The Problem of Prejudice

bible-998150_960_720Prejudice can be defined as “unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group.”

A few things about prejudice are worth mentioning: First, no particular race, or ethnic group, has a monopoly on being prejudice.  It is possible for someone from any race, country or ethnic group to be prejudice.  Second, prejudice does not always involve race.  It is often the case that one person is prejudiced toward another because of his (or her) race. But a person may be prejudiced toward another person because of his education, or lack thereof.  Someone may be prejudiced toward others because of their financial status, or lack thereof.  Other causes of prejudice may be a person’s appearance or prejudice toward another person simply because of where they come from.  Prejudice can take on many forms!  Third, prejudice toward others is always a sin.  James wrote, “But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9) Fourth, sadly prejudice often exists among those who profess to follow Christ!

We all realize the problem exists.  The question all of us should be asking is, “What’s the solution?  How can the problem of prejudice be corrected?”  A number of answers have been proposed – rallies and protests, police reform, income equality, free college for everyone, reparations toward those who have been wronged, etc.

None of these things will eliminate the problem of prejudice!  The problem of prejudice is a problem of the heart.  Prejudice will never go away until men’s hearts are changed.  The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men recognize God as their Creator and Jesus Christ as their Savior.

The problem of prejudice will never be remedied until men strive to do God’s will and follow Christ’s example for living.  Can you imagine the good that could be realized if everyone of us took to heart Paul’s admonition to Timothy – “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” (I Timothy 5:21)

Your Marriage Can Be G-R-E-A-T!

wedding_bandsMarriage! Just say the word and a number of thoughts come to mind. Will I ever get married? If so, whom will I marry? Will I have children? If I do have children, how many? Where will I live? Will I have a good marriage? Better yet, will I have a great marriage? Wait a minute. Let’s consider that question again. Will I have, not just a good marriage, but a GREAT marriage?

Friends, great marriages do not come about by accident. Oh no friends, great marriages are the result of much planning and effort. Someone has said the success of a marriage is not determined by how much love you put into it as much as it is determined by how much work you put into it.

But have you ever stopped to think about what sets great marriages apart from all others? Have you ever wondered what makes great marriages great?

When we consider the letters in the word great, several things come to mind. First, the “G” reminds us that God must be in our marriages. It is no coincidence that this is first on the list, for no marriage can be truly great without God. I cannot emphasize this enough! Couples who strive to build homes with God as their center enjoy enormous advantages over those couples that do not make God the center of their home. Couples who strive to build homes with God as their center enjoy a common sense of morality, a common sense of values, a common standard of right and wrong, a common source of strength in time of need, and a common purpose in life. A couple that builds a home with God as its center is able to pray for one another and for their marriage. Friends, it is an undeniable fact that the closer a husband and wife get to God, the closer they get to one another.

Consider the words of Solomon, recorded in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Did you notice the emphasis that is placed on the advantages that two have over one?

And yet, we cannot help but notice the significance of the phrase “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” This “third cord” Solomon tells us of is undoubtedly a reference to God. When a couple includes God in their marriage, their marriage is not easily broken. Friends, a great marriage is a marriage where husband and wife are both Christians, striving to help each other grow spiritually and obtain an eternal home in heaven.

Second, the “R” reminds us that we must remember our vows. A vow is a solemn promise you made to your spouse. Husbands, did you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect your spouse, forsaking all others? Wives, did you promise to love, honor, cherish, and obey your spouse, forsaking all others?

When you made your vows, you not only made them before your spouse, but you made them before all others who were present. But far more important, you made them before God. That’s right! You made a promise to God! Man and woman are joined together as husband and wife, not merely by man, but by God.

Did your vows include the often spoken phrase, “Till death do us part?” Marriage is a lifelong commitment. The story books may picture a couple getting married, only to live happily ever after, seemingly free of problems. But we know that real life is not always like what we read about in the story books. Admittedly, there will be difficult times with any marriage. There will be times of hurt feelings, disappointments, and problems that, at least at the time, seem to be insurmountable. But times like these should cause a husband and wife to remember the promise they made to one another. Friends, when a husband and wife are committed to one another, they will never face any problem that cannot be resolved with God’s help.

When Jesus was asked about divorce for any cause, he responded: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”(Matthew 19:4-9). Friends, God expects us to keep our vows! God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

Third, the “E” reminds us that a husband and wife are to enjoy life together. A husband and wife should take time simply to enjoy being with one another. It goes without saying that we all have daily obligations to meet and responsibilities to fulfill. I understand we all have busy schedules and appointments to keep. We all share in many of the stresses of daily life. Sure, life is filled with its peaks and its valleys, its ups and downs. But we should not allow the “downs” to prevent us from enjoying life. Couples should make it a priority to spend time together, to do things together, to have fun together, and to laugh together. A husband and wife ought to develop an interest in recreational activities they can both enjoy together. Someone has said, “The couple that plays together stays together.” Listen to the words of Solomon, recorded in Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” Also notice Proverbs 5:18: “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” Your spouse should be, not only your spouse, but also your best friend!

Fourth, the “A” reminds us that husbands and wives are to appreciate one another. When you stop to count your blessings, don’t forget to include your spouse. Don’t neglect to tell your spouse that you appreciate him (or her). To appreciate your spouse means to grasp or understand your spouse’s worth, or value. Few things can be more harmful to a marriage than for one (or both) of the spouses to feel unappreciated. A failure to appreciate your spouse will eventually manifest itself in selfishness and disrespect. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22). Also notice Proverbs 19:14: “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

The fact that a wife is given to man by God can also be seen in Genesis 3:9-12: “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Friends, precious gifts are not to be abused nor flaunted. They are to be treated graciously out of respect for the giver. For a husband or wife to neglect his or her spouse is to work against God’s plan.

Fifth, the “T” reminds us that a husband or wife is to treat his or her spouse as the most important person in the world. After all, who on earth is more important to you than your spouse? Listen to the words of the apostle Paul: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:24-28).

In I Peter 3:7, Peter wrote: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

Also notice Paul’s words to Titus: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:3-4).

Did you notice something about Paul’s words? Love is not just an emotion! Not just something we feel! Love is an action! Love is a type of behavior! Yes, a husband should treat his wife as the most important person in the world, because to him, she is the most important person in the world!

How can a husband treat his wife as the most important person in the world? By refusing to ignore her. By valuing her opinion. By taking time to be with her. By refusing to make sarcastic remarks about, or to, her. By refusing to be rude to her, whether publicly or privately. By being aware of her needs. By defending her when others are criticizing her. Of course, these things would also apply when considering a wife’s treatment of her husband.

To sum it all up, in terms of your relationships with others, none should be more important to you than your relationship with your spouse.

Yes, your marriage does not have to be just good. Your marriage can be great! Your marriage can be great if God is in your marriage. If you remember your vows. If you enjoy life together. If you appreciate one another. And if you treat your spouse as the most important person in the world.

What Does Going to a Garden Party Have to Do With Living a Life That Is Pleasing to God?

tone armGood question!  How could an old song about going to a garden party make me think of the importance of living a life that is pleasing to God?  It’s really not as odd as you might think,  To find out, listen to the audio below!

Don’t Let the World Make Play-Doh Out of You!

ydR7CCNlMost of us remember playing with Play-Doh when we were kids.  (Yeah, I know, some of you are saying to yourself “A kid is a young goat.”  But I’m not so formal that I can’t refer to children as kids.  Please indulge me for a moment).  Play-Doh is a modeling compound that can be shaped into cars, flowers, dinosaurs – just about anything a kid (or even adult) can imagine.  Once only available in white, it now comes in fifty colors.  You may not have known it was originally sold as a wallpaper cleaner.

If we’re not careful, we will allow the world to make play-doh out of us!  The world is constantly trying to influence us.  Always trying to mold us into what it want us to be.  Satan would love nothing better than to shape you into what he wants you to be – your thoughts, your speech, your focus – you name it, everything about you!  Don’t let him do it!  “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

Living Certain in an Uncertain World

Sleepless Young Man

Seems like I’ve been hearing the phrase “We are living in uncertain times” a lot lately.  Folks, ever since Adam was formed from the dust of the earth and Eve was formed from one of his ribs, people have always been living in uncertain times.  The word “certain” can be defined as “free from doubt, confident, sure.”  Synonyms that come to mind include “unquestionable” or “indisputable.”  When, in the history of man, could a man be certain he would live a long life?  At what point in the history of the world could a man be certain he would always enjoy good health?  Could a man ever be certain his standard of living would always match, or surpass, his previous standard of living?  Could a man ever be certain the value of his investments would always increase and be sufficient when he hoped to retire?  When could we be certain our country would be safe from enemy attack?

Friends, we have always lived in uncertain times!  But, before you start to wring your hands in despair, can I remind you of some things of which I am certain?  First, I am certain God created me and loves me. Some would have you believe you are here as a result of the process of evolution.  Such foolish nonsense! The epitome of ignorance! To borrow a phrase from the late Curtis Cates – “that’s hyper-stupid!”  David wrote, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14) My physical body stands as a witness to the creative powers of God!  Because I am a product of God’s handiwork, I know He loves me and cares for me.  Peter wrote, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Second, I am certain there is a Savior who loved me enough to die for me!  I have sinned.  There is nothing I can ever do to remove sin from my life apart from the blood of Jesus Christ!  “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) Because of Christ’s sacrificial love, I am certain I can be forgiven and live this life (as uncertain as it may be) with the hope of an eternity in heaven.

Third, I am certain this world is not my home.  Paul described my earthly, physical body as a tabernacle (II Corinthians 5:1-4).  My physical body can be compared to a tent – temporary, a place where my spirit dwells for a short while until I am clothed with my immortal body (II Corinthians 5:2).  I am merely a pilgrim on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11).  One day, this sinful world in which I now live will come to an end (Hebrews 1:10-12).

Fourth, I am certain that life is good.  Sure, life on this earth has it troubles.  I would not be so foolish to deny that!  Jesus said “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) But I am certain that life is still good!  Life is good because I’m a Christian!  I enjoy greater blessings than money can ever buy – I experience the joy of my salvation.  I understand that the troubles of this world are temporary and pale in comparison to the glory of heaven (II Corinthians 4:16-18).

Fifth, I am certain an eternal hell awaits the unrighteous (II Thessalonians 1:8) and an eternal heaven awaits those who keep the faith – those who fight the good fight and finish their course (II Timothy 4:7-8; Revelation 22:1-5).

I’m aware of how the headlines read.  I know what the “talking heads” are saying on tv.  But I also know I can live certain in an uncertain world!

Does It Really Matter How We Worship?

cropped-bible-medium2.jpgGod is deserving of our worship.  Jesus taught that God desires that we worship Him. (John 4:23) Has God instructed us as to how we should worship Him?  Or are we free to worship God in any way we choose, as long as we are sincere in what we do?

In Matthew chapter fifteen, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their vain worship. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9) The word “vain” means folly, or of no purpose. We learn from this passage that worship consisting of manmade traditions while ignoring the commandments of God is useless.  Surely, God will not accept this kind of worship.

Another kind of worship mentioned in the scriptures is ignorant worship.  Ignorant worship is worship offered to God without a knowledge of God’s will concerning who He is and how He is to be worshipped. (Acts 17:22-23) Those people at Mars Hill in Athens were guilty of this type of worship. This type of worship is also unacceptable to God.

The apostle Paul spoke of those who were guilty of “will worship.” “Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23) While the King James Version refers to “will worship,” the English Standard Version refers to it as “self-made religion.”

Thayer’s Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament defines will worship as “worship which one devises and prescribes for himself, contrary to the contents and nature of the faith which ought to be directed to Christ.”  Vines Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words defines will worship as “voluntarily adopted worship, whether unbidden or forbidden.”  In simple terms, we can think of will worship as “doing what we like and what we think is good, but not taught by God in the scriptures.”  Examples of this type of worship can be seen in solos, choirs, and mechanical instruments of music in worship, such as pianos, organs, etc. These are things that men desire, but are not taught in the scriptures.

Jesus spoke of the need for us to worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) This is the only type of worship that God accepts.  To worship in spirit means that our worship is spiritual in nature, in contrast to worship that is physical in nature. Old Testament worship consisted of a physical structure (the tabernacle), special clothing for priests, lampstands in the tabernacle, burning of incense, instruments of music and animal sacrifices.  Worship under the New Testament is spiritual in nature.  Today, God’s temple is not physical, but is made up of Christians (I Peter 2:5), all Christians are priests offering spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5, 9), our prayers are described as sweet incense before God (Revelation 5:8) and our music consists of making melody IN THE HEART (Ephesians 5:19). Today, we worship in truth, meaning the real, or substance, of which those things in the Old Testament were merely a foreshadowing, or figure, of things to come.  (Hebrews 10:1) When we worship in spirit and in truth, we worship according to the teachings of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 3:11).

It does make a difference how we worship!

Denominations Are a Product of Men, Not God

cropped-bible-medium2.jpgThis past week I read an article written by a minister of a well-known denomination.  The first statement of the article read as follows, “When the church age began during the Lord’s earthly ministry, there was only the church Jesus built.”  Questions for the minister who wrote the article, and all of us, to consider include, “Does the one church Jesus built exist today?  If Jesus only built one church, why are there so many churches today?  Who made the change?  If Jesus only built one church, who built these other churches? And does any of this really matter?”

A denomination can be defined as “a large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name, usually organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy.” Friends, I must say with all kindness yet with all truthfulness to God’s word, denominationalism is completely incompatible with and foreign to the scriptures.  Notice the following from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) Men may accept, even applaud, the division that exists in the religious world today, but God never has and never will.

Denominations are of human origin.  In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  Jesus said He would build His church, singular.  All denominations exist without New Testament authority, New Testament example or Christ’s approval.

Why does any of this really matter? The inspired apostle Paul taught that Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same.  (Ephesians 1:22-23) He went on to teach that there is only one body, therefore there must be only one church. (Ephesians 4:4) Later in his same letter to the church at Ephesus he taught that Christ is the savior of the body.  (Ephesians 5:23) What can we conclude from all this?  Christ is the savior of the one church that He built!

Peter told those present on the Day of Pentecost to “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) When these people were saved by believing the gospel, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith in Jesus Christ and being baptized to receive the forgiveness of their sins, how did the Lord respond?  He added them to the one church that He built.  (Acts 2:47) He did not add them to a denomination, for there were no denominations in existence!

The church that Jesus built still exists today, just as it did in the first century.  It has no earthly head.  It has no legal hierarchy.  It follows no manmade creeds, practices, manuals or handbooks. It simply follows the New Testament pattern for the church.  Its congregations are autonomous and are overseen by elders who have authority only over their particular congregation. (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5; I Peter 5:1-3) Its members meet on the first day of every week to worship, including partaking of the communion. (Acts 20:7) Its members worship God through acapella singing, just as the early church of the first century did.  (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16) Its members pray and study the Bible together. (Acts 2:42) Its members hear preaching together and give financially on the first day of the week. (I Corinthians 16:1-2)

Can a person be saved from his sins today and be a member of Christ’s one church without being a member of any denomination?  Yes!  He not only can, he must in order to please God.  How can a person do this?  He must believe the good news, or gospel, concerning Jesus Christ.  (John 3:16) He must repent of his sins (Acts 17:30-31) He must confess his faith in Jesus Christ.  (Acts 8:37) He must then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins.  (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16) When he does this, the Lord will add him to the one church that he, Jesus Christ, purchased with his blood.  (Acts 2:47; Acts 20:28)

Friends, it is not my intention to be unkind.  Rather, it is my desire to expose the clear teaching of the scriptures concerning Christ and His church. Search the scriptures and see whether these things are so! (Acts 17:11)

“The churches of Christ salute you.” (Romans 16:16)

When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

What do YOU see when you survey the wondrous cross?  Some would see no more than a rough, wooden cross.  Some look at Christ on the cross as a myth, a mere invention of men.  Some look at the cross with indifference, having no desire to appreciate its significance.  Some look at those who appreciate the cross as foolish – after all, how could anyone place their faith in someone who died in such a horrible manner?  Click to listen and I will tell you what I see when I survey the wondrous cross!

And the People Answered “Amen!”

cropped-bible-medium2.jpgMore than just “interesting reading,” the Old Testament provides many lessons helpful to us today. One such example is found in Nehemiah 8:1-12.

First, consider the assembly (verses 1-2). The people gathered as one man, indicating an atmosphere of unity. Unity among God’s people is as important today as it was in Nehemiah’s day (I Corinthians 1:10-11, 3:9, II Corinthians 13:11). The people wanted Ezra to “bring the book,” indicating they had a desire to hear God’s word (Psalm 119:31, Matthew 5:6). It was a common gathering, consisting of men, women, and children. Along with this, consider I Corinthians 11:17-20.

Second, consider the attention that was given to God’s word (verse 3). The Bible will be of benefit to us today only if we pay attention to what we read, realizing it can be understood (Acts 17:11-12, Ephesians 3:1-4). Also consider Proverbs 18:15: “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”

Third, consider their attitude (verses 4-6). The people stood, indicating they had an attitude of reverence toward the word of God. Ezra blessed the Lord, meaning he praised, or spoke well of, the Lord. Consider Psalm 119:12: “Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.”

Fourth, consider their awareness (verses 7-9). The people mourned when they were convicted of their sin. They had neglected God’s restrictions concerning marriage (Deuteronomy 7:1-6, Ezra chapter 9-10, Nehemiah 13). They had failed to keep the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13). They had forsaken God’s house (Nehemiah 10). But God’s word was also able to bring them joy, just as it is able to bring us joy today. Because of God’s word, we are able to experience the joy of forgiveness, the joy of salvation, the joy of protection, the joy of instruction, and the joy of comfort.

Can Blood Transfusions Extend Life?

imgbin-blood-donation-blood-transfusion-human-body-blood-bank-blood-red-blood-drop-vB0gVuMyQXZCvY5WPUscLhpJxI came across an article recently discussing bizarre ways tech billionaires are attempting to reverse the aging process and live forever.  More than one company is conducting research to determine if blood transfusions from younger people can extend life.  According to some experts, transfusing blood from young, healthy people – specifically those between ages 16 and 25 – into those who feel that they’re getting on in years could reverse aging.

I’m no expert in the medical field; far from it.  But I am expert enough to know that eternal life is made possible by blood. No, I’m not talking about the blood from a younger person.  Eternal life is made possible only by the blood of Christ.  The really great news is that you don’t have to be a tech billionaire to benefit from this blood!

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:14-17)

Why Worship God?

cropped-bible-medium3.jpgOur English word “worship” is often translated from two words meaning “toward” and “kiss” (or “kiss toward”).  In certain cultures, it was a common practice to prostate oneself before another and kiss his feet, the hem of his garment, or the ground.  This was especially done by the Persians to express reverence toward their deified kings or by the Greeks to honor their idols.

Our common English word “worship” has its origin in an old English word meaning “worth-ship.”  This indicates the worth, or value, of the one being worshipped.  God is worthy, or deserving, of our worship because of who he is and what he has done.

As Peter was coming into Cornelius’ house, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him.  Peter then responded, “Stand up; I myself am also a man” (Acts 10:25-26).  God, in comparison, desires that we worship him (John 4:23).  Why the difference?  What do we worship God, and not man?

First, we worship God because he is our creator.  Where did we come from?  How did we get here?  Yet the answer is very simple – “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Later, in that same chapter we read – “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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:26-27).    It only makes sense that the creation worships the creator.

Second, we worship God because he is our provider.  Every physical blessing that we enjoy comes to us from God. James wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).  God has not only blessed us physically but, more importantly, he has provided us with every spiritual blessing.  Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3).  God is truly the fount of very blessing!

Third, we worship God because he is our savior.   The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  God loves us so much he was willing to gave his sin as the only sacrifice that could remove sin from our lives (John 3:16).  Those in the church have been purchased, or bought back from their bondage of sin, with nothing less than the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28).

God is seeking those who will worship him.  Are you seeking opportunities to worship God?

To listen to thoughts on “Why Worship God” click here:

Hang in There, the Game’s Not Over Yet!

Football-Field-Artificial-Sports-Turf-12-1024x680On September 16, 2018 Buffalo Bills defensive back Vontae Davis shocked his team and sports fans when he retired during halftime of Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers. He later issued a statement confirming his abrupt decision to retire. “This isn’t how I pictured retiring from the NFL,” the 10-year veteran said, adding that he meant no disrespect to his teammates and coaches.  “I’ve endured multiple surgeries and played through many different injuries throughout my career and, over the last few weeks, this was the latest physical challenge,” he continued. “But today on the field, reality hit me fast and hard: I shouldn’t be out there anymore.”

Is there a spiritual application to be made from Vontae Davis’ experience? There most certainly is!  Christians often experience more than their fair share of bumps, bruises and hits on life’s playing field.  Perhaps, like Vontae, we are tempted to think we shouldn’t be out here anymore.  “It’s just not worth the effort,” some may say.

Not so!  Sure, no one can deny that life can be difficult.  Like everyone else, Christians may become weary.  But hang in there!  Any hardships in this life will compare in comparison to the blessings of heaven.  The apostle Paul understood what it meant to experiences life’s difficulties, yet he wrote, “16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;” (II Corinthians 4:17).

I hope everyone of you will keep the faith, endure to the end and one day experience heaven!

I’m Thankful Some Things Don’t Last

bible mediumHow many times have you asked someone about their vacation, only to hear them say, “It was great, only one problem – it ended too soon?”  Have you ever asked someone about his weekend and heard him say, “It was too short”?  Some things just seem to end sooner than we would like!

Some things may end too soon, but I am glad some things are brief (or, at least, relatively so).  I appreciate the fact that some things do not last. John wrote, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).  The tears we shed, the death we mourn over, the sorrow we feel and the pain we endure will one day all end.

Today, I am thankful the travails of life on earth are passing; while the blessings of heaven are eternal

The Significance of Christ’s Resurrection

Empty TombCountless number of people around the world recognize Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday – the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21.  We cannot be certain of the origin of the term “Easter.”  It is likely an Old English word of Germanic origin, that honors a goddess associated with spring.  Others say it comes from the German word for resurrection.  The word “Easter” is found in Acts 12:4 in the King James Version.  Other translations translate it (the Greek word pascha) “Passover.”  This Greek word (pascha) is found 29 times in the Greek New Testament, yet it is translated Easter only once, even in the King James Version.

Christians are not commanded or otherwise authorized to celebrate Christ’s resurrection as a designated annual event.  Christians are to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on a weekly basis (John 20:1ff; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2).

I am glad, however, that people all over the world take time to recognize Christ’s resurrection!  I wish they would do so much more frequently!  I like to talk to people about Christ’s resurrection!  Why wouldn’t any Christian?  We need to be able to talk about the resurrection of Christ to our family, our friends, our neighbors, to anyone who will listen!

What makes Christ’s resurrection from the dead so significant?  First, the resurrection of Christ is good news!  The apostle Paul wrote, “ Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain (I Corinthians 15:1-2).  The very word gospel means good news!  It includes the good news of the kingdom of God and salvation through Jesus Christ made possible by His death, burial and resurrection.  I Corinthians 15:2 tells us it is by the gospel that we are saved.  If Christ were not raised, we would still be living with the burden of our sin (I Corinthians 15:17).

All of us will die one day (unless, of course, we are a part of those living at the time of Christ’s return).  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27).  Conquerors throughout the history of the world, such as Alexander the Great, have been considered powerful by others yet they have died.  Samson was known for his great strength, yet his strength did not enable him to escape death.  Solomon was known for his great wisdom, yet his wisdom did not enable him to escape death.  Methusaleh lived to be 969 years old, yet he eventually died.

Only Jesus conquered death.  Consider the accounts of Enoch (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5) and Elijah (II Kings 2:11).  Although these men did not die, they did not conquer death in the sense that Jesus conquered death.  These men were not dead and later resurrected.  Consider the case of Lazarus.  He was resurrected, yet he died again.

Second, the resurrection of Christ is significant because it proves He is the Son of God.  Take note of the following passages: Take note of these words from I Corinthians 15:3-4: “3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:”

Christ died according to the scriptures.  Zechariah prophesied that Jesus would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13).  Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, yet would remain silent (Isaiah 53:7).  Psalm 22 is a prophetic psalm that speaks of Jesus’ words from the cross, his bones not being broken but out of joint while on the cross, the piercing of his hands and feet and the soldiers casting lots for his garments.

Christ rose from the grave according to the scriptures.  Psalm 16 includes a prophecy that Christ would be raised from the grave on the third day.

Christ’s death, burial and resurrection were the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, proof that He was the Son of God.  Romans 1:4 – “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”

Third, the resurrection of Christ is significant because it gives Us Hope.  The apostle Paul wrote, “16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (I Corinthians 15:16-23).

The firstfruits were the first born of the flocks and the first of the grains to be gathered at harvest time.  The Jews thought of these as belonging to God in a special way.  They were offered to God on the day of the firstfruits as part of the celebration of Pentecost (offered fifty days after offering of the barley for the Feast of Unleavened Bread – Numbers 28:26; II Chronicles 31:5).

Just as offering the firstfruits served as an acknowledgement that the whole harvest is possible because of God (Leviticus 23:10-16), Christ being the “firstfruit” of them that are asleep is an acknowledgement that our resurrection is possible because of Christ.  Christ’s resurrection gives us hope of our resurrection.  Hope of an incorruptible body.  Hope of a spiritual body.  Hope of an immortal body.  A desire that we too will one day be raised from the dead.

Finally, how can we benefit from Christ’s death, burial and resurrection?  “3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).

I hope everyone reading this has a good day today!  More importantly, I hope everyone reading this thinks of Christ’s resurrection year round!

Christian, Rejoice!

Rejoice-1How sad it is for people professing to be Christians to fail to experience joy in life.  These people may go through life with a negative outlook, pessimistic attitude, and perhaps even harboring bitterness in their hearts.  This is certainly heartbreaking – not what God intended!  Christians, more than any other people on this earth, have reason to rejoice!

Consider Paul’s words to the church at Rome, recorded in Romans 5:1-4: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:”

First, Christians ought to rejoice because they have been justified by faith.  To be justified is to be considered righteous, or “right with God.”

Second, Christians ought to rejoice because they have peace with God.  The strife that existed between them and God, before they obeyed the gospel, has been taken away.  They now enjoy a harmonious relationship with their creator.

Third, Christians ought to rejoice because they have access, by faith, to God’s grace.  Knowing we can never deserve, or earn, heaven, Christians can rejoice in God’s “unmerited favor” toward them (without which, no man can be saved).

Fourth, Christians ought to rejoice because they have hope – a sincere expectation that all the promises of the gospel will be fulfilled.  Christians enjoy a genuine hope of an eternal home in heaven with God.

Today, as a Christian, I will rejoice because I have been justified by faith, have peace with God, have access to God’s grace and live in hope of heaven.

Jesus Christ, the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever

tone armI’m old enough to remember listening to music on eight track tapes (now virtually a relic).  I can remember when cassette tapes, quickly becoming a thing of the past, were “new on the scene.”  Seems like not very long ago I was adjusting the tone arm on my record player. And now, Jason Palmer, writing for BBC News, recently reported that Sony Corporation, after making floppy disks for computers for nearly three decades, would soon cease their production.  Change is everywhere around us!  Nothing seems to stay the same!

Well, almost nothing.  The inspired penman wrote, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).  In this ever changing world, it’s comforting to put your trust in one who is constant; one who never goes “out of fashion” or becomes obsolete.

Today, I’m thankful for Jesus Christ, whose love is constant and whose mercy is everlasting.

There’s No Room for Fear in the Heart of a Christian!

fearThe Bible speaks of two kinds of fear. First, there is the fear that is commanded (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This fear involves respect, honor, reverence, and awe. The second type of fear is forbidden (Revelation 21:8). This type of fear is synonymous with dread, alarm, fright, and terror. Consider three things the Bible has to say about fear.

First, consider the realm of fear. Many often neglect to do those things they ought to do because of their fear of failure. In the parable of the talents, the one talent man took what he had and hid it in the earth because he was afraid (Matthew 25:25). Many often fear the unknown. Men often fear responsibility. A person may neglect to fulfill his responsibility to be a “fisher of men” because of his fear (Luke 5:10). Men often fear old age. But the Bible makes a connection between old age and glory/honor (Titus 2:1-5). Men often fear what others will say (Luke 12:4-7). This type of fear is often followed by wrongdoing (Matthew 26:69-75). Men often fear death, but death can be a gateway to an eternal association with Jesus (Philippians 1:21-23).

Second, consider the result of fear. Fear often prevents a person from doing the will of God. Because of their fear, men often seek to excuse themselves and rationalize their behavior. Fear renders one useless in serving God (Judges 7:3). Fear brings defeat. Peter was initially able to walk on water, but he sank when he became fearful (Matthew 14:28-31). Fear can be contagious. (Deuteronomy 20:8; Joshua 14:8). Fear will eventually cause a person to be lost (Revelation 21:8).

Third, consider the remedy for fear. Every Christian must remember that fear is strictly prohibited. As Christians, we have not been given the spirit of fear, but of power (II Timothy 1:7). In order to overcome our fear, we must learn to place our trust in God, not ourselves (Proverbs 3:5-6). We are to take courage in the fact that God is on our side (Psalm 118:6). In order to overcome our fear, we must do those things we are afraid of doing! After all, the more we do something, the more comfortable we become with doing it.

With Whom Are You Walking?

walking-hiking-stickman-stick-figure-matchstick-manDo you realize your friends will help determine where you spend eternity?  It’s true!  Your friends can help strengthen your faith!  But they can also help weaken your faith!  Consider these words from Proverbs 13:20 – “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (ESV).  Your friends have a definite influence on your character.  If you want to be wise, establish friendships with wise people.  If you want to be a fool, establish friendships with foolish people.

This thought is repeated in the New Testament: “I Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals (ESV).  Some may deny this, saying, “Oh no, my friends will never have so strong an influence on me!  Never!”  But Paul says the person who denies the influence of bad company is deceived.

What lesson can Christians learn from this?   If you want to strengthen your faith and stay loyal to Christ, surround yourself with friends who want to do the same – strengthen their faith and stay loyal to Christ

An Inheritance in Heaven

Have you ever received an inheritance upon someone’s death?  Will you receive an inheritance when YOU die?  You must be thinking, “Nonsense, that’s not possible.”  Think again! If you are a Christian, you have an inheritance waiting for you.  Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Fatcropped-bible-medium.jpgher of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not way, reserved in heaven for you” (I Peter 1:3-4).

Jesus’ resurrection makes the inheritance that awaits the Christian in heaven possible.  Jesus’ resurrection assures us of our resurrection.  The inheritance that is reserved for the Christian is in heaven; not on this earth!  To receive this inheritance, you are the one who has to die!  This inheritance is an eternal inheritance – it is incorruptible, undefiled, and will never fade away.

Today, I am thankful for living in hope of my eternal inheritance!

Why Are so Many Afraid to Call It Sin?

cropped-bible-medium.jpg“He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 17:15). This verse serves to remind us of those who are increasingly quick to go to great lengths to lessen the atrocity of sin (Isaiah 5:20). But no matter what man may call sin, God still considers it sin. No matter what man calls sin, sin still separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). No matter what man calls sin, sin will still cause a person to spend eternity in hell, unless, of course, that person repents and turns from his sin (Acts 26:18-20), confesses his faith in Jesus Christ as his savior (Romans 10:10), is baptized to receive the forgiveness of his sin (Acts 2:38), and then faithfully lives a life devoted to Christ (I Corinthians 9:27).  No man, whatever his sin may be or however sordid his past may be, can ever sin so badly that his sin cannot be washed from his life by the blood of Christ!  Never underestimate the power of Christ’s precious blood – it has the power to take sinful man and make him a new creature (Romans 6:4; II Corinthians 5:17)!

Why are so many people quick to call sin something other than what it really is?  A sinful act is always a sinful act, whether it was committed in 2019 B.C or A.D. 2019.  A sinful act is always a sinful act, whether it is committed in my own home, out of town or across the globe.  A sinful act is always a sinful act even when those involved consent to sin. A sinful act is always a sinful act regardless of how many people support it.  Man can reject God’s laws.  Man can ignore God’s laws.  Man may even try to trivialize God’s law by saying the scriptures are “old fashioned” or “outdated” – but God’s word, not man, still serves as the standard by which we will all be judged (John 12:48).  The Bible is not always politically correct; but it is always correct!

Why are so many people quick to call homosexuality an “alternate lifestyle” when the Bible plainly teaches it is a sin? Homosexuality was a sin during the Patriarchal dispensation (Genesis 19:24-28). Homosexuality was a sin during the Mosaical dispensation (Leviticus 18:22). Homosexuality is sinful today. “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Romans 1:24-32).  Contrary to what many people would have you believe, it is possible for homosexuals to overcome and cease from their sinful behavior (I Corinthians 6:11).

Why are so many people quick to call abortion a “woman’s choice” when the Bible plainly teaches it is a sin? Contrary to what pro-abortionists would have you believe that which grows within a mother’s womb is not meaningless tissue, but a living person with a soul (James 2:26; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Psalm 139:13-15; Exodus 21:22-23; Luke 1:36; Luke 1:41). Life most certainly does begin at conception. Job was considered a person from the time of his conception (Job 3:3, 11). Isaiah was considered a person before his physical birth (Isaiah 37:3). John was filled with the Holy Spirit while he was in his mother’s womb (Luke 1:15). Men may call abortion a woman’s choice, but God has never given anyone the right to choose to murder another person. Those persons who shed innocent blood are an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:16-17).  It is a shame that our country does not do more to protect the unborn.  No one is more defenseless than an innocent baby, born or unborn.

Why are so many people quick to call alcoholism a disease when the Bible plainly teaches it is a sin? A person can never become an alcoholic without first indulging in the sinful consumption of alcoholic beverages. The Bible teaches that wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise (Proverbs 20:1). The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink” (Habakkuk 2:15). Drunkenness is a work of the flesh, not a fruit of the Spirit (Romans 13:3, I Corinthians 6:10, Galatians 5:21).  Alcohol has many defenders but no defense.

Why are so many people quick to call lying a character flaw when the Bible plainly teaches it is a sin? Man may overlook lying, but God never has and never will. A lying tongue is an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:17). Those who lie are following Satan, not God (John 8:44). Those who fail to repent and turn from their lies will have their part in the lake of fire (Revelation 21:8).

Why are so many afraid to call adultery and/or fornication a sin?  Many people ignore the seriousness of such sin by referring to it as an “innocent fling” or glossing it over by calling it “having an affair” or quoting the adage “boys will be boys.”  The apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Corinthians 6:9).

Why are so many people afraid to call sin what is really is? Sin!