firsthand the exhilaration of being swept up by love in the same way a thundering surf lifts and propels a small piece of driftwood? Probably most people know what it is like to be overwhelmed by love.

Just as swimmers cannot control the surf or the ebb and flow of the tide, so too the profound tug of romantic love can dominate our feelings. Whether we want to admit it or not, while we certainly remain in control of our decisions, quite likely the feelings of our hearts will be like a rudderless cork tossed to and fro by the whim of the events unfolding around us.

When it comes to romantic love, we can never be fully in charge of our feelings, because they gain their strength from our perception of events beyond our control. The mood experienced during a wonderfully romantic dinner can suddenly be shattered by the other’s crude, hurtful and selfish comments or actions. In spite of an iron will commanding those feelings to return, the warmth is gone.

There is, however, another form of love that we do command. We are responsible and can be held accountable for whether this love resides in our heart, breathing its existence into our actions and words.

This is the type of love we first see God exuding toward us when he sent Christ to the cross. This is the love that determines to seek the well-being of someone and then act upon that decision. This is agape.

Agape is the kind of love that Jesus’ disciples are commanded to possess for their enemies. Agape is to be the motivation behind a Christian husband’s actions and words toward his wife. Agape is to be the driving force shaping how God’s people behave.

We can never be in control of any form of love which is dependent upon forces or situations beyond our control. Such is the fickle nature of the feelings of friendship and romantic love.

However, we can be in control of that type of love that determines to do good to others in spite of opposition or what our circumstances might be.
Furthermore, this agape kind of love has some beautiful side effects. Often it can contribute toward the type of circumstances enabling other forms of love to thrive.

Since Jesus walked a blood-stained path to the cross for us, how appropriate for him to tell his disciples, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love (agape) for one another” (John 13:35; 14:23John 13:35; 14:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

WP-Bible plugin
).

by Barry Newton

This will be the last post till 12/31

“And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7Jeremiah 29:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray unto Jehovah for it; for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

WP-Bible plugin
NKJV).

Christians are often a persecuted minority in a hostile environment. Some from ethnic minorities in parts of Asia find their titles to land challenged by majority members who want to claim it for themselves. Some authorities are sympathetic to the majority, upholding unjustified seizures. In other locations church buildings are burned or torn down, and individual Christians are threatened, harassed and sometimes physically harmed.

Even when direct persecution is not occurring, Christians in countries dominated by other religions face discrimination and other problems. For example, property may be hard to find in which they can live or worship.

One preacher in Bangladesh is about to move into a new building. The Hindu owner has a number of religious specific rules for his occupants, including a ban against eating beef (cows are holy to Hindus) or possessing it on the premises. Frequently churches have lost their leases because neighbors objected to singing or other acts of Christian worship. Sometimes the landlord is pressured by his own religious officials to evict Christians.

In such circumstances it is easy to experience anger, dislike, or even hatred for those around us. They consider us their enemy; should we not feel the same about them? How can we practice love and mercy to those who trouble us in so many ways, and who treat us unjustly?

Jeremiah ministered to a people who were in that same circumstance. The Babylonian army had taken their King and other important people into exile. In about ten more years the Babylonians would attack and destroy the land of Judah and take all of its higher classes into captivity, also robbing every treasure and valuable from the land. Babylonians were cruel idolaters, denying the true God of Israel – how could a faithful Jew not hate them?

The prophet wrote a letter to those who had been taken into captivity, instructing them to purchase property, plant crops, and arrange marriages in Babylon for their children (Jeremiah 29:1-6Jeremiah 29:1-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders of the captivity, and to the priests, and to the prophets, and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon, 2 (after that Jeconiah the king, and the queen-mother, and the eunuchs, and the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen, and the smiths, were departed from Jerusalem,) 3 by the hand of Elasah the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah the son of Hilkiah, saying, 4 Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all the captivity, whom I have caused to be carried away captive from Jerusalem unto Babylon: 5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them. 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply ye there, and be not diminished.

WP-Bible plugin
). They would be there for a long time. They should prepare for the long haul.

As part of their preparation they were also to adjust their attitude about Babylon. Jeremiah instructed them to “seek the peace of the city” and to pray for it. Why should they pray for their enemy? Why should they work for the benefit of their captors? The answer is given, “For in its peace you will have peace” (V 7).

Do we sometimes “cut off our noses to spite our faces?”  That is, do we say mean and hateful things about our families, or our circle of friends? About our co-workers or our churches? Do we get angry at some one or few of those within a group to which we belong and say or do something harmful to that group? When we do such things, who are we really hurting? Only the one at whom we are angry, or are we not actually harming ourselves equally?

The Jews were going to have to live in Babylon for seventy years. It was better for them to get along with the Babylonians and help secure the city. If it were harmed, both the captives and their captors would suffer. How would that benefit the Jews?

Before one burns down a house, he should ensure that he and all that is important to him are well outside.  Before we are critical of our families, our churches, or our workplace, let us consider the effect of our actions upon ourselves. Our peace is bound up within the peace of such institutions. Better for us that we work positively on their behalf.

by Michael E. Brooks

A good motto: IF I CAN, I DO

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10Galatians 6:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

WP-Bible plugin
NKJV).

While traveling I have adopted a simple motto as my standard operating procedure. When it comes to basic necessary functions (i.e., eating, drinking, sleeping, etc.) I practice the formula, “If I can, I do.” The reality is that in the kind of traveling I do one never knows when the next opportunity will arise. If there is food, and I have any level of hunger at all, I eat.  Ditto with other bodily needs. The alternative may well be prolonged periods of enforced fasting or sleeplessness.

This principle is even more appropriate when it comes to spiritual needs and opportunities. The Hebrew writer urged his readers to “Exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13Hebrews 3:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin:

WP-Bible plugin
). If one neglects an opportunity to encourage a brother or sister, one or both of them may be tempted and fall into sin before another such opportunity arises. The word of exhortation which may have averted the fall was never spoken.

The Bible contains numerous examples of those who understood the urgency of spiritual tasks. Nehemiah refused to be distracted by his enemies who insisted that he pause in his labors to talk with them on the plain of Ono. His response was, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3Nehemiah 6:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

WP-Bible plugin
).

Jesus answered in a similar way when Herod threatened him. “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected'” (Luke 13:32Luke 13:32
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 And he said unto them, Go and say to that fox, Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures to-day and to-morrow, and the third day I am perfected.

WP-Bible plugin
). In other words he said, “I am busy with my work and cannot be distracted by others, even by the King.”

Perhaps the most general statement of this principle is that of the apostle Paul. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16Ephesians 5:15-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

WP-Bible plugin
).  In all that we do we must act wisely, recognizing that our time is limited and precious.

Note these particular spiritual activities which we are admonished to perform in a timely manner (i.e., at every opportunity).

Prayer: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:171 Thessalonians 5:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 pray without ceasing;

WP-Bible plugin
).  “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:11 Timothy 2:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men;

WP-Bible plugin
).

Benevolence: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all” (Galatians 6:10Galatians 6:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

WP-Bible plugin
). Evangelism: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19Matthew 28:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

WP-Bible plugin
). “And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14Romans 10:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

WP-Bible plugin
).

Bible Study: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:152 Timothy 2:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

WP-Bible plugin
).  “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine . . . Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them” (1 Timothy 4:13-151 Timothy 4:13-15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Good Works: “Being fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10Colossians 1:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 to walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

WP-Bible plugin
). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:581 Corinthians 15:58
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Worship: “Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15Hebrews 13:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name.

WP-Bible plugin
).

These represent only a few of the many opportunities to serve God that will present themselves to us in the future. Let us take advantage of each of them. “If you can, do!”

–by Michael E. Brooks

Everything I do has an effect on others

When I was a kid, a neighbor had a large trampoline in his back yard. What fun we had in the long summer days on that canvas!

We took off our shoes, and bounced, all eight or nine of the neighborhood kids, screaming with delight. I remember one ploy in particular. Three of us would try to bounce, all together on one side of the trampoline, and watch as some unsuspecting (and light-weight) kid on the other side shot high into the air, like popcorn in a popcorn popper. The look of surprise on his face was enough to send us into gales of laughter.

Life in a Christian family is like that, too.  Everything I do has an effect on others. Unwise decisions, unethical business dealings and sharp, unkind words affect the whole church.

This is Paul’s point in I Corinthians 6-9. Listen to what he says about the fact that the church is an organism, and that our every action affects the rest of the organism.

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful” (1 Corinthians 6:121 Corinthians 6:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any.

WP-Bible plugin
, ESV). “But take care that this right of yours does not does not somehow becoming a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Corinthians 8:91 Corinthians 8:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to the weak.

WP-Bible plugin
).

“Though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” (1 Corinthians 9:191 Corinthians 9:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 For though I was free from all men, I brought myself under bondage to all, that I might gain the more.

WP-Bible plugin
). Christians are not rugged individualists. The church is an organism, where every action and every word affects others, where a little consideration uplifts the church as a whole.

Or, to put it another way, when you bounce hard on the trampoline, someone else will shoot up like popcorn in a popcorn popper. Try to ensure that they land softly, and safely.

–by Stan Mitchell

I may be wrong, but

It’s amazing how the things people say do not always match up with reality. Consider the person who begins a statement with the words, “I may be wrong, but…”

Usually he really means, “There’s no way that I could be wrong!”

Consider the person who says, “I hate to say I told you so.”

Of course he’s enjoying it immensely!

And what about the one who says, “I’m sorry if I have done anything to upset you.”

What he really means is, “You’re so hypersensitive.  This shouldn’t have upset you!”

There are two things which young people find hard to do in sports; winning and losing. It’s hard to lose gracefully, and it’s hard to win graciously. It is also hard in a family — whether it be a church family or a physical one — to win and lose. It’s just so hard to hide that gleam of triumph when you were right after all, the satisfied smirk when your dire prediction of “disaster” came true.

As if you’re glad to see God’s people hurt. That is sad!

One writer used to repeat a line that makes a lot of sense: “If you’re wrong, admit it,” he would declare, “and if your right, shut up!”

Paul said it this way: “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5Philippians 4:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

WP-Bible plugin
, NIV); and elsewhere, he said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21Romans 12:21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

WP-Bible plugin
ESV).

Being “right” does not justify acting unkindly towards others. You can differ with another without attempting to destroy him. The question I always ask myself when speaking to another is this: Have I equipped him, enabled him, to serve God and God’s people better?

To quote the apostle again, “Let all things be done for building up”(I Corinthians 14:26, ESV). Why should this be?

Simply put, because we always view others as being more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4Philippians 2:1-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 1 If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, 2 make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; 3  doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; 4 not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Don’t we?

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

I don’t love you any more

A young man speaks to his wife of ten years:

“I don’t love you any more, and it would be
hypocritical of me to continue acting as if
I love you when I don’t. I’m leaving you for
(whoever it is he mentions). What she and I
have is real love.”

What’s fascinating about this scenario is that the one speaking has made a virtue out of an act that would normally be considered spectacularly immoral. Our man might be selfish, feckless and cruel, but please note he’s no hypocrite.

Where did we get the idea that if we felt anger or resentment toward someone we should give our wrath full vent rather than controlling our words?

Where did we get the idea that if someone did not merit our love we could simply dismiss them from our minds?

Where did we get the idea that biblical love, godly love, was something we could fall in to, or out of?

Where did we learn that we could simply walk away from God and his people and make a virtue of that action because to do otherwise would be hypocritical?

The lesson from hypocrisy is not to become a foul pagan, but to do the right things with sincerity.

The book of Proverbs frequently counsels us to control our words, not just blurt them out:

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his
life; he who opens wide his lips comes to
ruin,” (Proverbs 13:3Proverbs 13:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 He that guardeth his mouth keepeth his life; But he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.

WP-Bible plugin
, ESV).

One of the fruits of the Spirit is “self-control”
(Galatians 5:23Galatians 5:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

WP-Bible plugin
).

The problem, of course, is that we have confused the nature of biblical love with hormonal overflow. If all it took to be in a loving marriage were hormones, then thirteen-year-olds would be prime candidates for marriage. Their raging hormones seem to occur at an optimum level.

Hollywood (and our selfish hearts) has told us that love equals romance, the heart, something we fall in to, or logically fall out of. Biblical love insists that we be loving to those who do not deserve it, when we no longer feel like it, when it is not convenient.

Biblical love is a behavior, not a warm fuzzy feeling.
Love is tough. It overcomes obstacles. It does not walk out on its commitments. It is selfless. In a word, it is what Christ did for us.

Can you imagine Jesus declaring:

“I don’t feel like dying for those people
(he didn’t); they’re not worthy of my love
(we weren’t), and it would be hypocritical
of me to act as if I do feel like it.”

People walk away from church because they do not understand that true love is a commitment to others.

People leave the Lord because they do not understand that commitment is an integral part of love.

People turn their backs on marriage because they see it only in terms of how it makes them happy.

True love does not desert when something better comes along, it exhibits determination when the times get tough.

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Restoring the fallen

In more than twenty years of traveling to preach the gospel, including several treks to remote areas in the Himalayas, I have only fallen on the trail one time.  That was in the middle hills of east Nepal.

Several of us were walking to a village on a narrow path. I stumbled briefly, but had a hiking staff and was using it to recover when the Nepali following me reached out to grab my shoulder.

Unfortunately he missed, striking me on the back and causing me to fall. His intentions were good, but what he intended as help proved my undoing. Thankfully I fell onto dirt (not rocks) and was not harmed.

We all, being human, make occasional missteps. These may be of a physical nature like my fall, or of a spiritual nature. Though occasionally we may be able to steady ourselves without the help of others, frequently our stumbles are severe and outside assistance is necessary.

Not all help is of the same quality. In case of a sudden stroke or heart attack any assistance is appreciated, but if an experienced doctor is available that is far better. The assistance of trained professionals may be the difference between life and death.

So it is spiritually. When one stumbles and is in danger of losing his eternal salvation, encouragement and support from any Christian may be effective. But it is far better for all Christians to be properly prepared to give the best possible assistance to those in need.

How do we prepare to lift up the falling? The New Testament provides several qualities that are needed by those who would help others in spiritual distress. Paul stressed the need for spirituality and gentleness in restoring those who have sinned.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any
trespass you who are spiritual restore such
a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering
yourself lest you also be tempted”
(Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

WP-Bible plugin
).

When we observe a brother or sister’s needs,let us reflect upon our own spiritual maturity and ensure that we are properly equipped to guide them. Let us also approach them with gentleness (some translations read
“meekness”) so as to encourage proper behavior, not to punish with harsh words.

Jude encouraged faithful brethren to rescue those in danger with compassion (Jude 22) and from fear (Jude 23). The mature Christian who sees another in sin must empathize with him showing compassion and understanding. He must also realize his own vulnerabilities, and have full respect for the peril being faced.

James emphasized the urgency of the task of restoring one who has gone back into sin.

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from
the truth, and someone turns him back, let
him know that he who turns a sinner from the
error of his way will save a soul from death
and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19James 5:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him;

WP-Bible plugin
-
20).

The Nepali brother whose attempt to save me actually resulted in my falling acted impulsively. In his rush to help he did not exercise sufficient care. A slightly slower response may have been more successful.

In the same way our efforts to restore sinning Christians will benefit from a brief consideration of the exact circumstances, and the best method of approach. They also will always be improved by thoughtful prayer. We should not delay our response to these needs, but proceed with proper preparation.

Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

12 hours on a bus to Katmandu

“When Jacob saw that there was grain in
Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, ‘Why do you
look at one another?’ And he said, ‘Indeed I
have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go
down to that place and buy for us there,
that we may live and not die.’ So Joseph’s
ten brothers went down to buy grain in
Egypt” (Genesis 42:1-3Genesis 42:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

42 1 Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? 2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. 3 And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy grain from Egypt.

WP-Bible plugin
).

At one seminar for preachers in Nepal I asked one of the attendees where he was from and how long it took him to travel to our program.

He replied that he was from one of the high Himalayan districts and he and his companions walked three days through the mountains to get to the road, then rode about 12 hours on a bus to Katmandu.

I was impressed by their desire for Bible knowledge that led them to such inconvenience.

Later when I traveled the same route to visit these men and their congregations I was even more impressed as I witnessed firsthand the difficulties and dangers they so willingly faced.

Each time such things happen I cannot help but ask whether most of us in developed countries would go to so much effort for the same purpose.

Long ago in the Ancient Near East there was a prolonged famine. People in all the extended region were starving.

When word came that there was a surplus of grain in Egypt they immediately made plans to go there for food.  Jacob’s sons were simply one example. They traveled a few hundred miles by donkey and on foot. Others may well have traveled much further.

This response is completely understandable, and no one questions the wisdom of it. Hungry people will do anything possible to acquire nutrition. That is reality.

Jesus played upon this truth in the beatitudes.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6Matthew 5:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

WP-Bible plugin
).

When our desire to know and do that with is truly right equals the desire of a starving person for food, we will be happy indeed.

There are few if any limits to what most would attempt to prevent physical starvation. No journey would be too long, no obstacle so great that one would not try to surmount it. Our physical hunger is a great motivator — spurring us on constantly.

We are not one dimensional. There is a physical component to human life, and there is also a spiritual component. Basic laws and principles apply to both.

Just as there are basic needs which our bodies must acquire to survive, so our spirits demand the same.  They must be nourished just as much, if not more, than our bodies. The nourishment our spirits need is given only through the word of God. Without a constant diet of God’s truth, we weaken and die.

“For though by this time you ought to be
teachers, you need someone to teach you
again the first principles of the oracles of
God; and you have come to need milk and not
solid food” (Hebrews 5:12Hebrews 5:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.

WP-Bible plugin
).

“Receive with meekness the implanted word,
which is able to save your souls” (James
1:21).

“Till I come, give attention to reading, to
exhortation, to doctrine. . . . Meditate on
these things, give yourself entirely to
them, that your progress may be evident to
all. Take heed to yourself and to the
doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing
this you will save both yourself and those
who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:13, 15-161 Timothy 4:13, 15-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. 15 Be diligent in these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy progress may be manifest unto all. 16 Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.

WP-Bible plugin
).

How far are we willing to travel, and how much effort are we willing to expend in order to nourish our spirits? As much as we would do for a good meal when we are hungry? If not it is time for some serious self- examination.

–by Michael E. Brooks

Are there little sins and big sins?

“But I say to you; it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the Day of Judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:22Matthew 11:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

WP-Bible plugin
NKJV).

Three times thus far I have traveled to the mountainous district of Dhading in north-central Nepal. Each time I have crossed passes of up to 14,000 feet elevation. Is that high? Well it depends.

Considering that I have spent most of my life at elevations well under 1,000 feet, and have lived much of it in a state whose highest point is less than 3,000 feet, one might say that 14,000 is very high. It is far higher than anywhere else I have ever been, and far higher than the altitudes to which I am accustomed.

In Nepal’s Himalayas, however, 14,000 feet is a fairly modest altitude. Most of the popular mountain trekking routes for tourists will cross passes well over 15,000 feet, and more than a few approach or exceed 20,000.
Mount Everest, of course, is just over 29,000 feet in elevation. We were still short of half-way to its peak when at our highest point.

All comparative adjectives are relative. How hot is hot water? How far is further? The answer must depend upon the frame of reference – that to which something is being compared.

Spiritually there is a natural interest in the relative seriousness of sin. Are there little sins and big sins?  Which is which? Is God more incensed over some human actions than others? Many people seem comfortable practicing some things which they have decided are not serious enough to excite God’s wrath. “He won’t really mind” about those things seems to be the attitude.

Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 11 may be used to justify this approach. The lack of faith found in Capernaum and other Galilean cities brought his wrath upon them.  Stating that it would be “more tolerable” for notorious cities like Tyre and Sidon than for these sleepy Jewish villages was equivalent to proclaiming, “You are worse even than they.”

Some take this to justify our being satisfied with a lesser state of sinfulness. If I can prove that someone else is worse than me, does that not mean that God will punish them and let me escape? It is like the person driving 10 miles over the speed limit who complains to the officer who stopped him, “Another car passed me a minute ago like I was standing still; you should have stopped him instead of me.”

The guilt of others is irrelevant to our own. “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” (2 Corinthians 5:102 Corinthians 5:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

WP-Bible plugin
).

That another’s sin may seem worse than ours does not lessen the evil and abomination of our own. Sin is not relative. God’s word is true; his commands are authoritative. We ignore or violate them at great peril, whatever others may do.

“Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17James 4:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 To him therefore that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

WP-Bible plugin
).

by Michael E. Brooks

Have you read Psalm 88?

Hope from the saddest Psalm

When we suffer, we run to Psalms and Proverbs for comfort. Wisdom Literature is a treasure that could only come from God.

However, one Psalm appears to be bereft of comfort until we look deeper into the text.

Psalm 88 is a mystery. We don’t know why it was written. Some suppose that the author was near physical death, a leper or a type of Christ. All we know for certain is that the author of Psalm 88 was completely miserable.

He was:

“full of trouble” (Psalm 88:3Psalm 88:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draweth nigh unto Sheol.

WP-Bible plugin
).
“near to the grave” (Psalm 88:3Psalm 88:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 For my soul is full of troubles, And my life draweth nigh unto Sheol.

WP-Bible plugin
).
“counted with those who go down to the pit” (Psalm 88:4Psalm 88:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 I am reckoned with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that hath no help,

WP-Bible plugin
).
“has no strength” (Psalm 88:4Psalm 88:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 I am reckoned with them that go down into the pit; I am as a man that hath no help,

WP-Bible plugin
).
“Adrift among the dead” (Psalm 88:5Psalm 88:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Cast off among the dead, Like the slain that lie in the grave, Whom thou rememberest no more, And they are cut off from thy hand.

WP-Bible plugin
).
“Like the slain who lie in the grave” (Psalm 88:5Psalm 88:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Cast off among the dead, Like the slain that lie in the grave, Whom thou rememberest no more, And they are cut off from thy hand.

WP-Bible plugin
).
“in the lowest pit” (Psalm 88:6Psalm 88:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the deeps.

WP-Bible plugin
).
“in darkness, in the depths” (Psalm 88:6Psalm 88:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the deeps.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Horrors attack him like a relentless wave (Psalm 88:7Psalm 88:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Thy wrath lieth hard upon me, And thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. Selah

WP-Bible plugin
).

His final words illustrate his depression and loneliness (Psalm 88:18Psalm 88:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, And mine acquaintance into darkness.

WP-Bible plugin
). Despite this oppression, he sees God as his salvation (Psalm 88:1Psalm 88:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

A Song, a Psalm of the sons of Korah; for the Chief Musician; set to Mahalath Leannoth. Maschil of Heman the Ezrahite. 88 1 O Jehovah, the God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee.

WP-Bible plugin
) and prayer as his voice (Psalm 88:2,9Psalm 88:2,9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 Let my prayer enter into thy presence; Incline thine ear unto my cry. 9 Mine eye wasteth away by reason of affliction: I have called daily upon thee, O Jehovah; I have spread forth my hands unto thee.

WP-Bible plugin
).

No matter how low we go, God will be there (Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.

WP-Bible plugin
). Misery cannot take us where God cannot go (Psalm 138:7-12Psalm 138:7-12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, And thy right hand will save me. 8 Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever; Forsake not the works of thine own hands.

WP-Bible plugin
). He is longsuffering and eager to forgive and forget (Jeremiah 31:34Jeremiah 31:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more.

WP-Bible plugin
).

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor
life, nor angels nor principalities nor
powers, nor things present nor things to
come, nor height nor depth, nor any other
created thing, shall be able to separate us
from the love of God which is in Christ
Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

WP-Bible plugin
).

God will always shower blessings on his children (Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 1:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

WP-Bible plugin
). We cannot allow this misery to take Christ away from us. Satan will hit us hard (Job 1), but we must be resolved and firm (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

WP-Bible plugin
; Ephesians 6:10-17Ephesians 6:10-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

WP-Bible plugin
).

While the psalm ends with the appearance of hopelessness, we can nonetheless be comforted by the spiritual reality that in the end, that is all mankind possesses. Only in Christ can we be saved (Romans 5:6- 11Romans 5:6- 11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

WP-Bible plugin
).

Walk in Christ every day and live in his light and the horrors of this world will serve only to usher us into our new homeland where such things no longer exist (Revelation 21:3-4Revelation 21:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: 4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Christ is our anchor in the storms of this world. Cling to him and find victory today!

–by Richard Mansel

Forgiveness and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34Luke 23:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.

WP-Bible plugin

Last Sunday I was away on a trip and missed the opportunity to editorialize a lesson on the subject of “forgiveness” that would have been so appropriate to the date of December 7th. As a lot of you know from personal remembrance and the rest of us know from history studies, on that date 73 years ago, the Japanese, in a Sunday morning surprise attack, bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii causing great devastation and a catastrophic loss of life and material. On Dec. 8th, 1941 President Roosevelt uttered the immortal words that have since defined that date and occasion: “A date which will live in infamy.”

But, you might be asking, “How does the bombing of Pearl Harbor have anything to do with ‘forgiveness?” and you’d not be remiss in asking such a question. I’m going to relate something to you that directly pertains to that event and also directly relates to a tremendous lesson on “love and forgiveness.”

Of course, nothing of this temporal, earthly life can compare with the lesson shown to man by Jesus Christ on the cross when he uttered the above cited words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The people Christ forgave from the cross were killing the Son of God, the Messiah sent from God to save man from his sins. But, the lesson stemming from this terrible and tragic event of Dec. 7, 1941ec. 7, 1941
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV



WP-Bible plugin
, which began the long and destructive war with Japan, I feel can be a powerful one.

In setting the scene for our lesson, let me give you a few more dates that will come into play. April 18, 1942; September 2, 1945; the years 1948 and 1949. You will see how these dates come into play as we go through this lesson. And now, let’s get the lesson started.

On the morning of Dec. 7th, 1941 a flying armada of 183 bombers and fighters, led by Captain Mitsuo Fuchida, attacked the various military bases at Pearl Harbor and nearby towns. As earlier mentioned, it was a devastating attack. Capt. Fuchida was the pilot who gave the now-famous radio call “Tora Tora Tora” which signaled the attack. He was also at the Battle of Midway and several other major battles of the war. Was shot down several times and also wounded several times, however he survived each time and was assigned to Japan when the war ended.

On the date of April 18, 1942, sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers, led by LtCol. Jimmy Doolittle took off from the USS Hornet and bombed Japan. After the raid, one of the planes landed in Russia with the rest going on to China where all of them crash landed off the shore or on land. Some were captured and executed, some were saved by the Chinese and others were captured and taken to Japan as prisoners.

On Sept. 2, 1945 Japan officially surrendered to the U.S. on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Capt. Fuchida was present at the surrender signing. He had also been in Hiroshima on military duty until the day before the atomic bomb was dropped there.

After the war, Capt. Fuchida was very bitter and was determined to prove that the U.S. had mistreated Japanese prisoners of war and began interviewing the returning POW’s for this purpose. He found that he could not substantiate any mistreatment, in fact, several of them told him about how well they were treated. Especially by a young 18 year old social worker by the name of Margaret “Peggy” Covell at the POW camp. They told of how much love she showed them while they were there.

He eventually met “Peggy” Covell and learned from her that her parents had been missionaries in the Philippines and had been beheaded there by Japanese soldiers. Because of that fact he could not understand her showing such loving care towards Japanese POWs at the camp. She told him that she knew that her parents had forgiven their captors before they killed them and Capt. Fuchida said that he later determined this to be true.

Intrigued by Miss Covell’s attitude of forgiveness, Capt. Fuchida bought a Bible in 1948 and began reading it. It was also around this time that he saw an American passing out pamphlets entitled “I Was A Prisoner Of Japan” and he took one. This American was Jacob DeShazer, one of the captured crew members from the Doolittle raid and who had spent 40 months in a Japanese prison. He had returned to Japan after the war as a missionary and was teaching “forgiveness to one’s enemies” as taught by the Scriptures.

Capt. Fuchida said that he did not understand what motivated these two people, Miss Covell and Jacob DeShazer, to show the forgiveness and love towards those who had wronged them so much. Then, in 1949, he read Luke 23:34Luke 23:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 And Jesus said, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And parting his garments among them, they cast lots.

WP-Bible plugin
and realized that this was the source of their love for their former enemies. Capt. Fuchida subsequently converted to Christianity from Buddhism and, because he was revered as a hero of the Japanese Empire for his exploits during the war, was reviled severely for having done so. He became a world traveling missionary himself and wrote a book entitled: “From Pearl Harbor to Calvary.”

I’m going to close with a statement made by Capt. Fuchida in 1970 that I feel speaks directly to our lesson here. Read them with me and see if you don’t agree that his words can’t be echoed by all of us when it comes to “forgiving” and understanding the source of our strength to change our lives and be able to “forgive.”

“I would give anything to retract my actions of 29 years ago at Pearl Harbor, but it is impossible. Instead, I now work at striking a deathblow to the basic hatred which infests the human heart and causes such tragedies. And that hatred cannot be uprooted without assistance from Jesus Christ. He was the only one powerful enough to change my life and inspire it with His thoughts.”

How many of us would “give anything” to “retract” some of our past actions? But, as Capt. Fuchida said, “it’s impossible.” What’s done is done. But, also like Capt. Fuchida, we can change. With the help of Jesus Christ we can change our “heart,” cleansing it from the evil and hatred that brings about those “actions” which we wished we hadn’t done and will keep us from doing them in the future. If we remove “hatred” we can “forgive.”

Ron Covey

A woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands

Ambrose Bierce was a cynic about many things. He is said to have left American society for the “good, kind darkness” of Mexico because of the things he felt were wrong in American society.

Here are some Bierce definitions:

“Advice – the smallest current coin.”
“Bore – a person who talks when you wish him
to listen.”
“Cynic – a blackguard whose faulty vision
sees things as they are, not as they ought
to be.”
“Prejudice – a vagrant opinion without
visible means of support.”

And here’s what he said about the fairer gender. “A woman would be more charming if one could fall into her arms without falling into her hands.” Not only was he a cynic, with this view he was probably also a bachelor!

Perhaps women understand, better than most men, that a relationship is only really fulfilling when it carries a level of commitment.

Many steer away from Christianity for the same reason.  They sense that living for Christ demands more than simply “falling into” Christ’s arms, that it also requires that we “fall into” his hands.

Typically we want to hit pay dirt without getting dirty. We want the Christ of the cross without taking up the cross of Christ.

But the true rewards of Christianity are not won cheaply. One must invest energy into it by means of study and prayer. One must make lifestyle changes (the Bible calls this repentance) before the fulfillment Christ brings can be felt. Jesus put it this way:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny
himself, take up his cross, and follow me”
(Matthew 16:24Matthew 16:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

WP-Bible plugin
, ESV).

Christ wishes to be more than charming; he seeks to save. Are you ready for an investment? Then begin to get dirty!

–by Stan Mitchell

Beware of the church that does not ask you to change

These days people are offended when you warn them. They would rather have their feelings smoothed over than to avoid the calamity they are about to experience.

We’re offended at the doctor who suggests we need to lose weight;

We’re offended at the policeman who suggests we obey the rules of the road;

We’re offended at the politician who suggests we should sacrifice for the good of the country.

As Wilfred Owen once put it, “All the poet can do is warn.”

You can get annoyed at the weatherman, but you had better also get the umbrella if he says it’s going to rain.

The Bible, too, is full of warnings. These are not the popular sections of scripture.

“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3Luke 13:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

WP-Bible plugin
, ESV).

So will we become peeved and perish?

“Whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

WP-Bible plugin
).

So will we believe and be baptized, or will we be condemned?

Consequences for sin are real. Eternal punishment is real. God’s anger towards the unrepentant is real.

Sometimes a prophet shouts from the rooftops to convey his message. Sometimes he whispers his warning, even in tears. Paul did:

“Therefore be alert, remembering that for
three years I did not cease night and day to
admonish everyone with tears” (Acts 20:31Acts 20:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears.

WP-Bible plugin
).

I remember a conversation when one speaker declared: “I like that church (the one she had just joined) because they don’t ask me to change anything in my life!”  Really?

Was she implying that she did not need to change anything? Or that she resented the implication that she needed to change? Or that God requires no change in our lives?

Beware of the church that does not ask you to change. To repent is to change; to be converted is to change; to become a Christian is to change; to grow spiritually is to change!

We need warnings; we need to change. We will probably not do the second until we hear the first.

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

When we make value judgments based on race, ethnicity, country of origin, we’re sinning

You take a racial or ethnic group that you don’t like and find the worst behavior among them, extrapolating that to the entire group. Holding each person responsible for that behavior, you inwardly feel superior to them.

Surely any honest Christian would agree that these attitudes are unacceptable in the eyes of God.

Thankfully, the Lord’s Church is making progress in the Black-White issue. Nevertheless, there is still an enormous amount of work to do. Sadly, another evil has moved into the hearts of Christians.

If such behavior is wrong in relation to Black and White, then why do we see and hear so many Christians exhibiting the same behavior toward people of Middle Eastern countries?

Undeniably, terrorism and war have ruined countless lives. Americans painfully remember the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 where a cadre of Muslim men killed 3,000 innocent people.

This is a volatile issue. However, we must move past emotion, allowing reason and a clear head to lead us to truth.

God hates all sin equally because it comes from Satan (John 8:44John 8:44
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

WP-Bible plugin
; Romans 3:23; 6:23Romans 3:23; 6:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

WP-Bible plugin
). He loves every soul created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 1Genesis 1:27; 1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. The First Book of Moses, called Genesis 1 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9 And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. 20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: 30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

WP-Bible plugin
John 4:7-8John 4:7-8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 For his disciples were gone away into the city to buy food.

WP-Bible plugin
) and wants everyone to be saved (2 Peter 3:92 Peter 3:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

WP-Bible plugin
).

God sees the entire universe in a spiritual sense and in his eyes, physical divisions are immaterial (Revelation 20:11-15Revelation 20:11-15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

WP-Bible plugin
). When we make value judgments based on race, ethnicity, country of origin, we’re sinning. Every soul stands on their own behavior and merit (Ezekiel 18:19-20Ezekiel 18:19-20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Yet say ye, Wherefore doth not the son bear the iniquity of the father? when the son hath done that which is lawful and right, and hath kept all my statutes, and hath done them, he shall surely live. 20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die: the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

WP-Bible plugin
).

In God’s eyes, there is truth and error, and God hates that which stands against his Word (Galatians 1:8-9Galatians 1:8-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. 9 As we have said before, so say I now again, if any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema.

WP-Bible plugin
; Psalm 119:104Psalm 119:104
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: Therefore I hate every false way. Nun.

WP-Bible plugin
). Islam is a false doctrine and is no different than every other religion that violates God’s will.

God wants us to take the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20Matthew 28:19-20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

WP-Bible plugin
). We should hate error, but we must separate doctrine from souls. Everyone who is in a false religion needs our prayers and God’s truth instead of hate and recrimination.

Christians must develop this nuanced approach with people in the Muslim world. We divide error from souls and treat these individuals with respect and love.  Christ is our standard, not the weaknesses of men.

Terrorism and the behavior of others doesn’t absolve Christians of racist attitudes against people of Middle Eastern descent. In the end, we won’t find justification in the eyes of God, but judgment and condemnation.

by Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

I was once an NBA player for the Los Angeles Lakers and won an Oscar for the movie I was in

Gossip

As we all know, the church’s most spiritual members gossip about their brethren. If a man continually berates the church, its leadership, its efforts, that proves that he is a dedicated Christian.

And while we’re at it, everyone knows that a gossip is always very concerned about checking the facts before he speaks, and cares deeply for the well-being of those about whom he speaks.

Oh, and one more thing: I was once an NBA player for the Los Angeles Lakers and won an Oscar for the movie I was in.

The truth is that words are far more potent than we give them credit. Words build and give life — or maim, injure and take life. When our words leave our mouths (or our pens, or when we hit send) they have a life all their own.

Solomon calls a gossip a person who “lacks sense.” Yet we frequently treat him as if he is full of godly wisdom.

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
but a man of understanding remains silent.
Whoever goes about slandering reveals
secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit
keeps a thing covered” (Proverbs 11:12,13Proverbs 11:12,13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 He that despiseth his neighbor is void of wisdom; But a man of understanding holdeth his peace. 13 He that goeth about as a tale-bearer revealeth secrets; But he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter.

WP-Bible plugin
,
ESV).

We speak our harsh words flippantly, even casually, yet do not think that like a burning match, tossed carelessly out of a car window, we might cause a forest fire.

“The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the mouth of the upright delivers him” (Proverbs 12:6Proverbs 12:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 The words of the wicked are of lying in wait for blood; But the mouth of the upright shall deliver them.

WP-Bible plugin
).

Please allow me to be forthright: a gossip is neither wise nor insightful, still less loving. He is hard on others, inspires no one to live better, and has harmed God’s people over and over again.

The Christian is called upon to develop his ability to use words, to be kind and thoughtful with them.

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24Proverbs 16:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

WP-Bible plugin
).

It was Will Rogers who said, “The only time people dislike gossip is when the gossip is about them.”

We have all been the victim of gossip, whether face-to- face or on the internet; the hurt we felt should be motivation enough to stop gossiping.

–by Stan Mitchell

A gorgeous cross

As I walked by three ladies huddled over a catalog, the voice of one rung out with crystal clarity, “I just love that cross! It’s gorgeous!”

As a guy, this struck me as a moment of friendship and fellowship among some Christian ladies joyfully participating in a wish list shopping experience. In the relaxed climate of friendship, someone shared her appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship of some jewelry.

As a Christian, I wondered whether any of them heard what was said. A gorgeous cross?

Don’t misunderstand. We should be deeply grateful for whenever someone has a profound appreciation for Christ’s death. Furthermore, we ought to rejoice whenever disciples are emboldened to identify themselves with Christ crucified within the public realm.

Yet, somehow her words sounded more like a response to a marketing ploy than the torn flesh of one hanging from the cross beam for her. After all, how does “a gorgeous electric chair” or “a gorgeous noose” strike you?

Passing within ear shot to simply catch a few words, I may have completely misunderstood. My hope is that whether those ladies wear cross jewelry or not, that none of them will trivialize the price paid for their lives.

Writing to Christians, Peter wrote, “You are … a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:91 Peter 2:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

WP-Bible plugin
).

My prayer is that all of us will proudly and publicly acknowledge our absolute dependence upon God’s Son, who died for us and was risen again. Let’s focus on the message, not the medium.

by Barry Newton @ www.forthright.net