Another Pride Month Has Come and Gone

June 2022, designated “Pride Month” by many, has come and gone.  Consider just some of the things that took place this past month. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zulu all have a page to honor Pride Month.  Several clothing manufacturers, including Adidas, American Eagle, and Converse, have a line of clothing celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.  Disney, long touted as family friendly, has gone to great lengths to promote the homosexual lifestyle.  An increasing number of cities promoted gay pride parades, many even encouraging very young children to attend.  The city of Tulsa, OK hosted a “Weekend of Pride.” President Biden’s Department of Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the USDA, announced it will strip money, especially for lunches, from schools who don’t allow trans students to use the bathroom of their desired gender.  Pizza Hut, as part of its “Book It” reading program, featured a book about drag kids.  ESPN’s Sarah Spain called Tamp Bay Rays players bigots for not wearing a gay pride patch on their uniform.  In Dallas, a gay bar hosted a “Drag the Kids to Pride” event, aimed at little kids, even with babies in attendance.  Drag queens danced in front of the little children while the kids were encouraged to give them money.  Some of the children were invited onstage to dance with the performers.  Michigan’s openly gay Attorney General said “Drag queens make everything better.  Drag queens are fun.”  She went on to say “a drag queen for every school is needed.” New York City shelled out $200,000 to bring drag queen performers to public schools.  And the list goes on and on.

What was once recognized as sin is now considered by many to be an acceptable lifestyle.  Even many of those in the religious world are now recognizing same-sex marriages.  Some even allow homosexuals to serve as “pastors.” What do the scriptures have to say about homosexuality?

It is good to be reminded that only God, man’s creator, can define what is right and what is wrong.  When man attempts to do so he is bound to fail.  “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

Homosexuality is condemned in Genesis 19:1-11, the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. While some try to make the men of Sodom guilty of nothing more than inhospitality, the, fair and unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.

Consider Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

From the New Testament, homosexuality is condemned in Romans 1:26-32 – “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

But friends, there is hope for those who are guilty of homosexuality, just as there is hope for those who are guilty of any sin.  When Christ died on the cross, He died for ALL of mankind.  Anyone who repents of his or her sin and turns to God, seeking to comply with God’s conditions for forgiveness, can be saved from his or her sin.

Notice 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” We learn from this passage that homosexuals CAN change.  Notice Paul’s words – “And such WERE some of you.  But ye were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.”

In an effort to justify homosexuality, it is often said that “God made them that way. They were born homosexuals.”  Friends, that’s just not true! Homosexuality is a learned behavior. It is true that someone may have certain dispositions toward homosexual behavior., perhaps as a result of childhood sexual trauma or improper training as a child.  However, that is entirely different from saying someone was born a homosexual. No one is born a homosexual and none of these dispositions change the fact that homosexuality is sinful.

The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse man of any and every sin he has committed.  God will forgive any and all who repent of their sin (Acts 17:30), confess their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37) and are then baptized for the forgiveness of their sin (Acts 2:38)  But no one can be saved from his sin as long as he persists in his sin and refuses to repent.

The New testament Church

It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 different religious groups in the United States. Yet, the New Testament speaks of only one church. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). What was this one church like? Does it exist today? If so, can we find it, and how? Let’s consider the following points.

First, the New Testament church was built according to a pattern. A pattern is something to be duplicated, or copied. Just as God provided a pattern for the ark of Noah’s day and the tabernacle of Moses’ day, he has provided a pattern for the church. Notice Paul’s words from Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” Also notice from II Timothy 1:13, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

Second, the New Testament church was built according to prophecy. Joel prophesied that it would be built in the last days when the Spirit was poured out. Joel wrote, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions; And also on my menservants and on My maid servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:28-32). Daniel prophesied that Christ’s kingdom, the church, would be built during the days of the Roman kings (Daniel 2:44). Isaiah also prophesied concerning the time when the church would be built. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths, For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-4). We read in Acts 2:1-47 that all this came about, just as the prophets had prophesied. Notice Acts 2:16, where Peter speaks, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

Third, the New Testament church was a part of God’s eternal purpose. Paul wrote, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11). Some, such as those who teach the doctrine of premillenialism, perceive the church to be an afterthought, a “Plan B” if you will, that was concocted after Jesus was rejected by the Jews. But this idea is contrary to what Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.

Fourth, the New Testament church was built by Jesus Christ. Jesus promised, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is the church’s foundation and chief cornerstone (I Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus shed his blood for the church. Notice Paul’s exhortation to the elders at Ephesus, recorded in Acts 20:28. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood.”

Fifth, the New Testament church had a specific organization. Jesus Christ is the head of the New Testament church (Ephesians 1:22-23). A plurality of elders, or pastors, are appointed to oversee local congregations (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7). They are required to meet specific qualifications (I Timothy 3:1-7). Deacons are to be appointed as servants of the church (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8-13).

Sixth, the New Testament church had a specific pattern of worship. They met on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). They observed the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis (Acts 20:7). They worshipped in prayer (Acts 2:42). They sang praises to God (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16-17). This was done without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. The New Testament church was edified by the preaching of the gospel (II Timothy 4:2-4). Those persons who were members of the New Testament church gave of their means financially on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). This giving by the members of the church made it possible for the church to carry out its work.

Seventh, the New Testament church had a work to do. They had a responsibility to preach the gospel to the whole world. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20.) Also notice Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The church served as the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). The church had a role in helping to edify those who are saved (Ephesians 4:12). The church had a responsibility to help the needy, both those who were Christians and those who were not. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10.) Notice James’ words James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

Eighth, the New Testament church was united. There were no different denominations, there was simply one church. Can you imagine Peter being a Catholic, Paul a Methodist, John a Presbyterian, James a Baptist, Mark a Lutheran, and, well, you get the idea. But the current situation of our day is no more acceptable to Christ than it would have been in the days of James, Paul, or Peter. The phrase “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16 simply refers to individual congregations of the Lord’s church, not a variety of different denominations, each going by a different name and teaching a different doctrine. The Bible condemns the division that exists in the religious world today. Paul wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you are perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, of I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Corinthians 1:10-13). Jesus prayed that all those who believed in him would be united. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you sent Me” (John 17:20-21). How were Jesus and the Father united? How were they one? By simply agreeing to disagree? By agreeing to recognize their doctrinal differences? Not hardly. They were one in their thought and in their teaching.

False teachers in the early church were marked. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

Ninth, the New Testament church maintained the divine standard of morality. Works of the flesh were condemned. Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Those who walked disorderly were withdrawn from. Paul wrote, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (II Thessalonians 3:6). To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (I Corinthians 5:11).

Members of the New Testament church were known by their love for one another. “Now all who believe were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).

Tenth, those who were in the New Testament church had a common hope. They realized they were “strangers and pilgrims on this earth” (I Peter 2:11). Their citizenship was in heaven. Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven, form which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

Eleventh, the New Testament church had specific conditions of membership. Prior to becoming a member of the New Testament church, a person had to hear the gospel. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). He had to believe the gospel (Mark 16:16). He had to repent of his sins (Acts 2:38). He had to confess his belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33). A person became a member of the New Testament church when he, or she, was baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). This baptism we read about in the New Testament was an immersion in water (Romans 6:4-5). This baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It was through baptism that a person was placed into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are located (Ephesians 1:3). Paul wrote, “For you are all Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

Twelfth, members of the New Testament church continued to have Christ as their Advocate, High Priest, and Mediator (I John 2:1-2; I Timothy 2:5). “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

What do we learn from all of this? In the Bible, we read of only one church. All those who were saved were members of that one church. Christ’s one church was built according to the pattern. In order for the New Testament church to exist today, we must adhere to the patter given in the New Testament.

Baptism, a Work of God

Many would object to baptism as being necessary for salvation, saying it is a work. Baptism is most certainly a work – it is a work of God (Colossians 2:12). When a person is baptized, God saves him from his sins (Mark 16:15-16, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:21), washes his sins away (Acts 22:16), places that person into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13) – that body is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:23, Romans 16:16). When a person is baptized, God is busy at work, saving that person from his sins, washing his sins away, and adding him to his church! Baptism is the point at which we submit to God’s will and let Him work on us!

God’s Grace is No License to Sin!

God’s grace is a wonderful thing.  We are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  In fact, Paul wrote that the more we sin the more God’s grace abounds (Romans 5:20). 

But God’s grace ought never be abused.  God’s grace never gives us a license to sin.  In regard to the abundance of God’s grace, Paul also wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  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 6:1-4).  As Christians, we are dead to sin, meaning we have separated ourselves from the practice of sin. Be thankful for God’s grace, but never abuse it nor take it for granted

Do All Things Without Complaining

“Do all things without complaining and disputings:” (Philippians 2:14)

Complaining is a sign of ingratitude.  God delivered his people from their Egyptian bondage.  Later, they complained against Moses, saying they had better food back in Egypt (Exodus 16:1-3).  “Why,” they wondered, “did Moses take us into the wilderness to die of hunger?”  Would they have complained had they been truly thankful for God freeing them from their slavery in Egypt?

Second, complaining is discouraging to others.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” Ephesians 4:29.

Third, complaining is un-Christ-like.  Christ bore the suffering of the cross without complaining. I Peter 2:21-24.  He left us an example, that we should walk in his steps. Today, I will do my very best to refrain from complaining!

Looking Forward to the New Year

This excellent article was written by Cody Westbrook, preacher for the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, TX. It is from the December 30, 2021 edition of the Christian Worker.

The Holiday Season is now behind us and thus we look forward to a new year. No doubt your calendar is beginning to fill up with plans and projects for the next 12 months. And, of course, we all take time to contemplate goals and improvements to implement in the days ahead. These are good and necessary practices for maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and spiritually. While thinking about things like health and finances allow me to suggest 4 spiritual goals to implement this year.

– Bible Reading. It has been said that by dedicating 30 minutes of time each day, the average person can read through the Bible in about 6 months. There is great value in reading God’s Word regularly (1 Tim. 4:13) and there are several helps available to aid in that effort. This year, plan to dedicate 30 minutes each day to reading God’s Word.

– Bible Memorization. We talk regularly about the benefit of memorizing scripture (cf. Psalm 1). This year, approach your Bible memorization in a different way. Get into the habit of reading a chapter so that you can identify the key verse, or verses, and give the chapter a title which summarizes its main idea. Make a list then commit those items to memory.

– Evangelism. Likely, you know well the responsibility of every Christian to be evangelistic. But, have you thought carefully about how you will apply the command? Let me suggest identifying 1 person per month to evangelize. Pray for that person by name daily and work to create as many evangelistic opportunities with them as possible.

– Hospitality. Our homes are one of our greatest resources for edification and evangelism (cf. Acts 2:46). This year, use your home as a tool to serve the Lord. Invite brethren into your home to share a meal and strengthen your bonds in Christ. Have Bible studies in your home to provide a more hospitable and comfortable setting for teaching the gospel.

Any list of spiritual goals would be subjective to some degree. Consider these 4 suggestions prayerfully. May God bless us as we serve Him in the new year.

It Is a Good Thing to Give Thanks


Introduction:


1) Psalms 92:1-2 – “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,”


a) Be thankful – to be grateful, appreciative of what someone has done for us.


b) Give thanks – express our appreciation, or gratitude. Giving thanks may be expressed verbally or by some reciprocal act.


2) Psalm 92 says it is good to give thanks. Why is giving thanks good?


Discussion:


1) GIVING THANKS IS THE WILL OF GOD.


a) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”


b) Thayer’s Lexicon defines “will” as “what one wishes or determines will be done.” We like for others to express their appreciation to us. Doesn’t it only make sense that God likes for us to express our appreciation toward Him?


c) In every thing give thanks. May seem difficult and, admittedly, it sometimes is. But it is possible to find reason to give thanks in any and every situation in life.


2) GIVING THANKS HELPS US RECOGNIZE OUR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD.


a) James 1:16-17 – “Do not err, my beloved brethren. 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.”


b) Do not err – don’t be mistaken about it. We might say “Don’t kid yourself.” If you start to think you have accomplished what you have solely on your own, apart from God, you are only kidding yourself. Every good thing that you have has come from God.


c) With God, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. When we look at God from every angle possible, from every perspective, it becomes evident that God is good.


3) GIVING THANKS HELPS US LEARN TO BE CONTENT.


a) 1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (Other translations, such as the American Standard Version, translate verse ten to read, “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.)


b) The world is constantly trying to draw us to the things of the world and, in the process, draw us further way from God.


c) When we give thanks, we concentrate on our fortune in life, rather than our misfortune. We concentrate on what we have, rather than on what we do not have. We become content with our situation in life and are able to focus on what really matters – our relationship with God.


Conclusion:


1) Is it any wonder, then, that the psalmist wrote, “It is good to give thanks?”

Five Questions Concerning the Judgment

There is a day coming when God will judge the world. How much attention are you giving to that day? Let’s consider five questions concerning the judgment. Will there be a judgment? Who will be judged? Who will be the judge? When will this judgment be? And lastly, How will we be judged?

Are You an Atheist?

Are you an atheist?  “Well, of course not,” you say.  “No way would I be an atheist! I know that God exists.”

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)  This verse is often used to teach that a person who does not believe in the existence of God is acting foolishly.  I couldn’t agree more!  A person who says there is no God is a fool.  But, is that really what Psalm 14:1 teaches?

If you read further into Psalm 14, you’ll notice the psalm describes the fool’s behavior; he is corrupt, he has done abominable works, there is none that doeth good, they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy.   Also notice that reading Psalm 14:1 from the King James Version, the words “there is” are in italics.   This italics indicates these words were not a part of the original text but were inserted by the translators to help convey the meaning of the text.  Without these words, Psalm 14:1 would read, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.”  Is the fool in Psalm 14 one who denies the existence of God?  Or is he one who, in rebellion, lives as if there is no God?  Is his conduct such that it fails to convey his belief in God to others?

Let’s look at three passages where men believed in the existence of God, but acted like atheists.  First, from the book of Exodus, chapter 14.  When the Pharaoh found out that God’s people were fleeing from Egypt, his heart was turned against God and he decided to pursue God’s people.  When the children of Israel saw the Pharaoh and his army coming after them, they became very afraid the – KJV says they were sore afraid.  They thought they simply had no way out – no way of escape.  Their backs were to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was quickly drawing closer to them.  They began to chastise Moses – “Why didn’t we stay in Egypt?  Why did you take us out here just to die in the wilderness?  Were there no graves in Egypt?” 

Now notices Moses’ response from Exodus 14:13-14 – “13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

What was wrong with their thinking? They wondered why Moses took them to where they were, yet they were exactly where God had led them.  They thought the Red Sea was an insurmountable object, yet God led them right through it.  They saw nothing in store for them but death and defeat.  Oh, they believed in the existence of God.  But they were acting as if God was unaware and uncaring about their situation.  They had no faith that God would deliver them through their hardship.  There were acting like atheists.

Keep reading and you’ll find out that God parted the sea, allowing His people to cross on dry ground.  When the Egyptians followed after them, God brought the waters together again, overthrowing the Egyptians in the sea.

Sometimes, life can throw us a curve.  It may be financial struggles, health problems, marital problems, or difficulties with our jobs.  You and I can experience such hardship that we see no way out.  We feel hopeless and helpless.  We still believe that God exists, but we forget that He is always there to carry us through life’s struggles.  You might say we become practical atheists.  Oh sure, we believe God exists, but we act as if there is no God.  But remember, God may not take you around your Red Sea, but He will part it for you and carry you through it.

Next, consider Matthew 6:25-33 – “25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

In verse 24, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters; he will hate the one, and love the other.  He went on to say “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  The word mammon refers to material gain or financial profit.  Among Jesus’ audience there must have been some who placed unnecessary thought on the things of this world.  Jesus assured them that God would take care of them, just as He cares for the fowl of the air.

If we’re not careful, we can take on this same attitude today.  We can become overly concerned with the things of this world.  We take on a desire for material gain because of our concern over meeting our simplest needs. Someone stays up late at night, unable to sleep because they are worried about making a living.  With prices going up the way they are, how will the bills be paid?  Have you been to the grocery store lately?  Prices are out of sight!  How will I be able to keep food on the table?  Then there’s the unexpected visit to the hospital, doctor or dentist.  How am I supposed to make ends meet?

Sometimes we forget that God is there the whole time, taking care of us. We believe God exists, but we act as if He doesn’t – we act like atheists. 

Next, let’s look at James 4:13-17 – “13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

James wrote about a man who had big plans.  This man was going to start a business venture and, over the coming year, make a big profit.  But this man needed to be reminded that his life was a vapor that was here for a short while and then vanishes away. Sadly, in his boastings, the man left God out of his plans.  He should have been saying, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”  James describes this attitude – boasting of the future and leaving God out of our plans, as evil.  It reminds me of Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

Now notice verse 17, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  I have often heard this verse used to teach that there are sins of omission.  That is, we sin not only by the things we do; we can also sin by the things we do not do.  While this may be true, I don’t believe this is what this verse is teaching.

The ESV translates James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  I believe this conveys the meaning of James 4:17 more clearly.  If boasting of our plans, while leaving God out of our plans, is evil, then the “good” of verse 17 would be to include God in our plans.

Sometimes we can make great plans for our future, but leave God out of our plans.  When it comes to planning our future, we believe God exists but sometimes act as if He doesn’t.  We act like atheists!

Although we believe God exists, we act like He doesn’t when (1) we forget that he will help us through the struggles of life, (2) when we forget that He will provide all of life’s needs (3) when we forget to include God in our plans.

Now do you understand why I began by asking the question, “Are you an atheist?”

If you say, “of course not!  I’m not an atheist, then make sure you don’t act like one.

Your Marriage Can Be G-R-E-A-T!

Marriage! 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.

A Look Back at Pride Month

Pride Month is celebrated annually in June in honor of the Stonewall Riots.  The riots, lasting for a period of six days, took place at the Stonewall Inn, in New York, and were a violent response to police raids of gay and lesbian bars.  Many historians state that it was the real beginning of the Gay Rights Movement. Stonewall Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999, was made a landmark by New York City in 2015, and was declared a National Monument by the National Park Service in 2016.

The federal government first recognized June as Pride Month in 1999 when President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” In 2009, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. On 1 June 2021, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ Pride Month.

June 2021, designated “Pride Month,” by many, has come and gone.  Consider just some of the things that took place this last month.

The National Park Service chose to honor those in the LGBTQ+ community, stating “The rich histories of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) Americans are pivotal in telling a more complete history of the United States.”

The National Football League produced a video declaring that football is gay.  The thirty second video declares their support for the gay community.

Kellogg” s released its “Together With Pride” cereal, resembling heart shaped fruit loops with edible glitter.  One of the cereal characters is waving the pride flag.

Mattel has produced a set of Uno playing cards called the “Play With Pride Edition.”  The cards have a rainbow design that celebrates the LGBTQ community.  The cards are advertised for players seven years old and up.

Apple has produced a line of watches featuring faces with rainbow colors.

Lego, makers of toy building blocks for young people, has produced a set called “Everyone is Awesome.”  It features eleven colors inspired by the rainbow flag.

What was once recognized as sin is now considered by many to be an acceptable lifestyle.  The media now recognize the homosexual lifestyle as a valuable contribution to diversity.  Even many of those in the religious world are now recognizing same sex marriages.  Some even allow homosexuals to serve as “pastors.”

With all of this in mind, let’s see what the scriptures have to say about homosexuality.

From the Patriarchal Period.  Genesis 19:1-11 “Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.  When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground.  And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.  And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.  But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house.  Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.  Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot and said to him,  “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.  So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly!  See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.  And they said, “Stand back!”  Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.”  So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.  But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.  And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.”

While some try to make the men of Sodom guilty of nothing more than inhospitality, the objective, unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.  It is noteworthy that when Lot urged the Sodomites not to do “so wickedly” he was accused of being judgmental.

From the Mosaic Period. Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

From the New Testament. Romans 1:26-32 “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;  who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

Notice from this text that not only is God displeased with those who engage in homosexual behavior, he is equally displeased with those who support such behavior.

Also consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 –  “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”

It is often said that “God made them that way. They were born homosexuals.”  Not true! Homosexuality is a learned behavior. Consider Genesis 18:25 along with Leviticus 20:13.

Genesis 18:25 – “Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus 20:13

Question: Would God make someone a homosexual from the time of his birth and then require him to be put to death because he was made that way?

It is true that someone may have certain dispositions toward homosexual behavior.  (Example: as a result of childhood sexual trauma, inadequate parental relationships or permissive training as a child).  However, that is entirely different from saying someone was born a homosexual. No one is born a homosexual and none of these dispositions change the fact that homosexuality is sinful.

As Christians, what should we do about the issue of homosexuality?

First, don’t compromise. More and more, homosexual activists demand complete and total acceptance of their lifestyle.  If a person refuses to accept the homosexual lifestyle he is labeled as a homophobe, mean spirited, unloving, hateful or bigoted. Yet, I refuse to accept the homosexual lifestyle. We need to remember Jesus’ words from Matthew 5:10-11 – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  We need courage to speak where the Bible speaks.

Second, reach out to homosexuals with the gospel.   They need to be made welcome to hear what God says about homosexuality.  They need to know that God loves them and has shed His blood for them, just as He shed His blood for everyone else.

Third, we need to understand and teach that homosexuals can change.  Just as homosexuality is a learned behavior, homosexuals can also learn a better behavior.  Can a homosexual be saved from his, or her, sins?  Of course!  Notice the following from I Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”  Many of those who previously practiced homosexuality had now changed!  They separated themselves from this sin and were washed of their sin. 

The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse man of any and every sin he has committed.  But no one can be saved from his sin as long as he persists in his sin and refuses to repent.

When Opportunity Knocks

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase, “When opportunity knocks, be prepared to take it.” The phrase, “when opportunity knocks” may refer to the chance a person has to do something they’ve wanted to do for quite some time – perhaps take a trip to a faraway place.  It may refer to a chance to advance your career – perhaps being promoted at your workplace or accepting the job you’ve been wanting for a long time.  Be prepared to seize an opportunity when it comes your way!

Satan also understands the importance of seizing an opportunity when it comes along.  We should always be sober-minded and watchful because Satan is prowling about, seeking whom he may devour.  I Peter 5:8. When he finds an opportunity to tempt us to sin, he will take it!

No wonder Paul wrote that we are to give no opportunity to the devil. Ephesians 4:27, ESV.

I Had an Interesting Day Today

I had an interesting day today.  It started like any other Sunday for me.  I got out of bed and had breakfast.  I showered, got dressed, and was soon ready to leave the house.  It’s Sunday.  Another day to meet with other Christians and worship God!

I pulled into the church’s parking lot and was puzzled by what I saw.  There were no cars there.  I walked to the entry and pulled to open the door but it was locked.  I peered through the glass doors and saw only darkness.  The lights were off.  Where was everyone?  I had to find them!

As I drove around town, I saw some of my fellow Christians in one of the local restaurants.  They were sitting across the table from one another, laughing and having a good time.  I went in to find out why the church was locked and the lights were off.  “Don’t you know?” one of them said.  “There’s a virus out there!  We can’t meet to worship.  It’s too risky.”

I got back into my car and continued my drive.  I passed by a grocery store and saw one of my fellow Christians going in.  Ah, maybe he will know why the church’s doors were locked and the lights were off.  I had to ask him!  I had to find out!  “Don’t you know?” he said.  “There’s a virus out there.  We can’t go to church.  It’s too dangerous.”

I got back into my car, puzzled but still curious as to why the doors were locked and the lights were off.  Just down the street, I saw one of my fellow Christians leaving a convenience store.  “I bet he can tell me,” I thought.  With a coke in one hand and a candy bar in the other, he smiled and said, “Don’t you know? There’s a virus out there.  We can’t meet for worship.  It’s unsafe.”

I got back into my car, puzzled as to why so many people thought it was unsafe to meet together and worship God.  I drove around town for only a few minutes and came to a large retail store.  Several of my fellow Christians were there.  Surely, one of them can tell me why the door was locked and the lights were off.  “Oh, I came here to buy a few things my son needs for school tomorrow.  Of course, I miss going to church.  But we can’t right now.  We can’t take the risk.  There’s a virus out there!”

I got in my car and went home, still puzzled as to why it was too dangerous to meet together and worship God.

Happy New Year!

By now you’ve probably said it and heard it said, “Happy New Year!”  As 2020 has ended and 2021 begins, everyone hopes to have a happy new year.  As so many people are anxious to put 2020 behind them it is good for us to remember; none of us know what 2021 holds for us.  The inspired writer wrote, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).  But we don’t have to worry about what lies ahead!  There are some things we can do to ensure we have a good year in 2021.

First, we ought to YEARN for God’s word.  Yearn can be defined as an intense longing or desire.  A strong craving.    We ought to determine to make daily Bible study a part of our lives.  Not because Bible study is a daily chore.  No!  Not at all.  We ought to make daily Bible study a part of our lives because of the blessings it provides.  The scriptures provide hope for mankind (Romans 5:14); enable us to have faith (Romans 10:17); provide comfort (I Thessalonians 4:18).

Second, we ought to ENDURE our trials.  Every year has its struggles, its difficulties.  This year will be no exception.  James wrote that the trying of our faith produces patience (James1:2-4).  Any afflictions suffered in this life are light in comparison to the eternal glory of heaven (II Corinthian3 4:16-18).  Our trials cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39).  Paul reminded those in the church at Galatia that, whatever life may bring, we should never grow weary in well-doing (Galatians 6:9-10).

Third, we ought to ACKNOWLEDGE our responsibility to others.  We are to let our lights shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:13-16).  We are to love all men, even our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).  We are to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matthew 7:12).  We are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:1-2).  We are to support, not criticize, the weak (I Thessalonians 5:14).

Fourth, we ought to REMEMBER our greatest need. God did not send an economist into the world.  He would have if our greatest need was financial health. Nor a scientist.   He would have if our greatest need was advanced technology.  Nor a professor.  He would have if our greatest need was secular knowledge or worldly wisdom.  God sent a Savior.  He sent His Son because our greatest need was, and always will be, deliverance from our bondage of sin (Romans 6:16-22).

Happy New Year everyone!

The Lord Will Fight For You!

The book of Exodus begins with God’s people, the Israelites, in Egyptian bondage. God heard his people’s cries of despair and called Moses to deliver the Israelites out of their bondage. Of course, the Pharaoh refused to let the people go. However, after the plagues, the Pharaoh eventually let the people go. After doing so, the Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued the Israelites. Let’s consider several points from Exodus 14:10-31).

First, consider the people’s restlessness (14:10-12). As the Israelites were against the Red Sea, they saw the Egyptians approaching. Feeling trapped, they had an “I told you so attitude.” They forgot that God was in control.

Next, consider Moses’ reprimand (14:13-14). Moses commanded the people to fear not and stand still. Moses assured the people that the Lord would fight for them. When we are experiencing the trials and difficulties of this life, we need to remember that we do not have to endure our trials alone! God is on our side (Philippians 4:13).

Third, consider God’s reassurance (14:15-18). God assured Moses that, while the Israelites would be able to cross on dry land, their enemies would be defeated (I Corinthians 10:1-11).

Fourth, consider the people’s rescue (14:19-22). It is significant that God did not lead his people around their obstacle, but through it. Perhaps when we are praying for God to remove certain difficulties from our lives, we ought to be praying for the strength to endure those difficulties (James 1:2-4).

Fifth, consider the enemies’ resourcefulness (14:23-25). Despite having experienced the plagues and witnessing God’s power first hand, Pharaoh and his army refused to give up! Pharaoh is a tragic example of one whose pride and worldliness prohibited him from yielding to God’s will. Likewise, Satan is persistent in his pursuit of God’s people (I Peter 5:8). When we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7). But we can be sure he will be back if we give him opportunity.

Sixth, consider the recognition of God (14:26-31). When the children of Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore, they feared God and believed Moses. When the sea overcame the Egyptians, they also believed. Unfortunately, for them it was too late.

What is the “Red Sea” in your life?  Whatever difficulty you are trying to conquer, stand still and let the Lord fight for you!

Don’t Let Your Roots Grow Too Deep!

Imagine someone who has lived in several towns, perhaps even countries, over a period of only a few years.  Maybe he, or she, was in the military and was stationed at a number of different bases in various parts of the world.  Perhaps their job required them to be transferred to different cities.  Whatever the reason for their frequent moves, they look forward to the time when they can “put down roots.”  You’re familiar with that phrase, aren’t you?  To “put down roots” simply means to move to a place where you want to live and settle down.  You make new friends and become involved in new activities there so that it starts to feel like home. 

Does that sound like a good idea to you?  It can be.  But I would add this one caution: don’t allow your roots to grow too deep, for you will not be here very long!

Too often we spend our time and effort focusing on this life, yet failing to fully prepare for the life to come.  We forget that we are merely pilgrims on this earth. I Peter 2:11. We are no more than sojourners, passing through this life for a brief time. James 4:14. Our conversation is in heaven.  Philippians 3:20. No wonder we sing the song, “This World in Not My Home, I’m Just Passing Through.”

Don’t let your roots grow too deep.  Someday, it will be time to pull them up and move on!

Guess What the Doctor Saw!

I recently had a heart cath.  Doctors use this procedure to exam how well your heart is working.  A catheter is inserted into a large artery (in my case, the radial artery at the wrist).  Contrast dye is then injected into the heart, in effect, creating a “movie x-ray.”  The doctor uses these images to look for blockages in the arteries.  Although I was awake and able to talk to the doctor and look at these images on the screen, I had no idea how to interpret those images.  Thankfully, the doctor did! 

As I was watching the screen and talking to the doctor during the procedure I wondered, “What does God see when He looks at my heart” (Acts 1:24)?  Does He see a heart that trusts in Him (Palm 28:7)?  Does He see a heart where His word is hidden (Psalm 119:11)?  Does He see a heart that is pure (Matthew 5:8)?  Does He see a heart from whence evil thoughts come (Matthew 15:19)?  Does He see a heart that is forgiving (Matthew 18:35)?  Does He see a heart that loves Him completely (Matthew 22:37)?  Does He see a heart that is troubled and filled with anxiety (John 14:1)?  Does He see a heart that is sensitive and touched by sin (Acts 2:37)?  Or does He see a heart that is hardened and insensitive to sin (Mark 10:5)?  Does He see a heart where Christ dwells (Ephesians 3:17)?  Does He see a heart that strives to do His will (Ephesians 6:6)?  Does He see a heart where the peace of God rules (Colossians 3:15)?

What does God see when He looks at YOUR heart?  It’s something to think about!

Electronic Worship

The following article, “Electronic Church” was written by Wayne Jackson.  It is an excellent article that stresses the importance of assembling together to worship as well as the dangers of the “electronic church.” It is especially appropriate at a time when far too many elders, preachers, and other influential “church leaders” have seen fit to cancel the times of assembling together and opted instead to “assemble for worship” through the use of social media. As Christians, we are commanded to assemble on a regular, weekly basis.  The Greek word translated “assembling” in Hebrews 10:25 means “a gathering together into one place.” Social media does not, cannot, satisfy the command to assemble.  While there are those who undoubtedly have health issues that warrant their foregoing assembling together, there are far too many who will justify canceling services of the church while they shop in crowded stores, send their children to crowded schools, and forego “social distancing” to sit at restaurants across from one another without wearing masks.  Such inconsistency!  Is it too risky to assemble to conduct Bible classes, but not too risky for these other activities? What example does this set for others? Does this not present a stumbling block for others? How will others in our community view the church when we they see us cancel Bible classes but gather in public places to eat?   It is my concern that, as a result of the acceptance of worship through the use of social media, many Christians will eventually quit assembling altogether.  I honestly hope time proves me wrong!

Christians, assemble! Parents, see that your children are in Bible classes! And yes, of course, teach them throughout the week. Make your religion a “daily” religion! As Christians, may we ever learn to act out of faith and never act out of fear.  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (II Timothy 1:7)

Electronic Church

By Wayne Jackson

In recent months numerous articles have focused attention upon the phenomenal value of the World-Wide Web as an evangelistic tool. A recent issue of the popular denominational journal, Christianity Today, was devoted entirely to this medium of communication as it relates to religious information. Twenty percent of those who use the Internet do so for religious purposes. During the final quarter of last year, twenty million people accessed various web sites seeking metaphysical data. Two million Americans visit the Web every day for spiritual guidance. Surely Christians should see the value in teaching the gospel of Christ via this increasingly popular medium.

At the same time, there are dangerous pitfalls associated with the Web.

An Avenue for Error

There is a vast range of false teaching that clutters the World-Wide Web. Everything from Eastern mysticism, to religious agnosticism, to sectarianized “Christianity” is available. They can be invited right into your home – with but the click of a “mouse.” Some sites are very professionally done and therefore, are slick avenues for promoting error to the unsuspecting.

The Web also accommodates a wide variety of “church nuts,” providing them with an opportunity to peddle their wares, when they could never secure an audience otherwise. Anyone with the right kind of technical skill can get a web site going, whether or not they know anything at all about the Bible. In the minds of some, their very presence, via such a sophisticated medium, legitimizes their endeavor. This is a part of the “price tag” for “freedom of the press.”

Unfortunately, some Christians, unwittingly or otherwise, assist with the propagation of error by their “links” network. Some web sites, operated by members of the church, have elaborate link connections to other sites. And yet, virtually every link directs the viewer to a denominational source – some of which are rank with false teaching. Apparently, there is not a solitary Christian web site worthy of their recommendation. What message does that convey? A revealing one for those who consider the matter thoughtfully.

A Substitute for Corporate Worship

A news service recently quoted Brenda E. Brasher, a theology-philosophy professor, and author of the book, Give Me That Online Religion, who says that, “One of the best-kept secrets of cyberspace is the surprising amount of religious practice that takes place there.” Brasher has found more than a million religion-oriented web sites, with many of them virtually functioning as temples and churches.

For many people, sitting in front of a computer and accessing a religious web site, has become a spiritual exercise that fulfills their need for a worshipping experience. A new study by the Barna Research Group suggests that “by the end of the decade, we will have in excess of 10 percent of our population who rely upon the Internet for their entire spiritual experience” (emp. added).

For a long time anemic Christians have rationalized their slothful religious devotion by appealing to the use of various media or electronic devices. Some churches, for example, broadcast their Sunday morning services; a few perfectly-healthy, though lazy, members rationalize remaining at home on the ground that “we can tune-in the services on the radio.” Many a preacher has heard this line during a gospel meeting: “We can’t be at the meeting on Friday evening; we’re having a family outing. But we’ll get the tape!”

As wonderful as the new tools for electronic evangelism are, they can never function as a substitute for assembling with the people of God at the prescribed times for engaging in corporate worship. There are Bible commands and principles that obligate us to “come together” when we are able to do so, and no “flip of a switch” can satisfy those demands upon able-bodied people.

Jackson, Wayne. “Electronic Church.” ChristianCourier.com. Access date: August 21, 2020. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/364-electronic-church

From the Time You Were a Child

In II Timothy 3:15, Paul wrote, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”  How was it that Timothy was able to know the scriptures from the time he was a child?  No doubt he had been taught by his grandmother, Lois, and mother, Eunice. 

What great influence these two women had on Timothy!  No doubt Timothy, being taught the scriptures from a very young age, could not look back and remember a time when he had not heard about God! 

Paul’s words to Timothy still serve as an important reminder for all parents today. Children, when they grow older, should never be able to look back and remember a time when they were not taught about God.  A time when they were not present at every worship service and every Bible class! A time when they did not pray daily!  A time when their parents did not study the scriptures and teach them to their children! 

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)