Initiative, Do You Have It?

By Russell George

Maybe you say, “I’m not sure what it

nitiative is.” Ok, I’ll give you a definition. It is to have motivation to do what we can and should do. When something comes to our mind that we should do, it’s easy to say, “But I don’t want to do it.” If we continually give into the “I don’t want to do it,” we will eventually find ourselves in a precarious situation. We may be left in want or disgrace.

Our big cities are struggling with the problem of what to do with what are called “homeless people”. They sleep in tents on the sidewalks and live on what they can steal or salvage from trash cans. How did they get in that situation? They gave into the “I don’t want to do it.” It’s because they didn’t have initiative. In their childhood and youth, they weren’t obligated to put forth effort to do what they should do. They didn’t study and get an education. They weren’t willing to learn a trade. They don’t have anything to offer to society. They can’t get a job. Now they are a burden to society.

Initiative gives us the motivation to get up and go and do what we can and should do. Many times in life there are things that don’t have to be done, but if we have initiative we will do them anyhow. It’s often easy to find an excuse for not doing what we are obligated to do. I have a friend who, as a boy, lost his right arm when he got it caught in the power take off of a tractor. Throughout his life there must have been many times when he could have said, “I can’t do that with only one hand.” But no. Each time he said, “There’s got to be a way”, and he found a way. He got a good education and for many years he and his wife were missionaries in Argentina. He did a good work there. He learned to drive with just one hand. I have ridden with him when he was driving, and I never felt in danger. He is now retired, but he and his wife are still helping in a Spanish work in Nebraska. Obviously he had, and still has initiative.

My wife and I spent 37 years as missionaries in Argentina. Every morning I got up excited about what I was going to do that day. I might have been sitting at my desk and preparing a sermon outline or a Sunday school lesson. I might have filled my shoulder bag with literature to go out door to door talking to people. I wasn’t paid by the hour. What I did each day made no changes in how much I was paid at the end of each month. No one was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing anything. I felt motivated to complete my mission, my reason for being there in Argentina. It took initiative to do that.

Having initiative makes us successful in life. It keeps us going and doing what we can and should do. We don’t just work to get; we work because we want to work. If we work by the hour, and have initiative, we will keep on doing our best whether the boss is around or not.

The word initiative isn’t found in the Bible. The Bible word that is most equivalent to it is “diligence.” The following verses from the book of Proverbs help us see how important it is to be diligent. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (Proverbs 10:4). “The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute” (Proverbs 12:24). “The slothful man roasteth not that which he took in hunting: but the substance of a diligent man is precious” (Prov. 12:27). “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat” (Prov. 13:4). “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29). I claim those promises because I want what being diligent will do for me.

Maybe, after reading this article, you can say, “Yes, I have initiative.” But do you have as much of it as you could or should? Nearly all of us could be more diligent. Ask God to show you if there is something more you could and should do.

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Keep Your Heart

March 22, 2021

Keep Your Heart

By Russell George

Just as good housewives are diligent about housekeeping, all Christians need to be diligent about heart keeping. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” It means we need to keep it clean. A clean heart is a tremendous asset to any life. It gives peace of mind, knowing that we aren’t going about doing things we know we ought not to do.

In the spiritual realm, there is a close relationship between the heart and the mind. Mark 12:30 says,And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” The heart is sometimes called “the seat of the affections, but where is it? There is no reason to think that it refers to our physical heart. Proverbs 23:7 gives us further reason to say that there is a close relationship between the heart and the mind. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” We think with our mind. Possibly we could say that the heart has to do with our affections and the mind has to do with the intellect. The mind enables us to think and do things rationally. We give thought to what we do. The heart motivates us to want to serve and please God.

We need to keep our heart because the issues of life proceed from it. With our heart we decide what we should and shouldn’t do. We decide what should have priority. If our heart is corrupt, we will let corruption be a part of our life. Matthew 15:18-20 mentions some of the evil things that can proceed out of our heart. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” That’s another reason why we need to clean our heart and keep it clean.

Jeremiah’s admonition should help us understand why we need to keep our heart with all diligence. He says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” He says that the heart is deceitful. That means that we may think our heart is clean when it isn’t.

Before we can keep our heart clean, we need to be sure that it is clean. Psalm 139:23-24 gives us a prayer of David. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” We too need to pray this prayer and let God speak to our hearts. Often we are doing things without realizing that they aren’t pleasing to God. They may not be outward sins that those around us can see. It is easy to sin in our thought life. We can let our minds dwell on things that we know we shouldn’t do.

These are called phantasms. We know that it’s something we shouldn’t do in real life, but just thinking about it is pleasing to us. You live the experience of it in your mind even though you don’t do it in real life. Letting ourselves think these thoughts weakens our resistance. If we are ever faced with the temptation to do it in real life it will be hard to resist. We couldn’t honestly say, “I wouldn’t even think about doing such a thing.” You have already been thinking about it.

We can’t expect to enjoy the full measure of joy that the Christian life offers us if we don’t keep our heart clean. Don’t neglect your heart. As we have seen, there are evils that can come out of our heart. We need to keep the law of God in our heart, as it says in Psalm 40:8. “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” The first part of that verse says that if the law of God is in our heart we will delight to do the will of God. We will never go wrong if we do the will of God.

Christians have a great advantage in that they can call upon God to help them keep their heart. The prayer of David, that we have included in this article, is a good example. We also have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. If we are surrendered to him, he will convict us if we have thoughts and things in our heart that ought not to be there. Romans 8:26-27 tells us how the Spirit guards our hearts. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

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Confirmation In the Gospel

February 19, 2021

Confirmation in the Gospel

By Russell George

Confirmation doesn’t mean the same thing to all of us. For some it is a sacrament in the church. In our Bible we don’t read anything about sacraments. In Philipians 1:7 we find the word “confirmation.” “Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.”

To be confirmed in the gospel, means to be so convinced that the gospel is true that nothing will move us from it. The gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins and that if we put our faith in him God will forgive us of our sins, and make us a child of his. If we are confirmed in the gospel, we have no doubts about it. Nothing that anyone says or that we read will convince us otherwise.

The word also means to establish. When a farmer sets a post in the ground, he tamps the dirt around it as he throws it in. He wants it to be established so that when he drives staples in it so it won’t move. If the post has been treated with creosote, he can have good reason to think that it will be there the rest of his life. In Acts 16:5 we read about churches being established in the faith. “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.” To be establish in the faith includes more than the gospel. It includes all the truth we find in the Bible. It means that the time will never come when someone will come along and convince them to believe something contrary to the truth they have received.

God wants his people to be confirmed in the gospel. That means there will never come a time when we cast off our faith in the gospel and start believing something contrary.

It is doubtful that we will ever be confirmed in the gospel unless we have accepted the Bible as the Word of God. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” God’s Word never changes. A faithful and honest interpretation of it shouldn’t change either. The gospel is based on what we read in the Bible.

The longer we live the Christian life the more we are confirmed in it. It becomes our way of life. We feel comfortable with it. We enjoy the benefits of it. We grow in our love for the Lord and look for ways to please him.

We are also confirmed in the gospel by faithful church attendance. There we grow in our knowledge of God’s Word by means of the teaching and preaching we hear. We build relationships with other Christians in the church who strengthen us. In the church, we find opportunities to serve the Lord and use our talents. We start sharing the gospel with others. We spend time with those we win to Christ and help them be confirmed in the gospel.

It is thrilling to read church history and read of others who were confirmed in the gospel to the point that persecution didn’t turn them away from it. Some even paid the supreme sacrifice of giving their life rather than turn from the faith. Fox’s Book of Martyrs tells the thrilling story of multitudes who remained faithful. Some chose to let them chop off their heads. Others were burned at the stake. Polycarp was one of the early martyrs of the Christian faith. When he had to make a decision between being burned at the stake or denying Christ he said, “Eighty six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?” He was burned at the stake. Even today, in Communist and Muslim countries, Christians are proving that they are confirmed in the gospel to the point that they are willing to suffer persecution rather than deny their Lord.

Where are you in regard to being confirmed in the gospel? Are you better established than you were a year ago at this time? What are you doing to be more confirmed in the gospel?

I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. I can’t recall any time when I even gave any thought to turning my back on it. It has been such a rewarding experience that I never want to leave it. I’m sure I have neglected many opportunities to be more established in the faith. I’m sure there are many Christians who have a closer walk with the Lord than I do, but I can’t imagine that the time will ever come when I will consider breaking off my relationship with the Lord. If you have never trusted in Christ for salvation. I strongly urge you to do so. You will never regret it.

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Things Can’t Go On This Way

September 9, 2020

Things Can’t Go On This Way

By Russell George

Are you praying for revival? Every day it becomes more evident that we need it. Things can’t go on the way they are going. If they do, the time will come when our society will self destruct. Every day there are more hurting and heart-broken people.

If you are the member of a growing healthy church you need to thank God for it. Keep doing all you can to keep your church the way it should. You need to look around and see what is going on around you. More and more good Christians are finding themselves in a small church that keeps getting smaller. Every year there are fewer members and less money is coming in. The church is struggling to pay their bills. They are forced to drop missionaries they are supporting, or cut back on what they give them. It’s getting harder to pay their pastor.

People in these churches face the fact that the day is coming when the church will be forced to close its doors. That’s heartbreaking for them. Their church has been a part of their life for years. It may be that they were married in the church. If they are up in years, some of their children may have been married in the church. They can think of many funerals they have attended in their church.

They are like the farmer, many years ago, who had a horse he dearly loved. His horse had served him for many years. It had taken him to and from where he wanted to go. It had pulled his buggy or carried him on its back. It had pulled his plow, pulled his cultivator, and helped him harvest his crops. Now his horse is getting old. He asks himself if he should sell his horse and buy a younger one. He doesn’t want to part with it. Shall he keep riding it until it dies in its tracks?

Christians in a dying church face a similar decision. They ask, “Shall we stay with our church until it dies? Or should we leave and join a church that is still active and growing?” They know that if they do that it will hasten the day when their church will die. If you know Christians in that situation they need your prayers. They have a hard decision to make.

We would like to think that people themselves would realize that things are going from bad to worse and start seeking a solution. A careful study of church history shows that there is no indication that they have ever sought a solution, much less a solution in God. The thinking of modern man is, if there is a problem, throw money at it. That is never the solution. Things continue to go south. The war on poverty is a classic example. For years now the government has been giving money to the poor, but it hasn’t helped. Just giving money to an unemployed man takes away his initiative to look for a job. If there is a problem, we need to ask ourselves, “What’s causing the problem?”

In church history we do find what appears to be the only solution for a rapid deterioration in moral values. It is revival. Every time there has been a revival it is accompanied by a greater respect for and desire to live by biblical moral values. Not everyone, of course, is touched by a revival, but those who are become more upright in their way of life. They pass it on to their children so the revival goes on having a beneficial influence on the culture.

Aren’t you convinced that we need a revival? Aren’t you convinced that we need a return to righteous Godly living? If not, how much worse must it get to convince you? Many times people don’t get concerned until it starts touching them personally. That shows a lack of compassion.

A revival could give new life to dying churches. It could spare multitudes of people from the pain and heart break caused by divorce and separation. It would decrease the number of school shootings. It would give discernment to millions of people so they would no longer go to the polls and vote for candidates just because they are running under the party they are identified with.

When God sends a revival he does a mighty work in the lives of Christians. He convicts them of their sin and they repent and start living for God. They are a testimony to the unsaved around them. God also does a work in the unsaved in times of revival. They too are convicted and see their need of having a relationship with God. They see Christians enjoying life with a purpose and being blessed by God. Psalm one presents to us the blessed man. Verse 3 says, “And he 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.” Many of the unsaved see that and say, “I want that for my life.”

What hinders revival? James 4:2 says, “Ye have not because ye ask not.” We won’t be very likely to get anything from God if we don’t ask for it. Christians need to be praying for revival. Perhaps we aren’t praying for revival because we don’t see the need for it. We need to be grieving because people around us are grieving because of sin. Our prisons are full. Every prisoner has left broken hearts behind. Their parents are suffering. If they are married, their spouse, and perhaps children are suffering. Our big cities are being overrun by homeless people. Many of them have left loved ones behind who are suffering. Many times their parents don’t know where they are. Many are lost and bound for an awful eternity. Doesn’t that matter to you? If not, you need to ask God to give you more compassion. I Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one for another.”

II Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We need to come to God, grieving and pleading that he will send revival because you say, “Things can’t go on this way.” Please also read my article entitled “Revivals.” It is on my web page. randrforchristianliving.org

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The Virtue of Discernment

By Russell George

Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad.” I Kings 3:9

We are all on a journey to the future. What we find in the future depends, in great part, in the decisions we have made. We can’t make wise decisions if we don’t have discernment. Every new day is a short span of our future. We get to enjoy a little bit of what we have invested in the days, months, and years past. Galatians 6:7-8 talks about sowing and reaping. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

We reap according to what we have sown. If we haven’t sown anything, we can’t expect to reap anything. If we have sown to the flesh it says we will reap corruption. That word “corruption” can be taken in two ways. It could mean that what is sown to the flesh will be consumed by our fleshly appetites. After it’s gone, it’s gone. Corruption, of course, also means that which is corrupt or immoral. In contrast, if we have sown to the spirit, it will go on yielding life into the future.

Romans 8:5-6 says we have two minds. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” We have a carnal mind and a spiritual mind. That word carnal means fleshly. Our body has sensations and desires that demand to be met. The carnal mind deals with those things. Children and young people look to their parents to provide for the satisfaction of those needs. At the same time, children and young people need to be learning so that as they get older, they themselves will be capable of meeting those carnal needs. With our spiritual mind we make decisions about what we should or shouldn’t do. That is where we need discernment.

Where do we get discernment?

Wisdom is a close relative of discernment. Proverbs 4:5 says, “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not.” If you have wisdom and understanding, you will also have discernment. The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about wisdom. If you spend much time in the book of Proverbs you will gain in discernment. You need to not only read the book of Proverbs, but also to study and meditate on it. If you can get a commentary on Proverbs, it will be a great asset to you. As you read in Proverbs you need to stop often and meditate on what you have read. To meditate is to ponder on what you have read. Ask yourself questions. What does it mean? How can I apply this to my life?

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” When you are thinking about doing something and aren’t certain about whether you should or not, these are some questions you can ask yourself. It takes discernment to answer these questions.

Is it true? Discernment will help you discern between truth and untruth. Is it honest? Is it a half truth or a lie? Discernment will tell you that. Is it pure? Would I be ashamed of myself afterwards if I did that? Is it of good report? Will I lose the respect others have in me if I do it? Discernment will help you answer these questions.

People have been fed the lie that “Everything is relative”. They say that there is no absolute truth. That way of thinking leaves people confused. We need to get back to what we used to call “good common sense.” Discernment will help us do that. If you get a bad pain in your side, you will no doubt go to the doctor. You better hope that he hasn’t bought into the lie that there is no absolute truth. If he has, he has a right to think that there is no right and wrong way to treat medical problems. If he thinks that way he may examine you and say, “I think you have appendicitis. Stop by the pharmacy and get a bottle of aspirin. Take one of them twice a day, and I think you will be alright.”

Just as there is a right and wrong way to treat medical problems, there is also a right and wrong way to live. You need to agree with God and say, “Yes God. You are right. Help me to live the way I should.

God wants you to have discernment. That’s why he has placed it at your disposal. Discernment comes by agreeing with God. We agree with God if we have the right relationship with him. That comes when we acknowledge that we are sinners and ask God’s forgiveness for all the wrong that we have done. He can forgive us because Jesus paid the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross. Romans 5:6-8 says, “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.”

In gratitude to God for all he has done for us, we should want to please him. That means we will want to live our life in a way that will please him. We will want to do what he says is right. The more we saturate our minds with the Word of God, the more we will know what is pleasing to him. Psalm 1:1-2 tells us that the blessed man delights day and night in the law of God. Verse three goes on to tell us what the result will be. “And he 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.” God’s people don’t suffer when they do his will. To the contrary, they prosper. Sometimes they suffer persecution from unbelievers, but that just comes from living in a wicked world.

Don’t miss the blessing of having discernment. It will make you successful. It will enable you to have peace, satisfaction, and enjoy life a whole lot more than you could without it.

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A Rock That is Higher Than I

By Russell George

This rock is mentioned in Psalm 61:2. “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Again and again in the Psalms David tells us that his rock is God. The following are a few verses that show this truth. “For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?” (Psalm 18:31). “Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” (Psalm 28:1). “Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved.” (Psalm 62:1-2).I’m glad I have found this rock. It gives me stability. It gives me a place to fasten my anchor. It gives me something firm to hold onto.

The rock gives me direction in life. I need knowledge and wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong. My parents tried to teach me that when I was a child. They couldn’t teach me all I would need to know for my life. We keep on making decisions as long as we live. In the Bible we find the answers to many questions we have about right and wrong. As Christians we need to seek God’s will for our life. Not all our questions are a matter of right or wrong. By means of prayer we seek God’s will day by day.

The rock that is higher than I keeps me from being like the unstable man James mentions in James 1:8. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” This world is full of double minded people. They can easily have an influence on us. We are constantly surrounded by temptations. If we don’t have a firm grip on the rock it’s easy to let go. We may say, “Oh well, just this once I’ll do it.” Once may be all it takes to get us off the right path. We may never get back on it again.

God doesn’t put restrictions on what we can do to limit our joy. Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy.” God puts limits on what we can do so we can have the joy of living in a peaceful society. If I steal someone’s barbecue grill I can have the pleasure of eating some steaks that I cooked on it. It means, however, that someone has lost the pleasure of eating steaks he cooked on the grill I stole from him. If we abide by God’s laws we can all have mutual joy. Is that hard to understand and accept?

Unfortunately, many have abandoned the belief that the truth is absolute. They have accepted the theory of relativism. The same goes for the laws of right and wrong. That leaves the door open for chaos and confusion. The rock that is higher than I doesn’t move. The rock that is God doesn’t change. What God said in the beginning hasn’t changed. Why is it that so many are opposed to the Ten Commandments? What do they find wrong with them?

God says in Exodus chapter 20, verse 13, “Thou shalt not kill.” I don’t want to live in fear that someone is going to kill me. Therefore, I should never entertain the thought of killing someone. In verse 15 God says, “Thou shalt not steal.” I don’t want anyone to steal what is mine, and I shouldn’t steal what belongs to someone. In verse 16 he says “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” I don’t have a high regard for liars, and if I was a liar, I couldn’t expect others to respect me. In verse 17 he says, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.” I don’t want for any man to covet my wife and I shouldn’t lay my eyes on the wife of another. Those laws make for a peaceful society. Let’s keep it that way.

I share the desire of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:24. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” I too want to finish my course with joy. I know I will do that if I keep my grip on the rock.

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A Child of the Great King

January 29, 2020

A Child of The Great King

By Russell George

Do you realize that, if you are a child of God, you are also a child of the great king? That puts us in a royal family. I want to call your attention to some thoughts about what our reaction should be if we are a child of the great king.

The following scripture references make it known that God’s people are a child of the great king. Psalms 47:2 says, “For the LORD most high is terrible; he is a great King over all the earth.” Again in Psalm 95:3 we read, “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” Also Malachi 1:14 says, “But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.”

You and I didn’t get to be children of the king by any merit of our own. Therefore, we shouldn’t let it make us proud. We are children of the king because God loved us and sent his Son to this world to die for us so our sins could be forgiven. The only part we had in it was when we acknowledged that we were sinners and deserved to be condemned. That’s where we were according to John 3:18. “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.” We confessed to God that we were sinners and asked him to forgive us and accept us as one of his children. He answered that prayer for us and he will do it for you also if haven’t already asked him to.

In gratitude for what God has done for us we should love him and want to please, honor, and serve him. It is to be expected that a king will make laws that he expects his subjects to obey. By reading God’s Word I learn what he expects of me. Our God isn’t just any ordinary monarch. He knows personally every one under his reign. He knows more about us than we know about ourselves. Not only that; we have direct access to him. By means of prayer we can talk to him at any moment. Philippians 4:6 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Matthew 6:9-12 also says, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

The Christian, in the right relationship with God, has no feelings of restraint or obligations toward God. Because of his love for God he does what he asks of him and would do even more than what God asks if he could. He accepts his restraints as nothing more than what God has a right to expect of him. If there were no restraints we would often do things that would bring disgrace on the holy name of God.

Often, in a church covenant, mention is made of some things the members aren’t allowed to do. Those are put there to protect the testimony of the church. People are legalistic if their only reason for not doing those things is because their church doesn’t allow them to do them. Unless they outwardly say that is the reason why they don’t do those things, it isn’t appropriate to call them legalistic for not doing them. It is unfortunate that some Christians accuse others of being legalistic because they refrain from doing certain things. How do they know why they don’t do those things?

Genuine Christians don’t do certain things because they are a child of the king. They love him, respect him, and want to please him. There are also things that they do because of who they are. They may give a tithe of their income because they want to help their church do what churches should do. They don’t do it because they feel compelled to do it. That puts it on a legal level. They dress appropriately when they go to church. It’s not to make an impression on others. It’s because the people of this world form their concept of who the great king of the earth is by watching how those who profess to be Christians live their life. If they see that they are people with character, people who live clean, people who go about doing good, they have a high regard for our king.

If you are a Christian let it be known that you are a child of the king. Let them see that you have a reason for living and that your are enjoying life. Live in such a way that others will also want to be a child of the king.

Sometimes there are churches that are bickering about what standards they can lower without hurting their testimony in the community. They like to think that by lowering their standards they will attract more people to come. If they come for that reason they may be a disgrace to the church.

There are other churches that are experiencing revival because their pastor is preaching on Christ. He is calling attention to the person and work of Christ. The result is that the people in the church want to keep their standards high because they don’t want to cast a shadow on the name of their great king. The people in the churches that are lowering their standards like to call them legalists because they are putting them to shame. Psalm 34:1-3 says, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.”

Are you a child of the great king? If so, does it make any difference in the way you think and live? Turn your heart to the Lord. He deserves the best we can give him.

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Free From The Law

January 29, 2020

Free From The Law

By Russell George

The term “legalism” has to do with the law. Is it legal? Some people who call themselves Christians are under the law. They put themselves under the laws they find in the Bible. If the Bible says, “Thou shalt not” then they can’t do that. If the Bible commands that something be done then they think they have a legal obligation to do that. They may have two different motives for putting themselves under the law. One is that they might have sufficient merits to be saved and go to heaven. We know they are wrong if they think that way because the Bible says 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.” The other reason some have for putting themselves under the law is that they might be righteous. In either case, we are justified in saying that they are legalists.

Being under the law is a very uncomfortable position to be in. It leaves us restricted. We constantly have to keep in mind that there are things we can’t do. There are limitations. That’s not a position God wants us to be in.

John 8:36 says, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” Again in Galatians 5:1 we read “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” But is it safe for me to be free from the law? I know my heart and if all restrictions are removed it’s hard to tell what I might do. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

The answer to this dilemma is found in Mark 12:28-30. “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” The first commandment is to love the Lord. What we do out of love we don’t do out of obligation. We do it because we want to. In a happy marriage relationship it isn’t grievous to do things for our mate.

I John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” If we love the Lord and we read in the Bible where it says “thou shalt not covet” we don’t say, “Ah, what a pity; I can’t do that.” No, we say, “I don’t want to do that.” God has made us free! Above all else, I want to please my Lord.

I don’t have a list of things I can’t do. I’m free. I can do anything I want to do because I want to do the will of God. What God gives me liberty to do won’t hurt me or anyone else. He wants to make us a blessing to others. This may sound like pious talk to you, but I’m telling you how God wants you and I to think.

My love for God needs to come before my love for my neighbor. I can’t love my neighbor in the same way that I love God. I want to please my neighbor, but he may be pleased if I would go with him to the bar and drink a few beers. No, what pleases God needs to come first.

What then is my relationship to the law of God? First of all, I need to know what it says. It tells me what is and isn’t pleasing to God. We no longer have any obligation to the ceremonial law. Christ fulfilled that for us when he died on the cross. God still expects us to keep the moral law. That includes our obligation to God and to those around us.

Some of our moral obligations we learned from our parents. As we read the Bible we continue to have a better understanding of what God expects of us. In Romans 2:15 we read that some of it is written in our hearts. “Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.” This is the law that God expects us to keep out of our hearts because of our love for him. John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

No one can say that he keeps God’s laws perfectly. In some respects we fall behind. At the same time, in our desire to please him, sometimes we may go beyond what the law says we should do. Hebrews 4:12-13 tells us that God knows our hearts and our thoughts. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Romans 12:1-2 tells us that we need to present ourselves to God so he can do his work in and through us. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Most Christians I know don’t have a list of things they can and can’t do. They do what they do because they want to please and honor God. They don’t expect others to agree with them. They are doing the best they can to please the Lord. If you think they are doing something wrong you need to pray for them. If you think they are doing something that is displeasing to the Lord you may need to go and tell them in private. Pray and ask God’s direction in how to tell them. Be gracious and kind and try to help them see why you think they are in error

Some Christians label a church legalistic because those who attend it come well dressed. The church has a Christian day school and regularly scheduled times when they go out door to door passing out literature and spreading the gospel. If you think they are legalistic maybe you should go and visit the church and find out why they do what they do. You might be surprised to find that the people are happy, not just with the church but because of what God has done and continues to do for them. You would be surprised to learn that the church doesn’t have a list of laws the people have to conform to in order to be accepted by the church. They are doing what they do because they want to. They aren’t adding anything to God’s laws. They are going above and beyond what God asks of the.

Is it wrong to go above and beyond what God asks of us? By no means. In Luke 17:10 we read that we are unprofitable servants if we only do that which is our duty to do. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

Please don’t sit in judgment of others if they go above and beyond what you do. Perhaps you just need a greater love for the Lord and you would ask yourself, “what more can I do for my Lord?’


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Victimization

January 16, 2020

Victimization

By Russell George

Please don’t let that big word make you decide not to read this article. You must see the word “victim” in the word. That means to suffer the consequences of something. To victimize someone is to make suffer as the victim of something.

It breaks my heart when I hear of the way some Christians victimize others because of something they have in their past. Divorce is a good case in point. Many times it has to do with a woman who has been divorced because her husband started living in adultery. He filed for divorce so he would be more at liberty to pursue his sinful lifestyle. If someone files for divorce, he or she is almost never denied it, even though they don’t have grounds for it. Men can also be the victims of a divorce that they didn’t want and didn’t bear much of the blame for it.

Some like to think that when there is a divorce both marriage partners are equally at fault. That is seldom true. Many know what it is to wet their pillow with tears every night. Again and again they have asked themselves, “What did I do wrong?” Maybe they can think of things they could have done better, but they aren’t anywhere near as guilty as their marriage partner. If there had been anything they could have done to save their marriage they would have gladly done it. According to the Bible, the only grounds for divorce is adultery. They have never done that.

Yes, according to Malachi 2:16, God hates divorce. “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” We should also hate divorce. It is always because of sin and it causes the breakup of the family and terrible suffering.

Some churches have in their by laws a section that says that divorced people can’t be Sunday school teachers or hold an office in the church. They make no exception for those who were divorced against their will. Those Christians aren’t allowed to exercise their spiritual gifts and make their contribution to the church.

Let’s not victimize the innocent party. Matthew 7:12 says, “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.” Put yourself in the place of the innocent divorce victim. Would you want to be penalized the rest of your life because of something in your past that you had no way of preventing?

Another group of people who are also unfortunately victimized by our society are those who have a prison record. After they have spent years of their life in prison, paying their debt to society, they look forward to getting back out in society. They plan to get a job so they can once again support their family. Unfortunately, when they go out to look for a job, again and again they hear those devastating words, “I’m sorry but we can’t give you a job here because you have a prison record.”

Often people are falsely accused of something they didn’t do. They are arrested and incarcerated. They often have to sit in jail for months before they are given a hearing or trial to determine whether they are guilty or innocent. After all that time, they may be declared “not guilty.” They aren’t remunerated in any way for all they have suffered. What’s worse, they are penalized by society because they have a prison record.

It may be that even those who are guilty have repented of their wrong doing and have asked God to forgive them. They may have spent years reading their Bible and their life has been transformed by the power of God. They have paid their debt to society. Still, when they are released, they are penalized by society because they have a prison record.

When I work with Christians in prison, when I hear that they are about to be released, I urge them to get into a good church as soon as they can. I sometimes fear that when they appear in a church for the first time, when the church hears that they have a prison record they may say to them, “We don’t want you here because you have a prison record.” How sad! They need the fellowship of Christians to help them grow. The Christians in the church may be able to encourage their employer to give them a job even though they have a prison record.

We as Christians need to be compassionate. If people have been forgiven by God, why shouldn’t we forgive them also? People need to be given a second chance. We need to help them be restored to society.

What would you say is the lesser of two evils, divorce or murder? I think most people would say it is divorce. Have you ever stopped to realize that God used Moses to deliver his people from bondage in Egypt? He also wrote the first five books of the Bible. Have you forgotten that he murdered a man in his youth? Exodous 2:11-12 says that he murdered a man. “And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand.” God gave him a second chance. Shouldn’t we do likewise?

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The Virtue of Humility

December 3, 2019

The Virtue of Humility

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (I Peter 5:5-6).

Pride is the enemy of humility. There is no virtue in pride. There is nothing to be gained by pride, but much is to be gained by humility. God doesn’t look with favor on the proud. Our text says that he even resists the proud. We need to be humble if we want to have God on our side. In Mark 7:21-23 pride is listed as one of the evil things that come from within a man and defile him. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

We need to make an effort to conquer pride in our life. It needs to be replaced by humility. Some psychologists think that pride is the antidote for a low self image. They counsel people to think of all the things they can be proud of. To the contrary, I Peter 5:5-6 tells us that the solution is for us to humble ourselves. That may be contrary to what the natural man thinks. God promises to give grace to the humble and exalt them.

I Peter 5:5 tells the younger to submit themselves to their elders. That is excellent advice. Unfortunately, many young people fail to respect their elders. They think they are old fuddy duddies who are stuck in a life style of the past and don’t know how to live in this modern world. To the contrary, their elders have much that they can teach them because they have learned over the years by personal experience and by observation what happens to those who take the broad road that leads to destruction.

There are many old folks who would consider it an honor to mentor young people. They are grieved when they see the foolish things young people are doing. Young people; don’t be hesitant to submit to your elders. They love you. They aren’t going to give you bad advice. They want the best for you. Many modern young people are going into debt to go to college. They often graduate being bigger fools than they were when they enrolled in college. They could have been better educated by listening to their elders, and it wouldn’t have cost them anything.

What would you think of an airplane pilot who is too proud to accept advice? Here he is, flying a passenger plane headed for a destination 3000 miles away. The first 1000 miles are behind him. His co-pilot says to him, “My calculations tell me that you are headed 2 degrees to the left of the course you should be on.” Instead of taking heed, the pilot says to him, “Look, I’m flying this plane. You just shut up and sit over there and do your thing.” In the end they find themselves 200 miles to the left of the airport where they were headed. To correct his mistake the pilot has to fly 200 miles to the right to get to the airport. They arrive 45 minuets late and he has consumed 50 gallons more fuel than he should have. If he continues with his haughty spirit he will reap the fruit of Proverbs 16:19. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

Often proud people refuse to accept someone’s invitation to go to church with them. Their reasoning is, “If we go to church they are going to criticize us for our life style.” On the contrary, if they go to a good church they are going to receive a royal welcome as soon as they enter the door. They will make them feel like they are honored guests. To their surprise, They are going to find that the people in the church are happy. They are enjoying life even though they have much higher standards than they do. If they continue attending, they are going to see the error of their way and find reasons for accepting a better life. Making the changes they need to make will be relatively easy if they accept Christ as their Savior and seek to please him.

Proverbs 16:19 says, “Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” It isn’t easy to be humble, but it is the gateway to better things. Contrary to what many are inclined to think, humble people have a much better image than proud people do. If you are humble you will have more good friends than proud people have.

To receive God’s forgiveness and salvation and become a child of God is a humbling experience. It demands that we recognize that we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. According to Romans 5:10, we need to admit that we have been the enemies of God and that we need to come to him in prayer and make reconciliation. Some pray the sinner’s prayer with tears flowing from their eyes. 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.” Have you done that? It is the gateway to innumerable rich blessings that God wants to pour out upon those who are his.

You have much to gain by being humble. The only thing you have to lose is your pride which goes before a fall. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall”

(Proverbs 16:19).

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