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Purity In Marriage

Thursday, November 14, 2013
 
By Don Case
 
Alternative lifestyles are discussed a lot today because homosexuality, living together before marriage, and general sexual promiscuity have become the way of life for so many.  Some have said that God will accept any relationship, but the Bible paints a very different picture.  God clearly labels sin as sin. 
 
Accepting homosexuality is a popular thing in our culture.  Our concern should not be with being among the popular, but with salvation and obedience to God's Word.  Just because the homosexual lifestyle has now become socially acceptable does not mean it is not sin, shameful and an abomination to God. (See Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27) 
 
Living together before marriage and premarital relations are also now considered "acceptable lifestyles."  Today, premarital relations are the norm rather than the exception. God did not intend for couples to have relations before marriage. He did not create the experience to be something cheaply enjoyed outside the bonds of a marital commitment.
 
Promiscuity involves having several partners.  We know from God's Word that he intended us to have one partner, one spouse.  Otherwise, it is immorality or adultery.  1 Thessalonians 4:3 says, "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality: that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God."
 
Some people today question whether God's Word on these subjects still applies to us today, or if it was simply meant for the people of biblical times and cultures.  God has instructed us to obey all of his commands and not to add or subtract from any of them (Deuteronomy 12:32).  We are told that the Word of the Lord stands forever (1 Peter 1:25).  These instructions apply just as much today as they did centuries ago.
 
You cannot be close to God if you are engaged in any type of immoral behavior.  If you are truly close to God, you won't be engaged in such behaviors.
 

Weak Ambassadors

Friday, November 08, 2013
By Scott Kercheville
 
If God really wanted the entire world to accept Jesus Christ, why did Jesus ask smelly fishermen and tax collectors to be his messengers? Why didn't Jesus perform signs before prominent leaders and ask them to spread the gospel? This would give the gospel much more credibility and success among people, right? We have probably struggled with similar questions in our own life. "I  cannot teach the gospel - I am a sinful nobody! Imagine how much the gospel would spread if we could convert well-known leaders and celebrities!"
 
Consider why Christ saves us. Paul says in Ephesians 3:7-13 that he preaches so God can have a people that display God's "manifold wisdom" "to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Jesus saves sinners to display God's wisdom, love, and power to spiritual beings. This especially includes Satan and his followers. If God saved us to display his glory to spiritual forces of evil, who should God "recruit" to spread the gospel and gain converts?
 
The messengers God chooses has a direct effect on the types of people who receive the gospel. If God chose Tom Hanks to be one of his messengers, he would convert people who liked Tom Hanks. What is the problem with this? This does not display Christ's glory.
 
Satan could merely say, "This only proves how little you are.  People only follow you because they love Tom Hanks! They aren't following you because they love you and believe you are awesome.
 
So why choose sinners like you and me to spread the gospel?  Notice 1st Corinthians 2:1-5, "And I... did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God." 
 
Paul did not come as a powerful orator because God simply  wants people to come to Christ because they have faith in the God's power. God desires to convert people who are impressed with him alone so he alone receives glory. True converts obey Christ because they are obsessed with him - not the messenger. This means that you, me, Peter, and Paul are fitting "evangelists" because we are simple, broken people who have been saved and want to help others find the Savior. We are living examples of how Christ's love changes people's hearts and lives. Selecting weak messengers magnifies God alone. Paul said it this way: "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us" (2 Cor. 5:20). Let God use you - the unimpressive "clay jar" - to spread Christ's gospel. For further reading, see 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 and 2 Corinthians 4:1-11. 
 

Having A Home Congregation

Thursday, October 31, 2013
 
By Don Case
 
One of the essential building blocks of spiritual growth is attending services with other believers.  Being part of a local church strengthens everyone that is present.  It thrives by keeping members spiritually active and well taught.  The church provides spiritual instruction from God's Word and promotes worship with other believers. It also enables the use of God-given gifts and abilities as He intended and makes members accountable to spiritual leadership.  The congregation is where we serve and support each other.
 
Getting spiritual benefits from Christian television, radio and books can have some value but nothing can replace the need to become an active member of a congregation.  Christ's church was established for members to join in fellowship with other believers to worship and serve God.  A healthy, vibrant church is built on the spiritual strengths of each who participates.  Fellowship with other Christians sharpens spiritual judgments and prepares us for Christ's return.
 
Not only do we benefit from worshipping in a local congregation but also the church can benefit as we use our various talents. God has given each of us unique roles to play in our place of worship.
 

Seeking The Old Paths

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The prophet Jeremiah wrote many powerful words that, even though uttered some 2,600 years ago, have powerful implications for the people of God in the 21st century. Of course, that's the way the Bible is. No matter what the time period or topic of discussion, the Bible's wisdom is timeless and perfect. Among the things this prophet wrote is this advice from God Himself: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls." Unfortunately, the people's reaction to this seemingly simplistic advice was similar to many people today. They simply said, "We will not walk in it" (Jeremiah 6:16). Note some ways in which we should seek the old paths.

Since the beginning of time when God created the family, He had a plan in place. It's quite simple -- one man and one woman for life. Jesus reflected on this when He said, "What God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matthew 19:6). Yet, rather than sticking to the old paths that were paved by God Himself, mankind regularly and routinely violates the law of God by suggesting that divorce for any reason is okay, that multiple, unscriptural marriages are sanctioned by God, and that even same-sex couples should be allowed to wed. As Christians, we are in the minority when we go back to the Bible and seek the old paths, but that's exactly where we need to be!

Consider also the religious world we live in today. Mega churches get a lot of attention. Community based, feel-good churches are growing by leaps and bounds because of their presence of a virtually non-doctrine based social gospel, feel good religion. People show up in droves to hear a "talented" speaker tell stories and tug at the emotional heartstrings of teary eyed men and women. The fact is, a great church and great preaching are not viewed the same by the world as by God. Preaching about the one true church, stressing the importance of scripturally-based baptism, and relying on the scriptures themselves might seem "Old School" but that's THE way to go if we want to stick with the tried, true, and trusted old paths of our Lord.

Finally, we should seek the old paths when it comes to our worship of God. For countless generations, churches have had to withstand the pressures to "modernize" their "out dated" worship and are advised to "get with the times." Whether adding mechanical instrumental music, having women preach and lead public worship, or bringing coffee and doughnuts into the worship service to make it more "appealing," the church has its work cut out to remain focused on the things that really matter -- "righteousness, peace, and joy" (Romans 14:17). The more we focus on these quality things, the more we'll align ourselves with the paths that God wants us to follow. And doing that is a sure way to please our Eternal Father!

What Is A Christian?

Sunday, October 20, 2013
By Don Case

When a man or woman is united with Christ, he or she forms one word -- Christian. A Christian is the combination of Christ and you. The sinner receives the Savior, and the Savior receives the sinner. A Christian is a "Christ man" or a "Christ Woman." A Christian is one who has been born again, a spiritual rebirth. It is also someone who has been baptized for the remission of sins. Through repentance the Christian starts a new life in Christ and is added to the church, with their lives guided by the word of God.

What A Christian Is Not...

Today, the word Christian has been seriously corrupted. It has been misused, misapplied, and misunderstood. Many people call themselves Christians who have no right to that claim. The concept of Christianity has become so distorted that millions do not know the difference between true spiritual salvation and mere public belief. When one receives Jesus in faith, he has the right or scriptural authority to be a child of God (John 1:12). When we receive Christ and have faith in Him, we know He is the Son of God. We know that he voluntarily died for our sins so that we might be free from spiritual death and have everlasting life.

Religious people today say they believe in God, Jesus and believe in the Bible but often their lives do not correspond with what they claim to believe. Any faith that does not result in a changed life is not a saving faith, it is a deceiving faith. Often people claim to have become a Christian but if there is no difference, no distinction in their lie, they may still belong to the world.

We pray that each of us will live up to all that the name Christian implies.

And Speaking of the Name, "Christian"

Did you know that there are only three times the word "Christian" is used in the Bible?

It was first introduced in Acts 11:26 as a way of describing some of the early disciples who were meeting in Antioch.

The second time is also in Acts when King Agrippa, in reponse to Paul's preaching, says that he was almost persuaded to become a Christian (Acts 26:28).

Finally, Peter uses the word to instruct early followers of Christ about suffering. Peter communicated the Holy Spirit's message that if a person was going to suffer in this life, it's best he suffer for doing right (being a Christian) than for doing wrong (1 Peter 4:16).

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