Mindful of My Influence

holy-bibleInfluence can be defined as “spiritual or moral capacity by which we have an effect upon a person.”  Each of us influences other people in one way or another all throughout life.  Our influence on others begins at the time we are born.  From the first day of a baby’s life, his parents’ lives are never the same.  Nearly every aspect of a parent’s daily routine is influenced by his child (or children.)

We influence others when we are in our youth.  To Timothy, Paul wrote, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (I Timothy 4:12.)

We continue to influence others when we are old.  It is not possible to ever quit having an influence on others.  We continue to influence others even after we have left this world.  John wrote,“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:3.)

It is possible for us to have a negative influence on others.  But it is also possible for us to have a positive influence on others.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pictured his followers as being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13.)  Later, he spoke of his followers as the light of the world (Matthew 5:16.)

Today, I will be mindful of my influence on others!

What Is Your Greatest Need?

Stick Figure Cartoon - Stickman with a Question Mark Icon. Looking For Solutions.

What is your greatest need?  It’s a simple question.  But the answers you get will vary depending upon whom you ask.  The unemployed man will tell you his greatest need is a job.  The man living in poverty will tell you his greatest need is money.  The man dying from a terminal illness will tell you his greatest need is good health.

But none of these things, a job, money, or health, is man’s greatest need.  Man’s greatest need is God’s forgiveness!  That forgiveness comes when you believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16), repent of your sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess your faith in Jesus Christ as your savior (Romans 10:9-10), and are then baptized to receive your greatest need – God’s forgiveness (Acts 2:38).

Please don’t neglect your greatest need of all!

The Noahic Flood, a Type of the Judgment to Come

A type is something, or someone, in the Old Testament that foreshadowed something or someone, in the New Testament. Just as the ark of Noah’s day was a type of the church, the flood of Noah’s day was a type of the judgment to come.

for-as-were-the-days-of

FIRST, a lesson we learn both from the flood of Noah’s day and the judgment to come is that God hates sin.  Notice the following from Genesis chapter six and verse six: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”  How did God repent?  Does not mean God was surprised when man sinned.  The phrase “and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth” can be understood as expressing God’s displeasure with His creation.  Significant that God did not observe man’s sin as a disinterested bystander.

Now notice Paul’s words to the church at Colosse: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5-6).

Just as God did not observe the sin of Noah’s time as an uninterested bystander, He is not apathetic toward our sin today.  Our sin still grieves God at his heart.  Grieve – to suffer pain, to be distressed in mind.  Do you really want to be one who brings pain to God?

SECOND, we learn that God is patient.  The one hundred and twenty years mentioned in Genesis 6:3 is most likely a reference to the time between the announcement of the flood and the occurrence of the flood.

Today, God is patient with you and me.  Peter wrote, “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up………………And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;” (II Peter 3:3-10, 15).

God’s longsuffering, or patience, is salvation in the sense that his longsuffering gives man opportunity to repent ant be saved.  Don’t abuse God’s patience by thinking “I’ll give my life to God, but not yet, I’ll repent of my sins, but not yet.”

THIRD, the coming judgment, just as the flood of Noah’s day, is universal in nature.  No one will be exempt.  “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth ………………… And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered. Fifteen cubits upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered” (Genesis 7:4, 19-20)

God commands all of us to repent, because all of us will one day be judged. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world………(Acts 17:30-31).

Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Corinthians 5:10).

There is one thing we all have in common – we willall, without any semblance of doubt, stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give account of ourselves to God (Romans 14:12).

FOURTH, just as those of Noah’s day, people often ignore the reality of the coming judgment. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:36-39).

Sadly, on the day Christ comes again, many will be going about their everyday routine, going to work, paying the bills, making plans for their future, signing a thirty-year mortgage for their dream home, yet never making plans for a future with God.

FIFTH, salvation is by grace, but God’s grace does not negate the necessity of obedience. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8).

But would anyone be so naïve to believe Noah could have been saved from the flood without building the ark?  “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Hebrews 11:7).

Today, we are saved by grace.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).  Why would anyone today be so naïve to believe we can be saved from our sins apart from obedience?  James wrote, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

I am thankful for God’s grace.  I realize that without God’s grace I would have no hope of salvation.  But I am not going to abuse God’s grace by fooling myself into thinking I can be saved in a state of disobedience

Friends, the lessons from the flood of Noah’s day are too clear to be misunderstood.  Please do not ignore them!

 

Put Your Tongue to Good Use!

How will you use your tongue today?  “Haven’t really given it much thought,” you say.    You should!  Our tongues can be improperly used in a number of negative ways.  A person’s tongue can be used to incite anger (Proverbs 15:1), speak lies (Ephesians 4:25), violate atonguenother person’s trust (Proverbs 11:13), or participate in gossip (I Timothy 5:13).

Thankfully, our tongues can also be used for good.  We can use our tongues to speak the truth or tell others of our faith (Romans 10:9-10), honor God (Hebrews 13:15), encourage others (Ephesians 4:29), and spread God’s word (Psalm 119:172).

No wonder James said we are to be slow to speak (James 1:19).  How will you use your tongue today?  Give some thought!

 

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.