Thursday, December 29, 2011

Freedom in Maturity

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).

We have heard it said many times that we attain victory “in Christ.” We have also heard it said that as Christians we must be fruitful. To understand these concepts we must first come to acknowledge that there are two ingredients of faith that determine the victory and fruitfulness of a Christian. The first ingredient is maturity. In this discussion Paul wrote, “We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ… to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, 15). It is a true statement that God desires fruit from the Christian. The maturity of a Christian is measured only by the standard set by Christ Himself. This maturity entails the idea of his integrity. He is to only speak the truth, motivated by a pure heart and God has given us everything we need to grow to a level of maturity in Christ (2 Peter 1:3). But we must also keep in mind that Satan is opposed to us becoming mature and he will do anything to keep us from realizing who what we have in Christ.

The second ingredient of the successful Christian life is our freedom. In his letter to the Galatians Paul wrote, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). This verse was written to assure us that God wants us free, but also warns us that we can lose our freedom in Christ by returning to any other method of salvation, including the Law. Before we were baptized into Christ, we were slaves to sin. But because of Christ’s work on the cross, sin’s power over us has been broken. Satan no longer has any right of ownership or authority over us. He is now a defeated foe. But we must not be deceived. Even though he is a defeated foe, he is still committed to keeping us from realizing that he is conquered. He knows he can block our effectiveness as a Christian if he can deceive us into believing that we are still slaves to our past, subject to sin, prone to failure, and controlled by our habits. As long as he can confuse us with dark lies, we won’t be able to see that the chains that once held us captive are now completely broken.

We are free in Christ, but if the devil can deceive us into believing that we are not, we will not enjoy the freedom that, in reality, is our inheritance. Once a person understands the concept of being free in full, it is amazing how quickly he or she matures. The church is designed to administer to our desire to mature (Ephesians 4:11-13). We should eagerly attend every opportunity to be around those who have been set free so we can learn more about the freedom in Christ. We have been given the opportunity to live with, learn from and love one another to strengthen our maturing process. Let us embrace the opportunity to rejoice by being faithful to the call of separation that has set us free and set us apart from the world still chained to the defeat of Satan and his schemes.

In His Grace,
Cub

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Free in Grace

“I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide your commandments from me” (Psalm 119:19).

Has it sunk in how helpless we truly are without God? David realized how important God’s commandments were to his life. He knew he was a stranger to the world but not to God. Like David, we are also helpless when it comes to our spiritual walk without God’s grace: “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). When we are living in sin our relationship with God is null and void: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). Separation from God is referred to in the Bible as death. In God’s sight we are not alive to Him if we are still living in sin.

God’s grace was delivered to us through His Son, not as a license to sin, but a way of teaching us to be free from sin. It doesn’t seem logical that God would show us the damage done by sin and then send His Son to die so we can continue in sin. Although grace is sometimes erroneously viewed in this manner, it is a false interpretation of divine grace. God’s grace is not totally summed up in forgiveness: “[I]nstructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12). God’s grace is “unmerited favor” and it is bestowed on us even though we are not deserving (Romans 6:23). But grace is not God’s approval of sin or even His tolerance of sin. It reveals God’s hate for sinful ways and His love to lead us out of sin.

To fully appreciate God’s grace you must truly love God, but not as the world loves, rather as God loves: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus teaches us that if we continually love God we will continually be obedient to His love and grace. He doesn’t have to teach us how to be right with God, but He does. If we want to be God’s children we must stay in the boundaries of His grace: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:14-15). Loving God means to walk in the path His grace has provided.

Many mistakenly believe that the goal of Christianity is forgiveness. But the goal of a true disciple of Christ is holiness which can only come to us when we die to self and allow God to shape our lives into holiness through His grace: “[A]nd have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Colossians 3:10). We are being molded from the inside out into His image and His grace is leading us to the appointed goal, to be like Christ.

Don’t let the world confuse you about the doctrine of grace. It is God’s gift to give and He has shown us that it comes with divine guidelines. Many think that God’s grace gives us liberty to sin, but God’s word denies that theory: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2). Living in sin’s power cannot glorify God. He can only be glorified when the power of His grace is received and put to use, guiding us in truth and teaching us how to be free from the power of sin. Be made free through grace.

In His grace,
Cub

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

True Life

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Jesus did not come to accompany us in a life of sin. He came to lead us into a better life, a life that is described as abundant life. Sin prevents us from enjoying the reward of living abundantly by keeping us separated from God (Isaiah 59:2). The One who created us is trying to show us how to receive the greatest blessings while going through the burdensome trials and agonies of this life on the earth. He has come to lead us in the way of truth that leads to eternal life, and will come again to receive those that are willing to follow Him: "And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11). Those who are the overcomers are the ones who deny the flesh and allow God’s Spirit to lead them into this abundant life (Matthew 11:28).

The biggest obstacle we must overcome to enter into this way of life is ourselves. Jesus explained this difficult task when He taught that being a disciple means to be willing to let go of the selfish life we once knew: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Satan makes choosing the abundant life difficult by making the other way of life look so pleasing and enjoyable. But you must remember that he is the “father of lies” (John 8:44) and his words are designed to keep you from enjoying the blessings of the abundant life. That is why we must go to the Bible to test the words that proceed from the mouths of men: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1). Satan convinces the world that pleasing the flesh is the right way of life, and then he uses their confusion to deceive you to embrace their philosophy and follow their path of destruction.

Jesus came to save us from this destructive nature. He shows us that the abundant life is a life that has a priority system based on eternity: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Jesus goes on to say that this priority system takes the worry factor out of life and this opens the door to enjoying life the way God intended. We spend our time worrying about how to earn the necessities of life that God has promised to supply. This abundant life also enjoys a peaceful tranquility that the world’s way cannot enjoy: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Abundant living is peaceful because it is living by faith. Those who are living this way of life have given all authority over to God and are now relaxing in His care knowing He cannot be defeated. They face the trials of life in a rejoicing mindset just as Paul did when he wrote many of his words chained to his enemies that were holding him captive. In reality, it was the jailers that were the “captive” audience.

God wants you to enjoy the abundant way of living. He sent His Son to deliver this life to us by living to accomplish the will of His Father. But we must look through eyes of faith to behold the value of this life. We must be on guard at all times knowing the evil one is out there to cause us to doubt God’s way. He is working against you by deceiving you to think he is working for you. Look to God’s word for guidance because truth is the way that God can set you free (John 8:32).

In His Grace,
Cub

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Changing Desires

“Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Psalm 34:11).

The Bible is an inspired book in which we have “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth,” an acronym that sums up how we should view this treasure of truth. But many seem to find ways in their hearts to bypass these instructions and still believe they are in God’s grace. This mindset is shown as illegitimate: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22). Knowing God’s word is not enough to keep your soul in His grace. You must make application.

When Jesus traveled through Bible lands, He taught a new way of life. He taught how to live in a way that will keep one in God’s grace. He taught how to have the right mindset to keep you free from sin. In chapter five of the book of Matthew, Jesus taught the Beatitudes to give us a measuring tool to determine where we are in relationship to the holiness of God. We must view these teachings as goals and strive to attain their power.

One Beatitude Jesus taught was humility: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:1). God has a place for the humble. As Jesus taught He came across a few that thought they knew what God desired from them. Jesus referred to them as “healthy” (Matthew 9:12). When Jesus tried to get them to change their beliefs, they thought they were already in good standing with God, in other words they were “healthy”. They were not humble enough to see their spiritual illness and it cost them a chance to be in God’s grace. If we are too prideful to see our spiritual illness we will be left out of God’s grace also. We must be humble enough to see our error and change.

Another one of the Beatitudes Jesus taught was a desire to be right with the Lord: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). When Jesus spoke the words, “hunger” and “thirst,” He spoke of the most extreme measures of these needs. If you hunger and thirst you are to the point of death. It is sad to say but sometimes we hunger and thirst more for a ballgame or a hunting trip more than we do spiritual fullness. Christians are always hungering for a perfect relationship with the Creator of life. Not just craving a snack, but dying if we do not get nourishment that can only come from the word of God. We know that if we are not fed from the Shepherd’s menu, we will die. We hunger for the truth found in His word.

Jesus taught so much more, but these two spiritual lessons really stick out. The further we get from that day at the cross the further we seem to get from the desire that took Jesus there. Remember you have been called out of the world of fleshly desires and into the realm of godliness and spiritual beauty. Continue to allow God to fill your hearts with His goodness and put aside the old ways of reasoning you might have once held. Stay hungry for the beatitudes that made Christ Who He is and remain determined to be made in His likeness more and more each day. This will bring prosperity to your spiritual life and fruitfulness in His kingdom.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, October 21, 2011

Being Dedicated

“And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

What is true discipleship? Is it following Jesus with a limit to how far you will go? If that is what it is to you then you have missed the point of God walking this earth among His creation. Being a follower of Jesus is a great goal, but one that will take great sacrifices to reach the great reward of serving the Great Savior. When we look at Luke’s recording of Jesus’ words in this matter we can see that God has put out His call that many will decline because of the great cost of being a true disciple. His writing is the only account that shows commitment as a daily decision to follow our Lord. A true disciple is someone who follows Jesus with no reservations.

What transforms the normal person into a true disciple? First off we can see that Jesus says it is a daily decision to die to self. Being clothed in the flesh causes us to a make a change in life. We are called to a “newness of life” (Romans 6:4) and this new life can only come into existence when we decide to do away with the old life. We must die to the fleshly desires that cause us to lose that “closeness” with God that only true disciples can enjoy (Isaiah 59:2). Sin is a common factor in everyone’s life, but the desire to serve its power can be done away with by denying the flesh’s lusts and disciplining our bodies to give the Lord’s commands the diligence of our efforts.

The next facet of being a true disciple is a willingness to suffer for our Lord’s cause. A true disciple sees discipleship as the greatest lifestyle available to our being. In fact, they see it as the only lifestyle, and when discipleship is viewed in this manner, taking up our cross is not even an obligation; it is an opportunity. It is a privilege to get to die for Jesus. He has made this sacrifice something that can be done with confidence of victory: “[B]ut thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). The devil thought Jesus hanging on the cross was his victory, but sacrificing our physical life for God’s purpose is where true victory lies. This is confusing to the world but it is proven to the disciple. The disciple’s steps are no longer limited by physical sight, but are expanded and guided by spiritual truth. We no longer walk according to the flesh but live according to the Spirit, which makes us true disciples: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). True disciples sacrifice their lives to walk with God knowing victory awaits the faithful.

The third facet of true discipleship is a willingness to follow Jesus wherever He goes: “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Discipleship is powered by humility. In fact, humility is in a true disciple like sweetness is in sugar. The Greek word for “follow” that Luke uses shows a willingness to accompany Jesus in every aspect of His life. When He spoke these words He had the cross in His sights. Many do not see the benefits of suffering and are not willing to follow Jesus to the cross. No one can be a true disciple unless they are willing to see their physical life as a sacrifice to lead others to the victory of faithfulness. Making Jesus Lord is more than a confession of the mouth; it is a commitment of the heart: “[T]hat if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). When the heart is convicted and humbled to receive the truth of Jesus, the mind and hands will follow and that will lead us to the salvation that can only be received in true discipleship. Don’t let the hindrances of the world hinder your faithful walk in the Lord. Follow Jesus all the way.

In His Grace,
Cub

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weak Without God

“Why are you like a man dismayed, like a mighty man who cannot save? Yet you are in our midst, O LORD, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!” (Jer 14:9).

The world would be a lonely place if we didn’t have our relatives and friends to support us. Life is much more “doable” when we are strengthened by the family ties and the bondage of friendship. It is easier to face the struggles we face with friends by our side to bring comfort and aid. Imagine the despair we would have if we had to face the obstacles of this world without help. Imagine the feeling of being left in this world alone.

Being alone in this world is as scary as a graveyard at midnight. But it is not even close to the terror involved with the feeling of being separated from God. This is the fear that Jeremiah faced as he pleaded with a nation to repent before their sin tragically separated them from their Protector. Although God promised to never forsake them, we must remember that God’s promises are conditional. That is to say that His promises demand a response from our heart. As Jeremiah preached the promises of God he revealed to Israel that they must be faithful to God, as God is faithful, and will not save the unrepentant sinner: “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, cries out to this nation for repentance before God no longer hears them.

God is the same today (Hebrews 13:8). In His mercy He has given us His promises to help us persevere through trials. It is not a promise of avoidance of the world, but a promise of a safe passage through. His promise of safe passage comes with His assurance of His presence (Hebrews 13:5). His promise is given upon the condition of our faithfulness to His will. God cannot associate with sin so obviously His presence depends on our drive to be free from sin. We know we occasionally stumble, but if we are truly repentant “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The strength we have to be successful in our Christian walk comes from God. It is when we recognize our weaknesses that God can make us strong. Paul realized this and relayed that message to us: “Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). Our weakness is sin and our strength to overcome sin is through God’s power. If we try to eliminate sin by means of our own strength or our own plan, we will fail. Adam and Eve tried to hide their own shame by making their own covering, but God had to cover their sin for their shame to be removed (Genesis 3:7, 21). 


 The shame of our sin is never covered by our own means. Only God can forgive sin and He has given us the plan for His forgiveness in the Bible. Forgiveness comes through a response to God’s word in baptism, a repentant heart (Acts 2:38) and a plea to God for a clean conscience (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s plan for salvation, His scheme to reclaim man’s soul. Our souls can only be reclaimed through the power of God’s forgiveness.
In His Grace,
Cub

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

New Dedication

“Then Moses said, ‘Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD…in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today’” (Deuteronomy 23:29).

At our baptism we made a decision to dedicate our lives to God. It is a wonderful decision to follow God, but if we look back on our lives in the past year, it is certain we will find room for improvement. None of us are 100% perfect in our dedication, but if we are willing to improve, God will bless us. Taking our dedication to a higher degree will help get our life right with our Creator.

First, our attitude toward the assembly becomes right. It is sad that assembling to worship always seems to be the last priority on some people’s list. Some choose to stay home because they want to see something on TV, or maybe because they want to spend time with family. Whatever the reason, there are those that have placed assembling with the saints at the bottom of their priority list. The Hebrew writer shows this way of thinking is not in accordance to truth: “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus taught His disciples the importance of a spiritually aligned priority list: "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). We have been taught to place our relationship with God as top priority with the reminder that judgment day is drawing near.

Second, with renewed dedication our attitude toward Bible study becomes right. Sometimes our lives become so busy we can’t seem to find time to sit down and study God’s word. The psalmist expressed the importance of dedication to the understanding God’s word: “Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word” (Psalm 119:169). When our dedication to God’s word diminishes, our understanding of God diminishes, and along with it, our love for God diminishes. His way can only be found by following His path (Jeremiah 6:16). Dedication to studying God’s word is of utmost importance if we want to travel down the “ancient paths.”

Thirdly, renewed dedication will make our prayer lives right. Paul speaks of a dedicated prayer life when he wrote, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He knew and wanted others to know the power of a dedicated prayer life. God’s ears are attentive to the person who is persistent in his or her prayer life because it shows an active faith in the promise of God’s power to work in the lives of the prayer. We can rejoice knowing God is faithful to His promises and will provide the power we need to change the direction our lives and love

Dedication is an important part of the Christian walk. God blessed the dedication of His Son to accomplish His will as Jesus conquered every obstacle that stood before Him. God will bless our efforts also if we will rededicate our lives to that same purpose.

In His Grace,
CubNew Dedication

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Path in the Son

“I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

Many today make the claim that they want to be like Christ, but not many will choose to devote their heart, mind and soul to walking in His footsteps. They are not willing to deny their own knowledge and devote their lives to walking down the path that God has chosen for His children. God’s path is different and unfortunately not many choose it: “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). It is a path of self-denial and sacrifice, but also promised success. But many want the success without the sacrifice. These are people without faith who are not truly convinced that Jesus’ path can still lead to success in this present age.

Walking in the path of God’s Son is a choice we must make daily (Joshua 24:15). It is a daily decision to not give in to the temptations that try to pull us away from where that path leads. Those who choose to stay on their own path of sin cannot expect God to save them from this deadly choice of paths (Isaiah 59:2). God’s new covenant makes it clear that His power to save people from their sin is in the gospel (Romans 1:16). Walking in God’s path is a choice to accept His covenant of forgiveness. It is a path designed and defined by God that will lead us to the forgiveness of our sins.

God’s love for us is proven by His desire for us to be on the right path (1 Timothy 2:4) and He loves us enough to give us an opportunity to change the path we are currently on. It is clear that choosing any other path makes us opposed to God (Colossians 1:21). We cannot show our love for God if we stand opposed to His mind. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). And although we may have chosen the wrong path, God still wants our forgiveness: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Christ died for us that we might change the direction we are headed and find His path to forgiveness.

The path of the world leads to an unwanted destination, death (Ephesians 2:1). Any path not blazed by God’s Son is a path of destruction. Satan has devised and disguised his path so that we might think we are on the right path. He had Saul (before God gave him the name Paul) convinced he was on the right path. But God came to Saul in a great light and showed him the error of his ways (Acts 22:8). In ignorance, Saul stood opposed to God. The path he was on was leading him away from God and to death. But God gave him the opportunity to change the path he was on (Acts 22:16). God sent Jesus to help you change the path you are following. If you are following the path of man’s philosophy, there is time for you to make a change and walk with Jesus in the truth of the gospel.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

One Faith

One Faith
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

It is not surprising to know that in the world there are many different so-called “faiths” because the world doesn’t understand the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). The world’s idea of different faiths contradicts the teaching of God’s inspired word: “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Division occurs when we place our faith in the logic of man’s opinions rather than the wisdom of God’s truth (John 17:17).

Faith is “conviction” of truth and it is “impossible to please God” without it (Hebrews 11:1, 6). It is not a system of beliefs in what we consider to be truth. Truth is not only in God’s word rather it is God’s word (John 17:17). Faith is being convicted of the truth portrayed through the inspired Scriptures and adjusting our lives accordingly because of the faults revealed in us through the perfection of God’s Son. Truth will never change for it is eternal (Matthew 24:35). Jesus spoke truth for the faithful to hear and live within its guidelines (Matthew 13:9) and He taught people to abide in truth to live (John 15:10).

In the world-defined faiths we see many different levels. There are those who have “head” faith. In other words, they know the right words and maybe even where they are found, but they never put this knowledge to work in their lives. They talk a good talk but their walk is different from their words. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about this kind of faith: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me” (Matthew 15:8). People of the one true faith take truth seriously and apply it sincerely.

Another faith defined by the world is seen in “heart” faith. These are the people who go to services to feel “warm and fuzzy” but have little desire to study and grow in God’s word. They are not clearly defined in what they believe and usually fall away when the trials of life come. We can recognize this faith because this kind of person usually jumps around from congregation to congregation looking for the sermon that makes them feel good only to leave still wanting (2 Timothy 4:3). True faith strives to please God not self.

God has called His church through the distinction of true faith in His gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:14) to “proclaim the excellencies of Him” for His calling us out of the darkness of ignorance (1 Peter 2:9). His voice is made distinct through truth (John 10:4) and we have responded to His voice through obedient faith in His commands. We have surrendered the imperfect fleshly desires for the desire of the perfection of His will. We are faithful sheep who have given our hearts to our Lord, the Good Shepherd, who we know is the only One who can lead us into eternal life. This is the faith rewarded by God.

In His Grace,
Cub

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sweet and Sour

“And he said to me, ‘Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey’” (Revelation 10:9).

Sometimes doing what is right is not always the easiest way to go. There are times in life when we don’t want to go through the trouble of doing the right thing. I don’t like to go to the doctor because I don’t want to hear what he might say about my health. I have delayed taking my Jeep to the mechanic for fear of what he might say is wrong with the old clunker. But delaying these tasks does not make them go away. There are times when we must do the right thing, no matter what we might fear.

This is the experience John was going through as he feasted on God’s word (Revelation 10:10). He found that it was sweet to taste, but it was sure hard to swallow. It should be a delight to spend the precious moments of life studying God’s word. The psalmist illustrates this pleasure as he spoke of the righteous man of God (Psalm 1:2). Oh, how sweet it is to be in God’s word!

It is true that God’s word is sweet as He provides us with “training in righteousness” (1 Timothy 3:16). But we must also remember that as sweet as it is, it is also hard to digest. Although His message is full of sweetness, God’s word also carries with it the bittersweet message of judgment. I am sure that John would have loved to stay in the sweetness of the Revelation, but to be faithful to the Scriptures he had to proclaim God’s judgment also. Peter’s revelation of God’s truth would not have been effective if he did not preach the bitterness of the entire truth to those who crucified the Savior (Acts 2:36ff). There is no pleasure to be found in God’s wrath but the complete message of God’s plan must be proclaimed so that people are made aware of its power (Acts 20:26-27). Although God’s truth must be taught in love (Ephesians 4:15), it also must be taught in its entirety.

As Jesus walked this earth His message was not always sweet. He delighted in people’s acceptance of His message, but the rejection of His words did not stop Him from proclaiming the totality of God’s message: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). Jesus’ love is fully expressed in His warnings of the Father’s wrath.

Now the mission that Jesus began has been handed down to us, the church. We have a bittersweet message of love and truth to proclaim. That is why Jesus said: “…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20). We can’t go out and teach the sweet promises of God’s word without revealing His judgment. Some of God’s teachings are hard to digest. Even the faithful disciples had difficulty digesting some of His teachings, but Jesus never avoided teaching the truth. We are called to be like Christ and preach His word in full, never shying away from the bitterness that is found in truth.

In His Love,
Cub

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fools of a Mocking World

“Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is good will” (Proverbs 14:9).

Being the object of ridicule can really diminish enthusiasm. But when the Lord speaks there are those who listen and those who ridicule those who listen. The world mocks God and His children on a regular basis. God’s children are made fun of because of their loyalty to a different agenda. Their mindset differs from the world’s because their minds focus on the spiritual and the world responds in ignorance. Their ungodly response comes from a mind that doesn’t understand the Lord’s will and will lead them to their own demise: “[W]hose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

God’s teachings have always been different than that of the world and the world has always responded in unbelief and hatred. This fact is made evident in the life of Noah and the building of the ark. Noah was a man of God and was known by three godly characteristics: He was a “righteous man”, a “blameless” man, and a man that “walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). The world stood in unbelief and stubborn pride as Noah worked in faith. In faith, he built an ark to save his family from something they had never witnessed before. In faith, he built an ark that was a laughing matter to the world. They laughed at a working faith that the Hebrew writer shows brought salvation to Noah and his family (Hebrews 11:7). Still today the world laughs at those who seek salvation according to God’s word instead of man’s traditions and mock the child of God.

While the world acted in unbelief and ridiculed God’s servant, the faithful servant, Noah, kept on building and preaching according to his faith. To an unbelieving world, Noah’s message was something to be mocked. They resisted God’s message with total ignorance of His mercy as they ridiculed the obedient faith of Noah. But when the floods came, they came to realize Noah’s wisdom and that their ignorance made them fools. The world may resist God in His doctrines, but they cannot resist Him in His wrath.

In the same way, Jesus came to preach to a lost world. But, just as they did Noah, the world mocked God’s Son. Not even His own people understood His message (John 1:11). Don’t be categorized with those who don’t respond to Jesus in faith. Understand that the world will not agree with His message of salvation and will stand in opposition to the gospel that demands obedience, but soon will submit to the wrath of the Messenger. Do not allow the world’s ignorance to be yours also. Get to know the truth in God’s Word and allow His revelation of love fill your hearts with faith so you can act in love and not ignorance. Be different from the world of mockers by embracing the faith that moves the church in the direction of godly wisdom that will bring prosperity to their souls.

In His Love,
Cub

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Church Perception

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

One of the most overlooked aspects of being a member of the Lord’s church is the fact that allowing God to add you to this group of the saved only occurs when one is willing to let go of the former way of life they once grasped. Many claim to be members of “the church,” but their life still resembles the world they continue to exist within, or the world that continues to exist within them. The Lord’s church is established within the person through a confession of faith that proclaims Jesus as Lord and this proclamation is going to make an impact in their lives so great that nothing will remain the same: “You shall know them by their fruit” (Matthew 7:20).

Jesus came to this land with a vision of the will of God. He lived to leave a lasting impression of holiness on the people in whom He visited. He wanted to show them a life-changing love that would lead them out of the world of death and into the kingdom of life. He never forced anyone into this change, but when the people he visited decided to love Him, that decision demanded change to take place in their hearts. It is astonishing to see so many today make the claim to love Jesus, but are not willing to make Him Lord. What do they think when Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will Keep My commandments” (John 14:15)? When one loves Jesus they devote their walk of life to the guidance of His love. This desire to follow Christ is not fully revealed as the words “I love you” leave the mouth. True discipleship is fully revealed when our fleshly desires have left our heart. This is the circumcision of the heart revealed by Paul in Romans 2:25-29.

Jesus’ dream became reality in Acts 2 when His promise of the power of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. What we tend to miss in this wonderful section of Scripture is how the world was changed through the submission of authority and subjection to God’s power. In verse 38 we see Peter concluding his sermon with an invitation to change: “Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” This is an amazing invitation to forgiveness, at least to the church. But to the world it has been an invitation to refuse, refute and even rebel. God has called the church out of their sin and into forgiveness through His Son’s blood. It is sad that many in the world do not have “ears that hear” because of an unwillingness to change.

Believe it or not, baptism is God’s way of washing away sin. And although there are many that believe that prayer is the way to salvation, there is not one Scripture that verifies that notion. Now, some may use Scripture out of context to prove their point, but they are seeing Scripture through eyes of flesh, and that causes great difficulties: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Satan uses our flesh to confuse us about the power of the Lord’s Spirit. But the church will always perceive God’s word through “the faith” that never questions the authority of God’s written word (2 Peter 3:16). The world remains unclear about the truth that God sent to set man free (John 8:32), but that is only because they are still in the grasp of the evil one that steals, kills and destroys the life that God prescribed (John 10:10). The church doesn’t believe because their names are written in the Book of Life, their names are written in the Book of Life because they believe (John 3:16).

In His Love,
Cub

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Who You Looking At?


“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God” (3 John 1:11).

When Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett both passed away the world had lost important icons. The world looked up to these two individuals for their success in the entertainm...ent business, and for good reason, as they were very successful. They saw in them great examples of how to be successful in the “material world.” But as God’s children, should we be so quick to follow examples like these?

When John wrote the passage in 3 John, there were some struggles going on in church leadership. John was writing to an individual by the common name of Gaius. From what John spoke of this man we can conclude that he was a very dedicated man to his walk with the Lord. John called him “beloved” that shows this man worthy of being loved. He was prosperous in his faith and he was dedicated to the truth that God sent to set us free. He was hospitable to those who were working in the Lord’s kingdom and the church recognized his efforts as being faithful to the Light. This was obviously a man to follow.

But John also mentions another name, Diotrephes, a man who is totally opposite of the character of Gaius. Notice the differences in this man and the quality of character God is trying to produce in His children. Diotrephes was a man that sought prominence. He obviously didn’t like second place. He had a nature that strove to be liked by his peers no matter what expense it was to his spiritual condition. Gaius was, by dying to himself, a servant of those around him, whereas Diotrephes felt he needed to be served. Jesus reminds us which one we are to follow: “But the greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:11). Servants are true disciples and worthy of our following.

Another character flaw in Diotrephes that was opposite of Gaius was his lack of love for truth. Gaius walked in truth (v.2) whereas Diotrephes wouldn’t accept the truth (v.9). Gaius died to his fleshly desires and let the word of God guide his thoughts and words. Diotrephes didn’t allow truth to mold him from the inside, which caused an ungodly man to emerge on the outside. As John expressed, a godly life is manifested in love for truth.

Unfortunately today there are still men of the spirit of Diotrephes. There are men that are too proud to let truth change their way of thinking. There are men that are easy to recognize as terrible leaders because they are not humble enough to change even when truth eradicates erroneous ways in them (James 1:22-24). There are men that think that their way is the only way and they allow this ungodly spirit to rule in their lives. This will cause them to be lacking in their hospitality as it did Diotrephes. But church members have a way to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). We have God’s word to show us such men as Gaius and Diotrephes. And although the world may long to follow such men as the likes of Diotrephes, members of the Lord’s church must make sure that the leaders we follow are being guided by the humble spirit of our Lord.

In His Love,
Cub

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Servant Life


“[W]e are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Answering God’s call doesn’t bring t...he promise of an easy life. The reason for this is because it is a call to surrender the life we once knew and take on the life of a servant. Now if that doesn’t seem hard, then maybe it is because we are not understanding what all is entailed in the life of a servant. Jesus proclaimed His life to be lived as a servant: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus’ life is proof that living as a servant is a life that is appreciated by few. And although the people He served did not accept His service, Jesus continued through faith in serving the will of God.

When Paul wrote about his experience as a servant of the word of God, he used some words that might bring fear to the heart of the common man. But giving up is just what God’s adversary wants us to do. He makes our walk upon this earth as difficult as he can. Paul says he causes us “affliction.” This word is used to describe the work of a winepress. We are being pressed and squeezed as satan tries to steal the victory that is found in the life God has poured into us. He uses the weakness of our flesh to convince us that this life is not for us. But God has delivered His Spirit to lead us through the difficult times and sustain our walk by assuring us of the treasure that will be rewarded to those who overcome (Revelation 17:14). We are not “crushed” because we believe Paul’s inspired statement that Satan’s pressure is “not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Satan cannot steal a servant’s heart.

The fact that Satan never gives up and his attack is brutal is made evident in the word “perplexed.” Satan tries to make us feel like we have been deserted. He tries to confuse us by making us think we can never win. The world is relentless as they continually turn to their own ways instead of turning to God. And if that is not enough, they go out of their way to make the servant’s lifestyle the object of their mockery. As we strive to remain faithful to the call of Christianity, we are not always blessed with the physical luxuries that the world who mocks us is enjoying and physical satisfaction can be used to confuse us. God’s way out of the perplexity in the life of a servant is through faith. We serve God in love and His love cannot fail (1 Corinthians 13:8) and we do not despair because we have faith that God will give us victory (2 Corinthians 5:7). And we live in hope that does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).

In summary, God’s servants are being put “through the mill” in an attempt to get us to give up. As you serve God in love, know His promise of life is being delivered in us as we walk this earth (John 10:10). Our steps are guided by our faith in His plan and His way is illuminated by truth. Do not let Satan’s invalid attempts to realign your focus be successful. Let your focus remain on God’s truth and not Satan’s lies. Let your heart be guided by God’s love and not Satan’s hate. Make it a habit to stay away from people who are not living according to the faith that assures us a place at His right hand (1 Corinthians 15:33). Satan is always going to persecute you as you are walking in faith. Keep focused on the life God offers by staying faithful to the call to being a servant of the Most High.

In His Love,
Cub
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Friday, June 10, 2011

Walking Tall


“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them” (Hosea 14:9).

The life of a Christian is different because it is a life of striving for a goal that requires faith to ...realize. It requires a willingness to place the interest of others around us at a higher priority than even our own desires. It is a difficult lifestyle because the things we are taught in the fleshly mindset are now regarded as stumbling blocks that cause problems reaching this new goal. It is holiness for which we strive, a goal that is mocked, ridiculed and even despised by our friends and even family. It is a goal that requires us to change our hearts so we can change our minds to let go of the things that are not allowing us to be made “complete in Christ” (Colossians 1:28). We know that God has a specific lifestyle of holiness for His children and to reach that goal we surrender our own will.

God’s ways are tremendously different from any way of human origin. To understand His mind we must open our minds to the Example He sent in Jesus, our Lord. We must let go of the instructions we once received about how to make it in this world because our goal is not to make it in this world but to make it out of this world (John 15:19). His love has changed our minds about what it is we want to become. We confessed Jesus as Lord because we decided to no longer follow the ways of the world. We turned our hearts back to God because we desired to be led to eternal life, not deceived into eternal judgment.

It is true that God is a complex being, but His mind is opened to us in a manner of simplicity. He presented the simplicity of His logic to mankind so we could know what He desires in His children (1 John 5:13). When it comes to understanding God’s desire for us, we need to recognize that He desires greater things for us than the world can know. He is using His love to mold us into the image of holiness. We are to be transformed into the image of His Son and not conformed to the image of the world in which we are visiting (Romans 12:2). Our relationship with Jesus will determine how we discern good and evil. If we love Jesus then our minds are set on following His steps to avoid having any resemblance to the ugliness that dresses the world.

Hosea wrote to a nation to instruct them to leave their carnal ways of pride, idolatry and spiritual adultery. But the people would not listen and continued to follow the unholy ways of the world. This eventually led the Hebrew nation into the captivity of an ungodly nation. The Lord’s unheeded instructions were to turn from their worldly ways and return to God and His cry is still heard from the pulpits today. We are God’s children and we have to turn away from the world and its ways if we are to remain in God’s grace. We must study His mind to be wise; we must sacrifice what we once held as knowledge to know Him, and we must strive to be like Christ to reveal what is “good, acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2) to the world by disregarding what is good to their carnality.

In His Love,
Cub

Monday, June 6, 2011

Believe It or Not! It's in the Bible -- 2011 VBS is here!

We will begin our VBS 2011 this evening at 7:00 PM at Maryville church of Christ. We will be looking at 1 Kings 18:17-40 and see why we should choose to serve God over any false gods that Satan uses to try to fill our lives. God has shown through the Bible that His power cannot be defeated (Almighty shows Him as undefeatable). He has proven throughout the lives of geat men and women that choosing His will over the will of self brings forth His promise of life abundant (Jn 10:10). It is a much better way of life because it is directed by God Himself as we as humans have no way of directing ourselves when it comes to a relationship with our God (Jer 10:23) because flesh doesn't desire godliness (Rom 8:6-7). He has opened the door to His love through Jesus and gives us the liberty to choose righteousness and godliness over worldliness. But the world we live in tries hard to win our devotion by making things that oppose the will of God seem so pleasurable, a lesson that came to Peter for all of our benefit:

"But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's'" (Matt 16:23). All Peter desired was to protect Jesus. But protecting Jesus in this situation was just what Satan wanted. Without the death of Jesus ther could be no burial or resurrection to life.

Elijah was humble enough to receive God's commands and courageous enough to stand up for God even in the face of 450 prophets of Baal, and he was successful. We are challenged in the same way to stand up for godliness in the face of a world that lives in opposition to God's way, and like Elijah, we can be succesful if we will take our focus off the trial and set our goal on the victory that faith in Jesus provides (1 Jn 5:4). Are you courageous enough to receive the victory?? I pray that you are or will be as life depends on your decision.

In Him,
Cub

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

It’s a Wonderful Life

“He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12).

There are many people wandering through this world aimlessly with no idea of how wonderful it is to have life in Christ. Jesus said He came to deliver a different kind of life to those who will avoid Satan’s deceitful schemes (John 10:10). It is a life that can only be known through Him (John 14:6) that tears down dividing walls that seek to destroy the kingdom: “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall” (Ephesians 2:14). Sadly, only a select few will enjoy this life because it requires denial of self and total submission to the will of God (Matthew 7).

Many blessings befall those who choose to submit to God’s will, the most tremendous of which is the promise of freedom from our past. God told the children of Israel He was going to make a “new covenant” with them and in that covenant their sins would no longer be remembered (Jeremiah 31: 31, 34). This covenant was established through Jesus’ death on the cross (Heb 9:15-18). His death was the sacrifice needed to pay the price for the removal of the punishment of death for our ugly past. Now we are forgiven of all the sin in our past, and if we remain faithful to His teachings, even sins that we occasionally stumble over in the future are forgiven (1 John 1:7). The wonderful life in Christ is abundant in forgiveness.

Another blessing found in this wonderful life in Christ is freedom from sin. Satan uses sin to hold our souls in captivity (Romans 6:23). He disguises it so brilliantly and makes it look so tempting that our flesh experiences great difficulty trying to refuse it. Once we are taken in by its deceit and allow it to enter our heart we become separated from God (Isaiah 59:2) and unwillingly become servants of the great deceiver, Satan. His subtle disguising of sin lured us into his trap of doom and destruction. But Satan’s power is just what Jesus conquered: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14). God sent His Son to earth to rescue us from sin’s power and to provide forgiveness. His willingness to die on a cross for that purpose reveals a divine love that is matched only by the grace that leads us in the right direction to its reward.

Becoming submissive to God’s plan has transformed many lives. For one to be transformed they must be willing to let God have control of their lives (John 3:16). God’s life is promised to a special kind of people. One can only become this kind of person when he or she decides to die to self, sin and to Satan. This describes those who believe. “Believe” in the Greek language is a verb, or action word, just as the Greek word “agape” or “love” is action. God’s love doesn’t just sit around and do nothing. It is action taken to meet our greatest needs. Believing is also action that takes place in response to God’s love. We must realize how desperate we are without Christ before we will ever come to Christ. Only when we come to Christ knowing our need for His forgiveness can we become full partakers of that glorious revelation of divine love. That active love working in our lives delivers us into the abundant life of loving God as He loves us.

In His Love,
Cub

Friday, May 27, 2011

Changes

“…one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).

“Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’, into the future.” This is a quote from a classic song sung by the Steve Miller Band that illustrates the world’s concept of time. It seems like it was just a few days ago that the calendar changed to 2011, and here we are again, already half-way through another year. But that is how time goes. It is always moving and changing. But Peter shows us that God’s concept of time is different: “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Peter 3:8). Since God is Spirit and not bound by time’s rules, He is not subject to time’s change.

Although the world changes, we cannot accept change when it comes to our belief in the one true and living God (Ex 20:2-3). He will always be the one Father to all (Eph 4:6). The changing of time in this world must never affect our belief in this important doctrine of faith. God is the only One worthy of praise as Creator, Sustainer, Beginning and End of all things (Rev 4:11; Isaiah 43:1). The world and things in it may change with time, but since God is not influenced by time, He will never succumb to time’s power to alter.

Another part of unchanging doctrine is our faith in God’s Son. Many people have tried to change the story of Christ to fit into their realm of faith. But the true story of the risen Savior never changes. To grasp the true story, we must concede that Jesus “is called the Messiah” (Matt 1:16). He is the Christ, the anointed One of God. He is God’s Word in the flesh (John 1:1, 14). Even though the world’s understanding of the Savior has gone through changes with time, the facts about God’s Son, the Christ, will remain unchanged.

The Bible gives us many details of the unchanging facts about Jesus. One unchanging fact is that He came to destroy the works of Satan. “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Sin is a fact of life and a work of Satan and it is the cause of both physical death (Genesis 2:17) and spiritual death (Rom 6:23). It is the cause of separation between man and God (Isaiah 59:2). But because Christ is not subject to the power of time to change, the power of sin has been defused, and now the power of His truth has reconciled us to God (Romans 5:10). Time may change a lot of things, but nothing can change the doctrine of salvation found in Jesus.

Another unchanging fact about Jesus is that He did not come to change the Law, but to fulfill the Law. Many people, mainly ones of authority during the time that Jesus walked this earth, could not conceive His way and physically tried to destroy Him. They thought He came to abolish their Law, but in reality, He came to fulfill the very Law they felt had given them authority (Matt 5:17). But because Jesus is the Christ, He could not be swayed from His mission and conquered the rulers that feared His supremacy (Col 2:15).

People of the world must be able to adapt to the changes that occur through time, but Jesus said that we “are not of the world” (John 15:19). The world accepts changes in its laws of philosophy but as disciples of the Christ, we cannot accept any change when it comes to the God’s truth.

In His Love,
Cub

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Make Them Thirsty

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

There is an old adage that says, “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” This mindset has been used to soften the church’s ineffectiveness in evangelism efforts. But we must acknowledge the fact that making people drink is not the task we have been sanctified to accomplish. Our call is not to make them drink, but to make them thirsty. Jesus never taught evangelism as making somebody do anything. He never made people obey His desires for the safety of their souls. What He did was offer their parched soul the water of life (John 4:14). How can anyone whose soul is parched not thirst for living water? The answer to this question might be because they do not understand how invigorating this water can be to their souls.

God’s purpose for His church can only be successful when we show the world how much of a positive difference salvation can offer. This is how the fruit of the vine is revealed. We are all branches connected to the true vine of God’s Son (John 15:1). When we are connected to the nourishment of Christ’s love, our lives reveal the power of God to change our lives for the good. His life has given us a new hope, a new perspective and most of all a new song (Revelation 14:3). We have been saved from a life with no purpose because we believe in the purpose of God. Life in His kingdom is different because of the transfer of authority: “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). People of the world are confused about the good life. Satan has deceived them by keeping the joy of eternal life hidden. He has tricked them by giving them the happiness of the physical pleasures of this world so they will not seek the joy of the eternal life that is found only through faith in Christ.

God’s plan is for our lives to bear fruit and our lives should reveal the greatness of accepting this change. We should be eager to get to go to “the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). We should celebrate the chance to get to worship the One who provides life of joy. Why there is even one empty seat in His assembly is astonishing, especially when they charge such a great price to see sporting events and not one empty seat remains. The opportunity to worship the Lord is free admission, but the price of making that seat available cost Jesus His life. The fruit of receiving the victory that His Son’s blood offers is far more rewarding than any Super Bowl could ever be.

When we approach the chance to study the word of God with the same mindset that the world approaches the chance to read the TV Guide, then we are not making anyone thirsty for the truth that has the ability to save our soul. When people are not seeing the fruit of a changed life within us, they will remain in the life in which they have found comfort. God’s truth is the source that provides life and when this is not made known by our desire to study, we cannot expect anyone else to desire this fountain of life. Our hearts must hunger for the truth that God supplied to equip us for His work (2 Timothy 3:17). Our desires must reveal the fruit of loving God’s word with all our hearts. People of the world will only desire to die to the flesh when they see the people of God’s kingdom desiring to live through His Spirit. Only when our hearts need the nourishment of His love will we have an influence on those whose life has not been touched by His grace.

In His Grace,
Cub

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Whole-Hearted Effort

Whole-Hearted Effort
“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).

To understand the concept of worship we must allow God’s love to develop a feeling of reverence for Him and His divine attributes. As humans, we tend to be more focused on the physical things in life. One example of this haphazard mindset is how we can be more concerned with getting to worship service than with what we offer to God in worship. We must always remember that God is Spirit and our efforts to please Him must be offered with a sincere heart that lives according to the Spirit’s guidance (Romans 8:13).

Paul reminds us to keep focus on our spiritual service: “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). We should be motivated to live in a sacrificial way, giving every effort to be transformed into the image of His Son. He is not only speaking of a physical but a spiritual sacrifice being offered by denying the physical desires of our flesh to serve our God without wavering. God has given us the opportunity to serve Him, but to do that we must stay focused on His life.

To accept God’s life of sacrifice, service and surrender, we must be willing to humble ourselves to His grace. The first recording of an offering to God in worship comes with the story of Cain and Abel. Abel’s offering reveals some spiritual treasures of true worship: “Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering” (Genesis 4:4). Notice how God deals with man concerning his worship. The Hebrew word used for “had regard” actually means “to look at.” God “looked at” the sincerity (or heart) of the worshiper before He noticed what was offered. God wants our hearts first and foremost.

Sometimes we can become morally blinded when it comes to our service to God. Paul wrote of the people outside of Christ and said they walk “in the futility of their mind” (Ephesians 4:17). These words display a sense of ignorance or darkness in those outside of Christ. But in verse 20, the contrast shows that those in Christ are different as they serve God through striving for a deeper relationship with Him. They are motivated by His love to learn how to achieve the most from this divine love. But desiring to serve God is not without opposition. Satan always tempts us to fall prey to his purpose by choosing to entertain his desires for us instead of sacrificing the flesh’s desire to please God.

When we come to worship God we must come with a devoted heart to His way, His truth, and His life. We cannot come with one foot in the worship service and one foot in the restaurant door. Our hearts and minds must be totally focused on the One who makes life available to the true worshiper. Our hearts should be filled with reverence as we remember the great work done through us and for us by the living Savior that died for us on that cross. And this sacrificial way of life goes beyond the worship assembly. Jesus said, “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). Let’s strive to give a whole-hearted effort to reveal the life that makes God proud by avoiding the temptation to live in a way that makes Him sick.

In His Love,
Cub

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Love's Affect

Love’s Affect
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When this verse is truly understood, it becomes more than a definition of love; it becomes motivation to perform in love. It becomes a guideline for what it means to serve God and His creation. When God saw man’s spiritual needs, He came to us in love, willing to sacrifice what He held dear, for our spiritual benefit. This revelation opened the door to how we define love. He opened our hearts, minds and hands to a life guided by this divine authority of His love. In fact, He opened the door for us to be loved: “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

We do not have to get too technical in our discussion of this text to understand true love. Right out of the gate it is easy to see that true love motivates sacrificial giving. It is amazing how many will say they love God but are not willing to sacrifice anything, let alone everything, for His purpose. Oh, there are many that may “give” but it is a limited giving. Some give what they feel they can without any hardships but are not willing to make any sacrifice to see God pleased. Their heart may feel good about this way of giving but the heart is not a good guide for serving our God: “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). God’s love does not count the cost of what is given to make our lives better.

The next observation we can make about love is that it provides a way to a better life. God delivered His grace through His loving Son to a world that had no clue of how to live in a way that is pleasing to Him (Titus 2:11-14). When God’s love is working in our hearts then we are changing what we believe. The church is structured in a divine way to produce divine results (Ephesians 4:10-16). Our definition of belief has been changed from a common knowledge of God to an intimate relationship with Him and a desire to accomplish what God’s love is working to produce within us. We are convinced, convicted and converted by the love God has bestowed on His creation. God’s love provides the sacrifice needed to wash away the effects of sin.

One more observation of love that can be extracted from this passage is that God’s love touches us eternally. God is a loving Creator that loves every soul. But, God loving us is not enough as we must receive His love to take full benefit of its power. When we believe in God’s love then we allow it to take control of our heads, hearts and hands. We surrender the person we once were for the “new creation” God is trying to produce in us. Paul reminds us that for love to accomplish this we must “die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31). God did not send His love for mankind to remain in the lifestyle that kept them separated from enjoying the full benefit of receiving this love. He sent it to change who we are inside to reveal to us the deception of the evil one that persuades us to live according to the desires of our flesh. This life lived according to the flesh is slowly decaying because it is not protected by the grace that is wrapped in God’s love.

We do not have to be rocket scientists or brain surgeons to understand the truth of God’s love. But we must open our minds, hearts and hands to intimately know the Son and the eternal life that His love is working to produce in us. If we are to become wise, we must first open our lives to the love of God that will give us the power to live in a way that He will find acceptable.

In His Love,
Cub

Monday, April 18, 2011

Submission Power

Submission Power
“For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

What made Jesus so successful in life is the same quality that can make leaders in our times successful. It is the power of knowing how to be submissive to God: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” (John 14:10). A good leader is always a good follower. Jesus remained in His Father’s love by staying focused on the goal of His Father’s will (John 15:10). The church can only be successful by avoiding stumbling blocks and being good followers of the devotion of Jesus to God’s successful plan.

When Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, he wrote through the inspiration of God’s Spirit. This relates to us an idea of submission. There was a purpose for the words that were written. God wants us to utilize the power of knowing His truth in all situations of our lives. In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, Paul’s inspired words give us direction on how to be led according to the Spirit so as to be led to the success of a faithful life. We can learn a great lesson for life from his devotion to accomplishing the desire of His Lord through his willingness to be utilized for the glory that can only be revealed in truth. Being submissive is making ourselves available to God.

God can only work His good in the hearts of the submissive. His will is to change our hearts about the ideas we once held as valuable in the flesh by subjecting ourselves to the power of His Spirit: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). He desires obedience to His will so that His success can be made known through us. But there are some in this world who will remain limited by the power of their own flesh and will not subject their lives to His power which will cause them to remain in Satan’s hands. When we open our hearts, minds and hands to the Lord’s power then we allow the world to see the beauty of His handiwork and the church will remain a shining light in a world darkened by doubt and fear.

Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter 5 also show us that being subject to God leads us to the purity of sanctification, “so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (v.26). God has called us through His gospel for the purpose of receiving His glory (2 Thessalonians 2:14). When we become submissive to His authority of salvation, the blood that dripped down from the cross where Jesus’ sacrifice was offered cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Subjecting our lives to the power of His blood sets us apart from a world that does not know the purity of God’s sanctification. Responding to God’s love in love is living for His purpose (Romans 12:2), no longer allowing our decisions and actions to be made according to the impurity of flesh, but now living sacrificially to prove God’s will as the only pure life.

Later in the same chapter in Ephesians, Paul reveals that submission to the Lord is not something we can do without the help of the Holy Spirit, “for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (v.29). When Jesus was led into the wilderness, He was led by God’s Spirit and His success came from the strength provided by the word of God. God calls us to a holiness that can only be attained through submission to His Spirit and His promise is to not only to call and lead us to holiness, but also to sustain us in our walk in His holiness. Submit to God and walk in the power of His resurrection.

In Him,
Cub

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Good Fight

The Good Fight
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The world is demanding action to bring the downfall, death or departure for the Khadafi regime. The world can see the damage of the immoral mind of this leader and can attest to the destruction of the physical bodies that his arms of wrath can reach. His uncompassionate heart leaves a wake of death behind him and his ruthless aggression continues to wreak havoc on this earth.

But, on the spiritual side of life, there is another evil force wreaking even more havoc on our fellow man. And just as the world leaders see this battle to end Khadafi’s regime as a good fight worthy of intervention, Christians see the battle against this evil ruler worthy of their participation. Christians understand that they have been enlisted in the army of God that has been commissioned to fight against the forces that try to infiltrate hearts and minds with deceitful doctrines set out to separate them from the source of life. This army is in a continuous battle to set man free from the result of serving the source of death, who is none other than Satan himself.

When Paul wrote to a young struggling preacher to encourage him in his efforts, notice how he addressed him: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 4:3). When Jesus was called into service to fight against the evil forces, He was called into a strategy of success, a strategy not without cost. Jesus was called to serve a system of self-denial, suffering and sacrifice, a strategy that seemed to play right into the hands of the enemy until Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven to sit at the Father’s right hand. See, death was thought to be victory for the other side, but God’s love conquered that evil power and now has revealed the victory that is in faith: “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up’ in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54). Dear friends, the victory in faith comes when we die to the powers of Satan that once held us captive to his deceitful scheme of destruction.

We must fight the flesh to keep our souls in the hands of the Creator. Satan’s attack on the souls of God’s creation is just as despicable as Khadafi’s attack is on his own people. But we have an undefeatable defense system called faith: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith” (1 John 4:4). God has given us a strategy that has already proved to be victorious. If we are smart people then we can easily see the choice to surrender to His plan is the way to be victorious: “[B]ut thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Many false teachers will come into your camp with another strategy and, to the soldier of Christ, he is an enemy, a soldier fighting against our faith: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8).

The enemy’s weapons of mass destruction are lies used deceive the flesh to cause divisions within the Lord’s troops (1 Corinthians 1:10). But hope that “does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5) will keep the Lord’s army intact and among the fighting elite because of their uncompromising faith in their Commander. They have set their minds on things above (Colossians 3:2) and will not be persuaded to fall from the ranks of the victorious army of God. Don’t lose heart and keep fighting the good fight of faith. Avoid the snares set by Satan’s deceitful ways to receive victory.

In His Love,
Cub

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

True Evangelism

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

God has given us something to talk about. It is the truth about how great His love is and how love can change the lives it reaches. Evangelism is more than words though, it is believing in the words we speak and letting the world see the difference God’s love is making in our lives. We have been given the opportunity, not only to speak about salvation, but living the life of those who are saved. We know that living the life that Satan offers in the flesh steals the eternal life God offers in Christ (John 10:10). The good news of salvation is not only spoken, it is lived.

We are living in a world of force. It is the “survival of the fittest” attitude that governs the actions of those who are bound by the philosophy of flesh. We can be thankful for the grace of our Lord that has reached out and saved us from the doom of this fleshly lifestyle. But, if we truly believe in the power of this life then our lives must reveal the changes it provides. When we say we have made Jesus Lord of our lives then we must be willing to show that proclamation. To convince the world of this life, we must die to the flesh and allow God to direct us in His Spirit.

One attitude that greatly offended our Lord as He walked this earth was the hypocritical attitude. Jesus reprimanded the Jewish leaders for pretending that they could keep the entirety of God’s Law. Oh, they knew how to talk the talk, but they could not walk the walk. And it is easy to see that their evangelistic efforts were minimal at best. We have been given the opportunity to reveal the “newness of the Spirit” by letting the word of God change us from the inside out. We cannot expect others to welcome the change if we are not willing to let our lives shine the light of God working in us (Matthew 5:16). God is love and when we accept His love as our way, the change it creates in us must be made evident. His love calls us to surrender the attitude of the world for the attitude of Christ (Phil 2:5). Allowing His love to work in us provides us a new way to live.

Evangelism is not just showing people how much you know. Sharing the good news of the truth about God’s love is revealing the “new creature” that His love has created in us (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we say Jesus is Lord then our lives are indicative of what it means to be a disciple. We are here to show the world how different our lives are because of our willingness to die to self, sacrifice our worldly minds and live in submission to His Father’s will. We will not save souls by words only. Our lives must reveal the change love produces in the willing heart.

Jesus asked some who followed Him, "Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). He went on to say how important it is to build their lives on the foundation of His teachings and used the illustration of building a house (47-49). If we want our lives to withstand the destructive nature of this temporary world, our lives must be built on the unshakable foundation of the eternity of His love. We must avoid being like those who are able to tell you what the Bible says, yet whose lifestyle is preaching a different message. We cannot bring the good news of our Lord through hypocrisy. God has established His church to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). If we are going to be successful in the mission then God’s mission must be successful in us.

In His Love,
Cub

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ignoring God

"The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4).

The tragedy that has struck in the land of Japan has been spoken about by probably every newscast on television. They have given great details of the physical aspect of the damage that has been done. They have told us in great detail of what the fleshly eyes can see. But, what can be extracted from the spiritual aspect of this tragedy? What does God want us to learn?

When Job faced tragedy, Elihu reminded him Who is in control of the situation. And although He is in control, He is just and His love can only aid the humble: “When God arose to judgment, To save all the humble of the earth” (Psalm 76:9). As powerful as man thinks he is he has no power when God trembles the earth. He is the One who has the power to raise the waves of the sea and to allow the earth to open. We need to remember His power and our frailty.

God is love and He has been crying out to His creation to bring them under His wings of protection for many years: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37). But the people were not humble enough to listen and their ears remain closed to His voice today. And because the hearts of mankind are so hardened by fleshly pride, He must remind the stubborn Who has the power to bring the proud to their knees. Christians can use this tragedy to teach His love and grace.

God does not want the calamity of sin to fall upon mankind, but mankind continues to accept evil as the norm and ignore His words of grace. And then when sin causes the ugliness of its wages, they cannot understand why God does not protect them from its destruction. Christians have an opportunity to live under the protection of His love, mercy and grace. This is an opportunity to reveal to a world filled with pride how much more beneficial it is to live in humility. As those who do not know His Word try to get a grip on the situation, the people of faith can speak about the powerful love that protects them from the doom of sin. This is a powerful lesson to teach.

As Christians, we must be cut to the heart. Not only about the loss of the physical lives from this earth, but even more tragically, the loss of souls that do not accept the invitation into God’s kingdom. Many will be removed from this earth because of the great catastrophe that has fallen upon Japan. But what makes this even more tragic is that many of the dead will leave this realm outside the grace of God. This should remind us how tragic it is to leave our fate in the hands of the created instead of the Creator. God sent life to earth in the form of His Son. His voice still cries out to the prideful hearts of the world to come into the protection of His love. His cries are made known through the church, but like the prophets of old, their voice will continue to be ignored. And even though His voice is ignored, He still is the only One with the power to save.

In His Love,

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pressing On

Pressing On
“Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

Many times in life we are faced with great decisions and most of the time these decisions are really tough to make. But as Christians we can be assured that when we turn to our Father for His assistance in these matters, He will make whatever we decide to do great for the furthering of His kingdom: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can be assured that God is working for our benefit.

As Paul was writing to the congregation in Corinth he made some encouraging reminders to help them in his absence. First of all, he encouraged them to rejoice. Although they might have had faith in Paul, they also had to understand that it is God that does the blessing. It is His love that guides and protects the church, not Paul’s. Their reason to rejoice was never in Paul but in the salvation offered only in Christ.

The second encouragement was to “be made complete.” This is a Greek word that implies allowing God to complete His work in you. Paul wanted the congregation to continue to rely on God for the strength needed to continue in their efforts to further the kingdom, even in his absence. I am reminded of Paul’s words to another congregation: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). God’s work will continue to flourish in the Lord’s church if we will continue to allow His love to mold us into the people He can use to bring glory to His name. The church is in the process of being mad ecomplete.

Paul’s third encouragement was to stay united in their efforts and “be like-minded and live in peace.” Satan uses the world in which we live to hinder God’s work through the church. The world does not understand God’s love and therefore cannot understand the work of God’s church. The Maryville congregation will be successful as we unite our minds in “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), remembering to always set our own personal desires aside to assure the unity found in devotion to Christ. This can only be done by studying God’s word together and reasoning through the Scriptures to know the will of God. When the minds of the Christians in Maryville are united in Christ, nothing can stop the work they are partaking in together. The world has no power over hearts solidified in faith (1 John 5:4).

Finally, Paul encouraged the Corinthians by reminding them whom they serve. Our God is the God of “love and peace” and He will always be with the faithful (Matthew 28:20). His love is unconditional but is fully received through obedient trust in His power to save the soul. His peace comes from the knowledge of His grace and the acceptance of the salvation He offers through His Son. Paul knew that the only way to success was to rely on God’s wisdom, grace and love. He also knew that if the congregation in Corinth would the worldly temptations to rely on the flesh, God would grant them love and peace.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Not of the World

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16).

Jesus prays for the church’s desire to remain different from the worldliness that tries to influence her. We live in times of social confusion, and maybe even revolution, and the church has an opportunity to show the distinct nature of God during these times. To do this we must stay on guard and watch out for the enemy’s attacks (1 Peter 5:8). He is on a mission to destroy the church and to succeed he is trying to get us to lose our distinction. We are living in the midst of a hypocritical world that accepts cheating, lying and killing as the norm. But the church has been set apart from the world’s ugliness by being transformed into the distinct beauty of the Christ.

When people of the world finally come to themselves and see not only the error, but the terror of their ways, they will go looking for something that is different. And that is what the church claims to be, different. Jesus reminds us to, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). People are hearing the claim of the church to be different, but are they seeing the difference? We must do more than just say we are different, we must live in a manner that shows us as different.

One way the church shows her distinction is to live up to what they proclaim. When the church says she believes God’s word to be their authority, then she must abide by the guidelines of truth. When she teaches that the Bible says we are to assemble on the first day of the week, then her members must be faithful to the assembly. Otherwise she will be seen as just another hypocrite in the world instead of a saint in the kingdom. The church believes the grace of God has been revealed in His commands. She is willing to sacrifice everything to make sure they reveal an obedient heart to a world that does not see that attitude anywhere else. If we just hear God’s word and do not act upon the opportunities it reveals, we are just as common as any other assembly, whether it be a religious group or a social club. The Lord’s church is called to the discomfort of a cross and not the comfort of a shade tree. Staying faithful to this call makes her different from any other organization found on this earth. Let’s continue to be faithful.

Another way the church reveals a distinct nature is in her priorities. Notice what Jesus taught the first disciples: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This is not something the world has not heard before from other groups, but what makes the church distinct is their devotion to this claim (Acts 2:41-47). If we just talk about being devoted to this new priority system and not actually live by it, then we are no different than the worldly politician that says he is devoted to the country’s needs and then gets in office to serve only the needs of those who support his cause. The church is different because they “have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer” their flesh that determines their steps (Galatians 2:20). It is the cause of Christ that determines the priority of their desires.

Now is the time for the church to stand tall and be recognized for her devotion to God. The world will die in their hypocrisy but the church will live in her distinction. Her guiding authority will remain throughout eternity (Matthew 24:35). Her distinction is seen in her dedication to the life offered in Her Savior (John 14:6). Her beauty is seen in her devotion to be different from the world and her never ending desire to be more and more like Christ each and every day. Let’s continue to be faithfully devoted to truth and continue to be blessed (Matthew 5:2-7:27).

In His Love,
Cub

Friday, February 11, 2011

Identity Crisis

Identity Crisis
"But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly; They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments” (Nehemiah 9:16).

When a man chooses not to want to remain different from a woman he loses his sexual identity. When the church refuses to be different, she begins to lose her spiritual identity. God is the Creator of all things and His wisdom created the church and gave her a distinct identity in Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). He provided the sacrifice needed to separate her members from sin so they would not be separated from Him (Isaiah 59:2). His wisdom has poured His Spirit into the faithful to lead them down a different path than the world chooses to follow (Rom 8).

Ever since God has had a chosen people, they have been guided to see themselves as different. Not to build their ego but to reveal their faith. One reason the Lord’s people are different is because of their willingness to be led. They are humble and learn from their Lord (Matthew 11:8-29). Their identity is seen by all as being strong because they recognize their weaknesses (2 Corinthians 13:9). This humility is as different form the world as a woman is from a man.

God does not have to force His church to be humble, it is a choice. He loves her in a way that motivates a response of dependency. Understanding our God makes us realize how inadequate we truly are. This inadequacy is not only a physical inadequacy but also a mental deficiency. Our minds cannot conceive the complete wisdom of God because we are flesh and He is Spirit (Job 21:27). His judgments come from an omniscient mind where our judgments come from a limited mindset. The church’s vision of this truth has humbled their hearts and gives them distinction.

When God refers to His church, He refers to her as His “own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). His church is distinct because she has surrendered her identity with the world to be born again into a “new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17) that no longer resembles the world but is being transformed into the image of His Son (Colossians 3:10). God loves us too much to leave us in the resemblance of death. His blood that streamed down from the cross now cleanses us from the results of our fleshly decisions and the love that allowed this blood to flow motivates us to remain separated from the power that caused sin’s stain to form us into the world’s likeness.

When the church no longer desires this distinction, she loses her identity. We surrender the opportunity to look like Christ by being humble to God’s wisdom. Our identity is our faith in Jesus and our leaders must be weak in their fleshly knowledge so the Lord can strengthen them in the power of His divine wisdom. The church must be humble enough to follow their lead and allow God’s Spirit to dictate our steps. Even when God is leading us to places our minds cannot understand, we must close our physical eyes so our our spirit can be led to His rest. The church will always struggle when she doesn’t realize that her struggles originate in her flesh (James 4:1). That is why we must deny ourselves to follow Christ (Matthew 16:24). We must be identified by our hearts desire to follow the Spirit’s lead. Let the church remain distinct in her identity.

In His Love,
Cub

Monday, January 31, 2011

Truth Is

Truth Is
“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

As one sits and watches “Sound FX” on the NFL network and discovers what these players are thinking as they play the game, one must wonder what people are thinking when they make decisions in life. What goes through the mind when they make the decisions that will impact their future? Are they basing their decisions on what will bring blessings in the eternal afterlife? These are important questions to the one who is concerned about where they will spend eternity.

When God revealed His word as truth (John 17:17), He ruled out any opinions man might have of that truth. What man thinks cannot take precedence over the words He spoke. Man’s opinion has no effect on what God’s grace reveals to us. When we hear the words of truth, we must think in accordance with what God’s love is trying to open our minds to receive. Only truth can set us free from the judgment that will put our souls into eternal condemnation (John 8:32). As good as man’s ideas are, when it comes to truth our minds are too limited: “I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

It is beyond understanding when a man thinks he has the capability to out rule God’s commands. Only God can tell us what we must do to live in a covenant relationship with Him. A girl’s friends can live in a relationship with her, but only her husband can live in a marriage or covenant relationship with her. The church lives in a covenant relationship with God because they have accepted His terms of that covenant. They do not try to put their “I think so” in place of God’s “I say so.” The world may have some kind of relationship with God, but a covenant relationship can only take place when we accept the boundaries of this covenant.

There is no telling what a person is thinking when they accept false doctrine. The Bible is the source of truth and it is accessible to all for finding and applying truth (Acts 17:11). It seems like history has a way of repeating itself. Israel did well when they walked in the Lord’s truth, but found their way to trouble when they chose not to heed God: “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21). Woe is the result of disregarding truth.

When God says “repent and be baptized… for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38) and then says it again and again, what is a person thinking when he or she tries to come up with another plan for His salvation. The Hebrew writer reminds us Who knows about salvation: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10). We will do well to close our minds to fleshly wisdom and open our hearts to the grace of God that has appeared to bring His teaching (Titus 2:11-14). Let’s stop the madness that runs rampant through the hearts and minds of the generation in which we live. Let us be the example of someone who does not heed his own mind, but searches the Scriptures to know what truth is and how we can accomplish the will of God through our understanding of His truth. Truth is God’s way of life.

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