You’re Rich

Ingratitude is one of the worst diseases of the mind one can have. It stems from failing to recognize the good that we enjoy, failing to appreciate (see the value of) the things we have received and failure to recognize from whom we received these good things.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” [James 1:17]

Another part of ingratitude is perspective. We tend to only see what’s missing in our lives without ever looking to see what is missing in another’s life. This narrow perspective warps our attitude and hinders our ability to be happy. More importantly, it hinders our ability to serve.

I came across this ‘test’ developed by Robert Heilbroner, who studies world conditions of the poor. He suggests we do the following 12 things to give us a better perspective about wealth:

  1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blankets and pads for beds.
  2. Take away all your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt, or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.
  3. Empty the pantry and refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.
  4. Dismantle the bathrooms, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.
  5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.
  6. Place your “house” in shantytown.
  7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss, because none of you can read anyway.
  8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.
  9. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.
  10. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a mid-wife in charge instead of a doctor.
  11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which 1/3 will go to the landlord and a tenth to the money lenders.
  12. Lop off 25 years of life expectancy.

Pretty sobering, isn’t it? Made me want to sing the song “Count Your Blessings” over and over again.

 

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Refrain:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your blessings, see what God has done!

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Johnson Oatman, Jr., pub.1897

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Precious Faith

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2Peter 1:1

When Peter wrote his second letter to the brethren, he reminded them of their ‘like precious faith.’ This begs the question, why is it so precious? While there are several reasons why faith is precious, we will consider just one, that there is ONLY ONE FAITH.

To begin, we must go to the end, the end of Jesus’ earthly life. He prayed that we all would be one through THE WORD OF GOD.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” John 17:8

He also sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles, into all truth. They wrote these things down and when we read we may understand their knowledge in the mystery of Christ. [John 16:13; Eph 3:3-4]

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

We obtain this faith through reading, understanding and obeying the revealed written word. [Eph 1:13; Rom 1:5; 16:26]

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” John 17:20

What is remarkable about our Lord’s prayer in the garden is how He connects the Word, Faith (belief) and unity. The Apostles wrote of unity; Paul urged unity in speech, thought & judgement [1Cor 1:10]. John wrote about unity in obedience to God’s commandments and the unity in the word [1John 5:1-9].

YET DENOMINATIONS SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

There are some who would try to upset us by describing multiple faiths (beliefs about salvation, sin, worship and the Bible). One man told me, “the Holy Spirit led you to your church and He led me to mine.” How does this even make any sense?

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1Corinthians 14:33

Denominations are broken into thousands of different faiths and cannot be the “like precious faith” of Peter’s letter. The claim today is that they are all one faith, united in Christ, but how can this be with so many different beliefs and practices? They can all be unified in error, but they cannot be unified in truth. How can we know? We can know by God’s word.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” John 17:17

God hates division. Another word for division is denomination. The prayer in the garden is a proof of this. Unity can only be derived through the revealed word of God. We can have faith, we can believe through the WRITTEN WORD.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20:31

Some claim that the Holy Spirit directly guides them, separate and apart from the written word. Then they say, “and it will agree with the written word.” However, the problem still exists in that there are many thousands of “Holy Spirit” led denominations and THEY DON’T ALL AGREE!!

Can anyone claim that there is only ONE FAITH and differ on names, differ about salvation, differ about the essential nature of baptism and countless other practices found nowhere in scripture? That can’t be a “like precious faith.”

Besides all this, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” He then made this list…[4:1-6]

ONE body, and

ONE Spirit, even as ye are 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.

Denominationalism can never stand against these words.

In Jude’s short letter, he wrote to those sanctified by God about their common salvation and “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Notice that he penned ‘the’ as in one. He then added ‘once’ as in already delivered. Some would trouble you into thinking that there is more and continuing revelation. Not according to inspired Jude.

My friends, the faith is so very precious. One of the things that makes it so is that there is only ONE. This ought to exponentially increase its value in our hearts. Let us, as Jude wrote;

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3

GIVING THANKS

One winter, while a junior in high school in Fairbanks, a friend of mine invited me to have dinner with his family (we called the evening meal ‘dinner’ in Alaska). As his dad was plating the food and delivering it to the table one at a time, his mom began eating having been served first. As my plate was set before me, I refrained from eating as a courtesy toward the host. Mr. LaPerierre noticed me waiting and asked, “Spencer, are you waiting because you’re wanting to say grace?” At that moment, his wife, fork in mouth, looked at me with wide mortified eyes, filled with the realization that she may have committed a grievous faux pas.

Has something like that ever happened to you, folks begin shoveling food in their mouths before everyone even has a chance to sit down, much worse, discovering mid bite that a prayer of thanksgiving was going to be offered? Perhaps you’ve been the one with the fork in your mouth.

It’s called different things in different places. Some call it, ‘giving thanks’, ‘saying grace’ ‘asking a blessing’ or simply, ‘the blessing.’ As families come together this week to celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving, the above scenario will likely repeat as folks stumble through an awkward and unprepared prayer, while the rest choke down a premature mouthful or pause mid chew.

Is it your habit to ‘say grace’ for your food?

It may not, and not just for Thanksgiving. According to a recent poll, only about 43% of Americans pray before a meal. Of those that pray, the researchers discovered they only pray 2-3 times per week. When they examined denominational backgrounds, 52% of Catholics, 60% of Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals prayed before taking a meal. Interestingly, 80% of African American families prayed, regardless of religious affiliation.

It was surprising to learn so many folks were actually praying in America. However, surprise gave way to disgust as the pollsters found that it wasn’t necessarily God being thanked. Eleven percent who claimed to be atheist, agnostic or irreligious said a prayer. An atheist man, cited in a news article about the poll, said that he and his wife give thanks to the spirits of his food. When they eat beef, they thank the four-legged spirits, and the winged ones whenever they eat chicken. When eating veggies, he thanks the veggie spirits. Sounds like a veggie tale to me.

What does the Bible say?

Many who are reading this article already have a good handle on this subject, and I hope that had we been asked, we would have skewed the polling higher. Prayer is as much a subject of scripture as God Himself. We all know that it says, “Pray without ceasing” in 1Thessalonians 5:17, but did you know that verse 18 says “in everything give thanks?”

Among the “everything”, food is a daily opportunity to “give thanks.” We ought to be thankful for our daily food, “which God created to be received with thanksgiving by them that believe and know the truth” [1Timothy 4:3b].

Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, lived an example of praying before eating. In John 6:11 He, “took the loaves; and having given thanks, he distributed to them that were set down; likewise also of the fishes as much as they would.” Then, during His final meal with His disciples, “he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” [Luke 22:19]. On the very night that he would be betrayed, Jesus knowing all things, was thankful. How simple a thing it is, and so worthwhile, to pause and to pray.

 

 

Our most Holy and Righteous Father,

Thank you for this beautiful day

For we know Father, only you can make our day.

Thank You for this food,

Which You created

And for the nourishment within it.

May it provide us the strength

For continued service in Thy Kingdom.

Please forgive us our trespasses,

For they have been many,

And we have been weak.

Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever.

Amen.

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, 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. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

School, Money and Nuclear war

ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR has arrived for our young ones. Parents are scrambling for last minute school supplies, a panic that will be repeated for another reason the day after Thanksgiving. Excitement (or anxiety) is building up in the little hearts as the 1st day of school approaches. Their minds wondering, will the teachers be nice, will their friends be in the same class, will the lessons be difficult, all in anticipation of the chiming bell that brings school into session.

Moms are asking themselves, “will my little baby have friends, play nice and excel in all that he does?” Dads have worries too, “will my kid have the courage to face the perils of the playground, will he stand up for the weak, or will he be one of them, or worse, will he be one of the bullies?”

Let us remember the teachers who are under pressure to teach to a test instead of helping our children to fully understand the 3 R’s in favor of political correctness. The struggles of maintaining order in the classroom as more children enter the school from broken and dysfunctional homes. Just one question…

Did you think to pray?

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. [1Peter 5:6-7]

In many homes, the worries about money loom large as the accounts dwindle under the mounting pressures of debt and doubt. Moms & dads hoping their jobs will still be there tomorrow, fearing what new program the government will roll out to “help.”

Did you think to pray?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Matthew 6:20-21]

Then there’s the constant worry about food, water and health. Is our food GMO’d into poison, has our drinking water been contaminated, and when will cancer affect me? All of it seems so impossible to control, what are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

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? [Matthew 6:25]

Did I mention North Korea? The threat of war, the rattling of sabers, by a despot in a foreign country that many of us will never see. A dictator who appears to be channeling the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Mao. The uncertainties of our own leaders who appear to be more concerned for the next election rather than the current conditions. What are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [1Timothy 2:1-2]

There are plenty of things to worry about in this world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos we call life. But there’s comfort in the scriptures. It tells of a man named Lot whose soul was ‘vexed (tormented) daily’ by the lawless deeds of those around him. [2Peter 2:7-8] The comforting part is in vs 9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

Our world is beset with Sweat, Sorrow & Sin and our Souls are tormented every day to the point we don’t know what to do. Remember, “God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but we’ve got to remember to pray!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6]

Lastly, we don’t serve a God who doesn’t understand. Our Savior lived on this earth and faced the very same things we face, and He prayed.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:15-16]

If the gospel is good news, then why did they need boldness?

IN ACTS 4 and verse 29, the early Christians prayed for boldness, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They sent up this prayer since Peter and John had just been arrested and released for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5, they will again be arrested and we will see the fulfillment of their request when they told the council, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Immediately after this bold statement they also preach to them the Gospel (the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]) in verses 30-32.

If the Gospel is such “good news,” then why where they arrested and beaten? Why was there such negative reaction to ‘good news?’ Why do we see the same reaction among folks today?

As we look through God’s word, we can find at least 3 reasons

FOOLISHNESS: For many people of their day, the Gospel appeared to them as foolishness. They didn’t believe it and thought it to be like a fairy tale. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” This is as true today as it has ever been. Many today have placed their faith in evolution and ignored the signs of creation that point to an Almighty Creator. Paul noted about folks like these, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” [Romans 1:20].

In the same chapter, his example encourages us to remain faithful and bold against those who find the Gospel to be foolish, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” [Romans 1:16]

FOES: There are also enemies to the Gospel. The main enemy of the cross for those in the 1st century is very much the same for us today. There will be some who will hate the Gospel because it requires an end to a hedonistic life. Paul wrote that some will follow the Gospel, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Then he said there will be some whose life is spent on their own lusts, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” [Phil 3:17-19].

In his warning was an encouragement for us, follow those who are living a godly life. It takes boldness to be different from the world, but it is extremely important that we succeed. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” [Matthew 7:13-14].

FALSE TEACHERS: Perhaps related to the other 2, there will be some who will lie about the Gospel and speak against it. For the first Christians, the false teachers were the Jews and they spoke against the Gospel because of envy, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” [Acts 13:45].

There were also false teachers who tried to look like believers. In Paul’s time, he had to deal with people who wanted to exalt themselves, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” [2Corinthians 11:12-13]. How true is this today? Men, owners of denominations, have become the center of attention and the main attraction. Professing to be Christians, they are, in reality, false teachers leading so many toward destruction. This is the most dangerous kind, for Paul compared these to Satan who, “himself is transformed into an angel of light” and calls these people Satan’s ministers [v15].

Boldness is needed here as well. Paul combated these through humble and faithful service. He preached the Gospel with a humility such as that of Jesus Himself. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” [1Corinthians 9:19].

So, you see, we are in just as much need of courage as they, for the Gospel, though Good News to us who are being saved, it is bad news for those who are perishing.

Is God telling me what to do #2

LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE was about a man who said, “you can’t tell me that God’s not talking to me!” though I could show him, through God’s word, that God’s not talking to him separate and apart from the written word, but he just doesn’t want to hear it. He wants to do what he wants to do.

Even before the article was printed, I was hearing this excuse for sin and knew that more needed to be said. So, this article could be titled; “How to stay in sin without repenting.” Allow me to illustrate the main point of this article using instrumental music (I-M) in the worship as the object.

After answering the question about I-M, with a couple I met, using Scriptural proof, they told me, “God is putting it on my heart to play music during the worship.” In effect, even after showing HOW TO DETERMINE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY [Acts 8; Acts 15] & showing that SILENCE IS PROHIBITIVE [Heb 7:14; 2Sam 7:7; Acts 15:24], their “proof” for remaining in sin was “God put it on my heart.”

I asked them, “I’m really good at making signs, can I bring in a neon transformer, hook it up with some wires and light up a “Jacob’s Ladder” and tell everyone to start worshipping? (The Jacob’s Ladder is a high voltage climbing arc, when an electric spark jumps between two parallel wires. The spark then “climbs” up the ladder.) They had to admit that a Jacob’s Ladder would NOT be authorized, but still couldn’t see how the mechanical instrument was ALSO unauthorized.

In another example, I was listening to a popular financial radio program. A caller said, “I have a wife and a kid, I have $100,000 in student loans as I am pursuing a PHD in music composition. We make under $30k a year and we are paying $2500 per month in a mortgage. How do I get out of debt with these numbers knowing that GOD IS CALLING ME TO THIS CAREER?”

Are you kidding me?! You think that God is calling you to huge debt, to poverty, to financial struggle, to a career that may very well keep you unemployed? I’m not saying you need to be wealthy or to have a prestigious career to serve God, but don’t blame your struggles on God.

You try it.

The next time you want to stay in a sin, when a brother or sister comes to you about it say, “God has put it on my heart to be happy.” Which sin? Any sin.

  • an unscriptural marriage (especially if kids are involved)
  • Leaving the church for a denomination or go nowhere
  • Drinking
  • All Forms of Fornication (Rom 1:26-30; 1Cor 6:9-11)

God DOES want you to be happy, but that happiness must be derived from serving Him according to His written word. What I’ve observed is that people are looking for an excuse to do what they want to do and need to ignore the written word to accomplish it.

God IS CALLING people, by the gospel. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” [2Thess 2:14]. Some will ask, “didn’t Jesus say we will hear His voice?” [John 10:27] Yes, but we hear that voice through His inspired written word [1Tim 3:16-17].

Below are 3 steps to “hear” the voice of Jesus…
  1. Read His written word. Any feeling you have, to do something, must be measured against what God has revealed in His written word. [Ephesians 3:4]. It’s only by this comparison can we determine if this “call” comes from a study of His word or if it’s just in yourself.
  2. Keep His commandments [John 14:15]. It’s when we commit to a study of God’s written word AND doing it that sets us on the correct path of righteousness.
  3. Memorize His word. In many places, God has said, “Write them on the tablet of your heart” [Prov 7:3; De 6:8; 11:18; Prov 3:3; 6:21]. Peter sought to “remind” Christians. “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth” [2Pe 1:12]. Not only Peter, but Paul, Timothy & Titus went about to stir up the brethren’s memory [1Cor 4:17; 2Tim 1:6, 2:14; Titus 3:1].

Conclusion: God is speaking to us, through His written word. The only way we’re going to know what God’s will is for our lives is by a diligent study of His word. He’s given us the authority to choose the details of our lives, as long as those details don’t interfere with service to Him.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” [1Thess 5:18 ]

Can you Imagine?

FROM TIME TO TIME I listen to radio evangelists. They are so frustrating, for they often teach some truth about a subject, but at the end they teach absolute error regarding salvation.

You know what I mean. They say things like, “ask Jesus into your heart” or “join the church of your church”. The problem with these statements is that they’re found nowhere in scripture.

Sometimes a person will say, “I feel God is telling me to _____” then they cite some error that supposedly God told them to do.

This happened to the gospel preacher, Robert Turner, he turned to the person and said, “do you mind if I ask Him?” He then grabbed the Bible and turned to the truth and then said, “He’s telling me He doesn’t want you to do that.”

Before we heed what some person might say (including me), we must compare it to what God has said through His divine word.

Can you imagine…

PETER saying: “Baptism is not essential”?

1Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.

JAMES saying: “Man is saved by faith only”?

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

ANANIAS saying: “Brother Saul, ask Jesus into your heart and get rid of your sins calling on the name of the Lord”?

Acts 22:16 arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

PAUL saying: “You cannot so sin as to lose your salvation”?

Galatians 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

PAUL saying: “It doesn’t matter what you believe in religion just as long as you are honest”?

2Thessalonians 2:11, 12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

PAUL saying: “You don’t have to obey the Gospel to be saved”?

2Thessalonians 1:7-9 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

PAUL saying: “We are sprinkled with him by baptism

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

PETER saying: “There is nothing in a name”?

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

LUKE saying: “those that were saved joined the church of their own choice”?

Acts 2:47 And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

JUDE saying: “I don’t think it is right to argue the scriptures”?

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Adapted from the Gospel Guide, Shanwnee Oklahoma.

Tis the season to be Jolly

grinch

YOU KNOW SPRING, summer, fall and winter, but do you recall the most famous season of all? As a popular song proclaims this time of year, “TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY.”

It seems the “jolly-season” starts earlier and earlier because people just can’t wait to be jolly. Why do we wait until now to be jolly? For some, it’s hard to be jolly, even during the ‘jolly-days’. Folks who are off to war, or upset over a recent election. Still others find it difficult to be jolly because they don’t have enough money to buy more STUFF.

What is Jolly? Is it the ability to have more stuff? Is it the congested roads as we race across the country to be with folks that we hardly speak to at other times of the year? Perhaps it’s the dread of the extra pounds that we’ll ‘resolve’ to lose after the new year. The jolly season contains mixed feelings, especially as we consider unresolved goals and issues from this year.

The reality is this, a single season to be jolly is contrived. Being Jolly is an idea that should continue throughout the year. Especially among God’s people [1Peter 3:15].

Life is always filled with ups and downs. Instead of calling them problems, we ought to call them challenges. Everybody’s got them. Are we to wait until the challenges of life are gone before we feel jolly?

Jolly is the joy that springs forth from an attitude of hopefulness.  Jolly is a mindset, not a season. Jolly is HERE (point to head) not here (jiggle belly). Why do we wait for a season to be jolly? Are we going to go back to being miserable after the season is over? Perhaps our new year’s resolution ought to be jolly all year long. Is it possible? I believe that it is because God says that it’s so. Paul was joyful in prison, [Phil 1:18]. Peter taught of hopefulness in the persecuted saint, [1Peter 3:15].

When does JOY actually begin? Does it start the day after Thanksgiving, or does it start within your heart as a child of God? The eunuch, in Acts 8:39, went away ‘rejoicing’ upon his resurrection from the watery grave of baptism. Can a Christian be anything but joyful (jolly) regardless the time of year? As the ‘Grinch’ said, “What if (it) doesn’t come from a store? (Our joy) came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” it was delivered upon a cross.

How can we be Jolly? Here are a few things to think about that may help us keep joy in our lives throughout the year: [Phil 4:8]

  • whatsoever things are true,
  • whatsoever things are honest,
  • whatsoever things are just,
  • whatsoever things are pure,
  • whatsoever things are lovely,
  • whatsoever things are of good report;

In the context of the above, can we also meditate on what goes well rather than what goes wrong? A habitual daily pause to look for the joyful things in life may be part of the answer to a perpetual joy. What is good, joyful or jolly…

  • About yourself?
  • About your life?
  • About your relationships?
  • About what you’re doing?
  • About the love IN your life? (notice I didn’t say love OF your life?)
  • About doing your BEST at what you do?
  • About knowing the reason why you get up every day?

The truth is, there’s no better time to be joyful, than today. Why wait for a season, a present or a person to make you happy? If not now, when? When the economy gets better? When people stop being mean? When the stars align? You’re not promised that much time [James 4:14].

I am resolving to be jolly all year long and I challenge you to do the same. Why wait to be happy, after?

Mary, Did You Know?

THERE’S A POPULAR SONG that is played this time of year which asks the question, “Mary, did you know?” It’s a good question, for Mary, the mother of Jesus, had been keeping things in her heart, “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart” [Luke 2:51]. Then, in John 2, she is the one who prompts Our Lord to perform the first recorded miracle. This song examines the question, what did she know?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?

Mt 14:26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?

Ac 2:39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Ro 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

2Ti 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?

Lu 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, [Isa 61:1]

Mary, did you know that your baby boy will calm the storm with His hand?

Mt 8:26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kiss the face of God?

Joh 12:45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

Col 1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Mary, did you know… Mary, did you know

The blind will see. Lu 7:21 And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.

The deaf will hear. Mr 7:35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

The dead will live again. Joh 11:43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

The lame will leap. Joh 5:8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

The dumb will speak. Mr 7:35 And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

The praises of The Lamb. Mr 7:36 And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it;

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

John 1:1; Joh 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Lu 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?

The sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great, I Am.

Joh 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

(insert your name), Did YOU know?

In John’s account of the life of Jesus, he points to the miracles and says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” [John 20:31]. Do we know these things about Our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ?

(originally by Mark Lowry (lyrics) and Buddy Greene (melody))