Do You Tell Yourself The Truth?

Do You Tell Yourself The Truth?

“Truth fears no questions.” That is our slogan this month as we emphasize the personal Christian characteristic of honesty. There is no more difficult application of honesty than the need to be honest with ourselves. Dishonesty with ourselves will doom us. Consider the scoffers who rejected the possibility of Jesus’ return because they were “willingly ignorant” (2 Pet. 3:3-5). And how about the man who deceives himself in regard to sin (1 Jn. 1:6, 8). And then there are those with darkened understanding because of the blindness (hardness) of their heart (Eph. 4:17-19).

Brothers and sisters, if we are going to build the characteristic of honesty, there are three questions we must continuously ask ourselves.

  • What do you need to change? Do you have any character flaws, any persistent sin or sinful attitudes, We are striving to be like Christ (1 Pet. 2:21-23). Like Paul, it is safe to say, with him, that we have not arrived (Phil. 4:12). So the first order of honesty is not, “Do we need to change?,” but “What do we need to change?” Are you quick to anger (James 1:19)? Are you harsh in your approach (2 Tim. 2:24)? Is your tongue too loose (Eph. 4:29)? Are you timid about sharing the truth (2 Tim. 1:6-8)? Are you a grudge holder (Eph. 4:32)? Do you miss worship at the slightest inconvenience (Matt 6:33)? Are you unwilling to add the ‘Christian graces” to you life (2 Pet. 1:5-10)? Be honest with yourself about yourself. What do you need to change?
  • Are you willing to change? Some people have acknowledged that they have a quick temper for 40 years, or that they are always gossiping, or that they need to control their eating, or that they always speed. Yet, they have no plans to change these difficult habits. Do you have flaws in your character or actions that you admit you need to change? Are you willing to make the change? The Hebrew writer and those with him were “willing to live honestly is all things” (Heb. 13:18). The Macedonians were first “willing of themselves” (2 Cor. 8:3). Are you willing to change those things Christ wants you to change or would you rather stay like you are?
  • Are you in the process of changing? Many of us tell ourselves we are willing to change our character, attitudes and actions. Are we telling ourselves the truth? What are your plans for changing? That is, how will you bring forth fruits showing repentance (Matt. 3:8)? Have you identified your way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13)? If we are always planning, but not doing, then we are not growing more Christ-like. Truth fears no questions? Are these three a help to you?

Faithful Unto Death

What Does It Mean To Give Christ Your Life??    April 20, 2014

India is a country where only 2% of the population claim any kind of Christianity. Members of the Lord’s church are a part of that 2%. What does it take to be faithful to God in a country like India? Of course, it is different for different people depending on the circumstances in which they live. Once, when I was preaching in India, I saw a man drag his wife from the assembly and beat her because she came. At that time, it was legal and we could do nothing. She came back. Once, I saw the back of a man who, along with his family had scars from numerous canings and burning because they continued to evangelize in their Hindu village. Today I want to tell you, via Jim Waldron’s newsletter, about a woman who was beaten many times and finally to death because she was a Christian. Her husband was not indifferent to Christianity as some are. He was hostile as many Hindu and Muslim husbands are.

Let me quote from Jim’s letter: “And this sister who suffered for the cause of her faith stood tall with courage, conviction and a backbone defending the One who washed away her sins and promised her eternal life. Throughout the beatings when death was teasing her relentlessly and Satan enticing her to compromise for just once, she put death to shame and defeated Satan by embracing her Lord till the last breathe of her life (Rev. 2:10). She did not fear the one who was able to kill her body, but joyfully adhered to the One who had the power to redeem her soul (Mt. 10:28).

So that you might know, such beatings have been illegal for several years now and the husband has been arrested. Her children have been placed in the hands of a Christian family.

Brothers and sisters, in this month when I pray that you are emphasizing growth in godliness in your life, the events referred to above bring us new thought about becoming godly. To reverence our Savior so that we would die for him is not something we face (yet), but many do. Thank God for the example of those who have “resisted unto blood” (Heb. 12:4) and those who “endure a great fight of affliction” and who take  “joyfully the spoiling of their goods” (Heb. 10:26-35). Shall we not at least examine ourselves in regard to the possibility that we may one day face such suffering? Let us be encouraged, first by our Master, and then people like the woman above who became a willing martyr for our Lord.  mg

Doing What God Says

Doing What God Says

As God, through the ages, has unfolded the history of his plans to redeem his creation, he has worked with man under different laws such as patriarchal law, Mosaic law and Christian law.  To this was sometimes added other specific commands from God through the prophets down to the point that John’s baptism was added to prepare the way for the Lord. And finally, Jesus made out his last will and testament and brought it in effect by willing laying down his life and accepting our suffering so that we might live eternally.  God’s giving and making of laws for man came to an end with the New Testament.  It is His final and complete revelation for man.

Through all of those different laws God has given to man, through all of the personal requirements he made of various men such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Gideon and John the baptizer, through all of the work of the prophets and throughout all the Christian age, two expectations have always been part of every command of the unchanging God – – faith and obedience. This month in the Joshua Generation we are emphasizing our response to God’s demand of obedience.

Consider this constant demand of obedience from the very beginning.  Adam and Ever learned too late (though they were already warned) that God expected exact obedience (Gen. 3). God told Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Gen. 4:7). Noah’s generation ignored the preaching of God for over a hundred years and suffered the consequences of the loss of life and soul (Gen. 6:17). It was the lack of righteousness (obedience) that brought about the destruction of the cities with Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19).  Nothing has changed. God demands obedience.

Neither time nor circumstances negates or softens a command of God.  In Gen. 17:9-12, God establishes, by verbal agreement, circumcision as the sign of the covenant/promise to bless the world through Abraham’s seed. Every male descendant of Abraham was to be circumcised. This verbal agreement was to be kept throughout the history of Abraham’s descendants. At least 7 generations and 400 plus years later, God sought to kill Moses whom he had already chosen as his messenger to Israel (Ex. 4:24). No excuse, not the circumstances of Moses’ life nor the time since the covenant, could relieve Moses of his obligation as a descendant of Abraham.  Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego understood that their capture and enforced servitude did not relieve them from keeping the minute dietary requirements of the Mosaic law of God (Dan. 1:8-17). It took Saul only a moment to find out that peer pressure from the people and the good intentions of sacrifice to God were not reason to ignore the command of God to “utterly destroy the Amalekites” (1 Sam. 15:20-23). Thank God for both the words and example of the apostles as they stood and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), even at the risk of their lives and well being.

There is a quotation that I first heard from the lips of Guy N. Woods as he was preaching in my home congregation in St. Louis when I was a small boy not yet in my teens.  For some reason, his lesson and illustration stuck with me. I used the statement and the illustration as a sermon outline early in my preaching career. I have since heard many preachers use both the statement and the illustration Bro. Woods used. It may well have not originated with Bro. Woods.

Bro. Woods was teaching a lesson on Obedience to God. He was trying to explain what obedience is.  He said, “Obedience is doing what God says, the way God says and for the reason God says.”  Here is the illustration.

A man bought a piece of property and made plans to have a house and barn built and a well dug on the property. He plotted the house, the barn and the well on a map of the property. He then placed the plans and the responsibility for following the plans in the hands of his son. The son accepted the task of fulfilling his father’s wishes in this matter.  After looking at the plans and the property, the son’s respect for the father’s wisdom increased. He agreed that his father had chosen the perfect location for the house. He promptly built the house in the exact position the father wanted. As he considered the location selected by his Father for the barn, he again found that his thoughts on the best location were in agreement with his father. He built the barn to his father’s specifications. As he considered the location chosen by his father for the well, he was sure that in this matter, his father had missed considering certain things about the property.  The well should actually be in a different location.  He had the well diggers dig the well in this new, better chosen location.

Bro. Woods then asked the question of the audience that I ask of you. In which of the three commands, the house, the barn and the well, did the son obey his father? When you understand obedience, your answer will be, “in none of them!” The son actually made himself the authority. He built the house and barn where he did because he thought his father had picked a good spot. His attitude showed when he disagreed with the father over the well and followed his own thoughts rather than respecting the authority of his father. True, he did what the father said. He built the house and barn and dug the well. But he did not do it the way the father said. Consider these passages in connection with the three parts of the statement. Obedience is:

Doing what God says: Salvation is for those who obey God (Heb. 5:9). Vengeance will be taken on those who do not obey (2 Thess. 1:7-9). We must live by every word of God (Mt. 4:4)

In the way God says: We are to speak as God speaks (1 Pet. 4:11), build as God directs (Heb. 8:5), worship in truth (Jn. 4:24), neither add to nor take from his word (Rev. 22:18-19).

For the reason God says: Our worship is to be in spirit, that is, to glorify God (Jn. 4:23-24). Our service is to be motivated by love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). Sometimes we obey simply because God says, obey, even though we cannot fathom the reason or see the outcome.

The question for you and I to ask ourselves: Do we obey God?

Thank God For Preachers, Elders (and other judgmental people)

The term “judgmental” is given two basic definitions by Webster and other dictionaries. The first is “having or pertaining to the use of judgment.” The second is “characterized by the tendency to judge harshly.” Included in this is the idea of making moral, ethical or spiritual judgments about the actions of others. Preachers and elders and some Christians are often accused of being judgmental, as though this is a bad thing. Since making judgments is about thinking a certain way, this subject fits nicely in our study of thoughtfulness.

Interestingly enough, God also includes teaching about these areas of judgment in scripture.

(1)    God condemns harsh and hypocritical judgment (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1). Brothers and sisters, hypocrisy and unloving accusations are always wrong even when the content of the accusation is right.

(2)    But God encourages us to use judgment (good judgment) in the everyday affairs of life. For example, in Hebrews 5:13-14, we are to become skilful in putting God’s word into use in our everyday life. God wants us to “have our senses exercised to discern between good and evil.” That is, he wants us to have discernment or good judgment about what is good and what is evil.

(3)    God also wants us to make judgments about the moral, ethical and spiritual condition of others. Paul said that he made the judgment that people in the world are lost (2 Cor 5:14). And, in 1 Corinthians 5:2, he rebukes the Corinthian brethren about not making the of the sinfulness of one of their members. He then says in verses 3-5 that he had made the judgment about the sinfulness of this person and their proper punishment. He then proceeds in verses 9-11 that we must make judgments about people in sin, even the sins of railing (judging when someone intends to hurt another with words) and covetous. Paul further exhorts us to make judgments about someone who has been caught by any sin and to restore them (Galatians 6:1).

Thus, I say, thank God for the preachers, elders and Christians with the courage to make judgments about others’ sins and the love to rebuke it. Rather than considering such men as “judgmental,” let’s glorify God for their thoughtfulness in following God and trying to save us.

Mike Glenn