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!

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!

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)

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!

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

There’s a War Raging, And You’re In It!

War_Thunder_Xbox_release_Thumbnail-heroThere’s a war raging; and you and I are caught in the middle. Oh you won’t hear any gunfire. This war is absent of the sound of missiles soaring overhead. No grenades are being tossed in your direction; at least, not literally. But nonetheless, there is a war going on. And this war has more devastating effects than any physical battle could ever produce.

Today, like any other day, there is a war raging over your soul.   Because, just as much as God wants you to be with him in heaven, Satan wants you to spend eternity with him in hell.   “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). And he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Satan is very cunning in his methods.   Satan will attempt to do whatever is necessary to trap us; to deceive us; to discourage us and weaken us. If left unprotected we will surely fall. No wonder then Paul admonishes us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

The raging war over your soul is a fierce battle that requires much strength and endurance on our part. But it is a battle that can be won! “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Error of “Once Saved, Always Saved”

cropped-bible-medium.jpgThe doctrine of “once saved, always saved” teaches that it is not possible for a child of God to sin in such a way that he will be lost. Many people, who undoubtedly are very sincere and possess a desire to do what is right, find tremendous comfort in this doctrine. This doctrine, however, is not taught in the Bible. It is an erroneous doctrine that provides a false comfort and a deceitful feeling of security.

First, let’s examine some of the passages often used to support this doctrine. Concerning the Christians in Asia Minor, Peter wrote “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:5). How is it that Christians are kept, or guarded, unto salvation? Through their faith! It is possible for a Christian to lose his faith and quit believing in God. The author of the book of Hebrews warned his readers against the sin of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). Don’t overlook the fact that the author was writing to people who were already Christians!  They had been saved from their sins.  Yet he still warns them of the sin of unbelief.  Is a Christian who loses his faith still saved? Of course, the obvious, and only logical, answer is a resounding no!

Others point to John 10:27-28 in an effort to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27, 28). Does this passage really teach “once saved, always saved”? No! Notice Jesus’ words “they follow me.” This passage contains wonderful promises for Christians. However, these promises are conditional upon our continually following Christ. Those Christians who quit following Christ will not receive these promises.

Still others point to I John 3:9 in order to defend their doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God” (I John 3:9). John wrote that a person does not continue to sin because the seed (the Word of God) continues to abide in him. However, Satan can steal the Word of God out of a person’s heart if that person allows Satan to do so (Matthew 13:19). When a Christian allows the Word of God to be taken away from him, that Christian has fallen from grace and is lost.

Many other passages are used in an attempt to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” But, much to the disappointment of those who defend this false doctrine, numerous passages teach it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he will be eternally lost. First, there are things a Christian must do in order to keep from falling. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:10). This passage provides a clear implication that if a Christian does not do those things Peter detailed in II Peter 1:5-9 he will fall from grace and be lost.

Second, the writings of the apostle Paul teach it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace and be lost. To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27). The word “castaway” refers to one who does not stand the test and is rejected!  Paul knew that without practicing self-control he would be rejected by God.

Third, Paul taught the Christians in Galatia that it was possible for them to fall from grace. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Many of the Christians in Galatia strayed from the truth and tried to be justified by the law of Moses. The Bible not only teaches it is possible for Christians to fall from grace, it gives us an example of Christians who fell from grace – some of those Christians to whom Paul was writing!

Fourth, the Bible teaches a Christian can sin in such a way that he will be in a worse condition than that which he was in before he became a Christian. Peter wrote “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22). The “dog turning to his own vomit” and the “sow that was washed turned back to her wallowing in the mire” are used to represents people who have become Christians, left their life of sin, and then gone back into that sinful world.  If, in the “latter end” they are still saved how could their “latter end” possibly be worse than their beginning?

The parable of the vine and the branches proves it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace. Jesus said, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…..” (John 15:2). Jesus went on to say, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Notice that the branches in this passage represent individual Christians, not individual denominations. There were no denominations in existence at the time Jesus spoke these words. If everyone today would follow the pattern for the New Testament church given to us in the Bible, there would be no denominations in existence today.

God’s word plainly teaches it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he can fall from grace and be eternally lost.  Submit to God’s plan for saving man: believe in Jesus Christ as your savior (But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him – Hebrews 11:6), repent of your sins (And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: – Acts 17:30), confess your faith in Jesus Christ before others (And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – Acts 8:37) and then be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of your sins (Then Peter said unto them, 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).  Then guard your salvation like your eternity depended on it – because it does!

I Rearranged My Motel Room

standard-double-2I took a trip recently and stayed in a motel.  Overall, my room was quite nice.  But there were a few things I needed to change.  I had to move the bed a little further away from the wall so I could sleep without being bothered by noise from the traffic.  Of course, this meant I also had to move the night stands.  The comforter on the bed was heavier than what I am accustomed to, so I bought another one to replace it.  When I did, I realized the new comforter clashed with the pictures on the wall, so I had to replace them as well.  The television was nice, but, since it is much easier for me to watch a television with a larger screen, I called the front desk and asked that a larger one be sent up to my room.  At last, everything was just like I wanted it to be!  I was all ready for a comfortable stay!

No, I didn’t do any of those things!  Even I know better than that.  I left the room just as it was when I got there.  Why?  Because I knew I was only going to be there for a short while.  I didn’t have to have everything exactly like I wanted it to be because I was only there temporarily.  There was nothing permanent about it!

Life is like that motel room, isn’t it?  We are only here for a short while (James 4:14).  There is nothing permanent about life on this earth (II Peter 3:10).

Why then, do we spend so much time focusing on the things of this world?  Why do we give so much attention to this present (fleeting, temporary) life and neglect the life (permanent, eternal) to come?  The apostle Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

And yet, we too often spend time trying to arrange and rearrange the things of this life.  We struggle to make everything in life just like we want it to be.  Our attention should be focused on the eternal.  “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:18).  Peter reminds us that we are strangers and pilgrims on this earth, merely passing through – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (I Peter 2:11).

Friends, it’s ok if not everything in this life is the way you want it to be!  Life, after all, is a motel room!

Are You a Saint?

cropped-bible-medium.jpg“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:1-2).

Are you a saint?  “Not me,” you might say.  “I’m not really a bad guy, but I’m no saint!”

Unfortunately many, if not most, in the world do not have a correct understanding concerning saints.  If you go to Webster’s dictionary you would get the following answer – “one officially recognized, especially through canonization as preeminent for holiness, an angel or one of the spirits of the departed in heaven.”  WRONG ANSWER!

I know that’s the common thinking among men.  But is that what Paul had in mind when he wrote concerning saints?  Notice that Paul address his letter to the saints at Ephesus, people who were very much alive at the time he wrote!  The word saint means “set apart for God, to be exclusively his.”  We might define it very simply as “separated.”

Saints are separated from their past sins.  “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, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  Your past does not define who you are today!

Saints are separated from the passion of sin.  If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;” (Ephesians 4:21-23).  Those things of the world which were once were attractive to us no longer capture our attention.

Saints are separated from the practice of sin.  “Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 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?” (Romans 5:20-6:2).  For a saint, sin is no longer a habitual practice.  Sin is no longer a part of our character.

Saints are separated from the penalty of sin.  “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  Because of God’s grace saints have the gift of eternal life.

Where can you find saints today?  You won’t find them buried under the floors of great cathedrals.  You won’t find them in history books.  Where do you go to find saints today?  Paul wrote that the saints are in Christ!  To be in Christ is to be in his body, the church.

How does a person become a saint today?  By being set apart!  When a person is baptized he is set apart from his past sins.  He is set apart from the penalty of sin.  As he continues to mature as a Christian he is set apart from the passion and practice of sin.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable Here!

earth small“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman (American author, editor, radio and television personality).

When I read this quote, I can’t help but think of a Christian’s situation here on earth.  The inspired writer Peter wrote, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (I Peter 2:11, KJV).  As Christians, we are strangers here on earth.  We are temporary residents of this revolving planet.  We are only here for a little while.  To Christians, this world is a foreign country.

While many are quite comfortable in this world, Christians should experience feelings of discomfort and unease.  We are to seek those things which are above.  We are to set our affections on things above rather than the things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).  We are not to lay up treasures upon earth, but treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19).  Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come (Hebrews 3:14).

Christian’s can easily relate to the words of well-known hymn written by Albert Brumley – “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thru.  My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue; The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.  O Lord, you know I have no friend like you, If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do; The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”

Make the best use of your time while on earth but don’t get too comfortable here!

Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All

bible mediumThe apostle Paul, because of his unwavering faith in our savior Jesus Christ, was severely persecuted by those who were so adamantly opposed to the gospel.  He was beaten with rods and was stoned.  He suffered shipwreck three times and was frequently imprisoned.  He suffered pain, hunger and nakedness (II Corinthians 11:23-27).

Yet notice how Paul described his persecution when writing to the church at Corinth.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

It’s not possible to read these verses without two words jumping out at you, grabbing you by the collar and demanding your attention – light affliction!  How could Paul possibly describe his beatings, stonings, imprisonment, pain, and hunger as light affliction?  Paul is painting an obvious contrast between his temporary life on this earth and his eternal life in heaven.  While he describes his affliction as light, he describes the glory of heaven as weighty.  Paul knew his affliction was but for a moment – temporary, while the glory of heaven is eternal.  Paul knew any suffering he experienced on earth because of his faith in the gospel would pale in comparison to the blessing of eternity in heaven.

Friends, this is true for us also!  No sensible person would deny that life on this earth has its difficulties and trying times.  But whatever they may be, any difficulties we experience while on earth will pale in comparison to the blessing of an eternity in heaven.

Today, I will ask God to carry me through any difficulties I may face, knowing that heaven will surely be worth it all!