Starving Strays

Living in Borger has opened my eyes to the enormous problem of STRAY dogs.

Multiple times a week there are social media postings about them. Most often the STRAY is afraid of the one trying to help them.

Whenever a good Samaritan approaches to help the STRAY, it will often run away in fear even with an offer of food or water! There’s no recognition that this person is trying to help. They have no idea they need help.

This illustrates a spiritual problem with those who are wandering the shadows of death outside of Christ.

They do not recognize that the Lord is calling them to come to Him with the Bread of Life. They seem to have no concern that they are spiritually starving and astray.

Many are lost, starving, headed for trouble, and in need of His help and rescue. 

What do you know about STRAY sheep?

Jesus saw people as SHEEP without a shepherd (Mark 6:34; Matt 9:36). Some look at these passages and note that Jesus fed them. Yes, He did, but He fed them the bread of Life. “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” Stray sheep need to be fed the spiritual food of eternal life (cf. John 6:51, 68). Unfortunately, some will not take the spiritual food, but offer it any way.

On one occasion, Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem and shed TEARS over it, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37; Luke 19:41-44). Strays are in jeopardy. How do we feel about that? Does it move us to TEARS? Some of us want to get rid of the strays that wander onto our lawns. Let’s have compassion on the straying people.

Some stray intentionally. Peter refers to some who have gone astray as those who will “RECEIVE the REWARD of unrighteousness. “And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;” (2Pet 2:13-15). Jesus is no respecter of persons. He died even for the unlovable. (cf. Rom 5:6-10)

Anyone who is off the path of righteousness, regardless of the reason, is ASTRAY. “All we like sheep have gone ‘astray’; we have turned, everyone, to his own way…” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus went to the cross to make our salvation possible because we have all gone astray. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1Peter 2:24-25). We need to remember that we once were straying and someone reached out to us.

He invites all to come to Him for salvation: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30). Being a stray may seem like freedom, but it’s actually bondage to sin. As counterintuitive as it may sound, submitting to the YOKE of Christ is freeing! “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16) Some of the straying want to be free to live how they want, but that’s a dangerous way to live away from the protection of the Good Shepherd. (cf. John 10:7-14)

As the Good Shepherd, He has set forth the rules of entry into His fold: Hear. Mat 7:24; Believe John 8:24; Repent Luke 13:3; Confess Mat 10:32; Baptized Mark 16:16; Faithfulness Mat 28:20. He is the door, the way, the truth, the life.

Jesus sees us in our sorrowful, starving, and straying condition. Without Him we are lost sheep, astray from His life saving blood. He is calling through the Gospel (cf. 2Th 2:14). He is offering us the bread of life (John 6:48). His is the door of the sheep, offering salvation (John 10:9). You have nothing to fear and everything to gain. Let Him comfort you with His staff & His rod (Psalm 23:4).

WALK as other gentiles

Paul wrote in Ephesians four:

This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

This is one of the 7 WALKS found in Ephesians. Let’s break down this WALK of the other Gentiles to find what we may learn.

THE FUTILE WALK. Eph 4:17-19

The first thing that jumps out is verse 17, WALKING in the VANITY of their minds. This word vanity refers to our modern word ‘FUTILITY.’ Futile means; incapable of producing any result; ineffective; useless; not successful; trifling; frivolous; unimportant. Once you see that, you can immediately recognize this problem with so many of us. We focus on the minors, ignoring the majors. We know more about the celebrities of pop culture than we do of the heroes of faith (cf. Heb 11). Keeping up with the Kardashians will not help any go to heaven.

In one sense, everything is trivial when compared to an eternity in Heaven or Hell. If we elevate any activity above serving the Lord, it is WALKING IN FUTILITY. Politics, Pop Culture or even your Papa can become vanity when we view them as our savior.  Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:37). Paul wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” (Col 1:18)

The next glaring condition is, “being ALIENATED from the life of God.” Paul’s theme in the opening chapters of Ephesians are about ALIENS being reconciled to God. “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” He finishes by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Eph 2:11-13) being ALIENATED from God is a hopeless existence and to be greatly avoided.

Next, Paul describes the walk of the other gentiles as giving themselves over to “LASCIVIOUSNESS, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (4:19). This describes LEWD behavior coupled with greediness. Greed is exemplifying self.

Paul will write to the Galatians about the lust of the flesh, one of which is ‘selfish ambitions’ (emulations kjv). Look at the other lists in Romans 1:20-32; 1Corinthians 6:9-10; 2Timothy 3:1-9 et al. LEWD & GREED together opens the door to all kinds of debauchery in hedonism.

Lastly, intermixed with all of the above is that their understanding is darkened. Their KNOWLEDGE of God, His Love, His Promises, His Sacrifice is as blindness of the heart. He also calls it ‘ignorance.’ It’s one thing to be ignorant, this text suggests ignorance because they don’t want to know. Someone who will not see has no advantage over the one that cannot see.

The most common problem I notice when talking to folks is the complete lack of interest in the reading of God’s word. This among those who claim to love the Lord. They often refer to what they think the bible says, what their pastor said, what they think they know, but seldom do they actually know. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).

The bible says this about the Word, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

6 Point Spiritual Check-Up

Point Spiritual Check Up.

The New Testament has more than a few passages about performing a Spiritual CHECK-UP to avoid becoming spiritually sick, or even dying spiritually.

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith;” 2Cor 13:5

But let a man examine himself.” 1Cor 11:28

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” 1Co 11:30

Here are 6 areas from scripture that the Growing Christian CHECKS in their Spiritual life.

“Say AHH.” One of the first thing a doctor checks is your throat & mouth. Spiritually speaking, we are to check our own mouth and our CONVERSATIONS. We need check the words that we use with others.

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

[Jas 3:12; cf. Col 4:6]

Another thing he checks is you HEIGHT. Jesus refers to one’s height when discussing worry & anxiety. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [Matt 6:27]

None of us can change our height by worry, neither can we change our situation with it. We are to be active in our seeking the kingdom of God and His righteousness. [cf. Eph 3:18]

The EYES will also be examined. How are the EYES of your understanding?

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,” [Eph 1:18; cf. 2Peter 1:9; 1John 2:9,11]

Our WEIGHT will also be measured. God WEIGHS us spiritually in His balance. [cf. Prov 16:2; cr. Dan 5:27; 1Sam 2:3; Job 31:6]

In another sense, weight is a metaphor for the COMPLICATIONS & Distractions of life.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every WEIGHT, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” [Heb 12:1]

Every check up includes a checking of the Heart. The Proverbs writer said,

KEEP thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” [Prov 4:23; emph mine seb. cf. Mt 12:34; Mr 7:21]

 We need to KEEP our hearts. We cannot KEEP it from God. “Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men,” [Acts 1:24]

Lastly, an examination will include taking our Temperature. Spiritually speaking, this is like checking our SPIRIT or our zeal.

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” [Rev 3:15-16; cf. Titus 2:14; 3:8]

This article was written to help us take a tangible look at our spiritual lives. Our Eternal Lives are on the line. We must avoid becoming spiritually sick, or worse, spiritually dead!!

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1Cor 11:30]

A Life out of BALANCE for Christ




“And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.” (1Cor 7:35)

Take a look at the self-help section of your local book store and you’ll find any number of books about getting your life back into balance.

What they mean by balance is having a life where you can somehow do all the things you want to do without neglecting your family, your health, or your finances.

While this is good in principle, there is a better perspective that says your life should be OUT of BALANCE for Christ. Let me explain.

What if I told you that there is a way to be OUT of BALANCE with the world that would bring you more peace and BALANCE with God and would bring more peace in your life? Would you believe it? Well, there is.

First, we need to recognize that God never tells us to be IN BALANCE with the world.

  • (Mark 4:19) “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.”
  • (Jas 4:4b) “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [cf. Mat 10:34-37]
  • (1Peter 2:9) “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

However, He does want us to have peace in our lives. “…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1Tim 2:2) But how do we have peace with a life OUT of BALANCE with the world? Here are 7 strategies:

ONE: Regular BIBLE reading to replace some (most / all) of our Secular TV or Reading. The Bereans were “more noble” in that they searched the scriptures daily. (Acts 17:11; 2Tim 2:15)

TWO: We can simplify life by disentangling ourselves from some of the busy AFFAIRS of this life. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2Tim 2:4). We can replace them by setting “your AFFECTION on things above, not on things on the earth. (Col 3:1)

THREE: We can all put our LOVE for God back into its proper place, above everything and everyone. (cf. Mt 10:37; Col 1:18; John 14:15; 1John 5:3; 1John 4:7-12)

FOUR: We can stop trying to be ALL THINGS to ALL MEN so we can be ‘menpleasers’. The Bible says, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” (Gal 1:10b). Paul sought to be ALL THINGS to ALL MEN so that he might “by ALL MEANS save some.” (cf. 1Cor 9:19-23; Eph 6:6; Col 3:22).

FIVE: We could change who is in our NETWORK of friends. God teaches through His word that friendship with the world and the corrupt of the world can negatively influence us. (cf. Gal 5:9; Jas 4:4; Joh 15:19; 17:14; Ga 1:10; 1Jo 2:15). He also tells us that we are not to separate from everyone in the world, otherwise there’d be no evangelism and you’d have to leave the world completely (1Cor 5:10). The warning is about allowing our NETWORK of friends to draw us away from serving God.

SIXTH: While it’s true we’re commanded to work and to take care of our homes, there is a warning about allowing the CARES and the worries of this world to become a distraction that takes us away from serving God, jeopardizing our soul. (cf. Mark 4:13-20; Mat 6:24-33)

SEVENTH: Related to the 6th, but deserving its own category is the warning about money. ECONOMICS is important and there’s no condemnation of wealth. However, there is a stern warning about allowing money to become our master or placing our trust in our ECONOMIC abilities. (cf. Mat 6:19; 1Tim 6:17; Eph 4:28. 1Tim 6:10-19).

A life out of balance with the world will keep us from falling out of BALANCE with God.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1Cor 10:12; cf. Eph 4:14; 2Pe 1:10-12; 2Pe 3:17)

6 Verses that COMPEL me

When speaking about being compelled, we often think that someone is forcibly moving us to do something we don’t want to do.

God doesn’t do that. We obey God because of our love for Him, and because of our reverential belief in who He is, and what He can and will do.

We do this willingly because we believe Him.

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.”

We’re willing participants.

Another way of saying compelled is with the word motivation. I am emotionally motivated by God’s word. We know the will of God only through His divine word. The Bible has many motivating passages, but I wanted to look at just 6 passages that COMPEL (motivates) me to be a better child of God.

The first is what CHRIST said He will say on the judgment day. “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46; cf. Mat 7:21-23)

Another equally compelling passage is about OBEYING the gospel. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2Thess 1:8; Heb 5:8-9). False teachers claim that there’s nothing a person can do to be saved. But that’s why they’re false teachers.

Moving on to living Godly in Christ, this next passage compels me to do better. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Col 3:5). To MORTIFY your members is to kill off sin in your life. That’s serious language. He’s not advocating self-harm, rather he’s illustrating the seriousness of sin.

Within this same chapter, Paul adds details that continue to motivate me to living Godly, “PUT off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” “PUT on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col 3:8-17)

Some wonder why I’m so vocal about the Bible. When we realize our helpless condition, and the salvation only through Christ Jesus, we are compelled to obey the Gospel. Then comes the realization that people you love are lost if they die in their sins. Therefore, I’m compelled to EVANGELIZE to the lost world. “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.” (1Cor 6:9-11; cf. Mat 28:18-19)

The last, but certainly not the least passage that compels me is actually several; those passages about LOVE. It’s best to read them and let them be their own commentary…

  1. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Mat 22:37)
  2. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (1John 5:3)
  3. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1John 4:7-8)
  4. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,” (Luke 6:27)
  5. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (1John 2:15-17)

Which bible passages compel you?

4 Wise Little Creatures pt4/4 Spiders are BOLD

God uses nature to teach spiritual lessons. “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.” (Job 12:7).

This article looks at another wise creature, the Spider (or perhaps a “lizard” ASV?); “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Prov 30:28)

The wording can either mean, the creature can grab, or it means that it can be caught easily in your two hands. In either case, the wisdom of the spider is about being BOLD & cunning. Even though it is small, it is found in the King’s own palace!

The need for bravery cannot be overstated. The scriptures teach that vocal Christians (and even non-vocal) shall face persecutions from their preaching. Consider the words of our Lord; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15 18); and “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Tim 3:12). From these passages we can see the need for boldness.

How do we become BOLD? Here are four keys we can use to become BOLD.

The first key is to repent and be BLAMELESS before God. Knowledge is power, and through the knowledge of God we can know how to be BLAMELESS before him. Consider these passages…

Fear is an indication that some action must be taken. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then we can be BOLD.

The second Key, going along with the first, is we must OBEY GOD even when we’re afraid. When you recognize that God’s commands are for our good, then any fears we may have in doing them will evaporate. His commandments are not burdensome. Look at the command to have no fear…

When God commands us, we can have confidence & boldness.

FEAR of loss demotivated the one talent man – Matt. 25:24-31.

FEAR of doing difficult things makes us useless in the service of God: “fearful and afraid” (Judges 7:3) – 22,000 departed.

The third key is LOVE, perfect love casts out fear. (1John 4:18.) We are to Love God, Mat 22:37; Love others, Mat 22:39; Love enemies, Luke 6:27; and it’s love that spreads the Gospel.

The fourth key is to place your trust in God by DRAWING NEAR to Him, (James 4:8). We try to become bold through wealth, but those are uncertain. (1Tim 6:17) We trust only our own selves, but that will end in disaster, (Prov 3:5) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;” We sometimes replace God with Gov, but that’s no help. (Daniel 4:17; Acts 5:29). And certainly, the world is not to be trusted: “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” (Prov 29:25)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (Phil 1:20).

4 Wise Creatures Pt1/4 the ANTS

Wise Little Creatures pt1/4

ANTS

God uses nature to teach spiritual lessons. “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.” (Job 12:7).

In Proverbs 30 there are several lessons being taught using nature. This article and the next 3 will look at “four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise.”

(Prov 30:24-28)

The first little creature in the text are the ANTS (25; cf. Prov 6:6-11).

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer;”

The ANTS are among 4 little creatures that are called exceedingly wise. What makes that so? Here are at least 4 lessons from the ANTS.

ANTS are ALL in ALL the time. Not only do they gather enough for their current needs, they also gather for the coming winter. “Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Prov 6:8)

What are the lessons for us? There are two types of lessons, physical and spiritual. First the physical lesson; We ought to be working while we can and while we’re able more than our present needs. The scriptures point out a few physical needs. 1) Needs of others. “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” (Eph 4:28; cf. Ac 20:35; 1Th 4:11) and 2) Needs of our family when we can no longer work, the winter of life. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1Tim 5:8-16). The spiritual lesson is in the third point.

The second lesson from the ANTS is that they NEVER give up. If you try to block the way of a line of ants, they will climb over, go around, he’ll go under, or move whatever is blocking them. They NEVER quit. That’s a great lesson for us. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,” (Eph 5:15). They press on, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14). They fight the good fight, they run and they strive for their purpose.

A third lesson from the ANTS is they THINK ahead in the summer. (I don’t know what an ant thinks, but the proverb tells us what they do) “…they prepare their meat in the summer;” “Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Prov 30:25; 6:8)

The spiritual application is what’s important. Man doesn’t live forever on the earth and must make arrangements for eternal life. We can’t be so naïve as to believe that summer lasts forever, neither does our physical life. The Hebrew writer wrote, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Heb 9:27). Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men;” (2Cor 5:10-11). The wisdom from the ANTS instructs us to be reconciled to God through obeying the gospel of Christ before it’s too late. (cf. Heb 5:9; 2Thess 1:8-9).

The fourth lesson from the ANTS is they START immediately. On the first warm day of spring, they’re out working. At the first opportunity, the ANTS go marching on to find their food. The proverb writers contrasts those that slumber too much with the diligent effort of the ANTS. “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?” (Prov 6:9). In the NT, sleep is a metaphor for those that are dead spiritually (1Cor 11:30) and for those that aren’t watching (1Th 5:6). “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Rom 13:11).

You can easily tell which denominations believe that baptism is not necessary for salvation; THEY SCHEDULE BAPTISMS. That is completely opposite to what the scriptures teach. “And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” (Acts 16:33). The Eunuch, upon hearing about Jesus asked, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” When your ‘pastor’ teaches about salvation, will his hearers have the same response as the Eunuch? The lesson of the ANTS is that they START immediately. When is the best time to obey the gospel? TODAY! “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor 6:2).

What’s LOVE got to do with it?

Love does not…

EVERYTHING!!

Love is the first & great commandment.

Paul calls love, “a more excellent way” [1Cor 12:31; 13:13].

“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” [Mark 12:29-31]

The best commentary on Love is found in the Scriptures. Let’s see love from four perspectives.

  1. God’s Love for us
    1. God is Love – 1Jo 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. Titus 3:4-6
    1. God Gave His son – 1Jo 4:9, 10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, John 3:16, 17; Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4,5
    1. God blesses His children – 1Jo 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: Eph 1:3 every spiritual blessings
    1. Every good thing – James 1:17 – comes from above; Acts 17:28
    1. God sends sun & rain – Mt 5:45 for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
  • Christ’s Love for us
    • Passes knowledge– Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
    • As Father loved Him – Joh 15:9, 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
    • He gave Himself – Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.; Eph 5:2; 1Joh 3:16; Rev 1:5
    • His own– Joh 13:1, 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
    • Those who obey – Joh 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
  • Man’s love for God & Christ
    • Great command– 1Jo 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. Mark 12:28-30; Mt 22:36-40
    • Good thing for those that do – Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, 1Corinthians 2:9 ings which God hath prepared for them that love him.
    • Crown of life / Kingdom – Jas 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? [1:12]
    • Love displayed through obedience – 1Jo 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:
      • 2Joh 6; John 14:15, 21, 23
    • Love for truth – 2Th 2:10-12 because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
  • Man’s love for others
    • Brethren – 1Th 4:9; 1Th 3:12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
      • John 13:34; 15:12; 1Pe 1:22; 2:17;
      • 1Jo 2:10, 3:11, 14, 23; 4:11, 12
      • 2Pe 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
    • Husbands & Wives – Eph 5:25, 28, 33; Col 3:19; Tit 2:3,4
    • Neighbor – Ro 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
      • [Mr 12:31; James 2:8]
    • Enemies – Lu 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest:
      • Mt 5:43, 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

What is that to thee? follow thou me.

After the resurrection of Jesus, He spoke with Peter while having breakfast by the sea (John 21:15-22). There are a few lessons from this text, but I’d like to focus on Peter’s response to the knowledge that he will die for Christ & His Cause.

After Jesus describes the type of love sacrifice that Peter will face, Peter turns toward John and asks, “what shall this man do?”

Jesus, ever succinct and direct, answers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

It is this powerful lesson that will be the focus of this article. Before we can learn the lesson, we must understand the root of Peter’s question.

Peter had heard that he will live the remainder of his life in sacrificial service to Christ, the end of which will be a martyr’s death. “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”

This would be very serious news to receive. The closest example I could give you is one from my own experience. After two years of cancer treatment for my mom, we were in her doctor’s office when we heard something to the effect, “There’s nothing more we can do. Go home, we’ll try to make you comfortable, and enjoy your family in whatever time you have left.” How devastating that must have sounded to her.

Perhaps this gives us just a glimpse at how this might have sounded to Peter at this point in his life. Peter would learn more from Jesus after this, but this stands as a reminder to every Christian, we who love Christ will face persecution, and trouble in this life. [2Tim 3:12].

So, what are we to do with this information, knowing that life as a Christian won’t always be easy? Can we still be happy? Can we find any joy? The answer is yes, we can be HAPPY & JOYFUL, the question then becomes HOW? For that answer we turn to the words of our Lord, FOLLOW ME.

FOLLOW ME.

The beginning of following anyone is to have FAITH. Nobody will follow anyone if they can’t trust that they are worthy to be followed, and able to fulfill what they have promised. Christ is both worthy and able. Just one text of many will prove this point; Christ is spoken of as the Creator [John 1:1-4; Col 1:17-18]. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” [John 14:1-3]. Another powerful verse to help with our FAITH in Christ is, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” [Heb 2:18]

Second, we can only follow Him if we OBEY Him. Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, but too many treat Him like they’re the captain and He a buck Private. [cf. Heb 2:10] Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15; 1John 5:3]

Next, we notice that in that breakfast by the sea, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We should ask ourselves this same question. The word for love is ‘agape’ which is the all-in sacrificial love. To follow Jesus is to LOVE whom He loves. We must LOVE God [Mat 22:37], Christ [John 14:15], The Holy Spirit [Rom 15:30], the brethren [1Peter 1:22], yourself & your family [Eph 5:28-29], and also your Enemies [Luke 6:27].

Fourth, Christ told us to come to Him and, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me;” [Matt 11:29]. It is amazing to me how much people say that want to follow Jesus, but spend so little time trying to LEARN of Him. He expects us to be the LIGHT of the world, but how can we without LEARNING of Him, without reading His word? [Mat 5:14; cf. Psalm 119:105; Pro 6:23]

Fifth, whether young or Old, as we have OPPORTUNITY let us do good to all men, especially the household of faith [Gal 6:10]. Sometimes folks don’t want us to do good toward them. That’s ok. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rom 12:18; cf. Mat 15:14; 1Cor 14:38; 1Tim 6:18]

Lastly, and just as importantly, Following Christ involves WALKING. John was present at the breakfast by the sea and he wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to WALK, even as he walked.” [1John 2:6]. Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” [1Peter 2:21; cf. 1Pet 3:13; 2Peter 1:16].

Putting all this together, we know that life is full of disappointments, trouble, and trials. Much of this will come through the hands of people. However, the scriptures teach us that we can have JOY & HAPPINESS despite this world’s troubles. [James 1:2; Mt 5:12; Ac 5:41]. Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” [1Pet 4:13; 1:6; 4:16]

Peter was told at the beginning that he would give his life to Christ. Peter wanted to know, if I’m going to suffer, what going to happen to the others? Christ told him that whatever happens to others has no bearing on what Peter does, “YOU FOLLOW ME.” He understood the lesson.

Whatever it is that others are doing, or not doing, what they’re getting, or not getting, how much fun they’re having, or how much they suffer, these have nothing to do with what YOU & I are to do.

As I read again John 21:22, when Jesus commands Peter, I also hear…

Spencer, YOU FOLLOW ME.”

SHOULD, WOULD, COULD & OUGHT

Do the words SHOULD or OUGHT mean God is giving us a Hall Pass for sin?

Someone recently asked me about the word “SHOULD” in the Bible. It’s being claimed that if there are commands we SHOULD do, then God is giving a recommendation, and that we have liberty NOT to do it and suffer no penalty. Is that the proper understanding of this word? Nope, you SHOULDN’T view it this way.

I can see where the confusion lies. In our culture of free love & do whatever feels right, we can see how some might think God is just recommending we do stuff, if we want to do them. If it’s convenient.

Additionally, in the error riddled world of denominations, and the false doctrine of “once saved always saved,” it’s easy to think that God is making recommendations because we’re all going to heaven anyway.

Both of these views are completely out of sorts with the biblical use of the word and a complete misunderstanding of free will.

How that they told you there SHOULD be mockers in the last time, who SHOULD walk after their own ungodly lusts.” [Jude 1:18]

First, let’s define terms. As you can see in the above verse, SHOULD is usually replaced today with the word WOULD. The word means, “SHALL Come to pass.” It’s usually used in front of a verb to express ideas such as necessity, possibility, intention, and ability. “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death;” [Heb 11:5] Enoch DID NOT die. [Gen 5:22,24], it came to pass that Enoch did not see death. In Galatians 1:10, Paul wrote, “…for if I yet pleased men, I should not (WOULD NOT NKJV) be the servant of Christ.” SHOULD is a modal auxiliary verb, as are can, could, may, might, must, ought to, shall, should, will, and would. If you seek to please men over God, they you WOULD NOT be a servant of Christ. The use of SHOULD is not giving you a hall pass of disobedience.

Next, HAVING a choice in no way means you will be rewarded for choosing not to do what you SHOULD do. Free Will is not freedom from consequences. God has always given us the choice to do good or to do evil [Deut 11:26,28]. Just because we HAVE a choice, doesn’t mean God approves when we choose what we SHOULDN’T. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Rom 2:21,22] Would you say that God will give us a pass for theft just because He said we SHOULD not? In another passage, Christ gives a command to the Apostles: “…commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem,” [Acts 1:4]. Are you suggesting they could wait elsewhere and have the same results found in Acts 2?

Third, OUGHT is another word confused by rebels. They will focus on this word in much the same way as they do the word SHOULD. In Acts 5:28-29, we see both words being used. Read these carefully and see if we’re being given liberty to go against what we SHOULD do and OUGHT to do. “Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” OUGHT we and SHOULD we obey God? (cf. 40)

We need to remember that UNITY with God comes from doing the things we “SHOULD” & “OUGHT” to do. “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” [2John 6] Are you suggesting we can be UNIFIED with God and NOT do what we SHOULD do?

LANGUAGE may have evolved over time, but God’s word endures forever (cf. 1Peter 1:25). This is nothing more than a LAME attempt at wresting the scriptures to their own destruction [cf. 2Peter 3:16b]. An example of the evolution of a word is found in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth,” Replenish today means: “to fill again or anew. to make full or complete again, as by supplying what is lacking, used up.” In 1611, the meaning of Replenish meant to fill, accomplish, furnish. Biblical context clearly shows it means to fill something that is empty. SHOULD might appear today as having been given a recommendation or a choice, but that’s not how God uses the word. To fail to understand correct original LANGUAGE usage is to be in jeopardy of wresting the scriptures to your own destruction.

If you DON’T do that which you SHOULD do, you’ll get what you DIDN’T want. The Hebrews writer uses the word SHOULD to show who DIDN’T do what they OUGHT to have done; “And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?” They DID NOT enter His rest. [Heb 3:18; cf. Num 13 & 14] Do you suppose that they had a choice about entering God’s rest? Sure, and they SHOULD have crossed the Jordan, but they DID NOT do what they OUGHT to have done and they SHOULD NOT (DID NOT) enter His rest.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul wrote, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” They WEREN’T obeying the truth, obeying the truth had come to pass [Gal 5:7, 3:1]. Are you suggesting that the Galatians or we SHOULD NOT obey the truth and get away with it? Are you saying that we have a choice to not DO what God has commanded us to DO, to obey the truth? Are you implying that those who refuse to do what they SHOULD do, like obeying the truth, will enter heaven? I wouldn’t put my trust in that line of reasoning. Consider what Jesus will say on the judgment day…

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

If obey we SHOULD, then obey we COULD, and obey we OUGHT.

If obey the Gospel we DON’T, when obey the Gospel we OUGHT, then entering heaven we SHOULD NOT. (cf. 2Thess 1:8-9)