Odell’s Corner

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Golden Gate Church of Christ San Francisco, California - Shepherds Corner

The Church And Current Social Issues

What Does God Require Of Us?

An Action Not To Be Overlooked

The Importance Of True Repentance

Why We Go To Church

Giving and Spiritual Living

What A Fellowship!

Young People: “Live Long And Prosper”

Our Reputation Is Always On The Line

Passing the Test

Criticism

A Genuine Imitation

Be Honest, Then Trust

Sharing Our Faith

There Is A Lion In The Streets

Get Rest Sleep Sweetly

Another Year Is Dawning

May The Mind Of Christ, My Savior

My Prayer For God’s Help

The Bible And The Leaders Of The Church

Christianity And Governing Authorities

Consider The Psalms When The Going Gets Tough

Let Us Thank The Lord

Worshiping In Spirit And Truth

Life And Death in Christ: Our Victory

Pride

Losing Face

Worldliness

Sometimes We Wonder

Dealing With Naughty People

A Light In The World

Liars: Go, And Sin No More

What Did We Commit To When We Became A Christian?

Are We Our Brother’s Keeper?

Always Look Both Ways

Our Hope And Peace With God

Defining Compassion

On The Uniqueness Of Man

Sharing Our Faith

Being Alive In Christ

How Do We Thank God For What He Has Done For Us?

Our Burdens

Stand Up For Jesus

Not Enough Time?

Examining Faith And Works

Young People

My Prayer For God’s Help

Giving Financially To The Lord’s Work

Our Prayer Ministry

Another Look At Why We Love One Another

It’s Strange, Isn’t It?

Faithful In All Things Part 1

Faithful In All Things Part 2


An Action Not To Be Overlooked

The Bible says that “without Faith” it is impossible to please God: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who
comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
We must also believe that Jesus
the son of God:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal
life.” (John 3:16).
We are also told to confess Him with our mouths: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it
is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:10-11).

In addition, we are told to repent and be baptized into Christ: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all
whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38-39).
Then, we are told to assemble together to encourage one another: “Let us hold unswervingly
to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not
give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews 10:23-25).
Also, we are to be “imitators” of Jesus Christ in our behavior toward others: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly
loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
(Ephesians 5:1-2).
Finally, we are to share our faith with others:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Is there anything in the above that you have overlooked?

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23)


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The Importance Of True Repentance

To become a Christian we know what is required of us:

We have to Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 3:16), have Faith that God will reward those that earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6),
Confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is our Savior (Romans 10:10), Repent of our sins and turn away from a sinful life (2 Corinthians 7:10),
be baptized to have our sins washed away (Acts 22:6), Assemble together with the other Saints (Hebrews 10:23-26), imitate Jesus Christ by living
a life of love toward others (Ephesians 5:1-2), and Share our Faith with others (Matthew 28:18-20). The most difficult of these requirements for
most people seem to be True Repentance.

True repentance is one of the essential elements highlighted by Jesus to his disciples:

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

(Luke 24:45-47).

We need only a few Bible versus to point out how serious God takes the issue of repentance, not just for the world, but also especially for believers:

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Therefore, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:19-22).

It is important that we consider our life and guard against returning to the old, unsaved life:

“Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”” (2 Peter 2:22)

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:12-15).

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Passing The Test

Several years ago, a new preacher moved to town. Some weeks after he arrived, he had occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much in change.

As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, “Oh, forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company charges too much for fares; they will never miss it. I should accept it as a ‘gift from God’ and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, the preacher paused momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.”

The driver smiled and replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town? I have been thinking lately about going to worship somewhere. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.”
When the preacher stepped off of the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, held on, and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”

Our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. This is an example of how often people watch us as Christians, and they will put us to the test!

Always be on guard and remember that you carry the name of “Christ” on your shoulders when you call yourself a “Christian.” This can happen at home, at work, or at play. Let us all reflect on our behavior toward our friends, wives, children, co-workers, playmates, and most of all, fellow Christians. Are you a Christian?

Here is a good image to present to others:

Romans 12:9-18: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above ourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

Is your reputation among friends and colleagues reflected in the above passage?


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A Genuine Imitation

“Imitation” usually means one of two things for us today: either it is something fake in the place of the real thing or it is someone doing an impersonation of someone else. Imitation may mean, “lower in fat” or “cheaper in cost”, but it’s still not a term that we generally think of in a positive manner. And while a good impersonation of someone may be good for a laugh, and “imitator” still speaks of something that is fake.
However, in the Bible we find that “imitating” has a very positive meaning and is something that we should all strive for. First let’s look at the actual meaning of “imitate”:

  • To use or follow as a model
  • To copy the actions, appearance, mannerisms, or speech of; mimic
  • To copy or use the style of
  • To copy exactly; reproduce
  • To appear like; resemble
  • Reproduce someone’s behavior or looks
  • To behave in a similar way to someone or something else, or to copy the speech or behavior, etc. of someone or something

Let’s consider how the Bible uses the term:

1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. (NKJV)

Who is “me” in this verse? It is the apostle Paul. On the surface this would seem to be a rather boastful statement, encouraging us to imitate him. Who does he think he is?

1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)

So that’s the catch… we should imitate Paul as he imitates Christ. For the Christian, it always leads back to Christ. Paul was an imitator of Christ. He followed Christ; he copied Christ; he tried to reproduce Christ in his life; he behaved, appeared and spoke the words of Christ. And in doing this, Paul could boldly tell us that we should imitate him because he was a true reproduction of Christ. So this begs the question of us:

Do you live a life that is enough of an imitation of Christ that
you can tell others to imitate you if they want to be like Jesus?

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What A Fellowship!

Fellowship is a powerful expression of love, and being loved by those around you.

“Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:41-47

The love of God is made known through His church. The Apostle John testified, “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.”
1 John 1: 3. Therefore, let us practice fellowship as naturally as the first Christians did on the day of Pentecost.

It clear that God, in His wisdom, has chosen fellowship as the best way for us to encourage one another. Meeting together regularly in fellowship is so important that the subject is addressed specifically, in the Scriptures by the Apostles, and by Jesus, himself:

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” Hebrews 10:23-27.

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Jesus) Matthew 18:20

Our love for one another and desire to encourage one another should be like our giving, and they will be rewarded likewise:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38.

Finally, if Jesus returned during an assembly of the Saints, would he find you among His faithful?

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Get Rest Sleep Sweetly

“I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.”
Psalm 3:5
(NKJV)

In this simple statement there is much to consider:

  • To stop and lay down is a physical act of ceasing personal control of the situation
  • Tired and hurting emotions can benefit greatly from rest
  • Anxiousness will cease when we truly trust that God is in control and will sustain us
  • It shows trust in God to put aside troubles for a while and rest
  • It demonstrates spiritual maturity to know when to rest, and to be able to rest despite circumstances
  • David could have been literally killed while he slept, but he trusted God for protection
  • We are most vulnerable while we sleep, but we trust God to care for us and sustain us
  • We cannot control many things that happen to us, and being able to sleep is an indication that we have handed those things over to God (at least momentarily)
  • Sleep is a God-given gift and is necessary for health and re-energizing the spirit

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil. Psalms 37:5-8 (NIV)

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Be Honest, Then Trust

Psalm 13:6 I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me. (NKJV)
“I will sing to the Lord because He has treated me really well”…. sounds like something you would say when things are going well and victory has been the order of the day. Sounds like the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Actually, this is the final verse of Psalms 13, a psalm that is a strong cry from King David at a very low time in his life. Listen to some of the things he says to God:

  • v.1 – How long are you going to allow me suffer and not do anything about it? Are you going to forget me forever? Are you going to keep ignoring me?
  • v.2 – Aren’t you going to help? Is my own strength my only hope? Am I on my own? I am distressed and hurting, are you going to help?
  • v.3 – Lord, please listen to me! Give me some hope, show me that you care! I feel like I’m going to die!
  • v.4 – Don’t forsake me or people will make fun of me for serving You. When my enemies get the best of me, it makes them really happy.

Have you ever been that honest with God? Do you realize that God already knows what you feel way down in the secret place of your heart? God knows the truest and deepest and most hidden emotions of your soul regardless if you express them or not.
How we feel doesn’t change who God is. No matter what our circumstances, it doesn’t in any way alter the facts about God. He is faithful (1Thess 5.24), just (1Pet 1.17), righteous (Ps 119.37), merciful (Lam 3.22-23), our protector (Jude 1.24) and when all is said and done, evil will be punished and righteousness rewarded (Acts 17.31; Rom 2.6; Col 3.25).

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There Is A Lion In The Streets

The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” Proverbs 26:13 (NKJV).
What is the proverb writer trying to tell us? He is saying that the lazy, undisciplined or unmotivated person will make up any type of excuse, no matter how absurd, to put off doing the work that needs to be done.
Before we think, “not me”, stop and consider some common excuses for not attending Bible Study, worship, or sharing the gospel with our friends:

  • I’m too tired from staying up late watching TV to get up early enough to make it to Bible Study.
  • People would just laugh at me if I tried to tell them about Jesus because I don’t know enough about the Bible.
  • I can’t share the gospel with someone until I get my life fixed because I’m a lot worse than they are.
  • I don’t have to go to church because I can worship God just as easy sitting in my living room; besides, church goers are all just a bunch of hypocrites anyway.
  • I can’t contribute financially to the Lord’s work. I can barely pay my cable TV, gym membership, Blockbuster rentals, and weekly restaurant tab as it is.
  • I’m not a pastor or elder, I can’t talk to someone about the Bible. What if they asked me a question that I don’t know?

Stop and think every time you hear yourself say, “I can’t…”, “well I would, but…”, or “I’ll do that when…” Consider your motives and ask if your “reason” is nothing more than claiming “there is a lion in the streets”.
Do you have any lions in the street? Are your excuses just excuses?
Think about your spiritual life, what excuses do you make for not being honest with God?
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

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Another Year Is Dawning



Another year is dawning:

Dear Father, let it be,

In working or in waiting,

Another year with Thee;

Another year of progress,

Another year of praise,

Another year of proving

Thy presence all the days.

Another year of mercies,

Of faithfulness and grace;

Another year of gladness

In the shining of Thy face;

Another year of leaning

Upon Thy loving breast;

Another year of trusting,

Of quiet, happy rest.

Another year of service,

Of witness for Thy love;

Another year of training

For holier work above.

Another year is dawning:

Dear Father, let it be,

On earth or else in heaven,

Another year for Thee.

Frances Ridley Havergal (1836-1879)


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May The Mind Of Christ, My Savior



May the mind of Christ, my Savior,

Live in me from day to day,

By His love and pow’r controlling

All I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly

In my heart from hour to hour,

So that all may see I triumph

Only through His pow’r.

May the peace of God my Father

Rule my life in ev’rything,

That I may be calm to comfort

Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me

As the waters fill the sea;

Him exalting, self abasing-

This is victory.

May I run the race before me,

Strong and brave to face the foe,

Looking only unto Jesus

As I onward go.

May His beauty rest upon me

As I seek the lost to win,

And may they forget the channel,

Seeing only Him.

Kate B. Wilkinson (1859-1928)



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My Prayer For God’s Help

Dear God, my first love and my hope, I praise your name in all the earth!

Help me to:

Let everyone see Christ living in me, especially my colleagues and friends.

Manage my relationships with everyone that touches my life.

Not sin before them, with them, or for them.

Not cause anyone to stumble or compromise his or her faith.

Know where to draw the line.

Allow your Spirit to work in me without hindrance.

Recognize that without you I am weak in all things.

Depend on your wisdom about life and godliness.

Always approach you with a pure heart and humble spirit.

Bear up against dark imaginings about life and the future.

Recognize the dangers of self-righteousness, self-pride, and arrogance.

Love my neighbor as myself, especially those of the household of faith.

Love you with all my heart, soul, and mind.

Live as though Jesus Christ will return in my lifetime.

All in the name of your Son,

Amen.



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The Church And Current Social Issues

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ”. Colossians 2:8

The public debate on what is right and wrong in society is intense. Many social issues being debated strike at the very heart of Christian virtue and doctrine. Some of us are confused by these issues and are not sure how we should respond to this debate. Our friends and colleagues often ask us what the Bible teaches about such issues as abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, crime and punishment, assisted suicide, prayer in the public schools, surrogate mothers, etc. These questions can be difficult if we know that our answers might cause someone to turn away from God’s church.

Some of us have been personally touched by these issues and are seeking comfort from God. For example a faithful Christians might have a family member that wants to shorten his or her life to end physical suffering, a young niece that wants an abortion, a friend facing the death penalty, or a son or daughter that is homosexual, a child that wonders if he or she should join the military.
How are we, as God-fearing Christians, to address these issues responsibly, and explain what God says about these things? Also, how involved should we be in working with local citizens to solve problems affecting our communities? Should a Christian run for political office, such as mayor, congressman, or president? What does the Bible say about honoring governing authorities and being a good citizen of the country we live in?

How should we respond to attacks against the church’s stand on sin? Is it possible that some day the Church’s acceptance of what the Bible defines as sin might be judged as against the law? Is prayer in public schools an issue Christians should concern themselves about? Should the church take a stand on the death penalty? What does the Bible say about these things? The purpose of our organized Bible studies at church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights is to help us know what God’s Word says about all these things. We believe the following:

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-1
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4

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What Does God Require Of Us?

I heard an interesting conversation in a coffee shop the other day. A young man confessed to his friend that he used to think he was an atheist (a person that denies that God exists), but now he knows that he is an agnostic (a person that is not sure if God exists, or not). His friend Earl said, “I think I would call you an agnostic. You are always talking about that subject.” Leaning back in his chair, and with a seriousness that could be felt across the room, Bob said, “I guess I ask a lot of questions about whether or not God exists because in my heart of hearts, I don’t want to know.” Why did Bob not want to know if God exists? He did not say.

I believe that Bob knew that if accepted the fact of God’s existence, he knew that God would require something of him. He did not want to subject himself to the Will of the Almighty.

It occurred to me that Bob was saying something that a lot of Christians feel: they really don’t want to know what God requires of them. They refuse to study the Bible in the quietness of their home, or to attend group Bible study with other Christians to find out what the Will of the Lord is. The Scriptures speak to this issue a clear way: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

What does God require of us? God summed up the requirements in the words of Micah: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). See also Jesus’ comments in Matthew 22:37-40 regarding the “two great commandments.”

Finally, the Psalmist tells us that “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalms1: 1–3).

Are you like Bob, not wanting to know what God requires of you?

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Giving And Spiritual Living

God promises to bless us when we give generously to the Church and to the poor, spiritually, materially, or financially. But one of the hardest things for Christians to do is to give in proper “measure.” Some Christians even resent talking about giving because they believe this is a private matter between them and God. Indeed, Jesus commented on the importance of giving discreetly:

Matthew 6:1-3 “Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness´ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

While it is not good to announce what you give financially to the church each Sunday, we know that Jesus said that God, “who see what is done in secret” will reward us openly for our generosity. Many of us have been blessed with spiritual talents, material possessions, and financial well-being. We must remember to use our several talents to build up the church:

“So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12

In this regard, we must ponder how to use our blessings acceptably before God. Giving as we have been prospered should be part of our budget plan:

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

There are different kinds of giving: thoughtful giving, thoughtless giving; eager giving, reluctant giving; generous giving, stingy giving; cheerful giving, and forced giving.

The worse kind is “thoughtless giving.” Some Christians come to worship unprepared to give of their means, or even to use their God given talents to support our fellowship and worship to God the way they should. They are often surprised when the contribution plate is passed around. Like children, they have to be reminded to prepare for the events of the day. During the week, these folks rarely concern themselves with the needs of the church, and how they might use their talents to show Jesus to the world. Thoughtful giving is explained by Jesus in a parable in Luke 6:38

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In everything we do, we should remember to show our love for the Lord because: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

The “measure” of our giving speaks of our attitude and commitment to the Lord. “For the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

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Our Reputation Is Always On The Line

No one likes to be falsely accused or slandered, but it happens all the time. It is certainly possible that our motives, or the things we say and do, can be misinterpreted or misconstrued. When this happens, the only thing that stands against the charges is our reputation for being a good person, a Christian.

Once upon a time, someone was gossiping about a person and accusing him of being biased and unfair to his colleagues. I was heartened when a listener responded, “You must have the wrong guy; I know him. He is not that kind of person.” The listener then walked away, and so did the rest of her audience. The gossiper was ashamed and never said anything bad about that person again.

There are two important lessons in this story:

      1. Your reputation as a Christian is always on the line inside and outside the church.

      2. When we refuse to suffer gossipers and slanderers, they lose their audience.

Let us really work to be like Jesus, and to make our Christianity the basis of our reputation:

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” (Romans 12:9-19 NIV).

Has your reputation as a follower of Jesus Christ ever stopped the mouth of a slanderer, or a false witness?

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Young People: “Live Long And Prosper”

No matter what road you take in life, choosing your friends will have a lot to do with your personal happiness and professional success. Whether in school, on the job, or at church, people will always judge you by the company you keep. Believe me, it is true, though it may seem very unfair. But consider this, what if those judging you know something about your friends and their outlook on life that you might not know, or that you have been willing to overlook? Isn’t it logical, then, for them to assume that “Birds of a feather flock together”? Indeed, our understanding of Nature shows this idea to be generally true. People tend to keep company with those who think like them and who desire the same things as they do. So, how can it be too harsh for others to judge you as being of the same character as those you run with? Don’t we all prejudge others, from time to time?

In my life, I have been privileged to make good friends with people of many different nationalities, professions, ethnic groups, and value systems. In these relationships, I have tried to choose people of “good character” and “personal integrity” as my friends. Let me tell you what I mean by good character and personal integrity.

By good character, I mean, compassionate people who have respect for others, intelligent people who have the mental toughness to do the right thing, without being ashamed of what others may think, and people of vision, who understand that there is more to life than the things we possess or the things we desire to have.

By personal integrity, I mean, people with an honest heart, people who respect themselves, and are willing to do what is right, because it is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that no other human trait can make up for the lack of personal integrity. It is the most essential trait of honorable men and women.

People of good character and personal integrity will always support you in good and bad times. They will help you reinforce your own strengths as you grow and mature in your personal, professional, and spiritual life. I encourage you to choose friends that will help you to develop a large measure of personal integrity and good character. I know you will make some mistakes, we all do; but keeping your spiritual focus will lessen the power of those who seek to bring you down.
George Young writes to his son in his precious book, To My Son: “One essential key to a truly happy life is the acquired ability to put one’s life in proper perspective . . . to measure the importance of today’s events in relation to the whole of our lives. It is this ability that can help us to establish our priorities and keep them in order . . . to keep our values in tact, our attitude positive and our sense of humor about us.”

His words remind me of what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians almost 2000 years ago: “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

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Christianity And Governing Authorities

Lets face it, we are privileged to live in a country where we can practice our religious faith without fear of oppression. The Apostles Peter and Paul tell us that God is pleased when we are good citizens in the country where we live. Our God is against anarchy (lawlessness and disorder).

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”(1 Peter 2:12-17)

“Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:5-10)

God intends that we are subject to the governing authorities and He wants us to obey the laws of the land, in so far as they do not violate our commitment to Him:

“Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:18-19)

The Bible says that God is ultimately in control, and that no matter what happens to us, nothing can separate us from his love: “neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39)

In our country, we are encouraged to be good citizens, to vote, to express our opinions, and to participate in making decisions about who will govern us. Christians cannot turn a deaf ear to important problems affecting the local community. In fact, more often than not, the voice of upstanding Christian men and women in this country has been the main force in fighting for good and against evil in society. Ours is an opportunity quite rare in this world. Let’s not forget it.

Early Christians were never accused of neglecting the poor and needy because these were the very people that the church sought out to demonstrate God’s love for all mankind. Christians are special—we are our brother’s keeper. Finally, no souls can be won to Christ without Christians involving themselves in the local community and letting people know what we believe. In similar manner, only when the local community is won to Christ can real social change take place.

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Consider The Psalms When The Going Gets Tough

Meditate On These Thoughts Day And Night

(Psalms 116:1-19) I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: “O LORD, save me!” The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.” How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. O LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the LORD — in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD. (NIV)

(Psalms 77:1-20) For the director of music. For Jeduthun. Of Asaph. A psalm. I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; I mused, and my spirit grew faint. Selah.
You kept my eyes from closing; I was too troubled to speak. I thought about the former days, the years of long ago; I remembered my songs in the night. My heart mused and my spirit inquired: “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time? Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Selah.
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the skies resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (NIV)

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Criticism

When we criticize someone, what are we trying to achieve? What are we criticizing the person for? What behavior or attitude do we want to change? Where is he or she missing the mark? Will the criticism put the person back on track? Criticism is not all bad. What was Jesus trying to do when he criticized the Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees for failing to interpret the Holy Scriptures properly, engaging false worship, and self-promotion?

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. (Luke 11:42 NIV) And the Sadducees, when he said: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29 NIV)

All of us have to deal with criticism, whether at work, growing up in a loving family, or bringing a brother or sister in Christ to task. None of us enjoy being criticized, judged, measured, analyzed, assessed, evaluated or stereotyped. The Pharisees, Scribes, and Sadducees did not being criticized, either.
For criticism to be effective a person or group must understand the purpose of the criticism. How else can it produce the desired results? The Pharisees did not properly handle the Scriptures and Jesus pointed this out to them. Jesus’ criticism was not to challenge the Law of Moses or to challenge the authority of the Pharisees, but to put them on the right track, and to make them compassionate leaders of God’s people. He told the Sadducees, plainly, that they were “in error, not knowing the Scriptures.” These groups knew why they were being criticized, but instead of examining themselves to see if these things were true, they desired to kill Jesus for pointing out their errors. There are two things we should remember regarding criticism. Of first importance, our purpose for criticizing someone must be clear, just, and faithful. Second, when we are criticized we must examine ourselves to determine if the criticism has merit.
A final note: We can make criticism a bad thing when we criticize the things people can do nothing about. For example, their skin color, ethnic background, or heritage. This is bad criticism and it tends to cause people to distrust us, to see us as a dishonest broker, and finally, it will affect our reputation as true followers of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, when we receive constructive, positive, or Godly criticism, we should have the courage and integrity to examine this criticism, and to do something about it. I am talking about attitudes, behaviors, and involvement in personal activities that we can change. Jesus did not hold back when he saw his people being led astray by false teaching, hypocrisy, and self-promotion. Nor should we, but we should examine our motives for criticizing others: is our criticism sourced in envy, jealousy, anger, fear of losing control, or is it because we want to put someone back on the right track. We know in our heart of hearts why we criticize; so does God.

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Let Us Thank The Lord

We praise God who has blessed the Golden Gate church so richly in so many ways. Lots of things have happened here at Golden Gate to show our love for the Lord. The attendance at last week’s Trustee Meeting demonstrates that we care for this church and that we want to make the Golden Gate Church of Christ a beacon for the Lord in this community. We are indeed fortunate to have so many members volunteer to take on different responsibilities in order to build up the church spiritually, to make the church building a comfortable place to worship the Lord, and to reach out to the community with the Good News.

We can show our God how much we appreciate what He has done for us by being good stewards of what He has put in our charge. We should thank God for our homes, our jobs, our families, and our church. The Shepherds are urging each family to spend some time together, in their private moments, to give thanks to God for all He has given us, including our lives and the opportunity that we have to know Him. We are encouraging fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters to take time to examine our commitment to the Lord and His family, the Church. This means we should examine our faith, look at our lifestyle, our commitment, our participation in spiritual acts of worship, our giving to the work of the Lord, our attendance at Bible studies, and our efforts to bringing friends and neighbors to the Lord.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”(John 15:8-10)

“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord — in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.” (Psalms 116:12-19)

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The Bible And The Leaders Of The Church

The Shepherds of the church have an awesome responsibility before God. Likewise, members of the church have an awesome responsibility to the leaders. This responsibility is also demonstrated by love and respect for their authority. The Holy Spirit has spoken concerning the role of the shepherds and the role of the flock in God’s church:

To the Shepherds He writes:

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” Acts 20:28 (NIV)

To the Church He writes:

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 1 Timothy 5:17 (NIV)

To the Shepherds He writes:

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4 (NIV)

To the Church He writes:

“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:7-8 (NIV)

To the Shepherds He writes:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 (NIV)

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Worshiping In Spirit And Truth

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)

The Bible makes it clear that to worship God in “spirit and truth” is to love God with a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (1 Timothy 1:5); and to love him with all our heart our soul and our mind (Matthew 22:37). These are the qualities that true worshipers of God must possess. This means that our whole life is a testimony to God’s existence, to His grace, and to our obedience to the gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul tells us that we are to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.” (Romans 12:1), To do this, we must become “imitators of God,” and live a “life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1)

Our true worship requires a genuine love for Jesus Christ, and a deep love for one another. The Apostle Peter explains the “spiritual nature” of our belief: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9) Regarding our love for one another, the Apostle Paul writes, “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9); and the Apostle Peter sums up the practical benefits of our love for one another: “love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Our faith in God is manifested by our hope and trust in his promises: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:3-7)

Finally, the Apostle John tells us: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3-6)

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Life And Death in Christ: Our Victory
1 Corinthians 15

“When darkness falls upon the day of life, when death has come, and when people gather around a grave, then it is that they turn to this immortal chapter, where are recorded the title deeds of man’s highest hope, the Christian gospel’s promise of eternal life. Light from this chapter dispels the darkness surrounding the grave; its message reassures the sorrowful, redefines the meaning of life itself and writes upon the tomb the blessed words, “Asleep in Jesus.” It speaks at every funeral.” (Paul Coffman, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 15)

Let us always meditate on the hope that stands before us:

1 Cor 15:35 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being” ; the last Adam, a lifegiving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

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Sharing Our Faith


“And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, ‘All power is
Given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the
end of the world. Amen’”. (Matthew 28:18-20)

You might ask, “What is the best way for me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world?” There are many ways to do this, but none can be effective without your personal involvement in the matter. How we approach someone with the message of Christ varies with the circumstances and prevailing conditions at the time. For example, consider the approached used by the Apostle Peter to a large crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2), Philip’s approach to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:29-39), and how Paul approached the Athenians in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), and Lydia and her household (Acts16:13-16). Each approach was different. Each used a method appropriate to the circumstances of the people they met, whether a large gathering, a lonely financial consultant, or a well to do woman with influence. There are two important ideas to draw from these examples: these folks were interested in knowing God, and the Apostles were prepared for the adventure of sharing the gospel with them. The early Christians were described as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and they were worthy of the office because their attitude, behavior, and life reflected the image of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today, we use television, radio, books, mail-outs, flyers, tracts, etc., to reach people. All these things are useful, but these actions, alone, will not do the job. You, the Christian, will be required to enter the picture. You will have to convince the person that you are an ambassador for Christ, and that you want to share with him or her, the words of eternal life. Establishing a personal relationship with someone seems to work best. Taking time to know a person and allowing him or her know you, to see Jesus through you, will be important to bringing them to Christ. Sometimes this will take time. As we get to know a person, we plant the seeds of belief when we show them that we love the Lord. How do we show Jesus in our lives? In our worship and in our daily lives, we show that we love God with all our heart, our mind, and our strength, and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:38-40). This is how others will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are
my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-3)

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Why We Go To Church

A little boy once asked his father, “Dad, why do we have to go to church?” The father answered, “Because God wants us to go.” Of course, this is reason enough, but is it reason enough for a child interested in a good answer? What if the little boy had replied, “Dad, you don’t do a lot of things God wants you to do, why is going to church any different?” Obviously, this would be a smart kid.

Putting it in simple terms, we go to church primarily for two reasons: because we want to obey God and we want to keep fellowship with other believers. If we love God, we will keep his commandment that we “worship him in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24), and, again, if we love God, we will want to fellowship with other believers as often as possible (Hebrews 10:23-25). It is impossible to separate the two: “And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21).

Besides these two basic reasons for “going to church,” we go to church to remember God’s sacrifice of His Son for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), to celebrate our freedom from slavery to sin (Galatians 5:1), to sing praises together to God (Hebrews 2:10-12), to pray together to God (1 Timothy 2:1-6), to edify one another through teaching, admonishing, and fellowship (Colossians 3:16-17), to give of our means as we have been prospered (Luke 6:38), including using our God given talents to promote the work of Christ in the world (1 Corinthians 14:12). Finally, we go to church to learn how to be true followers of Jesus Christ, Our Savior, to achieve unity in the faith, to prepare ourselves for service to God, so that we can develop into mature Christians:

Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
We cannot become mature in our knowledge and understanding of what God desires of us if we do not study His Word, the Holy Bible:

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Therefore, we go to Bible study so that we can know, for ourselves, what God requires of us:
Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. 3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. 6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled.
The impact of your life as a Christians can light up the world and confirm that God lives, and that those that testify of Him do not testified in vain:

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed — not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. 14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life — in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Let us as parents share God’s words with our children so that they will know, for themselves, why we go to church, and why we go to the Holy Bible for guidance on how to obey God, and how to live our lives as followers of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:6).

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Pride

Pride tops the list of the six things that God hates (Proverbs. 6:16-19); and in Proverbs 16:5-7, we learn that: “The LORD detests all the proud of heart” and that “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” Pride is manifested when an individual defines his or her life by worldly accomplishments: success in business, academic achievement, material wealth, physical attributes, social influence, etc. These things, among others, can also cause us to look down on those from different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds.” The Bible tells us to “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” (Romans 12:16).

Pride not only separates us from others, but also from God. The Bible tells us to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8). Also, we are warned: “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” (Proverbs. 26:12). In other words, there is more hope for a fool than for a person that is puffed up and thinks he knows everything. The following verses offer an admonition from the Apostle Paul regarding pride and world wisdom:

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 –31)

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Losing Face

“Losing face” usually results from being embarrassed, exposed, made to look bad in public, or being seen as less important or less successful than we want others to think we are. Loss of face can cause a person to lie, cheat, mistreat others, and even to kill. Some of God’s children have had trouble dealing with loss of face. For example, losing face moved Cain to kill his brother and try to deceive God afterwards, and it caused the disciple Peter to lie and “to bring down a curse on himself” when asked about his relationship with Jesus:

“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:6-10).

“After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.’ 74 Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:73-75).
Of course, no one wants to lose face. However, our response to losing face goes directly to our reputation for personal integrity and humility. As God told Cain, when circumstances cause us to lose face, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” In other words, how we react to losing face can cause us to fall into sin. In some cases, even the fear of losing face can cause us to deceive our brothers and sisters in Christ, seek revenge, and to mistreat one another.

Let us remember God’s remarks to Cain on how to avoid losing face:

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?”

And, Paul’s remarks to the Philippians about having a spiritual attitude toward the things of this world:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9).

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Worldliness

For Christians, life is a struggle between spirituality and worldliness. The Holy Bible provides numerous examples of the things that God wants and expects of us. He wants us to love him with all our heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 2:36-40). It is like walking on two legs: loving God and loving our brother and sisters. Some of us stumble along forgetting to honor God through worship and prayer, and by hating our neighbors for a variety of reasons.

Worldliness can be a serious problem in the life of a Christian. Usually, our problem centers on our relationship with people. Except for forgetting to love and worship God, just about every sin we commit is against our fellow man. Below are a few Scriptures describing the attitudes and behaviors of lame believers unable to walk on two legs or and separate themselves from a worldly attitude towards life:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:13 –18).

James continues by telling us that in the minds of some Christians, they do not understand that their thinking and behavior is “earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” These are the people that treat their fellow Saints and others the way the world treats people. They use the world as a guide to how they treat one another:

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:1-4)

How can we guard against drifting into worldliness? The Scriptures teach that we should look in the mirror to see what kind of person we are. We have to examine ourselves to see if we are worldly or spiritual in our thinking, behavior, and outlook.

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:23-27)

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Sometimes We Wonder

Sometimes we don’t understand why we receive ill for the good that we do. As faithful Christians, we wonder why we have to face certain difficulties in life while others seem to prosper. Although we know that God will not allow us to have more trouble than we can bear, or to face a measure of temptation that we cannot overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13), we can still get deeply frustrated and depressed when something bad happens to us. Sometimes Christians suffer from physical illnesses because our bodies have been damaged by the things we have done to it in the past or by circumstances beyond our control, like a rare disease. Even when we do our best to keep our bodies healthy and safe, things can still go wrong. Even worse, we can lose a love one, a job that we need, and we can be accused of doing something we didn’t do, and get arrested by the police. It is no myth, “bad things seem to happen at the most inconvenient times.” These situations can be confusing to Christians that are trying to live as God has asked us to live. We ask, “Where are the blessings that God has promised to us for our obedience?” Most of the time, we forget that we are blessed by God in ways that we do not even recognize or understand. Nevertheless, it is important for us to know what kind of attitude God wants us to have during difficult circumstances. This can only come with maturity and understanding of God’s Word. The Apostle Peter addressed this issue with the early Christians:

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (NIV 1 Peter 1:3-9). Peter reminds us that the greatest blessing we have is the salvation of our souls.

Sometimes, it is easy to envy our neighbors and even our loved ones when they seem happy and content with their lives. Unfortunately, our human nature can lead us to do mean things to each other, and even become a stumbling block to our neighbors, co-workers, and fellow saints in the Lord. How often have we encountered “mature” Christians that do not know what it means to be kind to strangers, honest to fellow Christians, or patient, compassionate, and loving to members of their own family.

The Scriptures urge us to think about the hope that is promised to us so that we can be glad that God has chosen us to be his people. We know that we will be rewarded for being ambassadors for Jesus Christ to those we meet, and those that do not know God. We can only garner faith and strength during difficult times when turn our eyes toward Jesus, and do as the Apostle Peter suggests: “prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (NIV 1 Peter 1:13-16).

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Dealing With Naughty People

We have all met people that are not nice, even some Christians. Some are mean, sarcastic, hurtful, slanderous, and just downright hateful. As faithful Christians, we can manage our relations with these kinds of people if we commit ourselves to trust that God knows how we should respond in difficult social situations. Remember, others are watching us, and they are also watching those that mistreat us. When it is all said and done, what will they remember about you, and what will they remember about the person that is hurtful to you? The Apostle Paul tells us how to deal with unkind people:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.@ (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.@ (Romans 12:9-21 NIV).

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:22-32 NIV).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.@ (Philippians 4:6-9 NIV).

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A Light In The World

When people look at you do they see the one who sent you?

JN 12:44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

MT 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

When people see you, do they think of you as brightening their day?

JN 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Are there areas where you need to show more light?

How do you rate yourself in the following categories?

A. Attitude: (Are you humble and compassionate toward others?)

B. Look: (How would someone describe you to others?)

C. Feel: (Do people you talk to sense the love of Jesus in you?)

D. Touch: (Do people feel touched by the Spirit of Christ that is in you?)

“Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. (1 John 2:8-10).”

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Liars: Go, And Sin No More

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.” (Proverbs 19:20-22)

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices.” (Colossians 3:9)

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)

These are powerful verses and should be taken to heart. It is especially important to note that in Revelation 21:8, liars are no different than “. . . the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters.” I suspect many Christians do not understand this truth. Some just don’t believe that telling a little lie here and there, is wrong, and some are guilty of frequently lying to other Christians, despite the admonishment in Colossians 3:9.

As Christians, we need to look at our behavior and attitude with all the seriousness that the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Scriptures. All of us know how simple and easy it is to lie. But do we realize how simple and easy it is to lose our salvation because of it?

I think most of us will agree that the worst reputation a person can have is for people to think of him or her as a liar and a deceiver. As we know, most of the lies told have to do with maintaining an image, pretending to be something that we are not, wanting to be thought of as more important than we are, competing with others for popularity, fearing we will lose face or a position of honor, or simply, just a plain lack of integrity.

Most of our lies come to light at some time in our lives no matter how hard we try to cover them up. When a person professes to be a child of God, a Christian, it is not OK to lie. Making bogus excuses for not doing something or misleading others falls into this category. Even when we honestly repent of our lies (sins), and although some might forgive us in time, others will never forget what we have done. This is why it is so important to do our best to tell the truth and be known for honesty, openness, integrity, and Christ-like behavior, inside and outside the church.

Let’s face it, lying is probably the most common sin that we commit in our daily lives. We must remember what God told Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7)

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What Did We Commit To When We Became A Christian?

Most people can look back and tell us when they made a significant commitment that changed their lives. For us, as Christians, we should have no trouble remembering when we gave our lives to Jesus Christ. We cannot forget when that occurred, nor can we forget what God expected of us as a result. We made a choice, and we confessed the name of Jesus before others to announce our commitment.

We know that the world is changing, and so are we. Time marches on. However, we also know that Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8) Therefore, if we look in the mirror, can we honestly say that we are honoring our commitment to follow Jesus Christ, today? Will the face in the mirror attest to our commitment, or will it condemn us? Would our friends, neighbors, and coworkers confirm that our lifestyle shows our commitment to Jesus Christ?

The Apostle James tells us: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:23-25).

It is very easy to examine ourselves to determine if we are still hanging in there, as Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians; “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” (2 Corinthians 13:5-6). In other words, we should check ourselves out to see if we have kept our commitment to God.

It is easy to make mistakes. We make them all the time. But it is not so easy to go back on an honest commitment to do something. When we choose not to honor the commitment we made, it is rarely an accident. But worse than breaking a commitment, is to compromise on it by going back and forth, or saying that you are keeping your commitment, but never following through. Regarding our commitment, can we say, as David said, “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I have led a blameless life; I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.” (Psalms 26:1).

Sometimes we have to review the commitment we made to God when we decided to accept Jesus Christ into our lives as our Savior. Here are some of the things that are wrapped up in our commitment to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord:

“We decided to put Jesus Christ on in Baptism, we committed to follow Christ like the early Christians did by assembling together on the Lord’s day; we offer up prayers together for one another and praise God; we remember Jesus’ death until he returns, by participating in the ceremony of the Lord’s Supper; we share in the responsibilities of caring for the church; we give of our means as generously as we find it in our hearts to give, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver. Also, we committed to encourage, edify, and inspire one another through a variety of means such as singing songs of praise and petition, reading our Bibles so that we can learn about the life of Jesus, the early church, and what God requires of us; we teach and share our thoughts and testimonies in Bible study to help other understand God’s Word; we accepted our commitment because we were convicted that God wants us to worship him, and that he prefers “obedience to sacrifice.” Finally, we know that God wants us to be an example of his Son, by living a life of love for one another and that we should love all of God’s creation.”

Let us demonstrate our commitment by affirming our commitment as the Apostle Paul did when he confessed to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

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Are We Our Brother’s Keeper?

We all know this story from Genesis: Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:8-9)

Let us look into this matter from the New Testament point of view. Jesus told his disciples in Matt 22:38 39, that we must love God with all our heart, our soul and our mind. It is the greatest of all the commandments. Then He said that the second greatest commandment is very much like the first, and that is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

On these two commandments, according to Jesus,“hang all the laws and the prophets.” In other words, these two commandments sum up the what our attitude should be toward God and man.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus elaborated on this requirement while talking to his disciples. He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:5-13)

The obvious meaning here is this: just as Jesus obeyed God, the Father, by doing what was commanded of him, even to a death on the Cross, we are to obey Jesus by doing what is commanded of us, until our death. He said in verse 11,
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. Our joy is complete when we understand that if we have the courage and perseverance to accept the Lord=s promise that we should: Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10).

There is another reason for our loving one another. Jesus said, A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34 35).

Because we believe that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, we trust His words and we believe that we should obey his commands to love our neighbor as ourselves. If you are a Christian believer, you certainly believe this to be true.

Believing that we are our brother=s keeper, is one of the qualities that identifies us as Christians. By our attitude and service, others will know that we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

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Always Look Both Ways

Often when we read a verse in the Bible, especially a verse that highlights good and bad character, we try to think of someone we know that could learn something from this verse. This is a good thing to do, if our desire is to help someone become a better Christian. However, we should remember that we can learn from the same verse, too.
There is a problem that is common to us all, whether one is a Christian or not. The problem is being able to see ourselves as we really are. It is very hard to look at ourselves (our character, attitude, and behavior) to see if we are living a godly life before God, and man. It is easier to examine others.
Jesus comments on this issue in Luke 6:42: “How can you say to your brother, `Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,´ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The Apostle Paul wrote something similar in 1 Corinthians 10:12: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”
The following verses are from Solomon, the son of David. They are a clear expression of what God is for (what He wants to see in us), and what God is against (what He does not like to see in us). Let us look both ways, and examine ourselves (our character, attitude, and behavior) to see what we can learn from these verses.

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones. Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.” Proverbs 3:1-17.

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you. For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life,” Proverbs 6:16-23.

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Our Hope And Peace With God

Always Look Both Ways

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

The royal benefit of our faith is spiritual peace. For God has given us something that no man or woman on this earth can give us: the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9). Spiritual peace as a condition of the human heart: how we think and feel inside. This peace is manifested by our understanding of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us (John 14:16; Romans 8). When our sins are washed away, there is no longer a place guilt, anxiety, and fear about the future, or what man can do to us. God has given His children a hope so deep and profound as to pass understanding (Phil 4:7). We are comforted in knowing that when Jesus returns to judge the world, we will receive a crown of life and eternal peace. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12).
By His atonement, Jesus has not only reconciled us to the God of peace, but also to one to another. (Eph 2:14). As members of His church, we are no longer separated by hatred, envy, racial, ethnic, class, income, and age divisions. We are “one” in Christ. This means that we are a holy family, a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5). In the church of Christ, we draw our strength, courage, and comfort from one another. Solomon spoke of the impact that a faithful child of God has on others: “When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.” (Proverbs 16:7).
When troublesome times come, as we know they will, Jesus tells us to take heart, because he has overcome the world: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). So, by faith, let us reach out for the goal set before us: “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Tim 1:5).
It is love that counts: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. (John 15:11-12). It is impossible to have the peace and joy offered by God if we cannot love, for this is how we make our “calling and election sure.” (2 Peter 2:10).

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Defining Compassion

Let the Following Scriptures Speak to the Heart of Every Christian

“When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. (Job 2:11-13)

“To the church of God in Corinth, together with all the saints throughout Achaia:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
(2 Corinthians 1:1-7)

“Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.´ “Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?´ “The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.´ (Matthew 25:34-40)

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4).

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28 -30)

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On The Uniqueness Of Man

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” “He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them “man.” (Genesis 1:27; 5:2).

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” (Genesis 9:1-3).

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” (Psalms 8:3-7).

“I have always felt that we humans were special. In elementary school I observed that there were things uniquely associated with human beings: they built hospitals to care for the sick, schools to teach the young, machines to create things, statues of themselves and other things, and they worshipped things they believed were greater or higher than themselves. Humans also tilled crops, grew food for themselves, cared for other living creatures, fed them, healed them, and improved on certain aspects of nature to make their own lives easier. No other animal, bird, or insect, could do what humans could do, yet we could do just about everything they could do: we even learned to fly, swim, and to dig deep holes in the ground. I was convinced that man was different from other creatures and special in the eyes of God. When I was old enough to read the Bible, it confirmed my beliefs from childhood”. (Odell Lee, “Getting Over: The Formative Years.”)

Now I know that Jesus Christ was God in human form: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus Christ) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18).

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Sharing Our Faith


“And Jesus came and spoke unto them, saying, ‘All power is
Given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach
all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,
and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever
I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the
end of the world. Amen’”. (Matthew 28:18-20)

You might ask, “What is the best way for me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world?” There are many ways to do this, but none can be effective without your personal involvement in the matter. How we approach someone with the message of Christ varies with the circumstances and prevailing conditions at the time. For example, consider the approached used by the Apostle Peter to a large crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2), Philip’s approach to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:29-39), and how Paul approached the Athenians in Athens (Acts 17:16-34), and Lydia and her household (Acts16:13-16). Each approach was different. Each used a method appropriate to the circumstances of the people they met, whether a large gathering, a lonely financial consultant, or a well to do woman with influence. There are two important ideas to draw from these examples: these folks were interested in knowing God, and the Apostles were prepared for the adventure of sharing the gospel with them. The early Christians were described as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and they were worthy of the office because their attitude, behavior, and life reflected the image of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today, we use television, radio, books, mail-outs, flyers, tracts, etc., to reach people. All these things are useful, but these actions, alone, will not do the job. You, the Christian, will be required to enter the picture. You will have to convince the person that you are an ambassador for Christ, and that you want to share with him or her, the words of eternal life. Establishing a personal relationship with someone seems to work best. Taking time to know a person and allowing him or her know you, to see Jesus through you, will be important to bringing them to Christ. Sometimes this will take time. As we get to know a person, we plant the seeds of belief when we show them that we love the Lord. How do we show Jesus in our lives? In our worship and in our daily lives, we show that we love God with all our heart, our mind, and our strength, and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:38-40). This is how others will know that we are Jesus’ disciples.



“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you,
so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are
my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-3)



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Being Alive In Christ

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:1-6)

In the above passage penned by the Apostle John, according to Jesus, a congregation can be deceived because it loves its “reputation of being alive.” But for God, He counts a church as worthy whose “deeds are complete” in His sight. Jesus urged Sardis to “Wake up!” and remember “what they have received and heard” from the Scriptures and to “repent.” Like Sardis, many churches around the world have the reputation for “being alive” and attracting a lot of people to their doors. But so far as God was concerned, some of these same churches might be “dead.” Why? Because they neither “obey” what the Bible teaches of nor will they repent of the errors they are teaching.

The same goes for individual Christians. In the same passage above, Jesus notes that there are “a few people” who “have not soiled their clothes” and that Jesus will “never blot out” their names from “the book of life.” Who are the followers of Jesus Christ that have not soiled their clothes? They are those that desire to do what is right in God’s sight, not just what is popular in the current age. Let’s consider a few passages from the Apostles Paul, James, and Peter that urges us to do what is right in the sight of God, rather than to go after things that will cause us to lose sight of what God wants from us.

Paul: “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18).

James: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22).

Peter: “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” (2 Peter 1:10 -18).

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How Do We Thank God For What He Has Done For Us?

When we feel truly blessed by what God has done for us, how do thank him? David asked himself this question and then proceeds to provide us with the most correct answer. Recognizing his condition in this world, and the many things he had gone through in life, David shared with us his thoughts on how we can thank God for what he has done for us.

In Psalm 116:1-19, David writes, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.”

“The Lord protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, “I am greatly afflicted.” And in my dismay I said, “All men are liars.”

“How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord — in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord.”

How do we thank the Lord for what he has done for us?

We lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. We fulfill our vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, and in the courts of the house of the Lord.

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Our Burdens

I will lift up my eyes to the hills— From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (NKJV)

As God’s very own children, we alone, of all people, have the privilege of knowing that God is ready to care of us. When we need help, when we need strength, when we need comfort… the King of the Universe, who made heaven and earth, is there to help us through this life. Yet it remains almost comical that we choose to take on life under our own power and control. Imagine with me that you have 2 tons of stones to move from one location to another. Your good friend is waiting on one side for you to toss the stones into the back of his truck… one of the world’s most powerful… powered by two Rolls Royce 601 Viper engines, pilot-injection high pressure fuel rail systems, developing 600 horsepower @ 5000 rpm, delivering 755 pound-feet of torque and capable of 4 ton payloads. All warmed up, ready and waiting [to carry the load].

On the other hand you have an old rickety wheel barrow. Hmm… give me a minute… I’m thinking. [Instead], you say, “I’ll take the wheel barrow because I will have total control!” Everyday we make the decision to lean on our own abilities, our own understanding (Proverbs 3.5) and our strength… in effect we choose the broken down wheel barrow over the true power available to us.

By relying on “God’s power”, I’m not talking about a “genie-in-the-bottle” approach to God, far from it. God is not a “power” to be manipulated through “secret keys”, “spiritual formulas” or “laws”; He is not bound to respond if only we say the right words or have the right positive thoughts. It is a very small God is who controlled and manipulated by His creation. That is not the God of the Bible. The authentic care of our burden-bearing God comes from the blessedness of complete surrender of our lives to Him; allowing the Holy Spirit to be our Guide and Counselor; it is making Jesus Christ truly the Lord and Master of our life.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (NKJV)

The Lord’s burden is light. Our burdens are heavy but the Lord has graciously allowed us to cast them on Him, if only we will choose to do so.

1 Peter 5:6-7Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (NKJV)

God cares for us. We may cast our entire burden on Him but it is to be accompanied with humility and submission. He is more than capable of handling them. Our duty is to hear His voice and obey (John 10.27); He will take care of all the burdens that come with our obedience (Matt 7.11). Throw the stones in the back of the truck. And while your at it, toss the wheel barrow in there too.

Brent Riggs (by permission)

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Stand Up For Jesus

Many of our friends at work, classmates at school, and neighbors in our community need God. The workplace, school, and neighborhood can be wonderful venues for sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our impact on our friends can be great when they know that we are Christian, and that we live the life we profess to live. People have a healthy respect for those that are true to their calling, and in this age of complex social relations, it is difficult to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone if we won’t let them into our life.

Unfortunately, some Christians feel that they are not qualified to invite others to Christ, yet they know “why” they, themselves, came to Jesus. Others fear that we will become vulnerable to things that the Lord hates because of social contact with unbelievers. Sharing the gospel can be a frightening experience for some of us. It can be an individual problem if people don’t know that we are Christian, and it can be a church problem if a church has little or no contact with the local community. We know that social isolation is not a Christian virtue, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-19). During the early Christian persecutions, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4).

In most cases, it is not that we are ashamed of the gospel of Christ, “for it is the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16), it is that we are not fully convinced of our role in preaching the gospel of salvation to the world. According to the Apostle James, “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20). We need to be aware of the many people that we know that don’t know Jesus, and are lost. And finally, we must remember what the Apostle Paul shared with our brother, Timothy, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Therefore, let us stand up for Jesus wherever we find opportunity so that we can hear and understand the faithful words of the Apostle:

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints — the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Colossians 1:3-6).

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Not Enough Time?

How often do we say to ourselves, “I don’t have time” to do something? Truly, our time is ours, and we are usually in control of our time when we are not earning our wages at a job, attending educational courses to prepare for our future, sick in our beds, or doing good for our family. Unfortunately, too often we believe that we don’t have enough time to participate in activities that are pleasing to God. For example, do you find yourself thinking that you don’t have time to meet regularly with your fellow Christians for Worship or Bible Study? Do you schedule events or agree to take part in activities that keep you away from church? Do you ever think about why is it that you have a “ready mind” for some activities, but not for others? We know that our lifetime on this planet is limited, but do we know how much time we have left? Have you knowledge of your end days?.

We understand that our jobs, duties to our family, our social engagements, our political activities, and our exercise programs take up a lot of time. Although we have these earthly responsibilities, how is it that we can say that we don’t have time to worship God, attend Bible Study, or get involved in activities that are helpful to someone else? The Apostle Paul wrote the following words to Titus:

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1-2)

God has given us many gifts to serve one another. Such gifts include our knowledge, wisdom, understanding, humility, and a sense of awareness of what is good and right in the sight of God. As Children of God, we must have time for the things of God.

“This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” (Titus 3:8)

This also applies to leaders of the church that might be inclined to neglect their duties as Shepherds by not having time to comfort and build up the saints. The Apostle Peter spoke clearly to this issue, as well:

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind . . .” (1 Peter 5:2)

Sometimes we need to evaluate how we spend our time. We have so many examples follow. Think of your fellow Christians that have full-time jobs, families with children, caregiving responsibilities, and professional and public duties, that can always find time to meet together with the saints, visit the sick, and participate in activities to win people to Christ. In fact, it is usually those with the greatest personal and social responsibilities that give the most to supporting the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ: “. . . Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

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Examining Faith And Works

An important issue affecting our commitment to God and to His church is our understanding of what it means to “live by faith.” We can speak to this issue, philosophically, by saying that it boils down to “being and doing” (showing who we are by our actions).” Our great Biblical example of faith is told through the experiences of the patriarch Abraham. He was commended for his faith because he trusted that God is a reliable God, and does not lie. We learn from the Scriptures that “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promise land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham demonstrated his profound trust in God by agreeing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, on an Alter. Abraham did not question God and he “reasoned” that God would keep his promise that through Isaac, “all nations would be blessed.” “By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death. (Hebrews 11:17-11). There is something modern-day believers in God often miss when they read about the faith of Abraham. First of all, we must understand how faith “works.” According to the Apostle James, speaking about Abraham, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:21-24).

Here lies the problem for many Christians: our actions are not working together with our faith. In other words, our faith in God is not manifested in how we live our lives. Some Christians have difficulty trusting the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For example, some are afraid to love: The Apostle John tells us that “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20). Some Christians cannot grasp the spiritual and life changing benefit of fellowship and worship with other Christians. Scriptures tell us, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. . .” (Hebrews 10:25-26). Finally, there are those that don’t know how to put their faith and God given talents in action: The Apostle Paul tells us: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:6-8).

Each of us must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith, and living by faith.

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Young People

No matter what road you take in life, choosing your friends will have a lot to do with your personal happiness and professional success. Whether in school, on the job, or at church, people will always judge you by the company you keep. Believe me, it is true, though it may seem very unfair. But consider this, what if those judging you know something about your friends and their outlook on life that you might not know, or that you have been willing to overlook? Isn’t it logical, then, for them to assume that “Birds of a feather flock together”? Indeed, our understanding of Nature shows this idea to be generally true. People tend to keep company with those who think like them and who desire the same things as they do. So, how can it be too harsh for others to judge you as being of the same character as those you run with? Don’t we all prejudge others, from time to time?
In my life, I have been privileged to make good friends with people of many different nationalities, professions, ethnic groups, and value systems. In these relationships, I have tried to choose people of “good character” and “personal integrity” as my friends. Let me tell you what I mean by good character and personal integrity.
By good character, I mean, compassionate people who have respect for others, intelligent people who have the mental toughness to do the right thing, without being ashamed of what others may think, and people of vision, who understand that there is more to life than the things we possess or the things we desire to have.
By personal integrity, I mean, people with an honest heart, people who respect themselves, and are willing to do what is right, because it is the right thing to do. I firmly believe that no other human trait can make up for the lack of personal integrity. It is the most essential trait of honorable men and women.
People of good character and personal integrity will always support you in good and bad times. They will help you reinforce your own strengths as you grow and mature in your personal, professional, and spiritual life. I encourage you to choose friends that will help you to develop a large measure of personal integrity and good character. I know you will make some mistakes, we all do; but keeping your spiritual focus will lessen the power of those who seek to bring you down.
George Young writes to his son in his precious book, To My Son : “One essential key to a truly happy life is the acquired ability to put one’s life in proper perspective . . . to measure the importance of today’s events in relation to the whole of our lives. It is this ability that can help us to establish our priorities and keep them in order . . . to keep our values in tact, our attitude positive and our sense of humor about us.”
His words remind me of what the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Philippians almost 2000 years ago: “ Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).

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My Prayer For God’s Help

Dear God, my first love and my hope. I praise your name in all the Earth!
I understand that time is now fleeting, the moments of life are passing. Therefore, by your Spirit of Grace, help me:
To let everyone see Christ living in me, especially my colleagues and friends.
To manage my relationships with everyone that touches my life.
To not sin before them, with them, or for them.
To not cause anyone to stumble or compromise his or her faith.
To know where to draw the line.
To allow your Spirit to work in me without hindrance.
To recognize that without you I am weak in all things.
To depend on your wisdom about life and godliness.
To always approach you with a pure heart and humble spirit.
To bear up against dark imaginings about life and the future.
To recognize the dangers of self-righteousness, self-pride, and arrogance.
To love my neighbor as myself, especially those of the household of faith.
To love you with all my heart, soul, and mind.
To live as though Jesus Christ will return in my lifetime.
All in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, my Savior,

Amen.

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Giving Financially To The Lord’s Work

God promises to bless us when we give generously to the work of the Church, spiritually, and financially. But one of the hardest things for Christians to do is to give in proper “measure.” Some Christians resent sermons about giving. However, the importance of “giving back to God” is highlighted in both the Old and the New Testament. It is part of God’s plan that his children demonstrate their love through giving-spiritually and materially.

While it is not good to announce what you give financially to the church on the Lord’s Day, we know that Jesus said that God, “who sees what is done in secret” will reward us openly for our generosity. Many of us have been blessed with spiritual talents, material possessions, and financial well-being. We must remember to use our several talents to build up the church:

“So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12.

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

Giving as we have been prospered to God’s work should be an important part of our family budget plan. In this regard, there are different kinds of giving: thoughtful giving, thoughtless giving; eager giving, reluctant giving; generous giving, stingy giving; cheerful giving, and forced giving.

The worse kind is “thoughtless giving.” Some Christians come to worship unprepared to give of their means, or even to support our worship service to God. They are often surprised when the contribution plate is passed around, or when they are asked to serve in worship. Like children, they must be reminded to prepare for the events of the day. During the week, they rarely think about the needs of the church, and how they might use their talents to show Jesus to the world.

Thoughtful giving is explained by Jesus in a parable in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

In everything we do, we should remember to show our love for the Lord: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” The “measure” of our giving speaks of our attitude, good conscience, and sincere faith.

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Our Prayer Ministry

Honestly, how often have you offered up a silent prayer for someone else? Did you know that it is highly likely that someone you know has offer up a silent prayer for you?
The Scriptures have much to say about the importance of prayer and the benefits of praying for one another. If you have not joined your fellow Saints in our prayer ministry, below are some Bible reasons for doing so.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Saints.” Ephesians 6:18.
“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” James 5:13.
“And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:15-16.
“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” Colossians 1:10.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12.
The Elders at the Golden Gate Church of Christ have started a Prayer Ministry so that we can each approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, in order to receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.
Why not join us on Wednesday nights at 6:00 PM and the last Friday of each Month?

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Another Look At Why We Love One Another

The other day, a member of our church was asked, “Why are we commanded to give special consideration (love) to those who were members of the “household of faith?” The question was a serious one. It seems that the person was curious as to whether or not God discriminated in his love, and asked us to do so, also. I think it is best to let the Bible provide a quick answer. Jesus said to his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35.

There is no doubt that when we demonstrate our love for one another, we
show those around us that Jesus is real, and this love can draw people to Jesus. We have an example to this happening in Acts 2:36ff. The people, including some Christians, were “amazed” or “in awe” because they saw converts from different countries and ethnic groups sharing with one another in ways that had never been seen before.

Indeed, in Revelations we learn that: “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Revelation 7:9.

Sometimes Christian love is hard for people to understand. Here is a more complete explanation of why we must love one another.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:9-21.

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It’s Strange, Isn’t It?

Isn’t it strange how a 20-dollar bill seems like such a large amount when you give it to the church, but such a small amount when you go shopping?

Isn’t it strange how 2 hours seem so long when you’re at church, and how short they seem when you’re at a ball game or a movie?

Isn’t it strange that you find it so hard to pray to God, but you have no trouble talking things over with your colleagues and friends?

Isn’t it strange how difficult and boring it is to read one chapter of the Bible, but how easy it is to read 100 pages of a popular book?

Isn’t it strange how everyone wants front-row-tickets to concerts and ball games, but they do whatever is possible to sit at the last row in Church?

Isn’t it strange how we want a high title and to be in charge, but are not willing earn the title nor carry out the responsibilities of that position?

Isn’t it strange how we want to be seen as wise and important, but don’t realize that in God’s Kingdom, the wise and important are the humble servants?

Isn’t it strange how we need to know 2-3 weeks in advance about a church event, but for shopping or going to a movie, we can adjust our schedules at the last minute?
Isn’t it strange how difficult it is to remember things about God and Scripture, and how easy it is to remember and repeat gossip?

Isn’t it strange that we seek comfort from others, but are never around to comfort someone else?

Isn’t it strange how we believe what is in magazines and newspapers, but we question what is in the Bible?

Isn’t it strange how everyone wants a place in heaven, but they don’t want to do what God says is necessary to get there?

“For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15.

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Faithful In All Things Part 1

To be “faithful” means to be loyal, to be steadfast, to be true, and to be counted on to do what you have promised to do. As Christians, we demonstrate our faithfulness by doing what God has commanded us to do – by our obedience. (James 2:18-22). As spouses we create a wonderful environment for our family when we are faithful in all things, as children we learn faithfulness in all things from our parents, and as employees we are honored for a “job well done,” because we can be counted on to do our job. Also, as a faithful friend, we will receive bountiful love in return.
If you think about it seriously, our God shows His faithfulness to us by His works: He gave us His Son to die for us. (John 3:16). And Jesus showed us His faithfulness by His works: He obeyed the Father and went to the cross to save us. (Philippians 2:6-11).
The Scriptures tell us that our faith produces our good works, but it is our good work that proves our faith. (James 2:22). They work together like “walking on two legs.” Our standard of judgment for faithfulness is the Holy Scriptures, not our personal opinions. We must remember that neither faith nor works have any power unless it is through God’s grace: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Remember, grace is “through faith,” and we were created to do “good works.” Also, the value of faithfulness and good works cannot be measured by good intentions or wishful thinking. It can only be measured by obedience to the Word of God. (Matthew 4:4; II Tim 3:16-17).

Faithfulness to God requires a fundamental change in our normal attitude toward the world and its wisdom: “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”(1 Corinthians 2:12-16).

By making up our minds that we are going to be faithful in all things, through God’s grace, and understanding what God wants of us, we have the power to “transform” our minds to that of Christ: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.”(Romans 12:1-2).


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Faithful In All Things Part 2

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”(Ephesians 2:8-10)

Personal involvement in the work of the Lord is the secret of “letting our light shine before men” and demonstrates our faithfulness. Unfortunately, many Christians believe that being at church on Sunday morning is all that is required, and that volunteering for works of service in the church should be left to church leaders.

We are told to: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he had done, whether good or bad.” (II Corinthians 5:10)

Below are some things that we can do to increase our involvement in the work of the Lord to help us build up of our faith, and the faith of others:

Don’t limit yourselves in the work you are willing do for the Lord.

Those who are strong in the faith share your spiritual wisdom and your knowledge with those who are just coming of age in the Lord.

Young people, visit older saints in their homes. Give them the honor they are due for their long years of faithful service to the Lord.

Husbands and Wives encourage your families to participate in church fellowship, Bible study sessions, and to visits to the sick and shut-in.

Those of you that have overcome certain crises in your life, share your experiences with your fellows Christians who are struggling with similar problems.

Young professionals, volunteer for works of service in the church, and don’t be afraid to confess your love for the Lord to your colleagues and social contacts outside the church.

Leaders (Elders, deacons, preachers, and ministers, etc.), remember your duty before the Lord: if you accept a position of honor in the church, don’t neglect to be faithful in fulfilling the duties that come with that position.

“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants, we have done what is our duty to do.”
(Luke 17:10)

“Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”(Luke 9:62)

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