The Rewards of a Virtuous Life

Some people are inclined to think that the Christian life is a mountain of sacrifices in hopes of enjoying pie in the sky by and by.  The truth is that a dedicated Christian doesn’t live the Christian life just for rewards he expects to get from it.  The rewards are just a byproduct.

The secret of the Christian life is a walk in love.  In Ephesians 5:1-2 we read, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.”  The Christian’s greatest desire should be to please God.  That’s the way God wants it to be.  In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  What we do out of love, we don’t do with the expectation of getting something in return. God puts his love in our hearts and we are to share it with others.  I John 3:16-17 says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.   But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” There is no greater satisfaction in life than to love and be loved.  II Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

Now that we have made it clear that Christians don’t live to get, let’s go on the talk about the rewards of a virtuous life.  The more we love God, the more we are loved by God.  Because God loves us, he rewards us just like good parents reward their children when they do something good.  Joseph, in the Bible, is an example. Again and again God protected and delivered him.  His wicked brothers sold him into slavery.  When he arrived in Egypt he was sold to a high government official.  He gave him special privileges.  Because Joseph was a virtuous man he refused to sin with his master’s wife.  The result was that he was cast into prison.  Even there he found favor with the prison keeper.  After a time, he was taken out of prison and given special privileges in the government.  He was rewarded again and again.

There is a dignity about a virtuous person.  When they are abused, or falsely accused, those who know them come to their defense.  They are respected.  Virtue isn’t just a quality that is found in Christians.  There are many in this world who aren’t Christians, but it could be said that they are virtuous.  They too enjoy the respect and protection of those who know them.  They will get earthly rewards for their virtue, but there won’t be any heavenly rewards for them because there will be no heaven for them.

That doesn’t mean that virtuous people never suffer.  Some of the most virtuous people this world has ever known died as martyrs.  Suppose a missionary is taken hostage by cannibals.  He watches as they sharpen the knife with which they plan to kill him.  Is God able to deliver him?  We are told that with God, nothing is impossible.  But if the missionary is killed by savages he will go directly to heaven where he will be rewarded with a martyr’s crown.

There are many people who profess to be Christians, but the way they live has much to be desired. God knows, perhaps they aren’t even saved. With little virtue in their life, they won’t experience many of the rewards we have talked about in this article.  I Corinthians 3:15 says some will be saved, so as by fire.  “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”  In Revelation 7:17 God says there will be tears in heaven.  No doubt they will be tears of remorse for having had so little virtue in their earthly life. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

Many good character traits are included in the word virtue.  In II Peter 1:4-8, virtue is at the top of the list, right after faith.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.   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.    For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It may be that the things that follow faith are things that accompany virtue.

There is no Christian who is so strong but what he could yield to temptation.  It is unfortunate when he does.  He is without excuse because we all have the promise of I Corinthians 10:13. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” We should frequently ask God to help us guard our heart as it says in Proverbs 4:23.  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If we fall, God is ready to forgive us and restore us.  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.”

The unbeliever only experiences some of the rewards that result from a virtuous life.  By virtue of being a child of God, the wayward Christian may at times be delivered from dangers.  The faithful Christian experiences the rewards that come from living a virtuous life, and there will be many more to come when he gets to heaven.  Virtue in our life is always an asset.  We can never have too much of it.

 

 

 

 

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Should I Be Ashamed?

January 29, 2016

                                     Should I Be Ashamed?

Should you be ashamed?  It all depends; maybe so, maybe no.  There are times when we should be ashamed.  There are other times when we shouldn’t.   Jeremiah 6:15 says, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.” Shame puts a noose around our neck and stops us from doing things that make others ashamed of us.  As we see from the above verse, there are serious consequences of not being ashamed.  Shame is a good thing when it causes us to avoid doing things that we should be ashamed of, or that would cause others to be ashamed of us.

Shame is one of the consequences of sin.  It is often spoken of as a feeling of guilt.  There is a close relationship between feeling guilty and shame.  The feeling of shame or guilt is the work of our conscience.  The Bible says that it is possible that our conscience may be “seared with a hot iron” (I Timothy 4:2).  When that happens, we may not be ashamed when we should be.

The feeling of guilt, or shame, leaves us with stress or anxiety.  We have a negative opinion of ourselves.  Thankfully, God has provided a solution for that.  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.” It is very possible that there will be something more we will need to do.  If we have hurt others by our sin, we will need to confess it to them also and ask them to forgive us.  We may still have to pay the price that society lays upon us for the wrong we have done, but we can do it with a clean conscience.

We also need to address the negative side of shame.  That is when we are ashamed when we shouldn’t be.  Let’s suppose there is a young lady who name is Susan.  She is ashamed of her appearance because she has an ugly face.  Her nose doesn’t come to a point like that of most other women. She is pug nosed.  Cosmetics don’t help it.  There just isn’t anything to change it.  It gives her a feeling of low self-esteem.

If Susan is a child of God, she is almost certain to find consolation in the Bible.  She can identify with the Apostle Paul who suffered from something he couldn’t change.  In II Corinthians 12:7 he says he suffered from what he called “a thorn in his flesh.”  “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”  In verse eight he says he prayed three times that God would take it away.  In verse nine he received his answer from God.  “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.” He resolved to glory in his infirmities.  In verse ten he even said he took pleasure in what he couldn’t change. “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.”

Susan could also find consolation in I Peter 3:3-4.  These verses are directed to women.  “Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;   But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” Peter isn’t saying that women shouldn’t be concerned about their outward appearance.  He is saying that the hidden man of the heart is of great price.  In I Timothy 2:9-10 the Apostle Paul encourages women to give attention to their outward adornment.  “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;   But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”  If Susan gives attention to these things,  her pug nose shouldn’t be of much concern to her.

There are times when men also suffer unnecessarily from shame.  Let’s take Frank as an example.  He lost his job.  He wonders if it could have been because he wasn’t working as hard as he could have, but nothing was said about that.  Frank and his wife, like many, were living from pay check to pay check.  He couldn’t provide for his family.  He started looking for work.  Everywhere he went he was turned down.  He was tempted to think he wasn’t good for anything.  He wanted to just stay at home rather than go out and be rejected again and again. When he went to church he wondered if people there thought he was looking for a hand out.

Shame is sometimes caused by pride.  There are some who are ashamed to go to church because they can’t afford to dress as well as most of the people in the church.  Frank was ashamed because he couldn’t provide for his family.  He had to depend on the benevolence of other men who were working.  If Frank’s heart is right with God, he will accept the truth of Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” No doubt God had a purpose for him being without work for a time.  Perhaps he needed to learn to trust God more.  Perhaps God wanted to test the people in his church to see if they were willing to share with those who had a need.

If we are a child of God we don’t need to live ashamed because of that which we can’t change.  We can leave it with God and rejoice in all he has done and is doing for us.  If you are ashamed of things you have done, that’s good.  You can solve the problem by confessing it to God and to others and leave it in the past.

If you have a comment or question you can send it to us at the following address: 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 Results Of A Revival

December 8, 2015

                                The Results of a Revival

Revival is a good and necessary thing.  With the passing of time, the relationship many Christians have with God tends to lose it fervor.  It may manifest itself by:

  1. Less time spent reading the Bible
  2. Negligence in faithful church attendance
  3. Less money given to charity
  4. Less time spent in prayer.

The word “revival” means a renewal of a fervent relationship. It comes about when we are willing to recognize that we have allowed our hearts too cool, and that we are no longer living the Christian life like we did in the past.

Revival demands of us a measure of humility. Our sinful nature rebels at the thought of humbling ourselves. For that reason, there is a price to pay for revival. Our old nature would rather that we just continue as we are.

A revival isn’t just a decision to go back to doing the things we were doing before. It comes about because we submit ourselves anew to God, and let the Holy Spirit do his work in our lives. If you are serious about living the Christian life, and having the relationship with God that Christians should have, you need to frequently read and obey Romans 8:5-13.

A genuine God sent, revival will manifest itself in a number of ways. Acts 3:19 says that “Times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Almost always a revival will result in a restoration of broken relationships.  It begins with repentance and confession of sins we have committed against God.  I John 1:9 says God will forgive us.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  That then leads to the need of seeking forgiveness of others we have sinned against.  In some cases it may just be a matter of going to them and saying, “You may not have been aware of it, but I have had a bad attitude towards you and I want you to forgive me.” In such cases, you need not relate the bad thoughts you have had towards them or the gossip you have started.  If you know that you have hurt someone, you need to go to them and say, “I’m sorry for the way I have hurt you.  Please forgive me.” The result will be a feeling of cleansing and relief from a feeling of guilt.  It will also be the restoration of a happy relationship between the two of you.

Revival will also manifest itself by vigor in one’s spiritual life.  The four tendencies, mentioned at the beginning of this article, will be arrested and reversed, and you will begin to march in the right direction.  Those who were negligent in church attendance will be faithful in attendance and get there on time.  They will be ready to participate in the activities of the church.

Another manifestation of revival will be a greater concern for reaching the lost.  They will find it easier to witness and pass out tracts.  The result will be the salvation of lost people, and backsliders will be restored to the right relationship with God.

Revival also manifests itself in a Christianity that is genuine and authentic.  The works of the flesh, mentioned in Galatians chapter five, will be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit.  The ungodly will see a much greater manifestation of the virtues mentioned in II Peter 1:3-7.  A superficial Christianity will be replaced by that which is genuine.

Revival affords to all a higher quality of life.  Right living, in itself, produces joy, peace, and prosperity.  There will be more to rejoice about and less to be ashamed of.  As an added blessing, we will enjoy more of the blessing of God.  We will reap the promises of Psalm 37:3-6. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.   Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.    Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.    And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.” That should motivate us to pray the prayer of Habakkuk 3:2.  “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.”

 

 

 

 

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Grace To Endure

November 21, 2015

                                         Grace To Endure

For reasons known only to God, some are called to carry a heavy cross.  Crosses come in many different ways.  For some it is a weak and diseased body.  The cross of others is an unhappy marriage.  For some it might be poverty.  Every Christian is given some form of a cross to bear.

With God’s help, I want to write an article to encourage and strengthen those who are finding their cross hard to bear.  I frequently meet those who are carrying a cross much heavier than mine.

In John chapter five we read of a man who had been an invalid for 38 years.  Here is what it says. “After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.   In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.    For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.    And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.    When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?    The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.    Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.    And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath.”

One would think that after such a long time he would be accustomed to living under these circumstances.  At least, he never lost hope of being healed.  Every day he went, or perhaps was carried, to the pool of Bethesda.  Even there it seemed that he had little hope of being healed because someone else always got ahead of him when the angel troubled the water.  It is strange that he didn’t say, “It’s not worth the effort.  Even if I was the only one here I still couldn’t get in the water.” What this man teaches us is that we should never lose hope.  Doctors tell us that there is little hope of healing for a patient who doesn’t want to be healed.  That gives me reason to think that if I can give someone reason to go on trusting God for strength to endure, I have made a tremendous contribution to his or her well-being.

If you are an invalid, you should be extremely grateful for those who care for you. Perhaps some of your care givers are family and loved ones. Perhaps a neighbor takes you to the doctor. The doctor takes his time to help you. They do it all in hopes that you will get well. It will be discouraging for them if you lack will power and have little hope of improvement. You need to keep doing all that is in your power to do.

When one is called upon to bear a heavy cross, there is always the temptation to be bitter. Sometimes he may get angry with God and the world around him. There was a time when David allowed himself to focus on the prosperity of the wicked. In Psalm 73:21 he said that the result was “My heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.” The Hebrew word “grieved,” used in this verse, means to be sour. Later he realized he was in the wrong for feeling that way. In the next verse he confessed. “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” In the last verse of that Psalm he said “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.”

If you find that you have bitterness toward God you need to confess it to God and ask him to forgive you. The Apostle Paul tells us that he had what he called a thorn in his flesh. In II Corinthians 12:8 he says that three times he asked God to remove it. In II Corinthians 12:9 he tells us what God told him. “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Then Paul said “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” That is a promise we can claim when we grow weary of bearing our cross.

When things are going great for us, and all of a sudden a heavy cross falls on us, that’s when it is often hard to accept it. In that moment we may be faced with the temptation to be bitter. Our situation has changed from one day to the next. It may be a sudden loss of health. It may be a marriage problem. Once I heard of a man who came home from work and his wife told him, “From now on, you are just history.” He hadn’t known there was any problem. Some ask, “What have I done to deserve this”? God does sometimes send punishment in the form of trials. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” If God sends a trial in the form of chastisement he will make it known to you.

The one who has a good relationship with God is better prepared for a sudden change in his situation. He knows that God wouldn’t allow anything to happen that wasn’t for his good. He clings to the promise of Romans 8:28. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Even with that, he may need to make some changes in his thinking and in his manner of life in order to adapt to these new demands on his life. If we accept trials in our life with a good spirit they will draw us to a closer relationship with God. They make us realize that we need him and we will call on him more frequently.

What can we say to one who has been given a cross to bear, and it is very likely that he will have to bear it the rest of his life? It may be one of his legs has to be amputated or he will be paralyzed for life. It wouldn’t be wise to advise him or her to trust God for a miracle that isn’t likely to happen. Being incapacitated would demand that he make some major changes in his life. He might even need to find a new reason for living.

If we are called upon to counsel and console such a one, we should first of all be assured that he is saved. He is going to need God’s help and he won’t have it if he isn’t a part of God’s family. If he is saved we should assure him that there are no limits to what God can do for him. We can tell him that he is going to get to find out what God can do for him in spite of his limitations. We can give him assurance from the Bible. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” We can also encourage him to identify with Job who, in the midst of great loss said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

He should be assured that he can still serve the Lord. It may be that he can’t continue in the ministry he had before. He may now learn that he has a gift he didn’t know he had. He may be confined to a wheel chair, but he can still use his hands. I once knew a lady who spent much of her time in a wheel chair mending clothes for the people in her church. I knew a man who learned to use his computer. Perhaps these people are no longer capable of making a living, but they can do something to show appreciation to those who care for them.

We should look for opportunities to visit and help those in our church who are limited in what they can do. There is a time to give and a time to receive. We should be glad to give of our time and talents while we can. We can expect that the time will come when we will have to be the recipients of the time and talents of others. James 1:27 says “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trust In The Lord

November 8, 2015

                                 Trust In The Lord

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.   In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

This is a commandment of the Lord that we had best respect and obey.  The verse says that it is an act of the heart.  Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”  We don’t find it difficult to put our trust in those we love.  It is even easier to trust in those who love us.

The word “trust” means to put confidence in.  The Lord is worthy of our trust.  He is the Supreme Being.  Nothing is impossible with him.  That doesn’t mean he will do anything we ask him to do for us.

In Matthew 21:22 we have the promise “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”  I John 5:14 puts a limit on that promise.  It says, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.”  If we don’t receive all we ask for we shouldn’t stop trusting God. We should trust that he will give us that which is good for us.  Once I read of a woman who confessed, “If God had given me everything I asked him for I would have married the wrong man three times.”

In Verse six it says we should acknowledge him in all our ways.  We need to concede that he has a right to do what he wants to with us.  We really haven’t started trusting in him with all our hearts until we are willing to let him direct our paths.  These two verses in Proverbs could well be studied along with Psalm 37:3-5.  The promises of God are for those who are willing to commit their way unto the Lord.  We need to let him direct us in the path we should take.  God has a plan for all those who are his.  If they will let him direct their paths, little by little, he will show to them what his plan is for their lives.

It is unfortunate that many in our day are leaning to their own understanding.  They have been induced to accept an ideology of life that is detrimental to our society.  Men are encouraged to avoid the entanglement of a marriage relationship.  Women are encouraged to have a career and not be tied down with the responsibility of being a mother and a homemaker.  That doesn’t rule out sex.  It is a natural desire on the part of both men and women.  Children are either aborted or left in the care of nannies. They aren’t brought up with the nurture of loving parents. The result is that they aren’t rightly oriented to life and are a menace to society.

Another result is that the population isn’t being replenished.  On average, women need to bear 2.3 children just to maintain the population.  In the plan of God, the rightful place for the women is in the home.  Titus 2:4-5 says, “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,   to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”  The rightful place for men is in the workforce.  I Timothy 5:7-8 says “And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.   But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

How can we let God direct our path?  Primarily it comes by being obedient to what the Bible says.  That means we need to keep reading the Bible, and gain knowledge from it.  How many people have you known who made a disaster of their lives by obeying Bible teaching?  I have yet to meet one.  Another way to have God’s direction is by praying and seeking God’s will.  He will give you peace about doing something if it is his will for you.

Life is complicated.  We all need direction.  God offers to give it to us.  His direction is the best there is.  Why do you rely on your own understanding when you can have divine direction?  The only way to safely rely on your own understanding is to fully understand that only God can be trusted to direct your path.  Therefore, we need to trust in the Lord with all our hearts.

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

 

 

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Contentment

November 4, 2015

                                                 Contentment

One of the benefits of being a Christian is the contentment it offers.  Unfortunately, not all Christians are enjoying it.  There are two economic extremes in life.

Some apparently give little importance to material possessions and the comforts they provide.  For them, poverty is just a way of life.  Many of them live that way because of their addiction.  In sections of our inner cities we find them begging for food and sleeping on sidewalks at night.  Would you say they have found contentment?  I hardly think so.

At the other extreme are those who live in luxury.  Their houses are mansions that sit on an acreage.  Apart from that, they have a summer home on a lake, the value of which far exceeds the value of the homes most people live in.  They spend more money on cars than most people spend on their house.  Does their abundance and luxury guarantee them contentment?  If so, why is it that they are most often the ones who occupy the couches of psychiatrists?  Why do they consume so much alcohol and take so many tranquilizers?

If money can’t buy contentment and poverty doesn’t provide it, what is it then?  Contrary to what many people think, contentment isn’t found in our living conditions.  If we can honestly say we are content, it means that we are finding satisfaction and fulfilment in our life.  This is something that can best be found by living the Christian life.

If we will trust God for it, he has promised to give us all that pertains to life and godliness.  II Peter 1:3 says, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”  If we want to find all that pertains to life, we must also seek all that pertains to godliness.  We will never find true contentment if we leave God out of our lives.  II Peter 1:4 goes on to say, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

God has given us great and precious promises. In Psalm 37:4 we find one of those precious promises.  “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”  The reason why many aren’t content is because they are seeking for things that either aren’t good for them, things they shall never have, or things that will not give them contentment.  I once read that after Nelson Rockefeller made his first million dollars someone asked him if he was content.  He said “No.” Then that person asked him what it would take to make him content.  He said “Just a million more.”

To know that we are in the place God has for us, and that we are doing what he wants us to do, gives us contentment. Another reason why Christians can enjoy contentment is because a glori0us future awaits them.  In the Old Testament we read of Job.  He suffered great loss, but he said “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21).  Later, in Job 19:25-27 he said, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter upon the earth:   And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.   Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”

In Psalm 1:1-2 we find the contented man. There he is called “the blessed man.” “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.”  The reason why many Christians aren’t content is because they haven’t surrendered their life to the Lord.  Many mistakenly translate that to mean a rigid restraint on many of the things that make life enjoyable.  To the contrary, it is that which brings contentment to life.

See also my article “Contentment; What is it?” under “Christian life.”

If you have questions or comments they can be sent to us at the following address: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

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                       On Being Victorious Over Apostasy

II Timothy 3:1 warns us that perilous times shall come in the last days. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Verses 2-5 tell us what will characterize the people in those days. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,   Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” The Apostle says men will be lovers of their own selves. He goes on to explain what it means to be a lover of oneself. The behavior of many people gives us reason to think that we must be living in the last days.

 

II Thessalonians 2:2-3 speaks of “a falling away.” In the Greek New Testament it is all one word. The word means a departure from the truth. Douglas McLachlan, gives the following definition of apostasy. “Apostasy is active departure from the truth and is grounded in unbelief. This is pagan perversity. It is the secular world-system disowning, dethroning, and debunking God and his truth.”[i] “The day of Christ,” mentioned in verse two, is interpreted by many Bible scholars as the time when Christ shall come for his own. It is followed by what the Bible calls the tribulation.

We read about the coming of Christ for his own in I Thessalonians 4:15-18. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.   Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” The believers in the church in Thessalonica were asking themselves if perhaps “the day of Christ” had already come. Paul tells them that there will be a time of apostasy before he comes. A full explanation of these prophetic events cannot be given in an article such as this one. There are books written on the subject.

Since apostasy is a departure from the truth, the word apostate means one who abandons his religious beliefs. Apostasy is more often used in speaking of the tendency of people to make a gradual departure from truths they once held. In I Timothy 6:20 the Apostle Paul warns us to guard against the oppositions of science falsely so called. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called.” Pseudo-science has made a major contribution in our day to the departure of many from the faith. Scientific theories have been presented as though they are scientific facts. Many haven’t bothered to make the distinction between theory and facts. Empirical science speaks of that which can be proven in the laboratory. The theory of evolution is taught in most of our schools as a science. It isn’t anything that can be proven. It is a theory of origins. Many young people have abandoned their faith in the Bible because they have been told that science proves that it is wrong. Science doesn’t prove that. See my article entitled “Reason For Believing In The Existence Of God” under “Various Themes” on our web page.

Another philosophy that Satan and his servants are promoting is that all religions are good. If that is true, all that is needed is a little of some religion and you are alright. Any religion will do. In answer to that, we need to keep in mind the fact that the Bible isn’t a book about religion. The word “religion” only appears seven times in the Bible. Three of those references are found in the book of James. The words used nearly always speak of religious ceremonies. When used of the Jews, it speaks of their faith. The word is never used in speaking of Christianity. It doesn’t take much discernment to see that not all religions are good. A religion that advocates the violent murder of those of a different religion is obviously satanic, but it goes under the name of religion. We get insight into the workings of Satan in II Corinthians 4:4. “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

How then should we live in days of apostasy? First of all, we need to be diligent in doing what is right. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We must be thoroughly convinced that moral principles don’t change. People all around us are letting down their standards, but that doesn’t give us license to do it. There are times when we have to dig in our heels and say “I won’t do it” even though it may seem like almost everyone around us does it. It is easy to let ourselves be carried along by what the Bible calls, in Ephesians 2:2, “the course of this world.” “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Some may say we are puritanical or legalists, but what was sin for our grandparents is still sin.

We also need to be thoroughly convinced that the truth doesn’t change. John 17:17 says the Bible is the truth. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” In the Old Testament we read that David prayed, “Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11). We often hear today that the truth is relevant. By that they mean that the truth needs be interpreted to fit the culture of our day. That robs the truth of its authority. In reality, if one believes that, it makes the truth irrelevant. It has left our society in chaos. If truth means different things to different people we ask, “What is truth?”

It is extremely important that we maintain a close relationship with God. If we do, we will continue to give preference to that which is pleasing to God. God saves us, not only to deliver us from the condemnation we deserve because of our sin, but also because he has a work for us to do. Jesus, as a young child, said in Luke 2:49 “I must be about my Father’s business.” We too need to be about our heavenly father’s business.

We need to be strong in faith like it says of Abraham in Romans 4:20. “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.” God has promised to give strength to those who follow him. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” The beloved old hymn says, “In times like these you need an anchor; Be very sure, be very sure your anchor holds and grips the solid rock. This rock is Jesus, Yes, He’s the one.”[ii] If we are strong in faith we will not doubt what God’s Word says, and we will continue to claim the promises found in it.

According to Titus 2:14, God expects his people to stand out from those around them. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The farther others depart from godly living, the more peculiar we are. Living a consistent Christian life becomes more costly in terms of our being accepted by our peers. Only our love for the Lord will motivate us to pay the price.

Are you willing to pay the price? In Luke 21:36 Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” In due time we will reap our rewards if we don’t faint, as we read in Galatians 6:9.

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

[i] “Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism” Douglas McLacklan P.83

[ii] Great Hymns Of The Faith #202

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Consolation

August 25, 2015

                                     Consolation

In Matthew 20:15 Jesus asked the question, “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”  He asked this question in such a way that it implies that we will answer “Yes.” As a rule, most of us would agree that God has a right to do what he wants to with his own. There are occasions, however, when what God does touches us personally and we are inclined to complain and even be angry with God. This article was written for the benefit of those who find themselves in that situation.

First of all, I want to express consolation. When we suffer a loss it is only natural that we are inclined to feel hurt. No one passes through life without knowing what it is to have a broken heart more than once.

We need to know how to suffer the loss of a loved one. If not, there is the temptation to react in the wrong way. Some seek relief from their pain by throwing the blame on others. They might blame the doctor for not doing all he should have to spare the life of their loved one. Some like to think that doctors have a supernatural power to save lives. If that be true, then if someone dies, it must have been that his or her doctor was negligent. No, there is a limit to what doctors can do. I have heard doctors say that, in the final analysis, they can’t heal anyone unless God wills it. With every life there comes a time when there is nothing the doctor can do to sustain it.

If they can’t blame the doctor, they may lay the blame on God. The obedient Christian needs to be prepared for the trauma that comes with the loss of a loved one. In the Bible we are told that the length of our life is determined by God. We aren’t told how long we have to live. In Job 14:4-5 we read, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one.   Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.” In I Samuel 24:29 Abigail, in speaking of David, said, “The soul of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of life.” Our life is a bundle of years, months, weeks and days. Only God knows the sum. In the Bible we read of Job, who lost all his children in one day. In Job 1:21 he said, “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

We need to accept the fact that our loved ones will not be ours forever. What happens in life is in the hands of our all-powerful and loving God. Ezequiel 18: 4 tells us, “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” The souls of our loved ones belong to God and he has a right to take them when he wants to. The better we know God, the easier it is to accept what he does. Nature testifies to the truth revealed in Acts 17:25. “He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.” Only an intelligent being like God could design and create a universe like ours. The world is full of beauty and harmony. Along with all that God has done to create and sustain human life, when something happens that hurts me, I must believe that it also is part of his plan.

Some people, when they suffer a great loss, harden their hearts against God. They spend years; perhaps the remainder of their life, with bitterness towards God. Without realizing it, they are the losers. They haven’t hurt God in the least. They have lost incalculable blessing they could have received from God. God did what he had every right to do.

It is extremely important that we accept the counsel given in Proverbs 4:23. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If our heart relationship with God is what it should be, we will accept what God sends our way. Blessing and loss are both part of the “Issues of life” spoken of in Proverbs 4:23. Yes, God has every right to do what he wants to with us and our loved ones. He makes no mistakes.

We can find great consolation in the fact that this life is only temporary. Romans 8:18-20 speaks of the glorious future that awaits the child of God. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.  For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.   For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.” Are you a child of God? If not, for you the best is in the past and the worst is yet ahead. You can turn that around by becoming a child of God. That is possible if you will do what Jesus said in Mark 1:15. “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The gospel is the good news that Christ died for our sins so we could be forgiven and included in the family of God. John 1:12 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.”

This might be a good article for you to copy and give to a loved one you know who recently suffered the loss of a loved one.

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

 

 

 

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