Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature

Articles

Listen And Be Careful
What Would You Have The Lord To Do For You
Our Service
Are You A Pilgrim or Sojourner
Nehemiah's Prayer
Prepare To Meet God
Responsibility To The Local Church
Mirrors

                              
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Listen, and Be Careful 

“Listen, and be Careful” is the admonition that Moses spoke to the children of Israel right before they entered the Promised Land. Moses said in Deuteronomy, chapter 6, verse 1,
“these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it.”  
Just as God gave the people commandments, statutes and judgments during Moses time, God has given us laws to do in our time as well. God’s laws are not suggestions or requests, but they are commands that we are expected to do, if we want to be pleasing to God. Jesus expressed this truth in Matthew 7:21 when he said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven.” Unfortunately today, too many people ignore God’s laws, and too many churches teach doctrines that do not emphasize the importance of keeping God’s commandments. And all too often that is not just SOME commandments, but ALL of the commandments. In verse 3, of Deuteronomy 6 we read, “Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.” It is not just a matter of hearing God’s commandments, but it is the matter of doing them that is important. God instructs us to be careful and make sure that we hear, understand, and do His laws. Also we must be careful to do them exactly as He has specified and do ALL of them. Today there are only a few churches that emphasize the keeping of all of God’s commandments, and they are not popular with the masses. And then there are many preachers that seek to please men instead of seeking to please God, and they are very popular with the masses. There is a difference in churches and there is a difference in preaching, and there is a difference in practices. We must be careful and make sure that what we believe, teach, and practice religiously is in harmony with God’s Infallible Word. And then we must obey it, if we expect to please God. Deuteronomy 4:2 reads, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”  Today, we must speak where the Bible speaks, and ONLY what the Bible speaks, and we must be careful to not leave anything out or add anything to God’s Holy Word. Obedience to God’s commandments is essential. And God has promised to bless us if we are obedience. Revelation 1:3 reads, “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein.”  And if we expect to be saved we must be obedient. Hebrews 5:9 reads, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” God also has told us the consequences of not being obedient. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 reads, 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.”

The words written by Moses over 3500 years ago still apply today.  We too must learn God’s word, don’t change it, don’t add to it, don’t subtract from it, but obey it. Peter expressed the Lord’s desire for us in 2 Peter 3:9 when he said, The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Well what is it that one needs to do to be saved. A person needs to Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, (Acts 16:31), Repent of sins (Acts 8:22), Confess His name (Romans 10:9-10), Be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:15-16), and Be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).

                                                                                            
What Would You Have The Lord Do For You?

In Mark, chapter 10, as Jesus departed from Jericho, he encountered a blind man who according to verse 48 cried out to Him, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus in return called to him and asked according to verse 51, “What do you want me to do for you?” We then read of the blind man asking for his sight and Jesus healing him. Now to me Jesus’ response and His question is most interesting. For our brief time I want us to consider: “What are we looking for the Lord to do for us?”
Today there are many that look to Jesus to take care of all their physical needs. We read in John, chapter 6 of Jesus feeding the multitude with five loaves and two fish. After Jesus departed, the multitudes sought after Him and found Him on the other side of the sea. Knowing their hearts, Jesus said to them in verses 26-27, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled. Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life.” Notice that the multitude wanted to make Jesus their king, not because of what He could do for them spiritually, but because they thought He would take care of all of their fleshly desires. And when they discovered that Jesus’ purpose was to teach them His Gospel and not to fill their stomachs, John said in John 6 and verse 66 that “many of His disciples withdrew, and did not walk with Him anymore.” Unfortunately, there are those today that prescribe to the “gospel of health and wealth” or the “social gospel.” That is, to some their purpose for serving God is to obtain all of the material things of this life. There are two problems with such a message: one, it is not found in God’s word, and second, it just doesn’t work! Now if you are just looking for the Lord to bless you with material gain, you, like the multitude in John, Chapter 6, are wrongly motivated. Blessing come to those who faithfully serve the Lord motivated by a genuine love for truth. God never promised otherwise! And then there are those who would have the Lord grant them wisdom and intelligence. In 1 Kings 3:5 Solomon was granted the opportunity by God to “ask what I shall give thee.” The reason according to 1 Kings 3:9 was that God was pleased with Solomon’s request to have “an understanding heart to judge Thy people to discern between good and evil.” Notice that the blessing of wisdom and intelligence came to Solomon as a result of his asking for God’s help in his service to Him. The Christian like Solomon can and should ask God to grant us the wisdom to “discern between good and evil." James teaches us in James 1:5-6 that the man who “lacks wisdom” is to “ask of God” for His wisdom by asking “in faith without any doubting.” And we are told in Proverbs 2:6, “the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. Now we must not be like those in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 who were seeking the wisdom of the world so that they can be praised by men and have the riches and power associated with such. The inevitable conclusion is that we are to seek and ask of God for the wisdom from above” that according to James 3:17 is “peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, (and) without hypocrisy.” But the purpose for our asking for wisdom must be so that we can better serve the Lord, and not for our own personal gain or fame. And then there are many who would have the Lord keep them from facing any temptation. We are indeed taught in Matthew 6:13 to pray “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Now we can be assured that God will never lead us into temptation. The truth expressed here is that we are to ask for help that we not, through our own weaknesses, be lead into temptation. You know, we have not been told that we would not face temptation. The truth is that we are going to be tempted. But we alone have the responsibility to not put ourselves in harms way in regards to temptation. That is, it is up to us to not give the devil an opportunity, or as Paul said in Ephesians 4:27, “give place to the devil.” According to Romans 14:13-14, it is our responsibility to “make no provision for the flesh in regards to its lust.” Certainly, God is not the source of temptation. This truth is clear in James, chapter one. James says in verses 13 and 14, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” But thanks be to God, when we are tempted, we have a “way of escape.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but 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.” Yes, we are promised a way out of temptation, but it is up to us to pursue it. There are others who would have God ensure that life is fair. That is, there are those who perceive others to be getting more from the Lord than they are getting. You know, there was a situation exactly like this that occurred among the Apostles. The Apostle Peter, upon learning from Jesus the type of death that he would ultimately suffer, looked to Jesus to ensure that things would be fair for all of the Apostles. 

Listen to the words recorded in John 21:20-22,Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them … seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’” Notice that Jesus told Peter that he needed to mind his own business, and that he was not to judge fairness. Now even when we perceive life is be unfair, and we think that we suffer more than others, we must not be jealous or envious, but rather we must humbly continue to follow after Jesus.
Another example of perceived unfairness is found in Luke, chapter 10 when Martha was concerned about her sister Mary not doing her fair share of the work, but rather sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to His words. Look at Jesus’ response in verses 41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” The question for us is; Would we, as Mary, seek every opportunity to be taught God’s will or would we, as Martha, be more concerned with the things of this life, and life being fair for me? Now above all else, there is one thing that we should ask the Lord to do for us that amazingly is neglected by so many. That is, to be saved from the condemnation of our sins and be righteous in His sight. This should be first and foremost on our list of priorities. Jesus told us what the first priority should be in our lives when he said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”

In Acts, chapter 16 after hearing the Gospel from Paul and Silas, the Philippian Jailor had just one request of what the Lord could do for him. In verse 30 he asked “what must I do to be saved?” And the Jews on the day of Pentecost after hearing the Gospel from Peter, had only one question. That question according to Acts 2:37 was, “brethren, what shall we do?” Is that what we desire of the Lord? Notice with the Jailor and those in Acts 2, there was an understanding that there was something that they “must do.” You know, today many people would have God save them without any effort on their part. But scriptures (Acts 2:40; Philippians 2:12; II Corinthians 7:10-11) reveal to us that obedience and repentance demands effort and change on our part if we desire to be saved by the Lord. So the question for you and me is: What would we have the Lord do for us?
If the answer is Salvation, them we must do what the Philippian Jailor and those on Pentecost did to obtain it. Based upon their faith, they asknowledged Jesus Christ as Lord, repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins. Is it not the height of hypocrisy to believe and tell people that anything less is acceptable? 


Our Service 


The Lord describes our service in many different ways. That is, various figures of speech are used in Scripture to illustrate various aspects of discipleship. Disciples are described as runners in a race, as sheep following a shepherd, as friends, as servants, as brethren, as living stones, as sons and daughters, as citizens of a kingdom, as new creatures… and the list could go on.

One figure used several times is that of a soldier. While the Bible makes it quite clear that our warfare and weaponry is spiritual and not physical, there are still many parallels between being a successful soldier in God's kingdom and a successful soldier in the physical realm.

Paul mentions a soldier’s need to be free from distractions as he exercises his duty. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:4, 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.” In our own nation, the government has made provisions for its soldiers so they can train and serve with a minimum of interference of everyday concerns.

Families are often provided with living quarters and access to medical care, education and inexpensive staples. Reservists' employers are asked to excuse reservists from their job when called up to active duty. This is so “the affairs of everyday life” will not deter the soldier from focusing on his mission. It is a detriment when military families suffer needs because then the soldier's attention and concern becomes divided. He thinks about their needs not being met instead of his work as a soldier.

The Apostle Paul in Scripture gives emphasis to the idea of active service.  Active service is what must be involved in successful discipleship. In the U.S Army a soldier who does not put forth his fair share is referred to as a “goldbricker.”  The Lord has called us into “active service” in His Army, and we need to be active in our service. That is, we need to be loyal, and true, and carry out our duties and responsibilities and not be a “goldbricker” in the Army of the Lord.

The victory that comes to the successful soldier who has fought “The Good Fight of Faith” is eternal life. Listen to the words of Paul as he encourages young Timothy in 1Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”  

Now let’s consider some of the aspects of being a soldier of Christ. First, because the warfare is spiritual, and not physical, we must not make the mistake of thinking that our service is not important, or fierce, or costly, or real. That is, we must not underestimate the potential for spiritual injury or death. It is not a pretend situation, but it is real and permanent. However, we must understand that when a faithful Christian dies physically, the Lord will raise Him up unto life eternal; death is only a passing on to victory ( John 11:24-27).  But eternal death is the consequence of losing the spiritual war (Romans 6:23; Galatians 6:7-8; Revelation 20:14; 21:8).

You know, through the media, we have seen some pretty horrific consequences of physical war. But as bad as they are, far worse are the consequences when we have lost the spiritual conflict!

Now in spiritual warfare like physical war there is a matter of using appropriate tactics. You do not want to rush a wall with swordsmen without some means of scaling the wall. You do not want to wage war against aircraft without anti-aircraft guns. You do not want to engage tanks without antitank guns. In physical warfare it is important to know your enemy so appropriate action can be taken. The same is true with our spiritual warfare.
  

Well, what about the characteristics of our spiritual enemy? The first thing we need to know is that he is not interested in peace, but in our destruction (1 Peter 5:8). We cannot give quarter to him; No peace! No compromise! No negotiations! That will lead to defeat every time. It is also important to know the battlefield. Jungle warfare is fought differently than mountain terrain and city warfare in fought different than a country landscape. Ski troops with white camouflaged uniforms would not fare well in desert combat and visa-versa.

In spiritual warfare we must also know the battlefield. Paul described the scene in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 when he wrote, For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:  (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Only when we considered the spiritual nature of the place of conflict, can we begin to see the weapons that are needed. The fortresses we seek to destroy are the sins and speculations of the world which exalt themselves against God and His righteousness; and the battle begins in our own hearts.

It is there that Satan seeks to gain ground, and it is there that we must stop him! Jesus described the place of conflict in Mark 7:20-23, “That which cometh out of the man, defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Jesus said the battle ground with Satan is in our hearts (or minds) and we must engage the enemy there and be successful against our evil thoughts if we are to be spiritually victorious.  

Those who have obeyed the gospel unto the remission of their sins have enlisted as a soldier in the Lord’s Army.  And like any conflict, some soldiers go A.W.O.L. (absent without leave). But for those determined to be successful soldiers, we arm ourselves against Satan on this battlefield.  Paul describes our complete set of arms and armor in Ephesians 6:10-17, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Now just as any soldier in a physical army must undergo preparation and get the proper battlefield equipment, there is also mental training and preparation that is important. The doubtful, the neglectful and the lethargic do not make good physical soldiers and certainly in spiritual warfare they will have no defense against the flaming darts, the evil snares and the wiles of the evil one!

You know, the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” declared “His truth is marching on.” To me that is more than just a line out of a patriotic song.  I relate it to the Divine purpose that God gives to His soldiers.  It is amazing to me that people will sing the song with little or no idea what “His Truth” is!  


In Holy Scripture we have been enlisted to advance God's truth in a hostile world with spiritual weapons. The truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ, not only to be believed, but to be practiced even when conflict between the truth and the world rages. We must not abandon our cause, or our post, but defend truth and support our fellow soldiers in Christ as a band of brothers.

We are not mercenaries. We do not serve the highest bidder for our services. We serve out of loyalty, love, honor and devotion to our king. We do not serve only in times of ease, or turn tail and run when the sacrifice might be too great. We fight for the King, and we are in it for the duration. I hope that all of us would be able to affirm that this is so. Our warefare will not be over until the Commander says so (1 Corinthians 15:54-58).
 

Are You a Pilgrim or Sojourner?

1 Peter 2:11-12 reads, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation." Now a sojourner is someone who has taken up temporary residence in a place. Today, someone may go to a foreign country to live for a couple of years with the intent of returning home. That person is a sojourner. But, if the person does not intend to return home and becomes a citizen of the foreign country, he is not sojourning.

God's people have always considered mortal life a sojourning and a pilgrimage. Geneses 47:9 reads, “And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” And Psalms 119:54 reads, “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.”

And Hebrews 11:13-16, speaking about the faithful that have gone on before us, says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Or they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”

Now if you are a child of God, you too must be a sojourner because this world is not your home. There are four aspects of a Christian's sojourning. First, most details of our homeland have not been revealed.

That is, we only have a few vague glimpses of the home that we long to obtain at the end of life’s journey. While upon this earth, we are but pilgrims journeying to our eternal home. And it is by faith that we remain on that journey and are not deterred by life’s uncertainties.

We need to have the same kind of faith that was characteristic of Abraham. It was said of Abraham in Hebrews 11:8, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

Second, we do not always understand everything that happens along our journey. Put yourself in Noah's shoes. It had never rained upon the earth when God commanded Noah to build an ark in order to escape a flood that would destroy the earth. How perplexing this must have been. Noah may have wondered: What is rain? What does rain look and feel like? What is a flood? How will it destroy the earth.

Also consider Daniel. He was a great prophet of God. God gave him an end of time prophesy to record for future generations. And although he spoke and recorded the words, he did not understand their meaning. In Daniel 12:8-9 Daniel said: "Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, 'My Lord, what shall be the end of these things?' And he said, "Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.'"

Today, we will not always understand the things that happen along our journey. But we must be like Daniel; trust in the Lord, obey His word, and remain confident that we will receive the promise.

Third, our earthly pilgrimage requires sacrifice. As an athlete must sacrifice to condition his body, we too must sacrifice and discipline our body and bring it into subjection. Using this metaphor, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."

And Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul." Yes! Our pilgrimage is one of sacrifice, but the prize of victory is well worth the effort and sacrifice.

Fourth, faith keeps us on our journey to our home in heaven. Having presented Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah as faithful pilgrims, the Hebrew writer penned these words in Hebrews 11:13-14. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." In this passage and the rest of Hebrews, chapter 11, we see that it was by faith that the patriarchs before us obtained a good report.

Notice it was by faith that Able offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (verse 4). It was by faith that Enoch was translated that he should not see death (verse 5). It was by faith that Noah moved with fear and prepared an ark to the saving of his house (verse 7). It was by faith that Sara received strength to conceive seed when she was past age and able to deliver the child of promise (verse 11). It was by faith that Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac the son of promise as a sacrifice (verse 17). It was by faith that Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come (verse 20). It was by faith that Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff (verse 21). It was by faith that Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel (verse 22). It was by faith that Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (verses 24-24). It was by faith that the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not (verse 31). And the faith “Hall of Fame” list goes on to include Gedeon, Barak, Sampson, Jephthae, David, Samuel (verse 32).

Think about yourself: Are you a child of God living in faith? Have you embraced the promises of God? Do you confess that you are a stranger and pilgrim on the earth? Are you declaring that you seek a homeland?

If you are not a child of God on the road to heaven, won't you begin your pilgrimage?


Nehemiah’s Prayer


Nehemiah 1:4-11
In the Old Testament there is an individual that to me is most interesting. As soon as you meet Nehemiah, you discover that perhaps the most important thing about him is his trust in God during bad times as illustrated by his prayer that is recorded in Nehemiah, chapter one. Nehemiah lived in the capital city of Susa in Persia around 450 B.C. While serving as cupbearer of King Artaxerxes, he heard the bad news that the people back in Judah were suffering in the ruins of Jerusalem. Nehemiahs first reaction was not one of political action, nor did he organize a protest, nor did he abandon his job, nor turn to strong drink.  As soon as he heard the bad news, he sat down and wept and mourned for days. Scriptures say that he fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. That prayer is recorded in Nehemiah 1:5-11.  Nehemiah prayed, “O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible (awesome) God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O LORD, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. For I was the king's cupbearer.” Nehemiah knew who he was praying to. He spoke to the God that he had known all his life.  Notice how Nehemiah addressed God in his prayer.  He said, “The great and awesome God that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments.”  Also notice that Nehemiah prayed to the God of heaven, with full confidence in His power to hear, to respond and to guide the work that was ahead. Nehemiah knew the situation was not Gods fault, but rather he put the blame on the people (including himself) who acted very corruptly in their disobedience to Gods commands given through Moses. Now that is to say that Nehemiah knew the history of the covenant, he was aware of what had gone wrong, he knew who was to be blamed and he willingly accepted the responsibility.  Someone said one time, “You might as well tell God the truth when you pray. God knows it before you start praying.” And that is certainly true.   In his prayerNehemiah knew that the people belonged to God. He said, “They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand.”  Also, Nehemiah knew that they were God’s people, and that God could and would help them, but he also knew that action was needed by God’s people.  After the prayer was offered, Nehemiah immediately began to recruit, organize and mobilize a huge number of people to rebuild the walls.   Now Nehemiah, chapter one teaches us how to react to bad news. When we read Nehemiah's prayer, we see the mature faith that he brought to that conversation with God, we see his acceptance of responsibility, we see the devotion to God that is essential for prayer, and we see the need to move to action so that our prayers can be answered. In Nehemiah we see a man who did not act without prayer, but did not pray without acting. 

What a wonderful example for us when we need to go to God in prayer

during bad times! 

Prepare to Meet God 

One of the most important questions that could ever be asked is:  Are you prepared to meet God?  
In the book of Amos, chapter 4 we see that the Children of Israel were being punished by God for their disobedience. God had inflicted them with many different kinds of plagues to get them to change their behavior, but they continued to be abstinent and would not repent. God speaking through the prophet Amos told them in Amos 4:6-12, “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God." Preparing for future events is a part of life.  Parents recognize the need for preparation by teaching their children how to speak, dress and relate to others. Societies recognize the need for preparation by requiring their youth to obtain an education during their informative years.  And the government recognizes the need for preparation by requiring rigorous conditioning and training for all military personnel.  God revealed, through the prophet Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:27, "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth."  This expresses the universal truth that it is easier to learn when you are young. Therefore, we design and plan and put our best efforts into preparing our young people through education, apprenticeships and training to make sure that they obtain the basic skills necessities for them to survive, and to enhance their physically, mentally, social and spiritual existence. Being prepared "to meet God" is the greatest of all pursuits, because of its eternal or everlasting consequences. When this life is over, we are told in Ecclesiastes 12:7 that “the body "returneth to the earth as it was, but "the spirit returneth to God who gave it."   In preparing for the circumstances of physical life, the individual must first determine what needs to be accomplished, and then follow a course that will allow one to achieve what is needed. The same is true of spiritual life. A person cannot achieve a goal that they do not have, nor can they accomplish a goal without preparation. And preparation must come from the right source.  If you want to be a journalist, you go to the teachers of journalism.  If you want to be a medical doctor, you go to the teachers of medicine. If you want to be spiritually prosperous, you must go to the source of spiritual knowledge.  And the source for spiritual knowledge is God. To say that a person can follow their conscience and become spiritually prosperous is foolish.  How can a person understand what they do not know?  And how can a person know what they have not been taught?  And how can a person be taught something without a teacher? And how can a person teach without first being taught themselves?  Isn’t this the very message of Paul in Romans 10:14 when he said, “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? In John 17:18 Jesus affirmed that he would send “spiritual teachers” into the world.  And Jesus said in John 14:16 and 2 Peter 1:3 those that he sent into the world would have a guide and would be taught “all things that pertained to life and godliness.”  And we are told in John 16:13 that “the Spirit of God would himself guide the apostles into all truth."  And in John 6:44-46 we see that in order to come to the source of spiritual blessings a person must be "taught of God."   Truth is not subjective. It must come from the source, and according to John 17:17 the source of all truth is God.”   We are told in 2 Timothy 2:15 that in order to be "approved unto God, and a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, one must be diligent in their handling of the word of truth.”  The Apostle Peter revealed in 2 Peter 3:14 that each individual must "give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot, and blameless in his sight." In summary, in order to be prepared to meet God one must go to the source of all Spiritual truth; the Word of God.  One must read it, study it, respect it, rightly divide it, obey it and let it be the guide for everything said, everything believed, everything taught and everything done. Are you prepared to meet God? If you are not prepared to meet God, won’t you make the necessary preparations?


Responsibility To The Local Church

There are some professed Christians that do not have a place in a local church. They are members of none. They are not a part of the church where they worship. They are not subject to its discipline and accept no part of its work as an obligation. This is certainly not according to the Divine purpose and pattern of the local church in the New Testament.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:8-11, "
Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The New Testament pattern of things evidences that the individual Christian must be a part of a local church of Christ.  Paul said in Acts 9:26 that he "assayed to join himself to the disciples" when he came up to Jerusalem from three years of preaching in Arabia. For any Christian to have fellowship and discharge his duties toward other Saints (I Thessalonians 5:14-15; Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 10:23-25) he must be a part of a local church, and if one is to have fellowship in the work of the Lord (Titus 3:8-14, 3:1-3, 2 Timothy 2: 21-26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Ephesians 4:14-16), he must be a part of a local church.

Mirrors 

The mirrors used in Roman antiquity were slightly curved disks of metal. They were made of bronze, tin or silver. When the surfaces were highly polished, they would reflect light like glass does today. There are four references to mirrors in the Bible: Job 37:18, Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass? 1 Cor. 13:12, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  2 Cor. 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” James 1:23, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass.”

In ancient times, mirrors were used for a variety of secondary purposes. Some were used in military battle to send signals or confuse the enemy. And if you thought the rear view mirror was a twentieth century creation, you’re wrong. Roman history tells us that some Roman chariots were equipped with rear view mirrors! However, the primary use then and today is to see what you look like: to see if your face is dirty; where to put jewelry; how to arrange your hair. That is, the use of a mirror is to help determine if something needs attention, and then to do something about it. The same is true today. James said in James 1:23-25, “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The point that we are making is uncomplicated, and finds ready application. The Word of God is to be used like a mirror. We are to look into the Word of God to see if according to our reflected image, we need attention or correction, and then do something about it. Why read the Bible, if we are not going to do what it says? Why come to a Bible class and learn truth about living a good life, and then make no effort to apply it? Why listen to Bible preaching or teaching, and then ignore that teaching in the way you live? James said “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does,”

How about you? Do you use a mirror to see what you look like? When you see something tha needs attention or correction, do you make application?