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


Holding Firm
Sin Is No Laughing Matter
Have You Been Saved
Press On To Maturity
Not Enough Time For God
Bearing Fruit
Listen And Be Careful
The Enemies Of God
What Would You Have The Lord To Do For You
What Conservatism Is
Our Service
Are You A Pilgrim or Sojourner
Nehemiah's Prayer
Prepare To Meet God
Responsibility To The Local Church

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Holding Firm

2 Thessalonians 2:15 reads, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” Notice that the Apostle Paul promised that the words that he and other inspired men received from Jesus Christ, and taught in either spoken or written form, would last forever. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” In John 12:48 Jesus said, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge us in the last day.”  And Revelation 20:12 tells us “that all will be judged out of the things which were written in the books.” Now since Holy Scripture tells us that one day all be judged by the words that Jesus taught and spoke, we must of necessity study those words, live by them and teach them to others.

We must not fall for the temptation to leave the written word and follow the dictates of our culture. Nor can we seek to change the church so that it becomes like other religious groups. Faithful Christians must hold firm to the teaching of the apostles and other inspired men of God that is contained in the New Testament.

There is but one gospel, and there cannot be another. This is the very message of Paul in Galatians 1:6-9 when he said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from 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.”

We must hold firmly to the gospel of Christ and never distort it. That is, we must abide in the teaching of Christ and not fall short or go beyond them. 2 John 9 reads, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.”  Notice that the Apostle John said that to go beyond or fall short of the teaching of Jesus Christ will cause one to lose his relationship with God.

Therefore, let us go to God’s word, and hold firm to it, for all that we believe, practice and teach. We must neither add to nor take away from God’s word. Revelation 22:18-19 reads, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Now while these verses speak specifically of the book of Revelation, we can apply this truth to every book that God caused to be written.

In 1 Timothy 3:16 Paul instructed young Timothy to “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” It is certainly our intent to teach nothing but the truth. And we must do so without compromise and yet, in simplicity and in love. Man’s greatest need today is the gospel of Jesus Christ, because it, and it alone, can lead to salvation and eternal life when this life is over. But we must hold firm and remain faithful to the teaching found in the written word of God if we are to expect salvation.

It all starts with an initial response to the Gospel Call. If you have never obeyed the Gospel of Christ, why not now. Don’t wait another minute!

Sin Is No Laughing Matter!

In Hebrews 3:13 the Hebrew writer wrote about being Hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” And Paul penned these words in Ephesians 5:6, “Let no man deceive you with vain words.” And John said in 1 John 3:7-8, “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that commits sin is of the devil.” Now that is to say that the devil is actively deceitful, and wants to lure everyone into his camp. The Apostle Peter warns of this in 1 Peter 5:8 when he wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” And the Apostle Paul admonished the brethren in Ephesians 5:3-4 to be careful and not let, “fornication, or uncleanness, or covetousness, be named among you; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient.”

With these Scriptures in mind, let us think for a moment about the things that people in the world all too often laugh or jest about. Have you noticed that sin is portrayed as funny and humorous in the media today? Homosexuality is being sold as a harmless lifestyle, practiced by “cute” and “nice” and “funny” people. Couples living together and practicing fornication are placed in a humorous setting and are glamorized in story lines of countless movies and television programs. And unfortunately many Christians watch these episodes containing such sinful behavior without one thought of objection. “Reality shows” and “talk shows” openly present fornication as acceptable to people who are “enlightened.” And what passes for “comedy” these days is punctuated by cursing and suggestive routines.  

What is the purpose of all of this? The devil knows that what we consider funny will soon begin to be accepted.

There was a time when decent people cringed at the thought of homosexuality, and if mentioned, it was whispered in private. Now that is to say that it was a shameful disgrace to have one of these perverted people in your community, and for society to openly accept it. Now people say, “You shouldn’t say things like that. You might offend someone.” Well, let me read to you what Paul wrote by inspiration. Romans 1:24-27 reads, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” And what did the Apostle Paul say the consequences were for doing those things, and also for those that tolerate them, or just laugh about it? Verse 32 of Romans 1 reads, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Don’t you see that according to Divine Revelation those who commit such thing are worthy of death and also those that have pleasure, or put up with such behavior are worthy of death.

Unfortunately today godly people are bombarded with this sinful behavior constantly. But notice that according to Holy Scripture, fornication (whether homosexual or heterosexual) is a sin. Galatians 5:19 reads, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now sin separates one from God. Isaiah 59:2 reads, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” And the wages of sin is death. Romans 6:23, reads, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Sin is not a laughing matter, it is serious! Laughing at sin is a sin. Ephesians 5:11 reads, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” And 2 John 9-11 reads, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

We must be careful what we laugh at! Sin is no laughing matter! Both John and Paul said that when we bid someone in sin God’s speed (that is, we do not reprove them, but just laugh or jest bout it) we are a partaker of those evil deeds and worthy of death.

What is your relationship to sin?

Have you had your past sins washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ? If not, why not do it now? After being baptized for the forgiveness of your past sins, have you allowed sin to creep back into your life? Why not repent and ask God for forgiveness? Do you laugh or jest about sin rather than reprove it in others. If so you are a partaker of those deeds. Why not repent and ask God for forgiveness?

Have You Been Saved?”

Jesus gave the Great Commission in Mark 16:15-16 when he told his Apostles to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” To be “saved” from sins means to have the “remission of sins.” Listen to the words of Jesus recorded in Luke 24:47 just before his ascension. He said, “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name (by his authority) among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Now according to Ephesians 1:7 our sins are forgiven through or by the blood of Jesus Christ. And it occurs when we have faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), when we repent of our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38), when we confess our faith in Christ (Romans 10:9-10), and when we are immersed in water (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16).

The gospel message is the same regardless of who we are, where we live, or our economic status. And there is only one road to Heaven. Jesus said in John 14:1-3, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in 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. 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. And in His “Sermon on the Mount” recorded in Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus said, “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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  

Unfortunately, today there are people who know they are lost and have not made any effort to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. And there are others that have been deceived by false theories and false teachers into thinking they are saved when they are not. That is why there is not a more urgent question than “What must I do to be saved?” Now that is to say, that nothing is more important than for each one of us to ask ourselves the question, “Have my sins been forgiven by the blood of Christ, and have I truly availed myself of the salvation that Jesus offers through the gospel?”

You know, the world today wants to fight against God’s plan and deny the simple statement of Scripture that says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” as recorded in Mark 16:16. Sadly, this simple statement has been distorted by many through the years.

Let’s briefly contrast what the world teaches and what the Bible says one must do to be saved. Mark 16:16 teaches us that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” The ATHIEST says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall NOT be saved.” Atheism doctrine projects that there is no sin, there is no Hell to shun, and there is no Heaven to be gained because God Himself does not exist. This doctrine stands in direct opposition to the Bible. Jesus said in John 8:24, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”

And then there is the UNIVERSALIST who teaches, “He that believeth not and is not baptized will still be saved.” This doctrine teaches that everyone is going to Heaven regardless of what one does or does not do. Universalism says God will accept everyone in Atheism, Judaism, Mohammedism, Buddhism, Satanism, Idolatry, or anything else one wishes to follow. Jesus taught just the opposite. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “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. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” And in John 3:5 Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

And then there is the CALVINIST who teaches, “He that is saved shall believe and be baptized.” Now this theory claims that God personally chose people to be saved and to be lost, before they were even born. The Bible does not teach this doctrine. Jesus commanded that the gospel be preached to all the world and every creature who obey the gospel could be saved. He did not teach that the “elect” or saved people were chosen by God before the world began. Jesus instructed his Disciples in Matthew 28:19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” And in Mark 16:16, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

And the CATHOLIC teaches that “He that is baptized as an infant shall be saved, then he can believe at age 12 in a special confirmation service.” When we study Scripture, we learn that an infant is NOT a sinner, but is born pure and innocent. Jesus expressed this very truth in Matthew, chapter 18 and verse 3, when he said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Also Jesus said that no sinner can be saved unless he first believes the gospel. Jesus very words in Mark 16:16 were, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” We all know that an infant cannot believe what it cannot comprehend.

You know, the theory of inherited sin has been passed down for years by several religious bodies (Episcopalian, Lutheran and others), but it is not the gospel of Christ. Jesus taught that infants are innocent and remain so until they become accountable by understanding the difference between right and wrong. But when they “grow up” and reach an age in which they realize that they have yielded to temptation and sin then they must do those things essential to obtain salvation. James 1:14-15 reads, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Now when sin enters one’s life, that one is lost until he does those things that are essential for forgiveness. In Acts. Chapter 2 we see where those responsible for crucifying Jesus were convicted to the heart by Peter’s sermon, and cried out, “What must we do?” Peter told them in Acts 2:38 to “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 Ghost.  

And then lastly, the PROTESTANT DENOMINATIONALIST contradicts Mark 16:16 by teaching, “He that believeth shall be saved immediately at the point of faith, and can be baptized later as an act of obedience.” Their popular preachers have taught this human doctrine throughout the years. And these popular religious bodies are holding out the same false hope as the others groups that we have been talking about. And this false teaching is not the gospel of Jesus Christ which saves by the authority and blood of Jesus Christ.

You know, we are warned about preaching any other gospel than that preached by Jesus and His Disciples. Galatians 1:6-9 reads, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from 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.

In Conclusion:

Some folks might say that we can choose from any of these theories and find “peace” and “salvation.” Yet, Jesus said that there is just one gospel and one way to accept that gospel! The gospel is the same for “all the world” and “every creature.” Therefore, we ask in love, kindness, and deep concern for your soul, “Have you been saved from your sins?”


Press On to Maturity

Hebrews 6:1, “Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection (NIV-maturity); not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.”  It is clear from the message in Hebrews, chapter 6, that Christians are to move on to maturity.

In Galatians 5:6 Paul stressed the importance of “faith working by love” in times of difficulty and distress. These basic teachings are intended to spur us on to righteous living and encourage us not fall back because of inactivity, or pressure from others, or the allurement of a popular lifestyle.

Some New Testament Passages That Emphasize Growth

1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

1 Corinthians 14:20, Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be babes, but in your thinking be mature.”

2 Peter 3:17-18, You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Timothy 2:15, Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”


The fruit of the Spirit (indicators of maturity) is listed in Galatians 5:22-23, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The levels to which we possess the fruit of the Spirit reflect our maturity:

Love – affection; benevolence

Joy – cheerfulness; gladness

Peace – quietness; rest

Patience – forbearance or fortitude; longsuffering.

Kindness – usefulness in character or demeanor; gentleness

Goodness – honorable; decent; upright

Faithfulness –steadfast; unfaltering; fidelity

Gentleness – humility; meekness

Self-control –restraint; temperance; orderly

In order to mature one must continue to develop his faith.

A well-developed faith is an obedient faith; one that doesn’t question, argue or gainsay-- Romans 1:5, “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.”

A well-developed faith is a working faith; One that is active, lively, energetic-- Galatians 5:6, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”

A well-developed faith is a steadfast faith; one that is not easy shaken by trial or opposition-- Colossians 2:5, “For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

A well-developed faith is a perfected faith; one that has reached a level of consistency in deeds--James 2:22, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect.”

To perfect our faith we are told in 2 Peter 1:4-7 to add some things to our faith:

Virtue -- Moral excellence; righteousness

Knowledge – the act of knowing; familiarity; understanding

Temperance -- self-control; restraint; self-discipline

Patience Perseverance; diligence; endurance

Godliness –holy; piety; devoutness

Brotherly Kindness –gentleness; compassion; love of the brethren

Charity (Love) – adoration; affection; fondness; benevolence


Jesus said in Matthew 15:18--“Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.” Therefore, we can rightfully conclude that one’s maturity level can be determined by one’s words.

To demonstrate maturity one must:

 Be careful when speaking--Proverbs 12:23, “A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.”

Not be hasty with words--Proverbs 29:50, “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him.

Learn to control the “door” of the mouth--Psalms 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Bridle the tongue-- James 1:26, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” 

Carefully choose our words--Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

Use Appropriate speech--Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.”

Speak the truth--Ephesian 4:25, “Speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor.”

Refrains from participating in gossip--Proverbs 11:13, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals the matter.”

We are Not to be overly disturbed by what others say.

We must realize that some people will always find fault in us and use their tongue to afflict us. David suffered with this problem and prayed to God about it in Psalms 64:1-6, “Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity: Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words,”

What can we do about it?

First, we can do what is right and lets God judge. This was the strategy that Paul exclaimed in 1Corinthians 4:3-4 when he said, “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

Some other things that Holy Scripture tells us that we can do:

Give free and impartial praise to those deserving--1Timothy 5:21

Appreciates the efforts of others--Philippians 4:14; 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, 9:1-2

Do not take credit for another’s efforts--Galatians 6:4

Do not do good to receive praise--Matthew 6:1

Sees others as more important than self-Philippians 2:3-4

Understands that greatness is achieved by serving, not being served—Galatians 5:13

Genuinely interested in the affairs of others--Proverbs 26:17

Attend to your own business--1Thessalonians 4:11

Willingness to share others’ burdens, grief and happiness--Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:2

Quick to hear, slow to pass judgment--James1:19

Do not condemn, sentence, and execute before hearing--Proverbs 18:13

Slow to anger--Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 26:21

Be content in all circumstances--Philippians 4:11; 1Timothy 6:6-10

Able to admit one’s own faults--James 5:16

Realize that for sins to be forgiven sins must be acknowledged--1John 1:8-10

Understands the characteristics of sin--James 1:14-16

Realize that one’s sins are enticed by lust in the heart--James1:14-16

Recognize that no one is exempt from being tempted--1Co.10:12-13

Know that “to flee” is often the best course of action when tempted--1 Timothy 6:11

Results of Maturity

Ephesians 4:14-16, “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” 


Not Enough Time for God

In the book of Haggai a vivid picture is painted of a time in the history of God’s people. The year was 536 B.C. At the merciful allowance of Cyrus, the ruler who had united the Medes and Persians, Zerubbabel led a group of Jewish exiles on a return journey to the city of Jerusalem.  When this band of exiles arrived at Jerusalem, they found a city devastated and ravaged by both man and neglect. The houses and city lay in ruin, the walls were torn down, and the land had been neglected for several decades.  And according to the picture that was painted, it had to have been a discouraging time for the returning exiles.

Upon returning to Jerusalem, the people quickly restored the altar and laid a foundation for the temple. At this point, the Israelites shifted their interest and concerns to their own needs. In the manner of their ancient forefathers, whom God delivered from Egypt, the Israelites soon lost sight of their commitment to serve God above all else. The people of Israel spent their time rebuilding their own homes and cities while neglecting the house of God. Sixteen years after the Lord liberated the Israelites, He sent a strong word of rebuke and warning them through the prophet Haggai. Haggai 1:2 says “Thus says the LORD of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.” The Lord said in Verse 4, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” Notice that the problem faced by Israel was not the building of their own homes. The problem Israel faced was that they had neglected the Lord’s house. The Israelites should have spent their time first rebuilding the Lord’s house; then, the people could have focused on their own houses.

And for 16 years the Israelites suffered because they neglected the Lord’s temple while focusing on their own houses. Finally, the Lord told the people of Israel to consider their ways. The Lord said in Verses 5-6, “Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.” Now the reason for this calamity was that the Lord had withheld the produce of the ground from Israel. The Lord kept back the dew, the rain, the crops, the grain, the new wine, the oil, etc. Now that is to say that those whom the Lord had delivered from exile could have been enjoying bountiful harvests during those 16 years, had they only put the Lord first. And then finally after receiving the message from the Lord, Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, along with Joshua the high priest and the rest of the remnant of Israel came together to work on the house of the Lord. We are told that on the 24th day of the month, in the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king, the people heeded the message of the Lord.

Now the application for us today is just like the Israelites, Christians can often find their lives too busy to serve God.  It seems that every generation of man brings more challenges and obstacles to the lives of Christians.  Businesses require many hours a week from their employees.  School systems require more in homework, school functions, and sports activities.  Families also have to factor in time for their vacations, hobbies, recreational activities, etc. With such busy lives, who has time to worship God and study the Bible?

The Israelites suffered greatly because they neglected God’s business.  And Christians will likewise suffer when they neglect their service unto God.  You know, the Hebrew writer addresses the neglecting of Bible Study. Hebrews 5:12 reads, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Notice at this time the recipients should have been teachers of God’s word; however, their spiritual growth suffered due to their lack of studying God’s word.

Another area often neglected by Christians is the worship service.  The church in Corinth was neglecting to observe the Lord’s Supper in the manner which Jesus commanded.  And as a result, the apostle Paul wrote the following in 1 Corinthians 11:28-30, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”  Don’t you see that it is “God’s Will” that the worship services, which are to be in spirit and in truth, edify or build up the members of the church?  According to Hebrews 10:24-25, “It is through the worship services, that Christians provoke one another to love and good works.”  

Another victim of a busy society is prayer.  Families become so busy they have “no time” for family meals, thereby removing that wonderful opportunity to pray together.  Morning prayers are forgotten, evening prayers are no longer heard in the house, and prayers of thanksgiving, intercession, and supplication are swallowed up by busy and selfish lives.  The apostle Paul wrote the following to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-3, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” And in a similar fashion, Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica and told them in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing.”

We need to give consideration to the time we devote to God.  Are we too busy building our “paneled” homes and acquiring our wants and desires of life?  Are we allowing God to take priority within our family’s life?  We must make time for God today and tomorrow will take care of itself.

Brethren, think on these things! If we can be of assistance let your wishes be know and we will pray with and for you.

                                                            Bearing Fruit    

In Romans 7:1-5 Paul speaks there of two types of fruit that it is possible for men to bear. (1) Fruit unto death. This was the fruit that was borne by "the sinful passions which were through the law" (vs. 5). (2) Fruit unto God. This is the fruit that we must bear today as a result of having been made "dead to the law through the body of Christ" and having been "joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead" (vs. 4). Men today are bearing fruit either unto God (fruit which leads to acceptance by God) or unto death (fruit which leads to rejection by God -- spiritual death). Let us look at some things which must be true of a person before he can bear fruit unto God. (1) A man must be "in Christ" or a Christian. In our Lord's discussion of the vine and the branches (John 15:5) He said "I am the vine, ye (my followers) are the branches: He that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing." Paul said in Philippians 1:11 that we are to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness which are through Christ Jesus." A man must be "in Christ" before he can bear fruit "through Christ" and to be "in Christ" is to be a Christian. But this is not all there is to bearing fruit unto God. (2) A man must be a righteous Christian. Many people claim to be "Christians" yet are living ungodly and unholy lives. No fruit unto God can be borne in this condition. Notice again Philippians 1:11"being filled with the fruits of (belonging to, coming from) righteousness (a righteous life)." Colossians 1:10 also shows that bearing fruit and living righteously are inseparably connected: "walk worthily of the Lord, bearing fruit unto every good work." See also Ephesians 4:1 and Philippians 1:27. However, just as it takes more than being a "good-moral-man" to be a Christian, it takes more than being a "good-moral-Christian" to bear fruit unto God. There are many Christians who are living righteous lives (not immoral lives characterized by debauchery) that are still not bearing fruit. It is not difficult to find these two requirements for bearing fruit in congregations of the Lord's people, yet many times there is no fruit being borne unto God either individually or collectively. So -- (3) A man must be a righteous Christian who is zealous. Notice John 15:5 again--“the man who abides in Christ bears much fruit.” Philippians 1:11 -- "being filled with the fruits of righteousness." Romans 12: 1 -- "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." I Corinthians 15:58 --"always abounding in the work of the Lord." In order to bear much fruit and to be filled with the fruits of righteousness and to always be abounding in the work of the Lord and to present our bodies as living sacrifices, we must be zealous. There will be no fruit borne unto God without it. Again, however, this is not all there is to fruit bearing. There are many righteous people in the kingdom of Christ that are zealous but are still not bearing fruit unto God. Their fruit is not accepted by God, either because (a) their zeal is leading them to do a "good" work that is not approved of or authorized by God, or (b) their zeal is leading them to do good -works (evangelization, edification, benevolence) in an un-approved or un-authorized manner. Therefore -- (4) A man must be a righteous Christian who is zealous and knowledgeable. Notice Colossians 1:10 -- "bearing fruit unto every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Our zeal must be tempered and controlled by a knowledge of what God approves and authorizes. It is certainly a sad thing to witness brethren with "a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). Are you bearing fruit? Is it fruit unto God or fruit unto death? The answers to these questions lie in the answer to another one: "Am I a knowledgeable-zealous-righteous-Christian?"

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).                                                     
                                                 The Enemies of God
You might think that the enemies of God are the Atheists and Agnostics or some other world religion that does not recognize God's sovereign authority. Well! You are right in that they are enemies of God, but there are others that are enemies of God that I want us to consider.

In 1 John 2:18 we are told that there were antichrist present and their numbers would continue to grow. Who are the antichrists? We are not left to wonder who the antichrists are.  In 1 John 2:22 we are told that the antichrists are those who deny that Jesus is Christ.  To deny the Lordship of Jesus is to reject His authority and not keep His commandments. In the same passage that we are told who they were, the antichrists are described as liars. And according to Revelation 21:8 the final outcome of all liars is "they shall be cast into the lake of fire."
Also to deny Christ is to deny God. Jesus taught us in 1 John 5:7 that “He and the Father are one,” and in John 15:10 Jesus said “to obey His commandments is to obey the Father's commandments.”  Now when one knows and understands what God wants and then rejects it by living their own selfish way, they are an enemy of God and are guilty of being the anti-Christ.

According to 2 Peter 1:3 God's word is sufficient for everything we need concerning salvation, and anyone that teach things differently from what is written is an enemy of God. That is, people that add to God's word or take away from God's word are enemies of God.  Revelation 22:18-19 reads
, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
Perhaps the greatest enemies of God are the hypocrites. Hypocrites are those who are putting on a front for others, but their hearts are dedicated to the world. We must remember that the people of the world watch us to see how we live, and how we behave when we are not in the church building. The moment they see us doing that which is wrong, they are happy, because they do not want to serve God and they do not want others to serve God.

About two hundred and fifty years ago, a preacher by the name of George Whitfield preached a sermon called "The Almost Christian" which was taken from Acts 26:28, where King Agrippa said "almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian." Almost means close, but not quite. Many people want to be seen as Christians, when in reality they are not. They love the world too much to turn from it, and they love themselves too much to deny themselves. So they pretend to be Christians. At least King Agrippa acknowledged his condition.

Anyone who continues in sin is an enemy of God. And those who have never obeyed the gospel are enemies of God. And those who serve anything other than God are enemies of God. The apostle Paul said in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?" 

And James 4:4 reads, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the word is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." To be a Christian, one must turn away from the world and all that it offers. This could be what is considered the ultimate sacrifice. And it all depends upon where your heart is!

So far we have not talked about the enemy that goes by the name Satan or is known as the Devil. Throughout the scriptures he is referred to as the enemy. Also his followers are called enemies of God.  But in contrast those who are obedient to God, such as Abraham, are considered to be "a friend of God."

Are you a friend of God? If not, why not be obedient and become His friend?

If you are a friend of God, what are you doing to make your friendship stronger?

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? 

What Conservatism Is 

I am afraid that not too many know what conservatism really is, even among“conservatives”! We have second and third generations of the Lord’s people who have never heard sermons on the difference between liberals and conservatives. Let’s compare the two.
Conservatives 1. Ask for the Old Paths. Since there is “no new thing under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9), conservatives “ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein. . .” (Jer. 6:16). If a teaching is new, you had better watch it! 2. Demand “For What Saith the Scripture.” It is written in Romans 4:3: “For what saith the scripture?” Those who are conservative demand that every teaching be scriptural. There is no finer teaching than book, chapter, and verse teaching. 3. Speak as the Oracles of God. The instructions of Peter are heeded by conservatives. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever” (1 Pet. 4:11). The old motto, “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent when the Bible is silent; if the Bible teaches it, we teach it; if not, we remain silent” is still good. 4. Abide in the Doctrine of Christ. John’s teachings in 2 John 9 are respected by conservatives: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” The doctrine of Christ is the teaching of Christ. Paul’s command to Titus must be heeded: “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Tit. 2:1). 5. Respect for the Pattern. God has never told man to build without giving him a pattern by which to build. This was true with Noah as he was instructed to build the ark (Gen. 6:14), of Moses as he was to build the tabernacle (Exod. 25:40), and for us today (Heb. 8:5). Whatever God says on any subject, that becomes the pattern for that subject. We have no right to “add to or diminish from” that pattern (Deut. 4:2; Prov. 30:6; Rev. 22:18-19). 6. False Teachers. We recognize there are still false teachers around just as in the first century. “But there were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you. . .” (2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1). We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). Liberals 1. New, Not Old Things. Many are not content with the old paths, but seek new unauthorized things. These, like those in the days of Jeremiah, say, “We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16). 2. Little Scripture Used. The use of Scripture is scarce in many of their sermons today. Maybe, none at all is used. Often the plan of salvation is never taught. Poems, stories, jokes, personal experiences, and the like are the focus of many of the sermons. 3. God’s Oracles Left Off. Sermon topics are unrelated to the Bible with no emphasis on “the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). 4. No Doctrine Bounds. Many deny that 2 John 9 refers to the teachings of Christ, but assert that it refers to the teaching about Christ. So, no restrictions are placed on their teaching! Only the positive taught. 5. No Pattern. They fail to see that there is a pattern laid down in the Bible by which we must go. In fact, many are asking for a new way of looking at the Bible. This is called a new hermeneutic or teaching “where there is no pattern” concept. We are told the old way of a command, apostolic example, and necessary inference doesn’t work anymore! 6. Redefine the False. Many have redefined false teachers as those who have a bad character. This standard would eliminate many who are teaching a false doctrine. Isn’t a false teacher one who teaches false doctrine? We need to ge to teaching folks the difference in being conservative and liberal as Ezekiel said in Ezekiel 44:23.

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.


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 that needs attention or correction, do you make application?