There is a lot in our world that is just plain ugly. Catch the news on any day and hear of war, crime, tragedy, etc. Our music often focuses on that which is depressing rather than uplifting. On the other hand, there are a lot of good things on which we can focus our attention.
The good thing is this – we have a choice. Of course we cannot isolate ourselves completely from every unpleasant thing, but we can choose our focus. We can make a genuine effort to fill our minds with the good things and this will make a world of difference in our lives.
Paul put it this way: “Finally, brethren, 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; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The Book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom – wisdom on how to live. There is a lot in it said about riches and poverty. One choice passage says this:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches –
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You.
And say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.”
(Proverbs 30:8-9 NKJ)
This passage presents a very balanced view of wealth and poverty. There is an inherent spiritual danger in each. The safest place is somewhere in between and this is where most of us find ourselves.
The apostle Paul offered a similar idea but in different words: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)
You hold more than a baby in your arms. You lead more than a toddler or small child by the hand. You mold and shape more than a child’s mind, social skills, and heart. You, dear lady, are influencing this world and eternity. As you rise to the challenges and succeed in keeping Christ in the center of your children’s hearts, you are partnering with God. He can help you cope with the temporary trauma, the short-lived chagrin, and fleeting frustrations of motherhood. God designed the home, and as such He designed it as a place where mother’s touch and influence would settle deep into the hearts and lives of those eternal souls you helped bring into existence. You can dedicate them to God like Hannah did Samuel (1 Sam. 2:28). You can sacrifice for them like Samson’s mother did for him (Jud. 13:13-14). You can treasure the things about your children in your heart as Mary did about Jesus (Luke 2:19).
The trials of motherhood are a relative moment. The lessons you leave them last beyond a lifetime. Thank you for willingly, lovingly, and righteously pursuing this important facet of God’s work on earth!
Government among men is God’s idea. Paul wrote: “There is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1) It is one of His blessings to mankind. Anarchy – the lack of government – would be devastating. It would truly be the survival of the fittest or put more bluntly – a dog eat dog world. Even the anarchist could not survive anarchy.
Rulers exist in the world for the benefit of those who do good and for the punishment of those who do evil. Paul put it this way: “Rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil…he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil.” (Romans 13:3-4)
We should pray for those who rule. Again Paul wrote: “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.” He then adds what should be the goal of such prayers: “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
The Book of Job tells of Satan bringing accusations against Job. He said to the Lord, “Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9) Then again, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” (Job 2:4) But Job is not the only one whom Satan accuses before God. In Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as “the accuser of our brethren.”
Imagine that – Satan in the presence of God to accuse each of us. Do you think maybe he might be able to dig up some dirt from our past? Maybe find a skeleton or two in the closet. The reality for all of us is – “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
So where does that leave us? Can Satan really bring an accusation against Christians and make it stick? No! Listen to this reassuring passage: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is ever at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” (Romans 8:33-34)
How then does one receive this salvation from sin? The Bible puts it this way: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)
It is not uncommon to hear churches describe themselves as “Bible believing.” It is usually said to distinguish themselves from other churches which have very little regard for the authority of the Bible. And we certainly agree it is a good thing to be Bible believing. However, the question is not only: Do you believe the Bible, but what else do you believe?
What if two explicit statements of scripture seem to contradict each other? Which do we believe? The problem is with us, not the scriptures. The scriptures do not really contradict each other. It is only our opinion of one or the other passage that is contradictory. Sometimes people have such a strong opinion based on one statement of scripture that they reject another explicit statement of scripture.
A common example of this: the Bible says, “By grace are ye saved through faith…not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Some people conclude that if salvation is “by grace through faith” and “not of works” then baptism cannot be essential to salvation. The problem is the Bible does not say that baptism is not essential. But rather the Bible connects the two. Jesus himself said. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16) The apostle Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized…for the remission of sins.” (Acts 2:38) The apostle Paul affirmed that we are “baptized into Christ.” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27) And the apostle Peter wrote explicitly, “Baptism does also now save us.” (1 Peter 3:21)
We should never form an opinion from one passage that contradicts another. We should believe both and let time help us come to an understanding of why the passages are not contradictory. The real believer will trust that both statements of scripture are true; then, in time, he may come to understand how.
The church at Thessalonica got off to a rocky start. The two missionaries, Paul and Silas, who first preached in their city, had to flee by night because of persecution. Later Paul wrote to them and mentioned their “having received the word in much affliction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:6) And again, “Ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14)
But even though the Thessalonians suffered persecution for their faith, they still sounded forth the word of the Lord. Paul wrote, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to Godward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak any thing.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8)
We enjoy much greater religious freedom in our country so that we need not fear persecution. That being the case it should be much easier for us to sound out the word of the Lord in our community. Let’s imitate the church at Thessalonica in spreading the gospel message.
By Neal Pollard
—Whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another commits adultery (Mat. 19:9)
—Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
—For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error (Rom. 1:26-27)
—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:18-19)
—A woman is not allowed to teach or exercise authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:11-14)
These passages go against the grain of popular opinion, cultural mores, and religious orthodoxy. Religious leaders with academic degrees, numerous followers, or oratorical skills will not change the truth of Scripture. It is what it is. Our role is to humbly submit.
Do you remember those words from your childhood? I do. There were those times for many of us when our parents told us either to do or not to do something and the reason given was “because I say so.” And I suppose most of us have at times said the same to our children. It simply means “I’m the parent you are the child, so do as you are told.” Similarly, God sometimes reinforces His commands by saying, “I am the Lord.”
In the Book of Leviticus chapter 19 there is a long series of diverse commands given. It’s this chapter that contains the statements “Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy” which the apostle Peter quotes for us. (Leviticus 19:2; 1 Peter 1:16) Also it’s in this chapter that we have, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” which Jesus said was the second greatest commandment. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
How did God reinforce these commands? He said, “I am the Lord your God.” This statement or a variation of it is found according to my count 15 times in that one chapter. The point is that we need to do what God says just because He is God. He is the Lord, therefore, obey Him.
The Bible has a lot to say about decisions. The great men of the Bible were great because of the choices they made. There was Joshua. He called on Israel to “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Then added emphatically, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) There was also Moses. He chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” (Hebrews 11:25)
There are many decisions we must make in life. We must choose a mate. This very important decision can determine the whole course of our lives. We must choose an occupation. Remember to make it an honorable one. We must choose our friends. Be very careful here. Remember: “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33)
We must never forget that decisions determine destiny. This is true not only of the big decisions but of the little ones also. Our eternal destiny will be determined by the total of all our decisions.