Let’s be HOLY!

be_holyIf someone were to say to you, “are you a holy person; are you a saint? How would you answer them?  Would you say, “no, I am neither.” Or would you say, “I sure  am!” Would one of the answers right? Or would both be wrong or would the right answer be a combination of the two?

The answer we give depends on how much we understand how the Bible uses these terms.  If we take the definitions of the world we are holy or a saint. But if we. Use scriptural definitions then we qualify on both counts. But we must note that neither description is true if we try to fulfill their requirements on our own merit.

The Word of God says, “be holy for I am Holy.” The only away that Christians can be holy is that Christ imputed His righteousness to us. We can be “holy” if we seek to be “conformed to the image of the Son of God.” We can be “holy” if we live for him and obey and keep His Word and show forth the love of the Lord in our lives and help others find their way out of  the “kingdom of darkness” and help them find the marvelous light of the Gospel (1 Peter 2:9).

The question was “are you a saint?”. We are not in the way many in the world and many in some realms of Christendom view that  word.  According to the Bible “saints” are living Christians, in fact, all Christians are “saints” in the scriptural application of the word.

The word simply means ones who are sanctified, ones that are called out. Christians have been called out of serving Satan and now are “in Christ.”.

Paul refers to Christians as saints both in Eph 1:1 and in Phil 1:1.  So, all Christians are saints. Now if we live up to the word that is another question.  We must put our faith into action. Jesus said, “if you love Me you will keep my commandments.” Are you doing that, my fellow believer?  Are you living daily for  Him who died for you?  If so, praise the Lord!  Continue to build yourselves up in the most holy faith, living your life for Jesus, knowing that you can impact a lost world with the Gospel and help strengthen the saved by your ministry and work for our Lord.

If you are not seeking daily to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus,” then you need to repent of your sin of not following Jesus completely.  Our Lord has prom is His people if they will look to Him for guidance He will give it. He will equip you for service.

He will give you the resources you need to live holy lives.  We are saints, let’s live up to what that word means biblically and “let our light shine for Him” so that we may bring“glory to our Heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

-Larry Miles,

 

Mind Renewal In A Mindless Society

We live  in a society that is  not  tuned into  the  things of God.  The world we live in is in the control of Satan.  It is really a  “mindless society.”  Romans 12:1-2 tells Christians that we are  to be a  people of “mind renewal.”

larrydec26Paul speaks to Christians when he tells us that because of our faith we  need to march to a  different  drum than the  world. As I said earlier, the world  marches to the  beat of the  deceiver.  He  is  called the  “god of this  world, (2 Cor. 4:4) and “the  prince of the  power of the  air (Eph. 2:2). It is  reasonable that we, because of our faith, present our  whole self to God. We  need to be a holy people (I Pet. 1:15-16).

We must not  let this  mindless society dictate how Christians  live.  We must always   be found  “renewing our minds.”  Most of the time when the  Bible  uses the  word “heart”  it means  “mind.”  It is in the  mind where we make decisions, both  for  good or  bad.  It is in the minds where we decide that we are  going to  serve Jesus. So. Let’s be  transformed, believing and  knowing that if we follow God and seek to be  conformed to  the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). If we are, we will let  our  light  shine for Jesus!

Do We Resent The Grace of God?

but-for-the-grace-of-godSteve Higginbotham, in an audio sermon, tells of preaching on the Grace of God at South Green in Glasgow, KY . An individual in congregation had not been living for the Lord at all; was not a Christian. This man, in his 50′s I think received word that He had inoperable cancer and only a short time to live. He then decided to obey the Gospel. He was very faithful but lived only 2 months and died.

Steve tells of being in a Bible class soon after and a lady was complaining about this man and saying that because of his past life he did not deserve to go to Heaven and wanted Steve’s thoughts on this. Steve said, yes, you are right he did not deserve to go to Heaven; but in fact neither do you or I do. It seems that this sister was resenting the grace of God.

Steve talked about the Parable of master hiring the workers at different times of the day and paying them the same wage. The ones hired earlier resented the master’s generosity. (grace) Do we “resent “the grace of God?”

March Madness or Eternal Gladness?

 JeffAdamsThis is the time of year when nearly all of Kentuckiana talks little else than college basketball. As selection Sunday is now upon us there are teams that have already won automatic bids, those who are no doubt in, those left out, and a large number of bubble teams. For those teams on the bubble, the NCAA Tournament Committee looks at their season’s results and determines their worthiness for inclusion in March Madness. Sports channels, even the local news, report what bubble teams coaches have to say about their teams’ chances of making it in the “big dance”. Here’s what one coach said after a possibly season-ending loss, “My thing right now is, the good news is everyone seems to be losing and I just hope we’re the best of the bad right now. That’s what I’m hoping.”

You might wonder why I’m talking about basketball on a Christian blog. Our guest speaker at Cherry Street last Sunday, Paul Kitzmiller, said many people are looking for the minimum requirements for salvation. He further said that we should be striving to more fully serve and obey God rather than doing the least we can. When we stand before God, it won’t help to tell Him we “deserve” to get in because we weren’t all THAT bad, or we were at least better than others. Of course, we are not saved by works but by faith. However, James, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit said, “What good it is…if someone claims to have faith but had no deeds? Can such faith save them….faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by by my deeds.”

 It doesn’t matter how good that coach thinks his team is, but what they have proven this season on the court. It doesn’t matter how deserving we think we are of heaven. It is our relationship with Jesus Christ that assures us of eternal salvation. It is that relationship that spurs us to do our utmost for Him. The Apostle Paul said, “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Let’s not lose heart. As His kingdom is fast approaching we should be more and more about our Lord’s business. There is no excuse for being “on the bubble” of heaven’s gate.

Little Children

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe privilege of being a parent is one-of-a-kind.  It’s a job that is common, but also incredibly special and important.  Somebody once said that a baby is a deceptive bundle of joy.  Children are born into this world a very helpless creature, and yet, for all their fragility they can nevertheless project a wail that will surely reach the neighbor’s house.  They cannot dress themselves when they are young, but they have the unmistakable ‘talent’ of voicing their opinions on many different matters. There is NOTHING like the smiles and giggles of a baby, and hugs from your toddler.  There is also nothing like the consternation when that sweet baby of yours suddenly decides that his or her way is better.

I can see a parallel of this relationship in the Bible between God and the people of Israel.  At times they are very needy, and are crying out to him.  Other times, they are defiant and rebellious.  All the while he tries to tell them that he knows what’s best for him.  Where are God’s people today in this regard?  I don’t at all disregard people’s physical needs, but how often does our heart break for someone’s spiritual need?  How often do we get distracted by everyday living, and things of the world when perhaps God has a role for us to play that affects the spiritual realm?  I want to be a better ‘child’ to my King of Kings, and to know how to interpret his plans for me.

Jesus said if anyone causes a child to stumble, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he be thrown into the sea.  He also said the kingdom of Heaven belongs to people with the spirit and trust of a child (my interpretation), and he desired their company.  Think of the characteristics of children: wide-eyed innocence, trust, a zest for living, and the ability to be inspired by the awesome…how can we as adults regain some of these characteristics?

I love my children a lot and I do think that they are one of my greatest blessings.  Here are some of my journal entries of funny things they have said or done.  Enjoy!

Yesterday I was explaining to the kids that they could not have everything they wanted.  I said, “I want a real elephant, but do you think we could have a real elephant here?”  Jackson’s eyes got big and he said soberly, “You would need a BIG shovel!”  I laughed and he got mad.

Today my 4yr old said ‘Mommy, you don’t look like anything with your ponytail.’ I paused and asked ‘Is that a good thing or a bad thing?’ She paused and said uncertainly ‘I don’t know.’

My 2yr old doesn’t get the concept of staying in bed.  Night after night, she comes out to the living room, looking cute and whispering to us about being scared of the dark, or just whatever.  Two nights ago, she came out with a Tinkerbell hat on her head, a backpack on, and carrying a baby and her sippy cup with water.  Looked like she was going on a hike.  Last night, she appeared with stickers on her face.  It’s impossible not to laugh at her, but I think I’ll lose my mind.

A Rose Or Christian By Any Other Name

The article/outline  below goes with the  sermon Larry Smith gave on March 10, 2013 at Cherry Street Church of Christ in New Albany.

A ROSE (A CHRISTIAN) BY ANY OTHER NAME

LarrySmith01Shakespeare’s Juliet pondered the question: “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet…”

It’s true . . . no matter what we called a rose, it would still be beautiful.

However, to call a cactus a ROSE, would not make it one!

The SAME is true of a Christian.  A majority of Americans call themselves Christians . . . but to call one’s self a Christian, doesn’t necessarily make it so.

The Gospel began to spread beyond the Jews – to the Greeks – the Gentiles — and Barnabas went to Tarsus looking for Saul:

“ . . . and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.    ACTS 11:25-26

The Lord’s disciples are those who follow after him and obey his teachings.

James said (1:22)  Be ye doers of the word and not hearers only. . .”

Jesus taught there would be counterfeit Christians among those who call on, and act in His name.

Matthew 7:21-23

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

We must make certain, then, to be true Christians, indeed, and not counterfeits:

2nd Peter 1:10

Wherefore brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure, for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble. . . “

 2nd Peter 1:5-8

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

HAVE YOU EVER DONE AN INVENTORY?

Businessmen/women take inventory to see where they stand.

CHRISTIANS SHOULD ALSO TAKE A SPIRITUAL INVENTORY TO SEE WHERE WE STAND IN LIGHT OF GOD’S WORD.

2nd Corinthians 13:5

Paul wrote the church at Corinth:

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”

Paul wanted the Corinthians to examine their own spiritual inventory.

AND IN THE AMERICAN STANDARD TRANSLATION THE SAME PASSAGE  READS:

“Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate.”

Bible scholar Joseph Henry Thayer defines “reprobate” as one “not standing the test, not approved.”

He makes the point in his writing that you either have Christ in you or you’re a reprobate (YOU DON’T).  You can’t have it both ways.

Paul exhorts each of us to make this SELF-EXAMINATION, to determine our true condition. 

THE STANDARD BY WHICH WE CONDUCT OUR INVENTORY:

Matthew 25:31- 40

Jesus was with the disciples on the Mt. of Olives and he told them:

31 But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:  32 and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink?  38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. 

 Romans 12  (NIV) PAUL WRITES:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. 9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:  (And he quotes Proverbs 25:21-22)

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head  and the Lord will reward you.21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

LET’S TAKE A SPIRITUAL INVENTORY:

  1. Are you personally committed to serving Jesus Christ as Lord?
  2. Have you been baptized by immersion?
  3. Do you boldly share your testimony with others?
  4. Have you ever brought or won someone to Christ?
  5. If each member attended as many services as I do, how often would the  building be closed?
  6. If each member reached the services the same time as I do, how many would  be  late for worship?
  7. If each one attended Bible study as I do, how many would be there?
  8. If each one studied the Bible as I do, how much study would there be?
  9. If each one prayed as I do, how much praying would there be?
  10. If each member gave as I do, how much would the contribution be?
  11. If each member sacrificed just like I do, how much sacrificing would there be?
  12. If each person visited the sick as I do, how many of the sick would be visited?
  13. If each one ministered to orphans as I do, how many orphans would be cared  for?
  14. If each member invited others to the services like I do, how many guests would attend?
  15. If each person stayed at home with company like I do, how many would attend  the worship?
  16. If each member tried to lead lost souls to Christ as hard as I do, how many would be reached?
  17. If each member complained as much as I do, how much complaining would there be?
  18. If each person worked as I do, how much work would be done?
  19. If each person gave as many excuses as I do, who would do the Lord’s work?
  20. If each member put the Kingdom of God first just as I do, what would be the condition of the church?
  21. If each person loved unity as I do, how much division would there be?

How did you score? 

Can you honestly say you are putting the Kingdom of God First?

We are commanded in Matthew 6:33:  “But seek you first his Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

WHAT ARE “THESE THINGS?” In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he spelled it out

Matthew 6:25-34 (NIV)

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

WOULD THE CHURCH BE STRONGER, OR WEAKER IF EACH MEMBER ACTED JUST LIKE YOU OR ME? The World Is Watching!

Wise Words

KevinHParrI’ve always wondered how Jesus knew the perfect thing to say.  Maybe it’s because he was so in tune with his Father.  Or maybe it’s because he wasn’t concerned what his peers thought about him, but without fail, he seemed to say the most amazing and wise things.  There were times when he was silent.  Times when religious leaders tried to trap him and ended up caught in their own snare.  He sent away the woman caught in adultery, telling her to go and sin no more, and almost daring anyone else to cast a stone at her.  He even offered the woman at the well living water.  Who says things like that, ‘living water’, what an awesome thought?  He spoke in parables that craftily made their point to those who would hear it.  But he was also capable of such phrases as ‘get behind me Satan’ and you ‘brood of vipers’, and how about turning over the tables of the money changers calling them a ‘den of robbers’?

Sometimes I feel like I say the opposite of the right thing.  Or looking back on a conversation in hindsight, I see how I could have applied the teachings of Jesus in a much more eloquent or effective way.  Thankfully, Jesus is forgiving!  But I also need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit much more.  What if I were in tune with the Father the way Jesus was?  Romans 8 tells us the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  When we don’t know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us.  Luke 12 recalls Jesus telling the disciples that when they stand before the rulers and authorities, not to worry about what they will say because “the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say”.  The Spirit seems to play a key role in our ability to speak to both God and man.  I pray this week the Spirit would make our words sweet and fruitful.

– Kevin