Putting Love Into Action

There are countless instances in God’s Word where the words on our title have application. Many of God’s servant in the past and many today fit the bill. Christianity is a religion of action. Since we have “been raised with Christ,” we are to live our lives daily for Him!
We read about such an individual in Paul’s Epistle to Philemon. In Philemon 1:5 we have these words: “hearing of your love and faith toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints.” Paul is commending Philemon for living out his faith.

As is the case, Philemon’s genuine love and faith in and towards the Lord Jesus resulted in his love for others. (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:6 and 1 John 3:14). Some other instances of hearing about the love and service of believers in the New Testament is found in 2 John 1:4 and 3 John 1:3-4

In Philemon 6, as a result of his love and faith in and for Jesus, Philemon shares his faith. He becomes a “doer as well as a hearer” of God’s Word (James 1:22). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep on (keep on keeping) My commandments.” (John 14:15).

This results in a life where one’s faith rubs off on those around him. Folks see you serving God and knowing that it is real for you can motivate others to seek to serve Jesus more and more.

It can result I striving to reach the lost and strengthen the saved. It will motivate us to help the lost find their way out of the “kingdom of darkness and be conveyed to the kingdom of the Son of His love.”
You can, like Philemon, have a joy in your life because of the love you show, first of all to Christ, and then to others.
-Larry Miles

Steadfast Christian Living

larrydec26The Apostle Paul told the Colossian Christians and us today that the goal of the true believer is steadfastness in Christ.  (Col. 1:23; Col. 2:5-7) He wants us to be grounded in the faith, knowing what we believe and why. He admonishes us to be in the fight of faith for the duration. Jesus has promised that He is returning, but we don’t know when so we must be ready at all times.

We are instructed to be active for Him, watching, waiting, and working for Jesus! Paul told the Ephesians that we were saved for good works. We were to be a “people zealous for good works.”

To be this kind of Christian does not happen overnight but comes into fruition as we grow in the Lord. It is the Lord’s desire that we grow in Him. It is His desire that we be grounded in the faith. He has equipped us for service by giving us the Word of God.

We are to have the right anchors in life. We need the anchor that will hold in the storms of life, the Lord Jesus! We read in 1 Cor. 15:58: “therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Notice that while steadfastness is commanded and knowledge of the Word is needed, this must translate into an abundant life in the Lord. This takes us back to the words of Jesus in the Gospels that He offers the Christian an abundant life, one that will help us, not only in our own spiritual growth, but will help us reach the lost with the Gospel and enable us to strengthen those in Christ.

All of us should desire that kind life, but it does not come without a desire to equip one’s self for service. If we would lead the steadfast life that God requires, we must appropriate all of the spiritual resources available.

Having The Right Foundation

larrydec26Having the right foundation spiritually can make the difference on where one spends eternity.  The only foundation that will make it. past this life is one that is based and founded upon the Word of God. It is one that puts it’s trust in the One whom the Apostle John called the “Word.” It is a life built on a trust in the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We build our lives on all kinds of foundations. Jesus spoke  of those who build  their lives on the sand, which has no permanent foundation. He contrasted that with the ones who built their lives on a solid foundation.  The one who built on the sand had all kinds of problems; the one on the solid foundation had the blessings of God.

We need to base our faith on the foundation of the Lord Jesus and His blessed Word. Romans 10:7 reads, “and so faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”

We must be found standing on a faithful Word.  We must have the assurance that the Bible we read, study and live by is really God’s Word.

The Apostle Paul answered that question for us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “ALL Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

It is the responsibility of every Christian to be steadfast. We have a reliable Bible and in  it we find out how to live the Christian life.  If we will but allow the Lord, He will equip us for service today!

We must be willing to put Him first in our lives at all times, not just when it is convenient for us.  The song “I’ll Put Jesus First in My Life,” tells us in verse 1 that to the Christian the “the world all about me has now no allure.”

This  means that  once we put the Lord Jesus on in baptism  we change “kingdoms.” Paul told the Colossian church that we have been conveyed out of a kingdom of  darknessthat leads to Hell and now we are in the kingdom of the Son of His love, a kingdom of light ruled by the Jesus. We are now in the “marvelous light of the gospel” and have the privilege to help other find that light.

By having the “firm foundation” of the Faithful Word of God, we  are on the path of spiritual growth, a lifelong privilege to look into the very thoughts of The Godhead and know that They love us and want us to, as the Apostle Peter said, “to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!”

The Words Of My Mouth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMusical preference is subjective, and that truth is seen in religious as well as secular settings.  In a majority of churches you’ll find 2 basic styles of music: hymns, and praise and worship songs.  Whichever style of music you find yourself supporting, or even if you’re appreciative of both, I think it’s fair to say that we could all benefit from a ‘spring cleaning’ of sorts, in regards to the way we approach our time of musical worship.

If you sing something enough times, you’ll memorize it.  While memorization is an awesome skill, I have caught myself on many occasions robotically singing both categories of songs during a church service without engaging my mind and my spirit in the words that I’m singing, and in the message that’s being conveyed.  One could point the finger at ADHD, and I won’t deny that my brain is a bit ‘lacking in focus’ at times, but each Christian  has a responsibility when we walk in the door of the church to make an effort to focus on worship.  If we don’t, then we have to ask ourselves why we’re even there.  The deeper, more invisible culprit to my nomadic mind is our enemy the devil.  He WANTS you and I to be distracted during church.  What a way to thumb his nose at God, eh?  Almost anything can be a distraction during church, from planning the day ahead, to the personal devices that you bring to church, to children (yours or others).

One way that we can attempt to overcome this distraction is to make more of a connection with the songs that we sing.  Hymns are typically more beloved by the older generation because they grew up singing them.  A hymn is definitely not the musical style of today, but many of them have awesome words and melodies.  Consider the song “Only In Thee.”  It has a nice tune and harmony, but a few of the words and some of the poetic imagery are pretty unfamiliar for today:  words like thee, thy, dwelleth, betide, cometh, and ‘pilgrim bark aright’.  Don’t be tempted to bypass the absorption of these songs into your mind!  Upon closer inspection (and perhaps with the help of a dictionary), we can see the powerful message of this song.  You can endure the troubles and temptations of this life by the peace and protection of Jesus.  Many of us could attest to the fact that sometimes life in this world is dark (‘Only in thee when days are drear, when neither sun nor stars appear…’).  Jesus is portrayed as shining ‘like a beacon in the night’, and the last verse is a beautiful statement of his love for us: ‘Only in thee dear savior slain, losing thy life, my own to gain’.  A modern way to paraphrase this is: Only you, Jesus, would lose your life, to save mine.  What an awesome thought to hold onto, if you will delve into the words and their meaning!

A praise and worship song I love is “Sanctuary.”  A short chorus with only one main thought, but what a vital piece of our Christian walk and worship:  ‘Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary: pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you’.  Exodus says (God’s words) “Then have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell among them.”  What an awesome thought, that God wants to spend time with us.

I invite you to take the opportunity to explore songs you’re unfamiliar with, and also to be focused and aware in your worship.

Rebecca Parr is married to  Kevin and they have  3  children.

An Example Of A Sincere Faith

standfirmThe Word of God tells  us   of many   men and  women of faith. We read about how they  put their faith into action.  Serving  God requires  action on our  part. If we are willing to  accept the Lord Jesus as  our  Savior and obey the Gospel by being  “buried with Him in baptism,”  God had promised that  our  sins will be  remitted and we will receive the “Gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

We  must  want to  grow “in the grace and  knowledge of the Lord Jesus.” The Lord has promised to  equip His  followers  for  service.  We  must  put  our faith into action and  be “doers of the Word and not  hearers only.” We must desire to grow spiritually.

We  must endeavor  to have a  faith that is real, a faith that is  active and ongoing. The  Apostle Paul had that  kind of  faith and he shared the importance of that faith with Timothy, as well as others.  Paul never ceased to encourage Timothy. I’m sure  he learned that, in part, from Barnabus, who is  called “the son of encouragement.”

Faith, like other characteristics of  believers  is meant to  grow. All of us are at  different  places  in our  spiritual pilgrimage.  Paul in 1 &  2nd Timothy  is attempting to  encourage Timothy and get  him to build upon his  faith in Jesus. In the  2nd  Epistle, Paul who is in prison  in Rome  awaiting  execution knows that this is   last  chance  to write to Timothy. He   wants Timothy to come to  Rome; we  do not know  if he  made it.

In  2 Timothy  1:3-5 we have Paul reminding Timothy of the  heritage  he has in Christ. He  first  tells him that he  is  praying for him.  Secondly, he reminds Timothy of his spiritual heritage.  Timothy was  blessed to have  a  faithful grandmother and mother.

Paul tells  Timothy  that  he  is confident of the  faith of Lois and Eunice and that  he  believe that  kind of  faith is  present in  Timothy also.  Paul calls it a “sincere” faith (ESV). The  NKJV uses the  word “genuine,” while  the  ASV uses  “unfeigned.”

Denny Petrillo, President of Bear Valley Bible  Institute of Denver, in a  series of  expository  lessons  on  2 Timothy given at the 2012 “Re Charge Me Conference” in Monterey, CA explained “sincere faith” in the  following  manner.   “It is a  faith that is  present, even in the dark. It is a  24/7 faith. His faith is the   ‘real deal.’”

It seems, according  to 2 Timothy 1:6-7 that Timothy’s  faith  may have  been weakening. Paul admonishes  him to “fan into flame” (ESV) or “kindle afresh” (NASB1977).  We  must always  be growing  in Jesus, using what  He  has   given to  equip us  for  service. We must take  advantage of all the Lord has  for us.

If we have the “sincere faith” Paul  mentions  here, we will be  able  to live an  abundant life in the Lord  Jesus and  help others  to the  same, thus living out our faith as the Lord Jesus  told us in  Matthew 5:16“In the  same way, let your light shine before  others, so that they may see your good works and give glory  to your Father who is in Heaven.”

Having a  “sincere or genuine faith” means  putting Jesus first and living out our faith.

 

“To Judge or Not to Judge, Is That the Question?

JeffAdams“To Judge or not to judge, is that the question?”

The world, and many Christians, get hung up on the idea that Christians aren’t supposed to judge anyone. The problem stems from an improper understanding of the Biblical use of the word “judge”. Most will point to Matthew 7 which says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

In Greek, the word for judge here is “krino”, which means to condemn or damn, as in to sentence or levy a punishment. Clearly, it is not the Christians duty to put a sentence of punishment on anyone. That is the provenance of God. Yet, if we are to never “judge”, then why would Jesus admonish us to FIRST remove the plank from our eye so that we can then remove the speck from our brother’s eye?

To claim we must not judge means Jesus contradicts Himself in John 7:24, where He says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” So, DID Jesus contradict Himself? Absolutely not. Remember, Scripture can have only ONE interpretation but many applications. Jesus’ teaching on judgement is to correctly, or righteously determine a man’s heart by His standards, not by his outer appearance or by our own set of criteria.

Certainly, we are to analyze—judge—what is right or wrong, based on the mind of God as expressed in His Word. How we apply that judgment to others is critical, for Christ will take the same attitude with us that we take with others. As an example, proper “judging” helps us determine how to best witness to someone. How can we decide who to marry unless we “judge” whether that person is the one whom God would have us marry?

Like it or not, life forces us to make judgments, or decisions, about people every day. These may deal with mundane physical things or with friendships or marriages that affect a lifetime. Many have gone through life wishing they had been equipped early in life to render and exercise sounder judgments, for the process of making good calls can be very confusing. It is so easy to dwell on the wrong factors or see only what is on the surface.

Yet, we must be very careful not to fall into the trap of legalism. A good definition of legalism is to try and justify our position in Christ by our own efforts. It is not our efforts that can ever secure our salvation. Yet, many try to elevate their own position in Him by attacking others. God forbid we should ever do that. But God forbid we should ever tire from speaking forth the never-changing, eternal truth of God in loving concern for those around us.

How’s Your Conduct?

practical-christian-living-mastheadThe Apostle Paul  tells the Ephesian  Christians that their conduct or behavior should always be worthy of the gospel (Eph. 1:27).  It is very important that we understand what he meant.

When we were children our parents told us to always be on our best behavior because we were representing our family name and they did want us to bring reproach; how much more we should be concerned with the name “Christian.”

We are representing the Lord Jesus Christ!  We are ambassadors for Him.  When people see us they should be seeing the Lord. We are admonished to “be conformed to the image of the Son of God” and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

How are we doing in that capacity?  The Lord Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, told us to “let our light so shine that others will see our good works and (glorify our Heaven Father.”.Are we doing that?   The hymn writer wrote, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.”

Paul wrote  in Philippians 3:20 that “our citizenship is in Heaven…” We now serve Jesus and seek to obey His Word.  We seek to  learn more about Him every day so we can help others come to a saving knowledge of  Jesus and help strengthen the saved.  Are you involved in that ministry?

We must always be seeking the things of God. As  Paul told the Colossian church in Col. 3:1-3 , we must set our hearts and minds on the “the things that are above…” We must not be conformed to this world.

If we have the right kind  of conduct or behavior and seek to be more Christ like, the world will notice.  A song we sing says “they will know we are Christians by our love.” That love will be translated into good works for the Master!  Let’s be a people zealous for good works. Now that we are “in Christ,” we  are privileged to  work for the Lord Jesus!

Hater or Hated?

JeffAdamsI fear what would happen if the world shared your narrow-minded views. You are a very sad specimen of humanity and even less so that of a Christian. Keep preaching to the saved and condemning the sinner and see what flock you gather”.

That’s the message I received the other day from the fiancé’ of a Christian young lady I know. I was engaged in a running debate on Facebook several days ago with her about “gay marriage”. Her assertion was that she loved all her LGBT friends and who was I to tell someone who they should and shouldn’t love. Beyond that, she said she was in favor of equal rights for all people. I took the view that homosexuality is an abomination before God and that, while all sins separate us from the love of God, homosexuals claim God made them that way, which makes no more sense than saying God made someone a liar, thief, or murderer.

I don’t want this blog to be about homosexuals or “gay marriage”. I want to focus on the way Christians are viewed by much of the world. In all my comments back and forth with the young lady, and a few others who chimed in on Facebook, not once did I condemn homosexuals nor did I claim I was any less deserving of God’s wrath due to my own sins. Over and again I maintained both my love and, more importantly, God’s love for all who are caught up in sin. Yet, I was accused of being a “hater” because I dared to disagree on Scriptural grounds to “gay marriage”.

I truly don’t believe I exhibited any hate for anyone. Yet, all my comments were seen by non-Christians and even OTHER CHRISTIANS to be hatred of homosexuals. Now, it must be noted that these other Christians were all young people. I was told time and again by them that Jesus is all love and only love. I was told that I was not supposed to judge or condemn anyone for who they are. After all, they said, Jesus NEVER condemned anyone.

In my dialogue with the young Christians I used Scripture to point out both the perfect love of God for ALL mankind and His perfect justice which demands that the “soul that sins shall die”. After all, it was that combination that resulted in Christ Jesus’ sacrificial death for all sins. Yet, the young Christians continually labeled me a “hater”.

When I attended Southeastern Christian College, a friend of mine had a unique way of challenging those around him. He would amble up to you and say, “How’s the world treating you?” Most people would reply with, “OK.” or, “Not bad.” or, “Pretty good.” Joe would just look at you and say, “Brother, Jesus says the world will HATE you because you are His.”

Back to the young man. By his own admission he is an agnostic, though I suspect he’s actually an atheist. I don’t expect him to hold to the same view I do. After all, his heart is in this world only. Why did he respond to me the way he did (including a foul name which I didn’t include)? I believe it’s because I dared to call sin, sin. The unsaved world has no use for those who deal in moral absolutes. After all, if there is absolute truth then there must be a God who absolutely will hold us responsible for our sins.

Here is my private message to him that elicited his response,

I’m sending this to you privately because I do not wish to discredit (his fiancé’s name) in public. Have you ever read II Cor. 6:15? It says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” My prayer for you is that before you marry (his fiancé’s name), you would cast off your enmity for God and embrace Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. My prayer for (his fiancé’s name) is that should you not embrace Him as your personal Lord and Savior that she would call off the wedding. That sounds harsh, but I say it and pray it out of love fer her and fear of what her life would be with a non-believer.”

This was my final message to the Christian young lady.

“Just a personal note to let you know I love you. It truly worries me that Christians believe it is OK to live the homosexual lifestyle. Nobody’s sin is any greater than any other sin. However, a person in a homosexual lifestyle means they have deserted how God made them. They are saying that God is a liar when He says homosexuality is wrong. A practicing homosexual says we must accept and love them no matter what they do and no matter how much what they do goes against God’s standard. Must we love them? ABSOLUTELY! We must love them enough to tell them the truth that they are in sin and must repent of that sin, just was WE must daily repent of our sins. It that means they hate us for telling them the truth, so be it. If we do NOT tell them the truth, then their blood is on our hands and we will be held accountable by God for allowing them to continue in their sin. Ezekiel 33 says, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die…”

So, what do you think? How do we, as Christians, address non-believers and Christians on subjects such as this? Would you view what I said as hatred, or was I the hated?

-Jeff Adams lives in New Albany and  worships with the Cherry Street Church of Christ.

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,