A New Year Examination

Image result for magnifying glass examine self

 

Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”

[2Corinthians 13:5]

It’s 2020, let the vision jokes, puns & metaphors begin. All joking aside, a new year is a threshold we cross that inspires many of us to examine how well we’re doing.

Paul wrote about self-examination. It’s a great practice, not just for the new year, but with each new day.

New years resolutions are self-examinations of how we’re doing regarding the outward man. Paul is urging self-examination of the inward.

What does a spiritual examination look like? How do we do it? What do we look for? Paul specifically states, “whether ye be in the faith.” Let’s look to the scriptures for God’s answer to this important question. Since we’re to ‘PROVE’ ourselves, there must then be things we (& others) can see regarding our faith.

5 Things to examine about our FAITH. This is just my list; you search the scriptures to find what else God says on the matter.

FIDELITY: How loyal are we toward God, His church, His doctrine [2John 9]? Do we believe in the ONE church as spoken of in Eph 4:4? Do we attend as we ought [Heb 10:25-26]? Are we giving with regularity and purpose in our hearts [1Cor 16:1-2; 2Cor 9:6]?

 

APTITUDE: How good are you at handling aright the word of God? Do we study as we ought [2Tim 2:15]? Are we able to teach it [Heb 5:12]? It’s called a sword; can we wield it properly & accurately with love [Eph 6:17; 4:15]?

Do you cry out for the study of God’s word as a newborn baby cries for her milk?

Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:3-5; 1Peter 2:2]

INFLUENCE: How well am I at leading others to good works?

in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,” [Titus 2:7] How well do I do at edification of the saints?

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

[Eph 4:12]

TELLING the Good News: Jesus told the man released of the legion to, “tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee,” how well are we doing? [Mark 5:19]

Are we looking at the field that is “white unto harvest?” [John 4:35] Are we looking for that honest, seeking heart?

And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mark 4:20]

Do people see us as people of hope, in the midst of struggles, that want to ask us about that hope?

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15]

Or do they only hear about how bad people are, how bad life is and how bad we have it in life?

HOPE: Let’s examine our own hope of salvation. Are we living in fear & doubt? Are we uncertain of our salvation? Do we believe that we can be saved?

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” [1John 5:13]

Too many are doubting and this doubt leads to apathy and a negative influence on the rest of us. If we’re in doubt about our salvation then examining of self is in order. We can take the necessary steps of repentance. We have the assurance from God that He will forgive the Christian that will confess her sins. [1John 1:9]

Paul finishes by assuring us, “But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.” [vs6] May we each discover an ever-growing faith within us.

 

—Spencer

Hold My Mule

Image result for farm mule plow

Robert F. Turner wrote a story that tells of an old Farmer, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Many of the members thought the old Farmer compensated for his inability to sing by singing loud. His singing disrupted those who sat nearby and disturbed those that sat on the other side.

The looks of disapproval didn’t seem to catch the notice of the man’s joyful noise.

The men of the congregation talked amongst themselves and appointed 3 men to make the long drive to the old man’s farm and have a chat with him about his obnoxious behavior in the assembly. “Didn’t he know that we don’t act like that during worship? Didn’t he know that there are dignitaries and all sorts of important people hearing his off tune, off key, off tempo singing?” they reasoned among themselves.

Dressing in their suits and shiny shoes, which meant to make a statement about their importance, they trekked out to the old man’s farm.

As they pulled up to his run-down house, they saw him out back plowing a dusty field ‘Jeeing & Hawing” a tired old mule. They honked the horn hoping to gain his attention to avoid having to get out and mess up their nice suits. However, the old Farmer was busy wrestling that old mule.

After some time, they reluctantly pulled themselves out of their air-conditioned car and walked out to talk to him.

As they approached, the Farmer excitedly said, “Well looky here, what a pleasant surprise. It’s so wonderful you made the trip out to this old farm. What brings you ‘round?”

One of the men replied, “We’ve come to talk to you about your singing…” Before he could finish his prepared speech, the farmer interrupted. “I know what you mean. When we start singing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about my ramshackle house and the MANSION Jesus has gone to prepare for me.”

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

[John 14:2]

“When we sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about this dusty field, the sweat and toil. Then I’m reminded about how God promised there’d be no more sorrow.”

“When we start to sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but be reminded of how much sin and sadness there is in this world. I think about my wife and son and how they died together at his birth and I’m reminded how the good book says that God will wipe away all tears. I’m reminded how we’re to meet our loved ones in the air when Jesus comes back to get those that are His.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev 21:4]

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” [1Thess 4:17]

He kept on, “I just get so excited about God’s promises that I can’t help but sing praises to our King. As a matter of fact, I feel like singing right now. HOLD MY MULE.” Then the Farmer handed the reins of his old mule to the men and began to sing (perhaps he sang “No Tears in Heaven”) as the men just stood there in the middle of that dusty field.

After a few moments, the men tied up the mule and somberly walked back to their shiny new car. After several quiet minutes of the long drive back to town one of them said, “You know, I didn’t realize how beautiful that man’s voice really sounds.”

“Yes indeed,” replied another. The third man said, “If I get to heaven, I hope that God will see to it that I get to sing with that good man.”

—Spencer

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

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An enormous golden statue was raised up in the land of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all the people should worship the image upon hearing the sounds of the “cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” [Dan 3:5-6]

At least 3 captive Jewish men ignored the command and were set to face the furnace for their faith. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Israelite names), better known as, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego [Daniel 3:12]. Faithful men who refused to bow down to any image or person except God.

What’s interesting to me about this whole event are the words spoken by these young men as they faced the fiery furnace being given the chance to worship the image & live or stand fast & die.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Here’s a summary of what they were saying…

  • We have no need to give you a new answer
  • Our God whom we serve
  • Is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us
  • But if not, (if God doesn’t deliver them)
  • Know this, we WILL NOT serve false gods, nor worship the golden image.

This is a remarkable response from these 3 young men to an all-powerful King. They understood that all Nebuchadnezzar could do was kill their body, but not their souls. [cf. Mt 10:28] In other words, never let fear override your faith.

There are 5 lessons we can learn from this simple example:

  • There is no amount of pain on earth sufficient enough to match the severity of hell.
  • There is no amount of worldly pleasure great enough to surpass the joy of heaven.
  • God is able to deliver us & reward us in this life, but if He doesn’t, don’t miss heaven over it.
  • Standing firm in your faith is going to make someone very angry, stand firm anyway.
  • Standing firm for your faith may change someone’s mind.

After they were thrown into the furnace with haste, God did deliver them, and Nebuchadnezzar became a changed man. Let’s read what happened. [Daniel 3:26-28]

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Today we face different challenges to our faith. However, the lessons of these faithful 3 can help us. Peter wrote about the suffering that Christians face and how we ought to respond.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

You see, people see the confidence in our hope during the persecutions of Godly living and want to know why.

 

–spencer

Death Meme explains little

 

Somethings missing

 

You’ve likely seen this pic before, the explanation of death. On the surface, it’s an exceptional description. That is, if you’re a Christian. As Christians, we are so much more aware of the other side than a dog. The Word of God tells us so…

There’s a home awaiting us;

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. [John 14:2]

We’ll be with God;

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. [John 14:3]

It will last forever;

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. [Jude 1:21]

The word also tells us what is on the other side IF YOU’RE NOT A CHRISTIAN

There’s a home awaiting you;

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: [Mat 25:42]

You’ll be withOUT God;

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; [2 Thessalonians 1:8-9]

It will last forever;

And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. [Revelation 20:15]

So you see, If you’re IN CHRIST then this little story paints a wonderful picture, but if not, this story gives you a false sense of hope.

The last line is most troubling, for it teaches an idea of “salvation by faith only”. It says, “I know my Master is there, and that’s enough.” No friend, it’s not enough to just know that God is in Heaven. Hear the words of Scripture on this matter…

You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? [James 2:19-20]

The text goes on to reveal the only passage in the entirety of scripture that say, “by faith only”. As you read James 2:24, take careful note of the word preceding that oft used phrase…

You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. [James 2:24]

So you see then, as Christians, we are looking forward to being with our Master just as the story depicts, but it’s not a blind faith.

Many folks claim to be a Christian, but this claim is often based on dumb little facebook pics such as this one. Truly a blind faith, a faith based only on desire and not according to knowledge.

HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN

To become a child of God, and avoid the eternal flame, one must obey the Gospel [2Thess 1:8]. So here’s a pic worthy of our attention. [Click here for more] [click here]

obey the gospel