The Good Life

July 14, 2017

The Good Life

Every one wants to live a good life, but due to ignorance of what constitutes a good life, and what is required of us, many don’t get to enjoy it. The Bible says in Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” God, our Creator, wants us to enjoy the good life. He has made it possible. Jesus said in John 10:10, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The problem for many people is that they have an erroneous concept of what constitutes a good life. Their expectations are too high. We can’t expect to have a good life if we aren’t willing to make any investments in it.

We must face reality. No one has a right to expect that they will pass through life with no anxieties. Jesus said in John 16:33 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” It seems that some have more tribulations than others. There are things we can and should do to protect ourselves, but even then we will have some hardships.

God has promised great things to those who are his. Psalm 1:3 says that the blessed man; “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” The same Psalm tells us the things the blessed man does and doesn’t do. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”

If we aren’t willing to obey God we have no right to claim his promises. The concept some have of the good life is that it would leave them free to live their life as they please with no restrictions. The Christian life has no attraction for those who think that way. It would put too many restrictions on them. A life that makes no demands of you would make slaves of those around you. Romans 14:7 says “For none of us liveth to himself.” You are living in a fantasy world if you think everyone is obligated to serve you and that they have no right to demand anything of you. We need one another. We give and get. If we aren’t willing to give, we have no right to expect to get anything. Jesus said in Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” He also said “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Those who have a realistic concept of the good life will agree with Jesus who said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We should find satisfaction in giving. If we do, The good life will be one that enables us to give.

The hope of living a life without pain and grief is getting farther out of reach for us because of the deterioration of the moral standards in our culture. When people depart from God they leave behind the high moral values they once had. The founding fathers of our country were convinced of that.

On June 20, 1785 James Madison declared “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institution upon the capacity of mankind for self-government; upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” Sited from the book “One nation Under God” compiled and written by the staff of the Christian Defense Fund pp. 41-42 On June 17, 1843 Daniel Webster declared, “The Bible is a book of faith, and a book of doctrine, and a book of morals, and a book of religion, of special revelation from God; but it is also a book which teaches man his own individual responsibility, his own dignity, and his equality with his fellow man.” op site pp. 76-77

Young people who have surrendered their lives to the Lord don’t bring anguish and shame upon their parents by giving in to the lusts of the flesh. Every day there are parents who are forced to pour out tears of grief beside the casket of a son or daughter that ended their life prematurely by substance abuse. Those who surrender their lives to God and live for him don’t waste their lives in riotous living. They are a blessing and not a burden to society.

It is alarming to take note of the way our moral standards have fallen and continue to fall. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that “The drug overdose death rate increased significantly in the last few years from 12.3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2010 to 16.3 in 2015.” Think what a dramatic change it would make in our society if everyone stopped taking drugs!

Drugs, of course, aren’t the only moral problem facing us. Many other anti-social behavior patterns are a menace to the good life for most all of us. Like it or not, the truth is that we live better if we live the way God says we should.

Take my word for it. I have lived a little over 80 years. From my own experience, and from my observation of thousands of people I have known, I have come to this conclusion. The good life is one that is lived in a happy, harmonious relationship with God, family, and with others. If you want to have it any other way you will be disappointing.

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Christendom

January 31, 2017

Christendom

Christendom is a word that includes almost everything that falls under the name of Christianity. Christianity has made a tremendous impact on the world in the 2000 years that it has existed. It all began because Jesus Christ proved that he was a supernatural being by raising from the dead. I Corinthians 15:6 tells us that he was seen after his resurrection by over 500 people at once. “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” The evidence was so overwhelming that the unbelieving world couldn’t deny it.

Jesus disciples went out and spread the word, not just that he rose from the dead as he said he would. Their message was that Christ died a sacrificial death for the sins of the world. The Apostle Paul, in I Timothy 1:15, said “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” That message was propagated far and wide because Jesus disciples obeyed the command of the Apostle Paul given in II Timothy 2:2. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” They established churches. The churches trained the believers and sent them out to spread the good news of the gospel.

Over the centuries the teaching of Christianity has been altered again and again. Sometimes it has been abbreviated to make it more appealing to those who don’t want to submit to all the demands God places on his followers. Sometimes things have been added that aren’t found in the Bible. They are things like infant baptism and the mechanical repetition of prayers. Some Christians objected to these alterations, but those who practiced them were still called Christians.

As the face of Christianity changed, even the fringe groups still were included in what came to be called Christendom. As long as ones religion gave some recognition to Christ it was included in Christendom.

In great measure Christianity has lost its impact and influence over the world because it has been spread so thin. If your brand of Christianity demands little of you it will make little impact on your life. Those who know you won’t see anything in you that sets you apart from the rest of the world.

If neighbors and friends drop in right when it is time for the evening meal, the house wife can always add more water to the soup and make it serve everyone. The soup has lost its flavor and nutrition, but it’s still soup. That is what Christendom is. It is a Christianity that is spread so thin that there is little of the real thing in it. That is why genuine Christians have to speak of genuine biblical Christianity.

Is your Christianity the real thing, or does it just have a few elements of Christianity in it? Don’t be content with a boiled down or imitation of genuine Christianity. It won’t get you anywhere or do anything for you.

There is room for some disagreement among Christians, but there is one thing that all should agree on. That is that the only way to become a child of God, and qualify for a home in heaven, is by trusting fully and only in the finished work of Christ on the cross for our forgiveness and acceptance by God. There is no need for disagreement about that because the message of the Bible is sufficiently clear. We read in Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Again, in Titus 3:5 it says “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Just being included in Christendom isn’t enough. You need to be included in the family of God. John 1:12 tells us that we need to believe in Christ to be included in the family of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Have you become part of God’s family by trusting in Christ as your Savior?

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Let’s Make America Great Again

It is in vain to think of making America great again without giving serious consideration to what made America great the first time. It is our duty to vote with discernment, but even the best politicians are powerless to make America great again. The power to make America great doesn’t start at the top. It demands a grass roots change in the thinking and attitudes of the American people.

America was great because a majority of the American people were good, hard working, law abiding citizens. The American people were good because they were godly. America will never be great again without the help of God.

America was great because a majority of the people loved, respected, and obeyed God. The churches were full, not just on Sunday mornings, but again Sunday evening and in a mid-week service. New church buildings were under construction all over the country. In the churches, children and young people were persuaded that they needed to repent of their sins, ask God to forgive them, and make them his children. Then they and their parents were constantly reminded in church of their duty to respect and obey God’s moral laws. They lived a consistent Christian life and sacrificed to help the poor and needy. If some were poor because they were lazy, they were made to understand that they shouldn’t expect to be the recipients of charity until they had done all in their power to provide for themselves.

Even when America was great there were still some atheists and agnostics, but they were in the minority. There was still crime, but nothing like we see it now. Proverbs 14:34 says “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Common people need to adopt a righteous life style before we can ever hope to make America great again. Righteousness increases when people are taught to live right. America was great when children began their school day by saying the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag. The words “under God” weren’t left out of the pledge. Then they sang patriotic sons like “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America.” Bible reading was freely permitted.

We can’t expect young people to live right if they are constantly exposed to sinful life styles. The righteous need to be exonerated and the wicked denounced. Christian parents need to take control of their homes and teach their children to love and respect them. A Christian home needs to be a place where children find entertainment without being exposed to sinful thoughts. Children had fun before we had television and electronic games.

If you are one of those who long to see America great again, then no doubt you are asking yourself, “What can I do to make it happen?” First of all, ask yourself if perhaps you are part of the problem. If you aren’t a child of God and surrendered to him then, yes, you are part of the problem. Making America great again will only be done by a noble army of godly people who fight the enemy, not with weapons, but with the message of salvation and godly living. The path to victory is found in the equation “A godly people = a great nation.” America will never be great again if we leave God out of the equation.

You can join this noble army by coming to God as a guilty sinner and by asking for his forgiveness. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” God says he will forgive your sins. In John 1:12 it says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” Then, in gratitude to him, you will want to surrender your will to his will and do that which is pleasing to him. If you aren’t sure you have done that, why not do it now?

There are many who are the children of God but they aren’t surrendered to him. They aren’t doing their part to make America great again. God wants his children to live in obedience to him. Ephesians 6:6-7 says, “Not with eye service, as men pleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”

If we yield ourselves to God he will make us shine as his servants because he will allow us to produce the fruits of the Spirit that are listed for us in Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

God wants us to be his witnesses. Acts 1:8 says, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We do our part in making America great again by our example and by our witness. We need to be bold in sharing this message with those around us. Let others know that they can have life at its best by being yielded to God and sharing the message with others. If we all do our part we will have the joy of seeing America restored to greatness.

There is much that needs to be fixed in America, but our beloved country will never be what it once was until a great multitude of people are in the right relationship with God. We need to fix what’s broken. What most needs to be fixed is the broken relationship many have with God. Make sure your relationship with God is what it should be, and then help others fix their relationship with God. By doing that, we can all have a part in making America great again.

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The Better Way

August 11, 2016

The Better Way

Jimmy woke up one morning with a hang over. His mind was groggy. He wondered why he was on the bed fully dressed, including his shoes. Little by little the puzzle pieces began to fall in place regarding what had happened the day before.

It was pay day. He went by the bank and cashed his check. Then he went to the mall to go on a shopping spree. As he walked through the mall a teen age girl came up to him and handed him a gospel tract. He saw that the title was “The Better Way.” When he realized what it was he crumpled it up in his hand and threw it on the floor. As he did so he cursed the religious nuts who have nothing better to do than propagate religion.

When he came to the bar he decided to stop in and have a few drinks. A few led to a few more and then a few more. When he looked at his watch he saw that it was nearly bed time. He paid the bar tender and made his way home.

When Jimmy walked in the door of his house he saw that his wife was waiting for him. She took one look at him, collapsed in a chair, and broke into uncontrollable sobs. Instead of making an effort to console her, Jimmy staggered into the bedroom. He threw himself on the bed and went asleep.

As Jimmy lay there the next morning he couldn’t help but feel guilty and ashamed of himself. He remembered that his wife had warned him that the next time he came home drunk she was going to pack up and leave him. Jimmy certainly didn’t want that. He was asking himself, “What do I need to do to get control of myself?”

As he lay there thinking, his mind went back to a time some years ago when his uncle Fred talked to him. He had tried to get him to see that he needed to become a Christian and surrender his life to God. Jimmy turned him off by saying, “No, I prefer to live my life the way I want to.” His uncle Fred closed the conversation by saying “Well if you ever see your need of a change in your life let me know. I would sure be glad to help you.” Jimmy knew that uncle Fred and aunt Sharon had been church goers even before they said their wedding vows.

Jimmy’s wife still lay asleep at his side. He knew that he needed to ask her to forgive him. He wondered if she would forgive him. He lay there searching for words to say what he needed to say.

When he heard his wife move a little bit in bed he turned over, put his arm on her shoulder, and woke her up. He said, “Honey, I’m awful ashamed of what I did last night. I know you are ashamed of me too. Please forgive me. I remember you threatened to leave me if I got drunk again. You have reason for leaving me, but please don’t do that. I need you. I have decided I need to get my life turned around and I need your help in doing it.”

Then he told her about uncle Fred and aunt Sharon. He said, “We need to go and have a talk with them. You also need what they have to offer, but you don’t need it nearly as bad as I do.” She agreed that that was what they should do.

Now we are going to leave Jimmy and his wife and make some applications. Maybe you aren’t in a situation as desperate as Jimmy’s, but if you have left God out of your life you haven’t found the better way.

To be in the better way doesn’t mean there will be no more trials in life. Matthew 5:45 says that God sends rain on the just and the unjust. Our observation is that the same could be said regarding afflictions. The difference is that the just don’t suffer all the grief that is suffered by those who live their life the way they want to, without giving any consideration to what God says is right. The Bible says, in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

The entrance to the better way is the same for everyone. It begins with repentance toward God. Acts 3:19 says “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Everyone must come before God just like Jimmy had to come before his wife and confess that he had sinned against her, and ask for forgiveness. Jimmy had to come before God in that way. Then we have to ask God to forgive us on the merits of the sacrifice Christ made when he died on the cross for us. Acts 16:31 says, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”

Why don’t you join the millions who are in the better way? They have put their trust in God as it says in Psalm 37:3. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”

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Loving Obedience

July 11, 2016

Loving Obedience

God wants his children to obey him, but even more than that, he wants them to love him. In John 14:15-16 we read that Jesus spoke the following words. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” Obedience without love is grievous. We do it because we feel it is our obligation. That isn’t the way the Christian life was meant to be lived.

We need to put first things first. Salvation needs to come first. Some try to live the Christian life without being saved. They may have good reasons for doing so. It may be because they see the benefits that come to those who abide by godly moral standards. It may be because they enjoy being in the company of Christians and want to be accepted by them. Whatever the case may be, if the time comes that they see that there are some personal advantages to be gained by violating Christian moral standards, it will be hard to resist the temptation.

When we are saved we enter into a personal relationship with God. We become a child of his. We have made reconciliation with God by accepting the sacrifice Christ made for us when he died on the cross. Romans 5:8-10 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” If we are saved we will love God because of all he has done for us. I John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

I John 5:2-3 tells us that it isn’t hard to keep God’s commandments when we love him. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” Love transforms grievous obedience into loving obedience. Love is also what makes a marriage relationship what it ought to be. What is done for your spouse isn’t a burden if there is love. It needs to be mutual, love for one another.

Perhaps someone says, “I don’t love God. Therefore I have no obligation to keep his commandments.” He had best stop and think. We reap what we sow. Moral laws are for our good and the good of society. If we hurt others by the liberties we take, they will take revenge. The golden rule in Matthew 7:12, asks us to do for others what we want them to do for us. Since, in the final analysis, it is our duty to obey, it is much better that it be loving obedience. That means we do it because we want to; not because we have to.

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                        Peace That We Can’t Understand

There are things that most of us can’t understand or explain, but we enjoy them anyhow.  I can’t understand how radios can pull voices out of the air, even less how televisions can pull pictures out of the air, but I go on using them and enjoying them.  Philippians 4:7 tells us it is the same way with the peace of God. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I wouldn’t want to be without the peace of God.  You need the peace of God.  If you don’t have it, this article will tell you how you can have it.

It is a great blessing to live in peace.  Fortunate are those who have no enemies, or if they do, it’s not because they have done anything to give others reason to be their enemies.  Life is much more enjoyable when there is peace in the home, in the neighborhood, and in the world.  The Bible tells us that one of God’s promises is that in the future there will be a 1000 year reign of Christ.  Ezequiel 37:26 tells us that it will be a reign of peace.  “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.”

This article is dedicated to the glorious promise of inner peace.  It is a state of mind that is calm; without fears.  Philosophers talk about it, but it is only by living the Christian life that we can experience it.

To live in peace doesn’t mean that you are free from anxiety or threats to your well-being.  It comes from a confidence in God that he will not allow anything to happen that, in some way, will be for our good.  It is interesting that we never read that Joseph, in the Bible, complained about what was happening to him.  He had much reason to complain.

Virtue is an important ingredient in our life if we expect to live in peace.  We will never have peace in our life if, by our life style, we bring trouble upon ourselves.  In II Peter 1:5, virtue is listed as one of the things we need to add to our life.  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;   and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience Godliness.” If we are living virtuously, and trouble comes, we know that it must be that God allowed it.  We don’t have the feeling of guilt.  Our conscience doesn’t bother us.

To have the peace of God we first of all have to make peace with God.  That takes place when we are reconciled to God.  Romans 5:6-10 tells us how that is possible.  “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.    For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.   But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.   Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.   For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:1 says we can be at peace with God.  “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” God has done his part.  We need to accept it personally and apply it to our lives.

Another reason why Christians can have the peace of God is because God gives them the ability to have victory over sin.  That doesn’t mean they never sin, but they can have victory over much of it.  I John 5:3-4 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.    For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” If we have the right relationship with God, we won’t have a great struggle in obeying him.  Psalm 119: 165 says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”

If we have victory over sin we don’t do things that trouble us. Here is an example of the way taking vengeance could rob us of peace.  If someone hurts us, we may feel it’s our duty to take vengeance. If so, we won’t be at peace until we do.  However the result will be that we will live in fear that our adversary will take vengeance on us.  The Christian who obeys God is willing to let him settle the score.  Romans 12:19 says, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Christians sometimes have a problem with covetous.  Luke 12:15 says, “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” The covetous person never gets all he wants.  In Philippians 4:11 the Apostle Paul said “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Someone said he could sleep in a Hilton hotel one night and be equally content if he had to sleep in a tent the next night.

Another source of peace for the obedient Christian is his hope for the future.  According to the Bible, there is no hope for the one who hasn’t made peace with God.  Hebrews 10:26-27 tells us what he has to look forward to.  “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,    but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” The Christian, on the other hand, has the promise of heaven.  In my youth I watched the film “A Tale of Two Cities.” In that film there was a scene of a man who was condemned to die.  He was given the privilege of saying a few words before he laid his neck under the guillotine.  He said, “It is to a far better world that I go.” Obviously, he had the assurance of eternal life.  In John 14:1-3 Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.   In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.    And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” For the Christian, the best is yet ahead.  For the unbeliever, the best is behind him.

We can have the assurance that we are going to heaven because it doesn’t depend on our merits.  We can know that we shall go there because we are trusting in the merits of Christ.  Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” I John 5:11-12 tells us that we can know that we have eternal life. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.    He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”

The one who seeks to do God’s will has peace because he trusts in the promises of God.  Psalm 37:3 is just one of those promises.  “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”  Psalm 23 tells us that God takes care of us like a good shepherd.  He is constantly at our side to guide and care for us.  Is he your shepherd?  He can be and will be if you become a child of his.  If you do, he will give you that inner peace that you need.

If you have questions or comments you can send them to us at the following web site:  rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He Is No Fool

January 20, 2016

                                               He Is No Fool

In January of 1956 a missionary by the name of Jim Elliott was martyred by Indians in the jungle of Ecuador.  On Oct 28, 1949 he wrote in his journal “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  This profound statement is worthy of our consideration.

       He is no fool who surrenders himself to do the will of God. It is feared that some have a distorted opinion of what it means to surrender to do God’s will.  Anyone is dead wrong if he or she thinks that to do so would cut them off from everything that would give them pleasure or satisfaction.  True, it would cut them off from illicit and immoral pleasure, but we can find even greater pleasure in doing what is right.  Psalm 16:11 says, “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”  Many can testify that they have found that to be true.

It all begins when we become a genuine child of God.  That takes place when we recognize that we are sinners, repent of it, ask God to forgive us, and ask him to make us a child of his.  That is when we establish a relationship with him.  When we take into consideration the fact that Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to die to make it possible for God the Father to forgive us and deliver us from the condemnation we were under, we can’t help but love him.  If we love him, we will want to please him.  Jesus said, in John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

He is no fool who keeps God’s commandments.  Perhaps it should be said that there is no one who keeps God’s commandments perfectly.  Romans 3:10 says, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” We enjoy the blessing of God to the extent that we keep his commandments. What God askes of us is for our good.  Psalm 84:11 says, “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”  In the end, he who keeps God’s commandments is a winner.  He enjoys the best in this life and he will be richly rewarded when he gets to heaven.  He gains things he will never lose.

The liberties some people take are detrimental to them.  Some are habit forming.  Some lower their resistance to temptation.  Some cause them to lose the respect of others.  It should be obvious that the works of the flesh, mentioned in Galatians 5:19-2, are detrimental to our well-being and that of others.  “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,   envyings murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The works of the flesh can and should be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,   meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

No one has a fruitful, profitable life if he hurts himself and others by what he does.  We are fools if we don’t take into consideration the well-being of those around us.  We run the risk of being cut off from them, perhaps even imprisoned.

He is no fool who lives within the realm of reality. Here are some examples of what it means to live outside the realm of reality:

  • Spending beyond your means
  • Eating too much junk food
  • Thinking you won’t be addicted by drugs and alcohol
  • Thinking you can do illegal things without getting caught.
  • (See my article on this web page entitled “Living within the Realm of Reality.” It is under “Various Themes.”)

To those of the fairer sex, let it be said that there is no exception.  This article could also have been written to say “She is no fool.” You can be well informed about the behavior of a fool by reading the book of Proverbs.  The fool is mentioned 37 times in the book.  Proverbs 11:29 says. “The fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.”  No one wants to be called a fool, but some insist on living like one.  Please don’t be one of them.

We welcome your questions and comments.  They can be sent to the following address: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

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                      Sources of Strength For Times of Stress

Christians aren’t exempt from trials and tribulations.  They too suffer from stress, but they have access to an abundance of resources to enable them to deal with it. Anyone can have access to that same source of strength by becoming a child of God.  It is just another of numerous reasons why you too should be a child of God.

To have access to this source of strength should not be your primary reason for becoming a Christian.  More than anything else, you need God’s forgiveness because John 3:18 says you are condemned because you haven’t believed in the name of God’s son.  “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Condemnation speaks of eternal punishment.  II Thessalonians 1:8-9 says, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:   Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Believe me, that is much more serious than stress.

God’s forgiveness is offered to whosoever is willing to ask for it.  Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” It is a matter of repenting of your sin, asking God to forgive you, and make you a child of his.  He can do that because Christ took the punishment you deserve when he died on the cross.  Romans 5:10 says we are reconciled to God by the death of his son. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”

Now let’s look at the sources of strength that are available to Christians in times of stress.  First and foremost is the promise of strength that God promises to give us.  In I Peter 5:7 God tells us to cast our cares upon him. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” How does he care for us?  II Corinthians 12:9-10 says “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  You have to experience that to know that it is true.  When the unsaved suffer from stress, they can do as they say “grin and bear it.” The Christian also feels the pain, but he can claim the promise of Philippians 4:13.  “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  You could translate that “I can bear all things if I trust in Christ.”

When Christians are experiencing stress, they find a wealth of strength from reading the Psalms of David.  They were written by David who knew what it was to suffer stress.  In Psalm 18:32 he wrote “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.” Again in Psalm 31:9-10 he wrote “Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.   For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.”  Then in verses 14-15 he wrote “But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.   My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.”

Christians also have access to good books that encourage them and teach them how to handle stress.  One is written by David Jeremiah entitled “When Your World Falls Apart.”  Another suggestion is “Anger And Stress Management” by Wayne Mack.

Christians who attend a good Bible believing church have access to another source of strength when they are going through stress.  More than once I have gone to visit a Christian who was in the hospital.  On arriving I found their bed surrounded by friends from their church.  Nurses occasionally came to say that some had to leave.  Others in the same room only had one or two visitors.  Some didn’t have any.  When Christians go through stress their brothers and sisters in Christ remember them in a number of ways.  It may be a phone call to remind them that they are being remembered in prayer.  It might be a get well card.  It might be a personal visit.  Some may bring in a meal.  Some make themselves available to take them to the doctor or run errands for them.  The unsaved may receive some help from neighbors or friends, but Christians are commanded by God to bear one another’s burdens.  Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

Stress comes in many forms, and it comes to all of us.  If stress isn’t brought under control it may lead to depression.  That is even more serious, and may require professional attention.  Being a Christian won’t deliver you from stress, but it will prepare you to deal with it when it comes.  Strength in times of stress is just one of many advantages of being a Christian.  The blessings you receive from being a Christian far outweigh any price you pay.  Don’t wait any longer to become a Christian.

If you have comments or questions you can send them to us at the following address: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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         The Manifestation Of A Genuine Conversion

If you are truly saved you will reveal it by the way you live. You will want to tell others about it, but they should know it, whether you tell them or not.  Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.”  If we think we have persuaded someone to place his faith in Christ for salvation, it’s best that we don’t tell everyone about it.  If we do, we may be embarrassed if he doesn’t show any evidence of it.  It is best to let him tell others about it, and even better if he shows it by the change in his life.  II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Some people aren’t hesitant about telling others that they are Christians, but their life doesn’t show it. If you are a genuine child of God, those around you will know it.  The fact that someone made a decision to accept Christ as their Savior doesn’t mean much unless we see a change in their life.  Some soul winners pride themselves in the number of people they have won to Christ.  If we ask them how many of those they have supposedly won are now faithfully attending church, they would have to confess that many aren’t.  We need to be winning souls, but after we win them we need to help them take the first steps in living the Christian life.

It would be refreshing to hear in our time more testimonies of people who converted to Christ and left no one in doubt about it. In history we read of conversions that were little short of miraculous.  One example is that of Francis of Asisi.  He was the son of a rich man.  He was taken as a prisoner of war and spent four years in captivity.  After his release he fell sick.  During that time he began to think about spiritual matters.  For a time he wavered between surrendering to God, or going back to an immoral life style.  He felt guilty because he had so much and most people around him had very little.  One night he invited a group of his friends to come to his house for a big party.  After eating and drinking, they went out to the street and had a disorderly celebration. All at once someone realized that Francis wasn’t with them.  They went back in the house to look for him.  They found him sitting on a bench in deep concentration.  When they asked him questions he didn’t respond.  One friend said in jest, “Can’t you see that he is thinking about getting married?” Then he responded and said, “Your’ right.  I am thinking about getting married to the most beautiful bride the world has ever known.  Her name is poverty.”  He never returned to his past life.  Not everything he did was biblical, but he dramatically manifested to the world that he had been converted.

Another dynamic example was that of Billy Sunday. In the years 1883-1890 he became famous in the United States as a baseball player.  In 1886 he was converted in a mission that was being used of God to win to Christ alcoholics and street people.  He said to his friends, “I have bid good bye to the past life.” He left no doubt about the fact that he did. After two years he stopped playing baseball and began preaching the gospel.  Thousands were converted in his evangelistic crusades.

There is little reason to believe that one’s conversion is genuine if he hasn’t abandoned his past life. We already read in II Corinthians 5:17 that old things will pass away.  It isn’t just a change in religion, although that may be included.  It is a change in the way we think and live.  Titus 2:12 says, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”

I recently read a book entitled “Mission To The Head Hunters” by Frank and Marie Drown.  It was thrilling to read how they succeeded in persuading  savage Indians in the jungle of Ecuador to trust in Christ for salvation.  Conversion, for the Indians, meant that they abandoned tribal customs.  Among those customs were tribal warfare, shrinking the heads of conquered chieftains, polygamy, and witch doctors.  Their love for Christ enabled them to be victorious over the ridicule they received from other Indians.

In the Bible we read of some of the things the believers in the primitive church left behind. In I Thessalonians 1:7-10 it says they left their idolatry. In Acts 19:19 we read that they abandoned their “curious arts.” That means the practice of magic or witchcraft.  They made it public by burning their books in the street.

In our day, among the things we expect people to leave behind are profanity, pornography, drunkenness, and indecent behavior. If your conversion took place some years ago, the fact that you don’t do those things attests to the fact that you must be a Christian.  What did you leave behind when you were converted?  Did people see a change in you?

Conversion is not just a matter of leaving things behind. What you leave behind needs to be replaced by virtues that are added.  Christians aren’t just known for what they don’t do.  They are also known for what they do.  Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” II Peter 1:5-7 gives us a list of virtues we should be diligent to add to our lives. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;    and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;    and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

As we said earlier, we long to see more dynamic conversions. Will yours be one of them?  It begins by repenting of your sins and accepting God’s forgiveness based on the merits of what Christ did for us when he died on the cross.  If your repentance is genuine, it will be manifest by the fact that you leave your sins and surrender to the will of God.  You will need the help of a good Bible believing church.  There you will find encouragement and gain knowledge of what God askes of us.  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:    Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

 

 

 

 

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     How Can We Know Which Religion Has The Truth?

          Among so many religions, how can we know which one has the truth? This is a question many ask, and for good reason. It can’t be that they all have the truth because they aren’t in agreement. Some people, without giving it much thought, just say “They are all good.” It could be that they all do some good, but that is not proof that they have the truth. Some may not outwardly promote or approve of immorality, but they don’t say anything against it either.

Some religious groups make the claim that they are the only ones who have the truth. By so doing, they say that all others are in error. Some base their authenticity on their antiquity. Others make no attempt to prove that they have the truth. They just make the claim and expect everyone to accept it without question.

In order to know which religion has the truth we would need to have a criterion for determining what truth is. If a religion claims to be a Christian religion, then we should have the right to go to the Bible to see if what they teach is in harmony with the Bible. Some may ask, “But how can we know if the Bible is true?” In a short article like this one it would be impossible to present all the evidence that the Bible is divine revelation. It should be enough to know that those who live according to the dictates of the Bible find peace and reason for living, and aren’t a menace to those around them. If we accept the Bible as divine authority, then we should judge all religions by it.

Be careful of groups that claim to be the only true religion. They may quote verses from the Bible in their defense. They may twist the meaning of Scripture. Sometimes it is what they don’t say that proves them wrong. We need to interpret the Bible in the light of what the entire Bible says, and not just some verses. For example, it is possible to take some verses from the Bible and teach that salvation is by means of good works. There are other verses in the Bible that contradict that teaching.

How then can we know which religion has the truth? It is by means of reading the Bible. In Isaiah 8:20 we read “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” We can know, but it takes some effort on our part. As long as we are ignorant of what the Bible says we will never know which religion has the truth. When we read the Bible we need to keep in mind that the New Testament supersedes the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written for the Jews. Christ fulfilled the demands of the law regarding a sacrifice for sins. What the Old Testament says about moral principles hasn’t changed.

The truth is that there is no religious group that can honestly say they are correct on everything. By reading the Bible we can see which group is closest to the truth. There is considerable disagreement about some teachings in the Bible. They are not major teachings. Often they are interpretations about prophecy. Christians often agree to disagree on some matters. If a religious group professes to have all the truth they should be rejected because they are making a claim that can’t be proven. The ones who are most to be trusted are those who say, “As best we can, we follow the Bible, but we confess that we may be mistaken about some things.”

The truth is that your major concern need not be that of finding the religion that has the truth. Your greatest need is that of having the proper relationship with God. The Bible is sufficiently clear on that matter. We read that Christ gave his life on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He died to deliver us from the condemnation we are under because of our sins. John 3:18 says, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” When we come to God, repentant of our sins, and ask him for forgiveness, he applies the sacrifice of Christ to our account. Romans 5:9 says, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” God promises eternal life to those who are his. I John 5:11 says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

What you need to do therefore, is to look for a church that clearly teaches and preaches the salvation message. It is abundantly clear in the Bible, but there are religions that preach that salvation is through the church or by human merit. Churches that teach that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) nearly always help people to grow in grace and knowledge as it says in II Peter 3:18. “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

It will be a futile attempt if you try to find the religion that has all the truth because there is none. It is important to find a good church, but there are no perfect churches because churches are composed of people. There are no perfect people this side of heaven. The best churches are those that are composed mostly of people who have the right relationship with God and who are striving to have a better relationship with him. May God help you to be one of them.

If you have questions or comments you can send them to us at the following address:  rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

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