All posts by swordtips

Gospel preacher with the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, Washington since 1996.

The Church is not a Business #1414

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1–2, NKJV)

The church is not a business. Yet, most churches around the world are organized and operated as if they are. Businesses exist to make money. Churches exist to do the God-given work of evangelism, spiritual edification, and to address benevolent needs of the saints (Acts 2:42-46; 5:12-14; 11:27-30). Churches are given one Scriptural way to gather funds to accomplish their work: Voluntary giving on the first day of the week. This is the one passage in the New Testament that teaches the churches when, who, and how to gather funds, and also why to do so this way. When do we give? (The first day of the week.) Who gives? (Each one of you.) How do we give? (According to our prosperity.) Why give this way? (So that the collection is in readiness for use.) There is no business and investment revenue, no board of directors, and no chief financial officer in the Scriptures. May we add our own ways? No. Does this matter? Yes, because the church belongs to Christ, it is the house of God, not our business to arrange and control according to the latest business model. God’s word, not man’s wisdom, must direct the organization and work of the local church.

Advertisements

Heed Your Father’s Instruction #1413

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke. (Proverbs 13:1, NKJV)

Father’s Day is a good time for fathers to remember their God-given work as teachers, guides, and disciplinarians (Ephesians 6:4). Far too many fathers have abandoned their responsibilities as fathers. According to the US Census Bureau (as reported by fatherhoodfactor.com), “23.6% of US children (17.4 million) lived in father absent homes in 2014.” Many factors produce this number, but there is little doubt that a leading reason for fatherless homes is fathers who reject their role in the home. Let us urge and help fathers to fulfill their work that is so vital for successful families. Father’s Day is also a good time for children to honor their fathers by remembering to accept and follow their scriptural, godly, and wise counsel. Fathers want their children to avoid the mistakes they made. Fathers want their children to live with understanding. Godly fathers want their children to be successful in life, and more importantly, in eternity. So, they teach, train and discipline their children. The child who scoffs at his father’s wise and timely teaching shows his own foolishness. Your father’s instruction is for your benefit and progress. Give honor to your father by heeding his instruction.

“Let it not even be named among you” #1412

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints (Ephesians 5:3, NKJV)

The rise in cohabitation without marriage in America over the past 30 years is obvious. Reflective of a society that has cast off moral restraints, it is but one indicator of self-defined morality. The annual Gallup Values and Beliefs Survey (May 1-10, 2018) reports that 69% of those surveyed believe sexual activity before marriage is morally acceptable, while 42% said it is morally acceptable for teenagers to practice it. The morality of having a baby outside of marriage was approved by 65% of those polled, while 67% said gay and lesbian relationships are morally acceptable. In stark contrast, the Holy Spirit inspired apostle drew a red line in the sand that all sexual activity, before and in addition to marriage, is not to be professed among Christians. It is against who we are. We are saints (“holy ones”), called to be sanctified or set apart from such sins. We are not to participate in them or endorse them. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Christians must rise above the world’s definition of what is moral and refuse the allurements of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17).

How Are You Building Your House? #1411

3 Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; 4 By knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3–4, NKJV)

The Bible says, “every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). What building materials are you using to build your house? Of course, we are talking about building your life and your family, not a brick and mortar house. Some build their lives and families on the sand of humanism and secularism. Everyone is encouraged to “seek their own path to find out who they are,” oblivious of a knowledge of God and its value to guide our path (Psalm 119:105; Jeremiah 10:23). Some build their lives and families on the uncertain foundation of materialism. For them, life is about satisfying the desire for wealth and leisure, unaware of the need to address their immortality as creatures made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27; 2:7; Ecclesiastes 12:7). Some build their lives and families with wisdom, understanding and knowledge. By teaching your children to respect God you help instill within them wisdom, knowledge and understanding that will go with them throughout life and into eternity (Proverbs 9:10; 1:7). Build your house on the firm foundation of wisdom and understanding. Fill your house with a knowledge of God. These are the enduring materials that will enrich your life prepare you for eternity.

Perverting Justice is Robbery #1410

22 Do not rob the poor because he is poor, nor oppress the afflicted at the gate; 23 For the Lord will plead their cause, and plunder the soul of those who plunder them. (Proverbs 22:22–23, NKJV)

Perverting justice is a form of robbery. The upright of heart will not steal from anyone at any time (Ephesian 4:28). Yet, some take advantage of the poor because their hearts are given to wicked selfishness and the arrogance of power. “Might makes right” to far too many, and as a result, the poor and disadvantaged suffer at the hands of oppressors. Justice is blind – a truth God spoke long before the blindfolded Lady Justice was ever sculpted. Moses told Israel, “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is God’s” (Deuteronomy 1:17). God’s law to Israel warned against perverting the just of the poor: “You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute” (Exodus 23:6). It also warned against showing partiality to the poor: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:15). Poverty is not the rich man’s reason to plunder, nor is poverty a just reason to pervert justice. Divine justice is impartial, and ours must be, too. God will punish injustice and oppression.

“His heart was not loyal to the Lord” #1409

1 But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites—2 from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. 3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart. 4 For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father David. (1 Kings 11:1–4, NKJV)

Wives have tremendous influence over their husbands. Even Solomon, the wisest among men, allowed his wives to turn his heart to go after false gods. God’s law to Israel had warned of this danger and commanded them not to intermarry with the idolatrous nations (Deuteronomy 7:1-4). The loyalty of one’s heart to God is put to the test when pleasing a spouse conflicts with pleasing God. Solomon failed the test. Pleasing his idolatrous wives was a greater priority than pleasing the Lord God. He angered the Lord and his kingdom would be divided (1 Kings 11:6-13). Such misplaced priorities exist today when one allows a spouse to influence him to violate the will of God. Our loyalty must be is to Christ before it is given to any person (Luke 14:26).

Jesus Ate With Sinners #1408

1 Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” (Luke 15:1–2, NKJV)

Yes, Jesus ate with sinners (including Pharisees, Luke 7:36-50). On this occasion, the Pharisees and scribes charged Jesus with giving credence to sin by being with sinners. With a contemporary twist on this worn out accusation, people today say that since “Jesus ate with sinners” we should have no problem doing so. They fail to see why the tax collectors and sinners drew close to Jesus. They came to listen to the teaching of Jesus (verse 1)! It is not uncommon for worldly people to try to draw Christians into compromising situations by saying, “Jesus ate with sinners – why won’t you?” When you offer Christ’s teachings as your topic of conversation with them, they refuse. Why? Because that is not what they want. They are not like the sinners with whom Jesus ate. Instead, they want you to accept them in their sin (or at least, they want you to say nothing about it to them). If you agree to such a silent, social interchange you weaken your godly influence and give the worldly person an opportunity to claim your approval, merely because you ate with them. When Jesus ate with sinners He talked with them about their souls, repentance and salvation (Lk. 15:3-7). That should be our topic of conversation with sinners, too.