Teri’s mom brought over a newspaper clipping of a man’s obituary. He was a family acquaintance for over 30 years. I’m confident he died without a relationship with the Lord Jesus. Last year he was very heavy on my heart. I stopped by his house quite a few times trying to spend some time with him, but he avoided me. I was concerned for his health and his soul. Now it is too late.
Each of us has a sphere of influence that God has given us. May we be faithful. Lovingly, relentlessly pursue each one while there is time. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
“GIGO” is a relatively common acronym. If you aren’t familiar with it, it means, “garbage in, garbage out.” If someone puts non-beneficial/harmful material into something, we can expect to get something of equal or lesser value out of it. The Scripture equivalent of that is “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap”(Galatians 6:7). A very sad example of that is we are a nation that has thrown God out of the government schools, and we are reaping unimaginable moral corruption.
It is easy to point fingers, but may we examine our homes first. What place does the Word of God have in your home? Is everyone having a quality time of reading a Bible first thing followed by a prayer? Do you lead your family in the Word every night? As you experience life’s situations, do you relate them to Scripture so the family can develop understanding?
My Brothers, we are blessed beyond measure to have the written Word of God in our hands. May it be in our hearts. It is so needful and practical. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105).
I have been spraying the weeds that my yard pre-emergent didn’t kill, and there are still a lot of weeds. This is my second spraying and likely won’t be the last. I’m using an excellent weed killer, but I’m surrounded by yards full of weeds. I’m not complaining. I respect my neighbor’s choice for the level of effort they choose to make. To have a nice yard takes an investment of time and money. For some, it is important and not for others.
What a great analogy to the challenge of raising children who will follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian families are surrounded by people who are living for every bit of fun and pleasure/carnality they can get out of this world. Even after your children are saved and have tasted of the joy of the Lord, the pull of the flesh should never be underestimated.“For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5).
Worldly neighbor friends are tough but tougher are worldly extended family.. The closer and tighter those relationships, the harder it is to resist the influence of the world. On top of that, the more “fringy” attenders at church, Sunday school, and youth group, may provide the greatest pull of all on your children’s hearts toward the flesh. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Prior to the flood: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Sodom: “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13).
God’s people while being delivered from bondage: “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalms 106:13-15).
God’s people turning to idolatry: “… after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4)
Time of the judges: “… every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).
Oh my Brothers, be on guard. Love Him. Be in the Word. Live the Word. 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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
I take great delight in springtime – new life appearing after months of death. The Bradford pear trees are beautiful but ubiquitous. When in full bloom, it is beautiful to the observer, but sadly, it bears no edible fruit.
What a great time to reflect on the life in Christ that Jesus gives those who have repented and trust Him as payment for their sins. Hopefully, you have been praising the God of creation for the life He gave us in Christ. I marvel and am in awe — our filthy sins for His righteousness. Oh, my Brothers, it must not stop with our praise. We are His workmanship created unto good works. Are we surrendered and living, bearing fruit? “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If we follow Him, abide in Him, we will bear fruit and not just look good to the observer.
There is a school of thought that hanging from a chin-up bar is really good for your spine. It stretches the ligaments and opens up the vertebrae enhancing mobility and lessens discomfort for those who have back pain. However, there is a catch. It is not easy to “dead-hang” very long. All is good at first. But as the seconds tick up, the hands begin complaining, and they eventually scream – ENOUGH! Then you drop down and recover.
One’s thoughts while therapeutically hanging easily go to how that used to be a way of inflicting horrible pain to prisoners by hanging them by chained wrists. I can not imagine the ongoing pain as the iron “bracelets” cut mercilessly into the flesh and tendons without relief. Man’s inhumanity to man knows no bounds. Now consider instead of crude iron handcuffs, spikes driven through the wrists to keep you suspended. If it wasn’t for the spikes driven through the feet, suffocation would come fairly quickly. But the goal isn’t a quick death, it is suffering excruciating pain as long as possible.
Even if Jesus Christ didn’t own us, (1 Corinthians 6:20) how insurmountable is the mountain of debt we owe Him? The God of creation paid the penalty for our sin. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). We gave Him the filth of our sins, and He gave us His righteousness. Glory!
We are living in troubling times when what is good is called bad and what is bad is called good. “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20)! Will your children (or you) jump ship and choose to swim with the current societal direction or be sufficiently prepared by God’s Word and in love with the Lord Jesus that they will swim against the current?
An important factor will be how well you have prepared them for what’s ahead. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:” (Mark 10:33). The disciples had to be told what was coming so they would understand that God was ultimately in charge.
Children look to their parents to see how they will respond – a fearful reaction or a calm response. “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:17-18).
The phlebotomist opened the door, sourly confirmed my name for the blood test, and pointed at where I was to sit. She seemed extremely unhappy through her expression, and tone. I asked if she was having a good day, and to my shock, she said “Yes.” Seeking to make conversation, I asked what consisted of a bad day for her. She said, “Grouchy and unpleasant patients.” I wondered silently if her attitude might contribute to patients being unhappy.
Don’t you enjoy being around happy, pleasant people? I certainly do. It is good for us to check own attitudes and pleasantness. How do we rate? Are we sour and demanding or contagiously joyful? Will others see the light of Christ in us and want to be around us or avoid us? “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).
I admit it. I really like to laugh and be happy. As such I can struggle with being sober-minded. However, that isn’t much of a challenge lately (Titus 2:2). My heart is so heavy with grieving and mourning. What am I so troubled about? The spiritual condition of our nation, churches, and “Christian” families. Jeremiah has been my favorite prophet through the years, and I can relate more and more now.
When Israel conquered the land, God told them “thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth” (Deuteronomy 20:16). I told Teri the other night when we read that, I couldn’t imagine being a warrior then and having to carry out that command on the young and old. It is beyond my wildest imagination, yet, if God said it, He meant it. It revealed how serious God was about sin and wickedness corrupting His children.
God commanded it because He didn’t want this to happen: “That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 20:18). When we have the “good life,” we focus more and more on pleasure and forget our God Who said “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:” (Ephesians 1:4).
“For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant” (Deuteronomy 31:20).
Instead of believers reaching the lost world, the world is reaching believers. Instead of the church reaching the world, the world is successfully reaching the church.
What is one word you hated to hear from your mother? That word still seems to bring sighs and groans today from most adults. It’s something that the greater expects of the lesser. Some would consider how well a person deals with it as a measure of the man.
“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Psalms 27:14).