Christians Need To Have Convictions

If you have ever been shocked by electricity, I’m sure you don’t need to be told to be careful around bare wires. Touching a bare wire is just something you don’t do. It is the same way with moral convictions. We are thoroughly convinced of their importance. They are beliefs that we don’t easily violate.

A Christian without convictions isn’t easily deceived. He isn’t easily tempted to do wrong. He doesn’t make decisions without giving serious thought to whether it is right or wrong. When he is faced with the temptation to do something wrong he doesn’t spend time debating about whether he should do it. He just says, “No, I don’t do that,” and moves on.

Firm convictions rest on sound reasoning. Perhaps a new Christian might say, “I don’t do that because I have observed that other Christians don’t do it.” That isn’t sufficient. He needs to be convinced in his own mind about what is right and wrong. Only then will it be a firm conviction. Perhaps he hears that good Christians get married instead of just living together. As time goes on he sees that Christians have good reason for their convictions about marriage.

There are two foundations that sustain firm convictions. First of all, we observe that those with strong convictions have a happy, successful life because they don’t make as many foolish decisions. It is a matter of discernment to see that immoral behavior has a negative result and that acts of virtue have a positive result.

For genuine Christians, firm convictions also rest on what the Bible says. They are convinced that the Bible is divine revelation and they want to respect and please God because they love him. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15)

More and more people in our day are without firm convictions because they are told that there are no absolute moral standards. Some years ago we heard about “situation ethics.” By that, they were saying that it depends on the situation. Sometimes what is right is wrong and sometimes what is wrong is right. That leaves us in confusion. Many in our day are saying that Christians are too judgmental. They say also that Christianity puts too many restrictions on people. They insist that we should have liberty to make our own decisions about right and wrong. What is right for one is wrong for another, and vice versa. That also leaves society in confusion.

Having convictions enables us to have integrity. In case you aren’t sure what integrity is, let me explain. The word means to be complete; not lacking in any essential part. For example, let’s say that a house wife has a blender. It looks clean and almost new. It runs. The only problem is that the rubber gasket is broken. Without it, it is useless. If we are lacking in some attribute of character it hurts our testimony and we are passed over when a search is made for someone to fill an important position. We may have a number of good qualities, but if we are lacking in one that is important, we are disqualified. The more good qualities we have, the more qualified we are.

It would be impossible to make a list of all the convictions we should have. There are both negative and positive convictions. Some are basic, like honesty. Under honesty one could add a number of sub convictions. As we mature in life, we need to keep adding convictions as we see the need for them.

Parents who want the best for their children need to be diligent in teaching their children to have convictions. They may not call them convictions, but when they catch their children telling a lie, they need to be quick to teach them that it’s wrong. The same is true of other moral qualities. As children mature they need to develop their own convictions and not just refrain from doing wrong because they fear they will be punished for it.

The Bible teaches submission. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In I Peter 5:5 we read, “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.” The obedient Christian has made submission to the will of God one of his convictions. In so doing, a multitude of other does and don’t are included. Some like to call that legalism. If it is done from the heart, it isn’t legalistic. To the one who doesn’t love God, and desire to please him, it may appear to be legalistic.

What controls your behavior? Is it the fear of punishment? Is it the desire to be praised? If we have convictions, our conscience will control our behavior. Our minds are programed to do what our conscience tells us we should or shouldn’t do. That makes us consistent in our behavior. We do what we should, almost without thinking about it.

Don’t be without convictions. You need them as much as you need clothes on your back. Your life will be richer and more productive with them.

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

 

 

 

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A Time To Fear

August 4, 2015

                                                A Time To Fear

“Fear not; be of good courage” is the advice we are often given. That is good advice, but there is a time to fear. For our safety and emotional well-being we need to know when and what to fear and when and what not to fear.

The word “fear” occurs 516 times in the Bible. That should tell us that it is a subject that merits our attention. In the majority of the references to fear in the Bible it is telling us that we should fear.

Fear is a natural instinct in men and animals. All of us fear death. That is for our protection. Therefore we have to admit that there is a time to fear.

To know what to fear, we need to know what has the potential to do us harm. If you see a black swirling cloud approaching you better fear and run for shelter. Not all threatening dangers are as obvious as tornado clouds. Sometimes young people are confused about what they should fear. Sometimes they succumb to an immediate threat and expose themselves to a much greater threat in the future. For example, if young people are invited by their peers to take illicit drugs they often give in to peer pressure. It would be much more prudent to risk their disapproval than put themselves in danger of becoming a drug addict.

Many are badly lacking in discernment. Before you embark on a course of life, you should ask yourself, “Where will this take me?” Buying on credit may lead to the day when you will have to declare bankruptcy. Living on junk food may destroy your health. Illicit sex may expose you to venereal disease. These are just a few examples. We need to fear the consequences of our actions. In Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells us whom to fear and whom not to fear. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Bible tells us that there is a time to take heed and fear the consequences. Matthew 24:4 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Mark 8:15 says, “he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.” The word “leaven,” as it is used here, means wickedness. Just because influential people do something doesn’t make it right. Some prominent politicians are liars. That doesn’t make it right.

If we have discernment we don’t need to live with fear. II Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We just need to take heed to that which has the potential of robing us of peace and well-being. If we fear the Lord and keep his commandments we don’t need to fear anything or anyone. To fear the Lord means to hold him in reverence. He merits reverance because of who he is and what he has done. Deuteronomy 6:2 says, “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee.” Proverbs 3:7 says, “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.” To obey the Lord may result in trials, but God has promised to supply our needs. In Philippians 4:13 he promises strength sufficient for every need. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” In II Corinthians 12:9 he promises to give us grace in spite of our weakness. “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.”

There is much to learn about fear. Our peace can be taken from us if we have fears that are unfounded. It can also be taken from us if we don’t fear that which should be feared. You need to learn what to fear and what not to fear.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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       Things That Are Kept By The Power Of God

I Peter 1:5-9

This is a continuation of our commentary on I Peter 1:1-5 under the title of “Our Inheritance.” There we learned that all born again believers have an inheritance reserved in heaven for them. Peter says it will be revealed “in the last time.” It is uncertain what is meant by the last time. When believers die and go to heaven it is certain that they will be introduced to splendor they have never known on earth. That however is not the full revelation of our inheritance.

Bible prophecy speaks of things God has planned for the distant future. At the time of the rapture the dead will be raised. We read about that in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. “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.” That will be the end of the church age

No doubt at the rapture we will be given our glorified bodies that we read about in            I Corinthians chapter 15. In Revelation chapter 21 we read about a new heaven and a new earth. That won’t become a reality until after the thousand year reign of Christ. We are also told about the celestial city, called the “New Jerusalem.” It is a glorious city where the saints will dwell.

It is not just our inheritance that is kept by the power of God. Verse five says that we too are kept by his power.   That gives us assurance that we will be united with our inheritance. That is called “eternal security.” It is a doctrine that is debated by theologians, but Romans 8:30 says, “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” That gives us faith and assurance that we shall all someday enter into our inheritance.

Verse 6 says that we greatly rejoice in the expectation of what God has reserved for us. Meanwhile, in this life, we are called upon to endure “heaviness through manifold temptations.” The word “heaviness” speaks of things that are hard to bear. The word “temptations” could better be translated “trials.” Jesus told us in John 16:33 that we should expect to have tribulation. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Peter also warned us, in I Peter 4:12-13, about trials. “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Our faith in the promises of glory to come sustains us in times of tribulation. Peter says, in verse 7, that our faith is more precious than gold. It is thrilling to read of saints in the past, who endured   persecution, but their faith wasn’t shaken. There are believers who are doing the same today. The book “Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs” tells about numerous saints of God who endured persecution in the time of the inquisition.

Our great expectation, verse 8, is the appearing of Jesus Christ. Now we look forward to his appearing in the rapture that we read about in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. We don’t see him now, but by faith we “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

We have much reason for loving Christ in spite of the fact that we haven’t seen him. To know him is to love him. The better we know him, the more we love him. When he was here on earth great multitudes were attracted to him. The fact that great multitudes followed him was what got him in trouble. The religious leaders hated him because he revealed their hypocrisy. The political leaders feared him because some talked of making him king.

We also love Christ because he loved us first. I John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” He loved us and died to save us even when we were his enemies. Romans 5:10 says, “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.” We didn’t yet have an earthly existence. Ephesians 1:4 tells us that. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” We owe much to the love of Christ. All we are and will be in the future we owe to him. I’m speaking, of course, of those of us who have placed our faith in the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. If you haven’t done that, then you aren’t included.

Christ gives us reason for living. It is a joy that is better experienced than expressed. We find it hard to put into words the joy we experience because of our relationship with Christ. Part of that joy comes from knowing that our sins are forgiven and that we have a glorious future waiting for is in heaven. It is being kept for us by the power of God.

Verse 9 says the time will come when we will receive all we anticipate by faith. It will be the full measure of all that is included in the word “salvation.” Those of us who are saved go on realizing more and more of what is included in our salvation. There are great things included in it that we will never know until we get to heaven. We go on, expecting by faith, the things God has prepared for those who have trusted in him.

Peter speaks of the “end of our faith.” In one sense, that means the reason for our faith. Will there be a time when we will no longer need faith? Sometime, in the far distant future, we will have all that God has planned for us. Perhaps then we will have no more need of faith. We have assurance that all this will come to pass because it will be done by the power of God. If it depended on us, we would have no assurance.

Questions and comments can be sent to us at the following address: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

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Wasted Lives

July 18, 2015

                                           Wasted Lives

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” (Galatians 6:7-8).

It is unfortunate that many who profess to be Christians are wasting their lives. It is what we expect of unbelievers, but not of the people of God.

It is a waste in two ways. The world is not benefiting from what those Christians have to offer it. If they are truly born again Christians, they have a God given talent they could be using. Matthew 5:13 says that Christians are, “the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” II Corinthians 2:14-15 says that Christians should be a sweet smelling fragrance to those around them. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish.” That means that those around us, when they observe our sweet disposition and joy in life, should realize that we have something they need. However, if we are just living to enjoy life, we are just doing what everyone else is doing.

The Christian also is suffering loss. Jesus said “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” If we aren’t giving what we have to give, we can’t expect to get what we stand to get. God has given gifts (talents) to those who are truly his. They have something to give. If they aren’t giving, they aren’t enjoying a fruitful life. They aren’t getting all that life has to offer them. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Another loss to them will be the rewards they could be laying up in heaven.

There will be a time when every believer will regret it if he wasted his life. There is no way to recover the hours, days, even years we have wasted. In the end, our life will be a sad story of what could have been. We always find time for what we enjoy doing, and think we don’t have time for what we should be doing.

It is sad to think of believers who are wasting their lives. Many times they are Christians who have gifts like singing, playing a musical instrument, teaching, even preaching. They are depriving their churches and fellow believers from benefiting from what they have to offer them. They aren’t willing to leave their comfort zone to serve others. The day will come when they will have to answer to God for the way they lived. The comforts of life are nothing in comparison to the eternal rewards that we can be laying up in heaven. I Corinthians 2:9 says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

There is a wise saying that says, “Only one life. Twill soon be passed. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” At the end of life it is a satisfaction to be able to look back and think of the good we have done. It isn’t for us to glory in what we have done, but it is a satisfaction if we don’t have to lament the fact that we have wasted our life instead of investing it. What a thrill it will be if, when we get to heaven, we hear Crist say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Another joy we will have in heaven will be the joy of meeting people we have helped in life and be praised by them.

If you have been wasting your life it doesn’t do any good to cry about what you have lost. There is still time to surrender your life to God and let him pick up the broken pieces and put them back together in such a way that you can make the best of the time remaining. Don’t go on wasting your life. It’s your decision.

If you have questions or comments we would be happy to receive them.  Our E-mail address is: rusandmargaretgeorge@windstream.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Going On to Maturity

July 8, 2015

                           Going On To Maturity

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). Note: When we find the word “perfection” in the Bible it almost always means maturity. There is a note in my Bible that says “The word “perfect” implies full development, growth into maturity of godliness, not sinless perfection.” We never reach perfection in this life.

A new believer is most often excited about his new relationship with the Lord.  We tell him, and rightly so, “Now you need to go to church faithfully.” Perhaps he does for a time, but   he may start missing church.   We are concerned and encourage him to be faithful.  We might show him what the Bible says in Hebrews 10:25. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  He may continue in church, but it is obvious that it doesn’t have the priority that it did at first.  We might question whether he was really saved.  That, of course, is a possibility, but it might also be that we haven’t done all we could to help him go on to maturity.

Why is it that some new believers, after a short time, are busy using their talents and time serving the Lord, and others go on for years without showing much evidence that they are saved?  The explanation is that some go on to maturity and others go on indefinitely being what we might call “babes in Christ.”

What is spiritual maturity?  It is something we should desire and strive for.  We see that in the prayer of Epaphras in Colossians 4:12.  “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” That should be our goal for our own life, and our prayer for new believers and fellow Christians.  The mature believer is one who has stability.  He doesn’t easily give into temptations.  He is one who can be counted on to complete what he says he will do.  Instead of being one who constantly needs to be encouraged and motivated, he is out motivating others.  Matthew 5:48 says, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  (See the note at the beginning of this article on the word “Perfection”.)

The ideal thing would be to find a local church full of mature Christians.  It is doubtful that there is such a thing.  There are two tendencies in churches that leave Christians immature.  One is a church with a strong emphasis on soul winning.  To win souls is our duty.  Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” If the church wins souls, but makes no effort to disciple them and help them reach maturity it will be a church full of immature, carnal believers.  A church full of immature believers is a surprise box.  Scandals may even break out every once in a while.

The other tendency is a church that is influenced by the charismatic movement.  These churches draw a crowd because there is a high level of emotion and excitement.  This excitement is interpreted as “a moving of the Spirit.”  The problem, however, is that the excitement soon wears off so it needs to be replaced with another excitement.  News spreads about what is going on in the church and people come to see for themselves.  The testimony of some churches has been ruined because of bizarre things that are going on in the church.  Some churches have lost their testimony because people were overcome by laughter or they started barking like dogs.

According to Colossians 4:12, another result of spiritual maturity will be that the believer is “complete in the will of God.” Colossians 2:10 says we are “complete in him.” That means we are complete in Christ.  Genuine salvation results in joy and excitement, but it doesn’t last forever.  Satisfaction that results from external phenomena is short lived.  If we are complete in Christ we have a satisfaction that comes from within.  John chapter 15 speaks of abiding in Christ.  Verse 11 says, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” It results from daily communion with him.  II Peter 1:3 says that God offers us everything we need in life. “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 take advantage of what God offers us, it will lead us to victory and spiritual maturity.

A church full of immature believers leaves the pastor and leaders busy dealing with problems in the church.  God calls church leaders to lead the believers to maturity.  Ephesians 4:11-12 says “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;   for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  The more mature believers there are in a church, the more successful the church will be in winning souls and discipeling them.  Maturity of the believers contributes to a healthy church.  II Timothy 2:2 gives us the formula for the perpetuation of maturity.  “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”

It is possible to arrive at spiritual maturity.  If not, Matthew 5:48, that we read, would be telling us to do the impossible.  Being mature doesn’t mean that there remains no more room for improvement.  It just means that we have reached a level of stability.  We don’t keep stumbling and falling back.  Colossians 1:10 says, “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” I Corinthians 15:58 also says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”  As long as we live we need to keep pressing on.

Where are you, my friend?  Are you where you want to be or should be?  Have you reached spiritual maturity?  It is a great satisfaction to reach the level outlined in II Timothy 2:21.  “If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A New Image

June 15, 2015

                                                 A New Image

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:18).

Many people spend money on products that promise to improve their image.  Some claim that they will make them look 20 years younger.  Others say, “Wrinkles be gone!” Perhaps some cosmetics are capable of doing that.  There is nothing wrong with the desire to have a better image.

God also wants to improve our image.  That is what the text of this article is all about.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit God is capable of giving us a better image.  What God offers isn’t so much a new outward appearance.  It has to do with the impression we make on others around us by the way we conduct ourselves.  This also is greatly to be desired.

This change is brought about when we let the Holy Spirit do his work in our lives.  It is his desire to produce in us the image of Christ.  That is brought about, in large part, by having the mind of Christ.  I Corinthians 2:16 says that our thinking can be Christ like.  “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

The way we think has a powerful impact on what we do.  If we think like Christ, we will act like him.  In the verse of our text we are told to behold the glory of the Lord.  Christ should be our mentor.  A mentor is someone we look up to, and seek to follow his example.  We all need mentors.  Any human mentor we chose is certain to have some vices.  We need to recognize vices in our mentors and follow only that which is good about them.  When we look to Jesus as our mentor, we are looking at one who has no vices.  He is perfect.  That doesn’t mean we don’t need earthly mentors.  Human mentors are an example to us regarding the proper way to live in this world filled with irrational and immoral behavior.  In Hebrews 12:2 we are told to look unto Jesus.  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

By looking to Christ we take on his image.  It isn’t his physical image.  We don’t know what his physical image was.  Some of the images that are drawn of the face of Jesus are almost repulsive.  I certainly wouldn’t want to have a face like that.  In Matthew 16:24 Jesus asked us to follow him.  “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

The result of beholding the image of the Lord is that there will be a transformation in our image.  This is talking about a total makeover of our personality.  In Spanish it is called our manner of being. (Manera de ser) That isn’t the way we express it in English.

            In II Corinthians 5:17 the Apostle Paul wrote,Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” That might be called a “makeover.” After we are saved God begins a work of grace in us.  In Philippians 1:6 Paul wrote  “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  This isn’t a transformation that takes place over night.  Our text says it is from glory to glory.  It progresses from one level of glory to another.  The child of God keeps on growing all his life.  Peter, in writing to believers, said “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.”

To grow in grace is to appropriate all the gifts that God has provided for those who are his.  II Peter 1:3 says God has provided all we need.  “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.”  God wants to produce in us what the Apostle Paul calls fruit.  Galatians 5:22-24 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,   Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”  An abundance of these gifts can’t help but improve our image.

The progress of this transformation of our image depends on how much we are yielded to God.  If we aren’t yielded to God, he can’t complete his work in us that is spoken of in Philippians 1:6.  Romans 6:13 tells us that we need to be yielded to God. “Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.”

The image God wants to produce in us will make us attractive.  We will have what some call a “pleasing personality.” We will be kind, considerate and compassionate.  Isn’t that the image you would like to have?  Therefore, God says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cut Out Of A Rock

June 15, 2015

                                        Cut Out Of A Rock

“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged” (Isaiah 51:1).

Our background leaves a deep impression on our character.  Fortunate is the one who comes from a good background.  A good background speaks of those whose parents were a good example and who worked hard to instill good moral principles in their children.  More and more parents are failing in that. (See articles under “Christian home.”)  A believer’s background has much influence over the kind of Christian he or she will be.

The believer who comes from a bad background has a lot to overcome.  He has to get victory over bad habits and bad attitudes.  If he doesn’t make an effort to overcome these he will never be a model Christian.  He will be overcome by sin.

It is exciting to read testimonies of Christians who came from a bad background, but they gained the victory over their old ways and lived a consistent Christian life.  It is even more exciting if we come to know them personally; even more so if we knew them before they became a Christian.  Those who gained the victory over a bad background can look back with great satisfaction at the rock from which they were cut out and the horrible pit from which they were delivered.

I have read in I Kings chapter six about how they built Solomon’s temple.  It says that every stone used in the temple was cut to size at the rock quarry.  We aren’t cutout that way.  We have lots of rough edges that need to be trimmed off.  God has a lot of work to do with some of us to bring us to spiritual maturity.  He does it if we are willing to let him do his work in our lives.  Philippians 1:6 says, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

That which is most lamentable is to see some who came from a good background, but instead of getting better they yielded to selfish desires and turned from God.  Some even had parents who were believers who had great hopes for them.  They are grieved to see them go the wrong way.  Some have made a profession of being born again, but there is no outward manifestation that it is genuine.  The day will come when they will pay a high price for their rebellion.

Those who come from a bad background, but prevail and won the victory over the flesh and the devil prove that it can be done.  They leave nominal Christians without excuse for their shallow Christian life.  The unsaved will be judged at the great white throne.  Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  The negligent Christian will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and lament that he didn’t follow the Lord more faithfully.  II Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”  This judgment isn’t to determine whether or not they will go to heaven.  That depends on whether they have accepted Christ’s sacrifice on their behalf.  This judgment is to determine what rewards, if any they will receive in heaven.

God wants to manifest his power by cutting you out of a rock. He isn’t finished yet.  If you let him do his work in you, it will be to his glory,  and to your advantage.  When God shows you his will, be quick to obey.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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“It’s My Life”

May 18, 2015

                                                “It’s My Life”

“It’s my life, and I demand the right to live it any way I want to.” If you know people with that attitude, it’s best that you be a little nervous around them.  It is unfortunate that many people think that way.  If you think that way, please read this article and give serious consideration to changing your attitude.

Selfish

It is selfish to think you have a right to live any way you want to.  The counsel that is often given to people is: “It’s your life.”  These words need to be followed with the word “but.” The choices you make will affect your future well-being and that of those around you.  Romans 14:7 says, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”  We are in this life together.  An important lesson we all need to learn is that of relationships.

You may say, “It’s my car and I have a right to do what I want to with it.” That is true with certain limitations.  You don’t have a right to be a menace on the road with it.  “It’s my gun and I have a right to do what I want to with it.” Again you need to put limitations on what you can do with it.  You don’t have a right to shoot at your neighbor’s house with it.  “It’s my body and I have a right to do what I want to with it.” The Bible tells us that we can sin against our body.  I Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”  Sometimes people think and say, “What two people do by mutual consent is no one else’s business.” That isn’t true because, sooner or later, it touches the lives of others.  What you think you have a right to do isn’t always in your best interest.

Submission

We need to be willing to surrender our rights for the good of others.  Human life, as we know it, would be impossible if everyone lived with the “It’s my life” attitude.  The marriage relationship could not function.  There would be no cooperation in the work place.  Human government would be impossible.  We must be in submission to the laws and the authorities who enforce the laws.

There is no room for the “It’s my life” attitude in Christian living.  When we become a Christian we surrender to God’s authority. When someone makes a profession of salvation, if there is no repentance, it’s doubtful that they are genuinely saved.  Mark 1:15 says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  Along with repentance will be a surrender of the life to God.

Romans 12:1 says, “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.” Obedient Christians seek the will of God regarding what they should or shouldn’t do.

What is often called “the golden rule” is found in Matthew 7:12. It 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.”  If we expect others to take our well-being into consideration in the decisions they make, then we need to take their well-being into consideration in our decisions.

We as Christians have no right to say, “It’s my life.” We have been bought with a price.  My life belongs to God.  He has a right to do what he wants to with me.  In Matthew 20:15 Jesus asks the question “Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?”  The obvious answer is “Yes.”

Even if you aren’t a Christian, you don’t have a right to do what you want to with your life.  If you go too far with that attitude you may lose your right entirely and find yourself locked up in prison.  Make your life count for others.  They need what you can do for them, and you need what they can do for you.

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

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The Way Of A Fool

April 28, 2015

                                         The Way Of A Fool

          You may say, “I’m not a fool so I don’t need to read this article.” Wait a minute. Even in the best of us there are still some foolish ways.  Proverbs 12:15 says we can’t trust our eyes. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.”  Our eyes may tell us we aren’t fools, but our actions may prove us wrong.  The wise harken to counsel.  This article will give you counsel.  You need to read it.  This article was written so that, after you have read it, you will know who the fool is, what he does, and why he does it.  Then, in closing you will see what the antidote for foolishness is.

We will go to the book of Proverbs to see who the fool is.  First of all, in 1:7 we see that he is one who refuses to learn.  “fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  In the verse we quoted in the introduction it says that the fool is right in his own eyes.  It is in vain to try to correct him because he is convinced that he is right.  He thinks we need to change, not him. If we go on to 14:9 we learn that the fool is one who makes a mock of sin.  “Fools make a mock at sin.” Fools make jokes about sin.  He isn’t at all ashamed of his behavior.  When you find someone who behaves this way you can be sure that he is a fool.

The book of Proverbs tells us some of the things a fool does.  In 14:8 it says he deceives.  “The folly of fools is deceit.”   He himself is deceived, but he doesn’t realize it.  Since he thinks his way is right, he tries to deceive others and convince them to think like he does.  Proverbs 29:11 says he utters all his mind.  “A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.”  Whatever is uppermost in the mind of a fool is apt to come out of his mouth.  The wise man knows that some of what he thinks is best left unsaid.  The fool gets himself in a heap of trouble because he can’t keep secrets.  Much more could be said about what the fool does, but let’s go on to explain why he does what he does.

The folly of the fool is that he doesn’t take heed to that which should be obvious to him.  To make matters worse, he refuses to harken unto counsel.  Again and again the Bible tells us that we need to take heed.  Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “         Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.”  In the gospels Jesus said again and again “Take heed.”   To regard is a word that is similar to take heed.  In Proverbs 15:5 we read “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.”  There is little hope for us if we refuse to take heed and regard reproof.

This article wouldn’t end well without something being said about the antidote for foolishness.  Parents need to take earnest heed to what it says in Proverbs 22:15.  “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”  Parents may think that if foolishness is bound in the heart of a child, the solution is to send him to school.  It must be that he has a lack of knowledge.  However, the fool isn’t a fool because he is ignorant.  He is a fool because he doesn’t take heed to what he has learned.    Education is not the solution.  If we send a fool to college he will graduate being an educated fool.  We have many of them.  Unfortunately, we have chosen many of them to be our political leaders.  They are making foolish decisions on our behalf

The Bible says the rod of correction needs to be used to drive foolishness out of a child.  Once he or she is an adult this method can no longer be used.  It is extremely important that parents train their children to turn from their foolish ways and accept reproof.  It must be admitted that there is a wrong way to use the rod.  If you beat your child over the head with it, or use it so severely that he goes on suffering pain for several days, you haven’t used it right.  It is unfortunate that we have allowed our leaders to make corporal punishment a misdemeanor punishable by law.  It could easily be proven  that children brought up by parents who used the rod are better behaved and more successful in life.

Wisdom is the opposite of foolishness.  Therefore, the acceptance of wisdom is an antidote for foolishness.  Prov. 10:21 says, “Fools die for want of wisdom.”  There is no good excuse for that.  Proverbs 1:20-22 says, “Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets:   She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,   How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?”  The New Testament offer of wisdom is found in James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  None of us ever acquire the full measure of wisdom, but there is no reason why we can’t have enough of it keep us from being fools.

Another question that needs to be addressed is, what should be done for a fool when he finds himself in desperation?  He is broke.  He can’t find a job because he doesn’t have an education or skills.  His family is hungry and clothed in rags.  The thinking of many in our society is that we need to pay his way.  Their advice, of course, isn’t to take up an offering for him.  “No,” they say.  “Put him on welfare.”  Will that solve his problem?  No.  The fool needs to be obligated to enroll in the school of hard knocks.  II Thesallonians 3:10 says that if a man refuses to work, neither should he eat.  An empty stomach has a way of motivating a man to look for a solution to his problem.

We need to show compassion to the fools, but with discretion.  We need to let them know that we care, and that we will be at their side if they are willing and ready to accept counsel.  We may need to give them a little financial help, but let them know that what they really need is to be willing to accept counsel.  If they aren’t willing to accept it, then they shouldn’t expect to receive further financial help.  If a man falls in a deep hole and can’t get out the way to help him isn’t to let down buckets of food and water on a cord.  He needs for someone to let down a ladder and help him get out of the hole.

Maybe you and I aren’t fools, but at times we still go the way of the fool.  Seek God and let him lead you in the right way.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The People of God

April 19, 2015

                                         The People Of God

It always has been, and forever will be, the desire of God to have what he can call his people.  We see that in the Old Testament in Leviticus 26:11-12.  “And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.    And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” In the New Testament we find it in II Corinthians 6:16.  “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

We come into a close relationship with God when we become one of his children.  John 1:12 says we are his sons if we have received Christ as our Savior.  “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.”  What an honor it is to be a child of God.  We should never take it lightly.

It is possible to be part of a family and have a distant relationship with them.  It is unfortunate when that is the case.  It is nearly always because of sin.  In the same way, it is possible to have a distant relationship with God.  If you are saved you will always be a child of God, but you may not have the relationship with him that you should.  If so, it’s because of sin on your part.

Because of Jesus sacrifice on the cross we can be reconciled with God. Our relationship with him can be restored to what it should be.  I John 1:9 tells us what we need to do to restore our relationship with him.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God wants his people to have a close relationship with him.  That way he can communicate with them.  He does that by means of the Holy Spirit who dwells in every believer.  He wants to warn us when we are tempted to do something displeasing to him, and detrimental to us.  He also wants to tell us what we should do.  In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He wants us to serve him because we love him.

The following are some verses that tell us what God wants his people to be to him:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me” (Isaiah 43:10).  God’s witnesses are to communicate his message to the world.  How will they hear if God’s people don’t tell them?  We have a message the world need to hear.

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men” (Matthew 5:13).  When he says we are the salt of the earth, it speaks of the influence we have over those around us.  If we live the Christian life as we should, those around us will see that it is possible to be an obedient Christian and have joy and peace.  The farther people get from God, the more social unrest there is.  There is pleasure in sin for a season, but afterwards there is a harvest of grief and shame.

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).  The light is to help people find their way.  Psalm 119:139 says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”  We need to share the Word of God to people in darkness.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5).  Branches of the vine bear fruit.  God want us to be fruitful.  Galatians 5:22-23 makes mention of some of the fruit God wants to produce by means of his people. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,   meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20).   God wants his people to be his ambassadors.  He wants to use his people to make reconciliation between him and the lost.  Their message is to be what it says in Romans 5:10.  “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.”

God doesn’t just want to have a people.  He wants to have a people who are profitable to him.  God promises his rewards to those who obey him.  I Corinthians 3:8 says “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

It is very probable that many of God’s people will be greatly disappointed when it comes time for them to receive their rewards.  They have spent the major part of their life just enjoying all the benefits that are ours by virtue of the fact that we are God’s people.  They have been recipients more than participants in God’s work.  All God’s people have been given one or more talents.  I Corinthians 12:7-8 tells us that.  “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.   For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.” What a shame it is that some of God’s people don’t even know what their talent is.  They are unprofitable servants.

How about you, my friend?  Can you say with assurance that you are a child of God? Jesus gave his life in a cruel death on the cross to make it possible for God to forgive our sins and accept us as one of his.   If you aren’t a child of God, you need to go to him in prayer and confess that you are a sinner and ask him to forgive you and make you one of his.

If you are a child of God, what are you doing for him?  Are you using your talent?  Do you fit into one or more of the “ye are” categories mentioned above?  God’s people need to be more aggressive in reaching the world with God’s message of salvation.  Most of them sit back and enjoy what it means to be a Christian, with no concern for the lost around them who are destined to face the awful judgment of God.  The number of those in this world who make up the people of God is decreasing instead of increasing.  Why is that?  It must be because many of his people aren’t being what they should be.  Are you all that God has a right to expect you to be?

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

 

 

 

 

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