Be Not Conformed!

Good morning everyone!  I hope each of you reading this has a good day today!  Just as it does eachIMG_20150720_063313549 day, today the world will try to influence you into being what it thinks you ought to be.  Don’t let it!  Romans 12:1-2 – “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

 

Our Perfect Example in Learning to Work

workJesus Christ has left a perfect example for us to follow.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1).  From the writer of the book of Hebrews we know there was no sin in Jesus’ life (Hebrews 4:15).  In all things, in all areas of life, Jesus has left us a perfect example.

This perfect example includes an example in learning to work.  Mark 6:3 – “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James, and Josas, and of Judah, and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?  And they were offended at him.”  Being a carpenter required that he spend time learning the trade, allowing someone else to teach him.  Working as a carpenter was often physically demanding.  As further evidence of Jesus’ willingness to work, consider Jesus’ words from John 4:34 – “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”

Consider three points concerning work.  Why work?  What should our attitude be toward our work?  What are some of the consequences of failing to work?

WHY WORK?  First, we are to work because God expects us to work.  God has done for man what man cannot do for himself (Example: Because man cannot save himself, God sent his son to die as the only sacrifice that can provide man with the forgiveness of sins).  But God does not do for man those things that man can do for himself (Example: Even though God has sent his son to die so that we might have salvation, there is still something that God expects man to do in order to be saved.)  It is abundantly clear from the scriptures that God has always expected man to work.  Genesis 2:15 – “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  The apostle Paul wrote, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (I Thessalonians 4:11).

Second, we ought to work to provide for ourselves and our own families.  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8).

Third, we ought to work to provide for others.  Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

WHAT SHOULD OUR ATTITUDE BE TOWARD OUR WORK?  First, we are to do our work wholeheartedly.  We are to do the very best we can.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…..”

Second, we are not to be slothful, or lazy.  Romans 12:11 – “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”   A man may set lofty goals for himself, but a lazy man will never reach those goals.

Third, we are to do our work, not to please men, but as if serving the Lord.  Ephesians 6:5-6 – “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;”  A person who does his work with eyeservice is a person who is busy at work only when the boss is watching.  As Christians, we ought to do our work as if God is constantly watching (because he is).

Consider the following quote from William Barclay’s commentary on Ephesians – “We will never make men good workmen by increasing pay, bettering conditions or heightened rewards. It is a Christian duty to see to these things, of course; but in themselves they will never produce good work. The only secret of good workmanship is that it is done for God.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO WORK? First, a person who fails to work will always be limited in what he can accomplish. Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”  Young people especially, if you want to accomplish something in life work for it!  If you want good grades, an education, to be hired, to have a house of your own, etc., work for it!

Second, a person who refuses to work will have a difficult life.  Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. Some people think work is hard.  And often time it is!  But hard work can also be satisfying.  The man who really has a hard life is the man who is unwilling to work.

Third, a person who is unwilling to work will bring shame to himself and to others around him.  Proverbs 10:5 – “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”  For example, a loafer will bring shame upon himself when he refuses to carry his weight on the job.  A young person will bring shame upon his family when he refuses to work.

What do I learn from all this?  God expects man to work; and to do so wholeheartedly.  A man’s failure to work brings shame to himself and to others around him.

I Put My Trust in God

 

ADavid and Goliathfter David killed Goliath, all Israel, including Saul, loved him.  When David became known for his military successes, the women sang, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”  Saul, out of jealousy, eventually became David’s enemy.  At one point, David fled to Gath.  When he was recognized by one of Saul’s shepherds, David acted like a madman in order to keep from being harmed.  It is said that this is the only record of David ever being afraid of man. Many feel it was during this time that David wrote the 56th psalm.

David asked for God’s mercy because his enemies wanted to “swallow him up.”  David’s enemies wanted his life just as a wild animal seeks after the blood of its prey.  Yet David said, “When I am afraid I will trust in God.”  David did not fear what man would do to him because he knew God was on his side.

David ended the 56th psalm by expressing his thanks to God.  Although David had not yet been delivered from his enemy, he used the past tense form of the verb (thou hast delivered.)  David spoke as if it had already been done.  David’s faith caused him to know his prayer would be answered.

Today I, like David, will put my trust in God.

Be the Best You Can Be!

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they,holy-bible measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” II Corinthians 10:12.

 

In II Corinthians 10:1-12, Paul, in reference to those who questioned his authority as an apostle, warned against looking at things according to the outward appearance (verse 7).  Paul went on to say he did not want to be included in the number of those who commend themselves or compare themselves with others (verse 12). Many of the false teachers of Paul’s day made the mistake of measuring themselves by themselves and comparing themselves by themselves (also verse 12).

 

Can we not find a lesson in this for us today?  If we are not careful, we may also make the mistake of comparing ourselves with others.  We may look at someone else and say, “See, I don’t come close to doing all of the sinful things that he does!” Using someone else as the standard, we may think we’re alright, and subsequently fail to recognize our own shortcomings.

But may it not also work in the reverse?  Is it possible that we might compare ourselves to others and think, “See, I don’t have nearly the faith that he has!” or “I’m not doing nearly as much as he (or she) is doing.”  Or maybe, “I wish I had the knowledge that he has!”    We may incorrectly develop an unhealthy self-image and a woefully inaccurate view of our worth to God.

Today, I will be the best I can be without comparing myself to others!

Patience, Patience, Patience!

Several years agLet God Speako it was common to hear the phrase, “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”  Those words could be seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs, lapel pins, they have even been used as lyrics in a song!  The person who used this slogan was asking others to be longsuffering.  Isn’t this an important building block of love for others?  The apostle Paul wrote, “Love suffereth long” (I Corinthians 13:4).  Yes, love is patient!

What should motivate us to be patient with others?  First, we should be motivated by God’s patience toward us.  God’s delay in bringing his judgment upon the world is an indication of his patience, enabling every man to have an opportunity to repent before it is too late (II Peter 3:9).

Second, we should be motivated by Christ’s patience with those who mistreated him.  When Christ was mistreated he refused to get even.  When he suffered, he did not threaten in return (I Peter 2:19-24).

Third, we should be motivated to be patient toward others when we realize that this is the only way we can be pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10-11).

Be patient.  God’s not finished with me yet!

 

Would You Call 911?

If your house were911 on fire, would you call 911?  Of course, you would!  If you saw a prowler in your back yard, would you call the police?  Of course!  If someone in your family were seriously hurt and needed help, would you call for an ambulance?  Definitely!  We would all call for help if we needed it.

When the multitude came to the Garden of Gethsemane to take Jesus to be crucified, one of those who were with Jesus (Peter) took out his sword and struck one of the high priest’s servants, cutting off his ear.  Jesus then told him, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.  Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels” (Matthew 26:52-53)?

Jesus could have, figuratively speaking, called 911.  My savior had the opportunity to call for help but chose not to.  Instead, he chose to give his life for me. Rather than save his own life, he chose to lay down his life to save me, to give me eternal life!

Today, I am thankful Jesus chose to go to the cross for me!

Are You a Spiritual Eclipse?

eclipseThe idea for this post came from an article written by Joe Slater who preaches for the Lord’s church in Justin, TX.  I thank brother Slater for his work in reflecting the light of Christ.

The sun is approximately 400 times bigger than the moon.  It is also approximately 400 times farther away from the earth than is the moon.  Because of this, the sun and the moon appear to be the same size when viewed from the earth.

The moon ordinarily reflects the light from the sun.  But when the moon’s orbit is aligned in such a way that it passes directly between the sun and the earth a solar eclipse occurs somewhere on earth.  In the area of a total eclipse daylight is replaced by darkness.  Bright stars become visible.  The temperature may drop as much as 10-12 degrees.  The eclipse may last 2-3 hours, although the darkest period of the eclipse may only be 2-3 minutes.

Tomorrow, August 21, 2017, an eclipse of the sun can be seen from a large part of the United States.  A path approximately 70 miles wide extending from Oregon to South Carolina will experience a total eclipse.

What spiritual lessons can we learn from this eclipse?  We live in a world of darkness.  Darkness is often used in the Bible to represent sin.  Notice these words from John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  One does not need to look neither hard nor long to see that our world is fool of darkness.  The news is constantly filled with reports of war, terrorism, etc.  The media is saturated with pornography, corrupt speech, etc.  Observe people around you and you will notice people involved in adultery, lying, etc.  Truly, this is a world of darkness.

Jesus is the light of the world.  John 8:12 – “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  We understand the purpose of light.  Light illuminates a desired path (such as the lights along an airport runway that allow a pilot to safely land).  Light protects us from harm (a night light can keep us from stumbling in the dark if we get out of bed during the night).  Because Jesus is the light of the world, He illuminates a desired path for us and keeps us from harm (Psalm 119:105).  Luke wrote that Jesus came into the world to “give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”  Notice Jesus did not say He is a light of the world.  Nor did He say He is one of the lights of the world.  Jesus is the one and only light of the world.

Jesus said that we are the light of the world.  Just as the moon reflects light from the sun, we are to reflect Christ’s light to those around us.  Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Paul wrote, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

Sadly, we sometimes fail to let our lights shine.  We sometimes fall into the trap of acting, talking and thinking like the world.   When we do, we fail to reflect Christ’s light to others.  Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick, and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.”  But we sometimes build our “cities” in the dark deep valleys.  We sometimes hide our light under a bushel.  When we do, we become “spiritual eclipses” and hinder others from seeing the light of Christ.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.

It has been said that mere words cannot describe the excitement of an eclipse.  In “Get Eclipsed, The Complete Guide to the American Eclipse,” Pat and Fred Espenak wrote “When rating natural wonders on a scale of 1-10, a partial solar eclipse might be a 7.  But a total eclipse would be a 1,000,000.  Exciting, isn’t it?

But just as exciting as watching a total solar eclipse might be, it is just as saddening to see a Christian who fails to reflect the light of Christ and consequently becomes a spiritual eclipse.