Personalities


The apostle Paul taught the creation of divisions in Corinth was a grievous sin (1 Corinthians 1:10).

A distinction was made in the Corinthian church over which preacher was “better.” They had copied the prevailing “reality show” in the Corinthian courts where people followed their favorite “sophists.”

When personalities appear in the church, the Devil knows what to do. He knows a little competition will cause some people to become proud of themselves or others. He knows a little preferential treatment will cause someone’s pride to blow up and hard feelings will inevitably result.

This is why it has never made any sense to me to see preachers create preferences. One would think the very idea of the back-slapping, good-buddy network would engender the same kind of division that plagued the church in Corinth. Yet, it seems the practice is made across the country based on some kind of secret handshake, wink, and nod.

My question is why would brothers in Christ invite the Devil into the church and allow him the freedom to corrupt it by engaging in such a divisive display? If you have an answer, please enlighten me.

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All I Need


“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done,” (Psalm 73:28 NET).

The human body requires oxygen, food, and water to live. Nothing more is necessary. The human being needs more. It needs its maker, God.

This is the one many people live without. When they do, they are depriving themselves of the one person that can sustain them for their whole lives.

We pity those who have no food, no money, and no one to help them. When people live without God, they live alone indeed.

No one has to live like that. God is still there. He’s ready to help. Obey the gospel and make friends with God for the rest of your life.

David refused


The son of Jesse had been anointed king of Israel. Almost immediately, the current king became enraged at the young man who had only done everything to prove his loyalty. Saul drove David from the capital city into the desert and then searched for an opportunity to kill the red-headed boy.

In a cave in En-Gedi, Saul came closest to finding David. Little did the king know his quarry was hiding in the deepest part of the cave. David found Saul and sliced a part of his robe off with a knife (1 Samuel 24:4).

David’s conscience deeply hurt him. Why? Isn’t the usual theme of the world, “Don’t get mad, get even?” Saul had chased David all over Israel trying to kill him. Why not get some revenge? Saul had it coming, didn’t he?

David never sought Saul’s harm, but there’s more here. David was not going to take vengeance on Saul. It wasn’t his place to do that. If God wanted David king, then God’s will be done! This didn’t mean David should be Saul’s executioner.

David learned something many people never do. It is not up to me to be the instrument of God’s punishment. David refused to hurt Saul. David learned God would work out his will in his own way.

In Luke 9:51-56 Two disciples were sent by the Lord to prepare for his visit to Samaria. The Samaritans decided not to welcome Jesus. James and John said they would call fire down from heaven on them all. Jesus rebuked them. It wasn’t their place to seek vengeance against the Samaritans. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, not destroy them.

One of the saddest characteristics of our time is how people believe they ought to bring down fire from heaven upon all those who disagree with them. They have forgotten David and Jesus’ example. We are supposed to be in the business of saving souls, not hurting them. May we try to save others and not hurt them. May we teach others instead of making ourselves the punishing arm of the Lord. Let’s let the Lord’s will be done in his way.

More people need salvation than punishment.

Opinions


All humans have opinions. But, opinions do not necessarily matter.

There are vegans who eat no meat and there are meat-eaters who eat nothing but meat. There are fasting dieters and calorie counters, liberals and conservatives, educated and uneducated. Each of these can produce opinions that can result in severe disagreements, arguments, anger, bad feelings and even hatred.

That’s when Satan uses those things as a stumblingblock to throw people into disarray and sin.

Currently, there are severe divisions in our society that have formed along some of these same lines. I have encountered brothers and sisters in Christ who are ready to take me to task over some of these very subjects and all of them are matters of opinion. Years ago, none of those things mattered. Now, it seems some those opinions are all that matter.

Why is it that we opinionated human beings can’t learn to give others some space? Why is it that we must always draw a hard-and-fast line around those things we think matter, but really don’t?

All of this anger and vitriol isn’t working out the will of God, is it? No. It’s working out the will of someone else.

The word of judgment


“Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me.
And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me,” John 12:44-45 NKJV

In my study this morning, I found something I usually find almost every day: something I’ve never considered before about the Bible. This time it was the two verses above.

Some commentaries have nothing about these verses. Some have a small “snippet.” F.F. Bruce, however, wrote something that was interesting: “The word of judgment on the last day is not different from the word of life already sounded forth. The message which proclaims life to the believer is the message which produces judgment to the disobedient.” (“The Gospels and Epistles of John,” page 275).

God passes judgment on no man until the record is closed on his life. I understand that. We all have a chance to repent and obey God until death takes us. Jesus taught once the door of life is closed, the opportunity to repent and obey God is closed (Luke 16).

What the Lord said in these two short verses, however, was an indictment and an incredible blessing. Those who believe and obey the Lord can expect a judgment of eternal life. Those who deny and reject Jesus is the son of God decree the judgment of punishment. We determine our own destiny by our willingness or refusal to believe the truth.

Therefore, we have no one to blame if we choose to disobey. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments,” (John 14:15). When we refuse to love Christ enough to do what he says, we deserve the eternity we’ve decided, and that is sad, indeed.

Establish justice


Justice means setting things right. A society is known for justice by how it cares for or neglects and mistreats those who are weak, poor or disadvantaged. As long as there have been nations, there have been those who will cheat, wrong, defraud, bamboozle and even hurt those who cannot defend themselves.

Therefore, those who are vulnerable need access to justice. Above the building that houses the United States Supreme Court are four words: “Equal Justice Under Law.” A nation of laws makes certain all people have access to justice.

This is not a recent notion: it is a notion that began with the creation of the world by God.

The Old Testament word for justice is “Mishpat.” It refers to relationships people have with others, themselves and God. Righteousness and justice have a special relationship in the Bible. Right doing produces justice. The prophet Amos taught this relationship in chapter five of the book that bears his name. God took Israel and Judah to task for their treatment of him and each other. It was a time of unequaled prosperity in both nations. Israel and Judah wanted God’s judgment to fall on their enemies but didn’t realize it was about to fall down on them because of their idolatry and mistreatment of the less fortunate.

God’s definition of justice and man’s don’t agree. Unrepentant man is not concerned with true justice. Sin causes men to ignore right doing and just conduct. The first relationship to suffer because of sin is the one man is supposed to have with God. Because mankind lives in sin, man lives in rebellion against God. The prophet Isaiah related what God told him concerning Israel’s sins when he wrote, “But your sinful acts have alienated you from your God; your sins have caused him to reject you and not listen to your prayers,” (Isaiah 59:2 NET).

When people turn their backs on God, their other relationships will suffer similarly. Sinful man mistreats the weak, oppresses the poor and causes the innocent to suffer. Justice is less and less available to those who need it. Sin, because it’s very nature causes bondage, forces people into relationships that are more or less like slavery. The world has always been a place where one man or group of men attempt to enslave others.

The only cure for sin is the blood of Christ applied to sinners through obedience to the gospel. The only access to true justice will come when all people obey the gospel and live according to the law of Christ, the law of liberty the apostle James discussed in James 1:25; 2:12. When all men live obedient to God’s will, justice will roll down like water (Amos 5:24).

Happy where I am


“I’m happy where I am.”

There are many people like this. They are satisfied with where they are and they resist any attempt to get them to do something different.

Sometimes a stubborn attitude is commendable. We need to resist the attempts of people to lead us away from the truth. However, there are occasions when we too stubbornly cling to points of view we might believe are right and aren’t.

In religious discussions, this is often true. But, when we obviously disagree with the inspired word of God it’s time to stop being happy with where we are and move to where God wants us.

In a recent discussion with a fellow in another state, I asked several questions about baptism. The fellow has a website in which he talks about more than one baptism. To be clear, there are two baptisms mentioned in the New Testament. There was the baptism of the Holy Spirit mentioned in Acts 2:1ff and in Acts 10. But, by the time the inspired apostle Paul had written Ephesians 4:5, there was only one baptism. My friend told me there were as many as five baptisms. He said there was water baptism (that his group practiced), Holy Spirit baptism (which he didn’t define), “ritual” baptism, “symbolic” baptism, and one other I didn’t understand.

I asked him if Paul was wrong about one baptism in Ephesians 4:5 and why the apostle Peter commanded the Gentiles in Cornelius’ household to be baptized in water after they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10. He didn’t answer that question. I asked him if he believed baptism was necessary for salvation and he refused to answer that question.

He was clearly happy where he was. There are many people like that. The rich man in Luke chapter 16 was happy where he was. He ate sumptuously every day and lived in a nice house. Then, he died and went to torment. There wasn’t anything he could do to save himself at that point. His stubborn insistence on being happy where he was had ruined his ability to escape.

Sometimes, a stubborn attitude can hurt us more than we know. Sometimes, people shouldn’t say, “I’m happy where I am.”