Perfected

The love of God is perfected in a person’s life when he or she obeys from the heart the words of Christ (Rom. 6:16-18); without obedience, one has not reached a mature state (1 Jn 2:5). Perfection is not a matter of being flawless or sinless (in this context), but the willingness and desire to allow the will of God to control one’s life. It was Jesus who said to those around Him, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’, ‘Lord’ and do not the things that I say?”

The Proverbs of Solomon

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“Blessings are upon the head of the righteous; But violence covereth the mouth of the wicked” (10:6 ASV).

The English Standard Version (ESV) read slightly different, “Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence”, which seems to give clarity to the proverb. The blessings that are on the head come from two sources. First, there is the source of blessing that comes from those on earth that like being around you and are willing to give you their time and, if necessary, their possessions to help you when you are in a pinch. Second, there is the source that is from the Lord. Living righteously is difficult in this evil world; it always has been. Thus, when one is determined to do so, the Lord takes note and blesses that person with the promises of life. This is done because of the response given to His Son Jesus. All spiritual blessing are in Christ and that means, consequently, there are no spiritual blessings that come from the Lord outside of Christ. On the other hand, those of a different spirit, those who have little or no regard for the Lord, they live by a different standard, a standard of their own making, a standard that can generate violence. You won’t know, though, until it is perpetrated against you, someone near you or you read about it in the news. Even if there is no violence, the wicked who reject the Lord (that is, don’t obey), they have their coming day, it’s called Judgment Day. RT

I’ve Had My Fill!

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Perhaps you heard someone say something like the following: “The last time I went to church, some lady named Mary seemed to be very unpleasant. I can move past that, I thought, but when I sat down, I received cold stares because,” I was told, “you are sitting in Brother and Sister Pleasant’s seats. That was it, I moved on. Thought to myself, if that is ‘church,’ I’ve had my fill of it!”

Has this or something similar happened to you? Perhaps not. Many, however, have had an experience like this, maybe even worse. If you’ve had a bad experience, let me encourage to think afresh about “church.”

In the New Testament, the word “church” is directly related to people called out of the world of sin into a world where people assemble to praise the Almighty for the salvation He freely gave and gives to each. With all the baggage they should have left behind, many present themselves to the Lord with it. Sue has been divorced three times and now married to her fourth husband. Mike has spent the last eighteen years fighting his drug addiction. Tim and Mary have children that are very undisciplined because Tim and Mary are also undisciplined. The list of all the baggage that people bring goes on and on. I, too, have my own baggage.

Yet, here they are inside a building where people gather together to be taught the Lord’s word, sing and praise His holy name in worship. Not a one has lived life without some blotch (or many) on their personal record of failings. Some hide it well; others live with it openly.

After a moment’s reflection, is it not best to be in the environment where people gather to praise the Lord and taught His holy way? It was Peter who said to the Lord, after the Lord asked His disciples if they were also going to turn away from Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” To whom will you go?

Why not consider, again, the Lord’s church and what He intended the church to be, spiritually sick people who recognize the Lord’s mercy and in real need of it.  RT

(Written for House to House and heart to Heart for our Fall mailing)

The Basic Foundation of Society

What is the foundation of society? It starts with law, God’s Law and moral foundation. Then, it begins with His creation of a person, a person who can generate physical descendents after him, but this can’t be done without another person of the opposite sex. In the Garden of Eden, the Lord created the male and the female. With these two, as He brought them together, the Lord set in motion the foundation of society.

From the union of the male and the female comes children. The foundation begins with two, then three, four, five, etc. With this foundation there are roles; people have roles within the family and within the larger section of the community. The roles assigned by God to the male and female are thus: the head of the family is the male/husband/father with the female/wife/mother in support of her husband and in submission. This submission is NOT a relegated subservient role, but a role every bit as important as the role the male serves as the head. It is to the wife/mother the Lord charged the female to raise her family. Think about it for a moment. Who has the greatest influence in the family? They both have great influence, but it is the mother who wields the most. If the family is raised after the pattern of the Lord, the influence can’t be any other way. She who rocks the cradle has the greatest impact on society!

In today’s environment this is not readily accepted. It is not accepted because society has rejected the ways of the Lord. Many in society desire to usurp God-ordained roles, to relegate the children to daycare and to have careers for themselves and teach their children to tend to themselves with electronic toys and things of this sort. Husbands, if not for the male instincts created by the Lord , would hardly know what to do in a very confused world. Wives have become very confused also. They are to have a career, have a model-looking appearance, bare children (if wanted) and, if necessary, kill them if they get in the way!

Today, in a secular-oriented world, there is no need for marriage and commitment; all one needs is to have a live-in-arrangement. If that does not work, then let us be confused more by having two people of the same sex living together as if the two were married, if that is not good enough let us have people confess their confusion with regard to gender.

Yes, our liberal/progressive society is plagued by the evils of Satan. The foundation of society is now crumbling. If not for traditional folk, it would be all but gone. It’s starting to wear on them, however, because many of them are having the moral compass by which they live chipped away.

O’ Lord, come! RT

 

The Proverbs of Solomon

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He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; But he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame (10:5 ASV).

It should go without saying there is great productivity in working. It should go without saying, but it can’t. I have heard time and again the generation coming out of high school the last few years have little interest in working and being productive. They have adopted the mindset they are to be given something rather than working for it. If they get it not, they cry foul and blame others for not getting it. Not all who are coming out or have already graduated are of this selfish way of thinking, but there are many who think this way. I have heard, at least three times, employers can hardly keep the younger generation employed. They come in to the work force after being hired with a very good start-up wage, only to leave when the going (job) gets tough or when they learn there is responsibilities day to day that must be met. The proverb deals with this type of thinking. What makes it worse are those who bail out the people who refuse to work. Why not let them learn hard lessons? “It’s so unloving” we are told. How loving is it to bail out the lazy, not teaching them to be responsible? When your child misbehaves make your discipline worth the effort, when he refuses to work let him go hungry. RT

 

THE PRICE OF LIBERTY

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One can’t live in this country without hearing from some the significance of those who have gone on before us, some even paying a high price for liberty so you and I can live in freedom. I agree with this expression in whatever form it may be expressed. I was willing to serve my country because I believe in the ideals of its founding. While some are chipping away at those foundations, doing their best to make us pay for the mistakes of those who have gone before us, it’s the Lord who reminds us that when we put our trust in Him, the dreadful mistakes of the past are carried and paid for by Him. What He requires of us is our commitment to His way, which expresses itself in faith and obedience. The price of Liberty is that Jesus paid a debt I could not pay. RT

 

Is It History or not?

As one opens the pages of the Bible to read, it’s easy to see the book presents the material within as factual history. It plainly states, in simple terms, propositions that can be either affirmed or denied, that are either true or false. Consider, for instance, Genesis 1:1-3, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light” (ASV). In each sentence or independent clause, there is an assertion that God did a specific thing. This is true or it is not. No middle ground.

If one denies the statements, then there is no logical reason to accept anything else one reads in the Bible, otherwise one falls into a trap of being very selective in acceptance or not-acceptance of the written record, and this is done on a rather arbitrary basis. This is revisionists-history. On the other hand, if one accepts the statements as they are written, then there is every reason to accept everything else in the Bible.

History is the record of man in time. “Time” is only measured in a material universe by people with people at its center (created on day six). Apart from man, the use of the word “history” is meaningless. The material universe “experiences” time, but man measures and chronicles it. So, with man in mind, the Bible begins with God’s creation. The words of Genesis 1, are they true or not?

Many people don’t want the Bible to be a true, factual history. For if it is, then the words of Jesus haunt those who reject. Which will it be for you? RT

 

MY LIFE

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“Lord, depart from me because I am a sinful man!” What is a sinful man? A sinful man is a person who lives life in the way he or she wants to without regard to anything the Lord wants. In other words, that “want to” is contrary to the Lord’s way. In my view, it’s not any more complicated than that. A sinful person is not one who necessarily lives life in an overly vile way, but one who lives life in a different way than the Lord’s. For the Christian, presumably the life one has chosen to live is expressed  by Paul himself: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me (Gal. 2:20, ASV).

Think about what Paul is saying. First, his life without Christ is now dead; second, the life he has chosen to live is the life of Christ; third, he understands what it is Jesus did for him and for all those who love Him, therefore he chose to serve the Almighty. If we do not embrace the life of Jesus as Paul expressed it here, we are only kidding (or deceiving) ourselves that all is well. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in his second letter, “Try your own selves, whether ye are in the faith; prove your own selves. Or know ye not as to your own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you? unless indeed ye be reprobate” (2 Cor. 13:5). How are you living your life? RT

 

BAPTISM AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS

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In the context of our congregation, the biblical teaching of baptism for the remission of sins is not a teaching that troubles any of us (at least, with regard to what I am aware). The other day I was talking to a Baptist preacher, a man with whom I am very impressed; he was saying to me that he has trouble over the idea of someone making a decision for the Lord, then instantly dying without being baptized, how that person would not be pleasing to the Lord. I understand the nature of the problem as he posed it and I understand how some will use a similar scenario to speak against the Lord command of baptism in water as essential. Though I understand, those who think along this line are mistaken. How do I know? The scriptures teach that baptism is directly connected to the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16). Since this is so, consider: any command of God directly connected to the forgiveness of sins is a command essential for a person to obey in order to be saved; baptism is a command of God connected to the forgiveness of sins; therefore, baptism is a command of God for a person to obey in order to be saved (1 Peter 3:21). RT

 

Jesus, Growing in Grace

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It does not take much wisdom to understand the importance of growing up physically; with one’s physical growth there is to be growth in the maturation of one’s mind. In life, one who is retarded in growth due to circumstances outside their control generates compassion from many people; vulnerabilities and the innocent can be preyed upon.

When Jesus was but a little boy, he would have experienced the same things other little boys would have enjoyed. Perhaps he played in the dirt, got muddy, had a messy room (so to speak). With Jesus, just as with other little boys, he grew both physically, mentally and emotionally. With him, however, there was something different than other little boys experienced. Sometimes we have difficulty putting our arms around the fact that he was similar to us because he was so different. Yet, though different, the Scripture says, “And as Jesus grew older He gained in both wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52, Weymouth English Translation).

Whatever difference there might have been in Jesus in comparison with other children his age, the fact is, he had parents dedicated to the Lord’s will in their own lives. Jesus’ education would have been, like it should be in our case, was at home from his parent tutelage. He grew into a mature young man in a dark world of sin. Jesus saw all that was about him; by the age of twelve, he had a clear sense, more than his parents did, of what his mission would be. He asked them a question when they came looking for him, thinking something might have happened to him that was terribly horrifying.  “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49, New English Translation or NET).

As Jesus was in his Father’s house, we are to be also. It’s not a physical structure that is in view, but the Lord’s church. Because of obedience to the holy will of God, the Lord took each of those who obey his will from the realm of darkness and placed them in the realm of light; the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus, “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8, ESV). This expression pertains to growth in the Lord; just a few verses later, Paul said, “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (5:17).

There is a natural process in growth, if the body is given what it needs. If not, then growth is stunted, it is retarded and in short-order withers. This applies to one’s physical well-being and it also applies to one’s mental faculties, but even more so, in our context, to one’s spiritual health. If one does not grow in the Lord’s grace, then the one who does not grow is not prepared spiritually.

In the long ago, Jeremiah struggled greatly in handling the oppressive spirit of the people. The Lord understood, but the Lord’s understanding was expressed in an exhortation that was to generate in Jeremiah the proper response of preparing himself for the struggle ahead. “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5, ESV).

To grow as the Lord would have his saints grow takes effort, but it also takes desire. Within your heart you need to instill the Lord’s word because it is the Lord you seek to please. One can’t please the Lord without knowledge. Thus, to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, one needs to learn his will and make specific applications to living a holy life.  RT