Paul in his second epistle to Timothy urged him to not be ashamed of the gospel. He wrote: “Be not ashamed of the testimony of the Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8) One might reasonably ask, “Why?” Why not be ashamed of the gospel? After all, it was illegal and it had landed Paul himself in prison.
The next few verses offer two excellent reasons why we should never, under any circumstances, be ashamed of the gospel. First, God has “saved us, and called us with an holy calling.” (2 Timothy 1:9) There are many honorable and prestigious callings one may pursue in this life but none compare to our holy calling. In a world of violence, vulgarity, and every other expression of evil, holiness stands out as a model of the way life ought to be.
Second, Jesus Christ has “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10) Man has a built-in longing for immortality. Our psyche is repelled by death. The gospel of Christ, and it alone, offers to man real hope of life and immortality.
What a combination: the most noble life possible in this world and immortality in the next. We ought not to be ashamed of the gospel. In fact, we should not even be shy, timid, hesitant, or reluctant to share the gospel with others. We have the greatest message in the world.
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 said so.” And I suppose most of us have at times said the same to our children. It simply means “I am 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 is 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 is 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 writer of the book of Hebrews calls upon us to offer two types of sacrifices to God. First, we are to offer “the sacrifice of praise” which we do in song and prayer. In the Old Testament God was praised with instruments of music (Psalm 150) but under the Christian system we offer “the fruit of our lips.” (Hebrews 13:15)
Second, we offer the sacrifice of good works. We are to “do good” and to “share” for God is pleased with such sacrifices. (Hebrews 13:16 NKJV) Whenever we help our fellow man, God views it as an offering to Him. There is a proverb which says: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord” then adds this: “And that which he hath given will he pay him again.” (Proverbs 19:17) Jesus said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Let us always remember these two sides to the Christian life. We must offer our worship to God and also live lives of helping others.
According to the Census Bureau, more people in America today are on welfare than have full-time jobs. In just the three years from 2009 to 2011 (latest available statistics), there was a 40% rise in food stamp recipients. A recent Cato Institute study found that in 35 states welfare now pays more than minimum wage work. So why work, if the government will give you the same compensation for not working? Because our Lord demands it.
Christians are to help those who cannot work. But the Word is clear concerning those who will not work. They should not be aided in their sin. Lazy and idle people harm society, and even worse, themselves and their families.
If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. II Thessalonians 3:10
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. Proverbs 10:4
The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. Proverbs 13:4
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10
Brotherly love is an essential part of the Christian life. The apostle Peter wrote: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Peter 1:22)
In this passage Peter tells us three things about brotherly love. First, it is the natural outgrowth of obedience to the truth. He said that we have obeyed the truth “unto unfeigned love of the brethren.” Second, he tell us that our love for one another must be real – not mere pretense. He calls it “unfeigned love,” that is, not hypocritical. The Greek word from which “unfeigned” is translated literally means “not an actor.” Our love for one another must never be mere playacting. Third, Peter tells us that our love must be with feeling. He said, “Love one another with a pure heart fervently.” There is no room in the Christian religion for a listless love. Our love for one another must be intense, fervent, forceful. It comes from the heart.
In public worship and Bible classes we grow in knowledge of God’s word and are built up spiritually. However, the public assembly is not a substitute for private devotions. In order to mature as Christians we must read, pray, and meditate on spiritual matters in the privacy of our own homes. It is a good idea to set aside a regular time each day for these activities.
In the Old testament Israel was instructed to have God’s word in their heart and to teach it to their children. In Deuteronomy
6:6-9 we read: “And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou riseth up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shall write them upon the posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.”
Private Bible study and meditation can make us fruitful in God’s service. The Psalmist described a righteous man in these words: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doeth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1:2-3)
“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) Yes, this verse is directed to men. But why do some women think it is ok to dress in a way that tempts a man to go there, in his mind, with her? The way a female dresses speaks louder than anything she professes verbally. A female can claim to be a Christian and talk about how she wishes men were more mannerly, respectful, and Christ-like. But until she dresses modestly, that type of respect and high regard will not be gained. Overly-revealing dress is an invitation to lascivious thoughts, not respect and esteem. A female consistently failing to present herself in a way befitting one who professes to worship God (1 Timothy 2:9-10) is not serving herself, her Lord, or the men she encounters. Nor is she setting a proper example for her family, friends, and fellow church members. When you dress in the morning, would you make the same clothing choice if you knew later, that very day, you would meet Christ Himself? If the answer is no, change your clothes. A female who dresses enticingly is not only causing others to sin, but is guilty of sin herself.
Twenty centuries of change and innovation have so altered the face of Christianity that its modern form often differs remarkably from the original.
In its pure form, however, Christianity is clearly described for us in God’s word. Furthermore, we are strictly forbidden to tamper with it: “But though we, or an angel form heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)
If we were to start with the Bible itself as our guide, dropping both the traditions of our forefathers and the innovations of modern culture, we would again have Christianity in its pure form as envisioned by Christ and taught by His apostles.
New year resolutions have been used by many societies. The ancient Babylonians promised their gods that they would return borrowed items and pay their debts. The Romans made promises to their god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In Medieval times, knights took the “peacock vow” to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. In our modern day society, some prepare for the year ahead by making resolutions at watchnight services.
If you are a Christian, the most important resolution you can make is to remain obedient, learn more of God’s Word, and give more in His service.
If you are not yet a Christian, the best resolution for a happy new year is to become a child of God by hearing the gospel (Romans 10:14), believing in Jesus, God’s Son (Acts 16:30-31, Hebrews 11:6), repenting of your sins (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus as Lord before men (Acts 8:36), and being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
A 2007 study showed that only 12% of people who set New Year resolutions succeed. As followers of the one true God of the Bible, let’s all resolve to obey our Lord and live by His Word. This will ensure a HAPPY NEW YEAR!
The apostle Peter in his opening words at the house of Cornelius stated two important truths about God. First, he said: “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) The significance of his statement on that occasion was to show that God was willing to accept Gentiles as well as Jews. The broader meaning of the statement is that God makes no distinction on the basis of race, nationality, education, financial success, etc. And, of course, neither should we.
Second, Peter said: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” (Acts 10:35) This is a very important Bible statement today in view of the prevailing doctrine of salvation by faith alone. Too many believe that all one must do to be acceptable to God is just accept Christ by praying the “Sinner’s Prayer.” The apostle makes it clear that our life must be one of working righteousness.