Month: February 2013

Mr., Mrs., Sir and Mam

R-E-S-P-E-C-T! The word demands attention. Cartoons spoof it. Anarchists hate it. People have written songs about it. Even the Bible talks about it:

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (1 Peter 2:17).

Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” (Romans 13:7)

When it comes to the teachings of the Bible and Christianity, showing respect has more to do with being the rule than it has to do with being the Golden Rule. Showing respect is important because showing respect says something even when it says nothing!

Judges expect respect with the word honor. The President is Mr. President. Superiors in the military regularly hear Sir and Mam. The same principle applies to teachers, police officers, bosses and even those who are elder in age. These are all things that are expected respected situations. We understand this…or at least we should.

Children are taught about these things because they need to learn to have and to show respect. A failure to teach children about the importance of respect will eventually lead to a disrespectful attitude that leads to an unrespectable life that displays a lack of self-respect. It’s amazing how big a difference a little respect can make in the life of child.

Along the same lines, Christians are reminded about this for the same reasons. As adults, there are times when we want to show respect only to those who show respect toward us. But our calling as God’s people goes beyond that limitation. God desires that we show respect to others out of respect for Him. Even if they don’t respect us or Him! It’s not so much whether or not we’re able to say “I don’t get no respect” but whether or not we’re able to say we show respect to others because we respect God.

So for these reasons alone I’m going to give a “respectable” effort and try to do better when it comes to showing more respect. How about you? EA

Now when Michael, one of the chief angels, was fighting against the Evil One for the body of Moses, fearing to make use of violent words against him, he only said, May the Lord be your judge.” (Jude 9 – BBE)

The Lifeguard of Our Soul

The first stanza of James Rowe’s song “Love Lifted Me” goes, “I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more; but the master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me – now safe am I.

Besides Jesus, two other people always come to mind when I sing this song.

The first person is Peter and the situation described in Matthew 14:22-33. I visualize what it must have looked like for Peter to have stepped out of that boat and onto the open and stormy water and the faith that it took to do so. I also visualize what it must have looked like as he lost his focus, became afraid and began to sink into the deep. Then I visualize what it looked like when Jesus stretched forth his hand to lift him up and keep him afloat until they reached the boat. Lastly, I think about what Peter may have thought when Jesus asked why he doubted and how he grew in his faith from the experience.

After I think about Peter, I think about myself and how Christ has called me to Him and the faith that it took to respond. I also think of how I falter and begin to “sink” when I pay too much attention to what is happening around me and not enough attention to where Christ wants me to go. Then I think of how quick and willing Jesus is to reach out His hand through His grace and keep me from the eternal consequences of my sin. Lastly, I think about what causes me to doubt and how I can grow in my faith from my experiences.

The song “Love Lifted Me” finishes by saying, “Souls in danger look above, Jesus completely saves; He will life you by His love out of the angry waves. He’s the master of the sea, billows His will obey; He your Savior wants to be – be saved today.

It’s not the gospel verbatim but it is the gospel in essence. Has God’s “Lifeguard of the Soul” rescued you? EA

“…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” (Acts 22:16)

Jesus: There’s Something Special About That Name

A while back I read a story about a North Carolina “pastor” who was asked to be the honorary chaplain during a session of his state’s legislature. People being invited to lead prayer for governmental bodies happens all the time, but something else happened that sadly seems to be occurring more and more often – his invitation was vetoed after his prayer was “reviewed” because he refused to leave out the name of Jesus at the end. I would’ve done the same thing, because when it comes to Christianity, the Bible is clear…there’s something special about the name of Jesus!

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” (Matthew 18:4-5)

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:29)

For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41)

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14)

but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)

And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’” (Acts 2:21)

Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:4-5)

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17)

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”” (2 Timothy 2:19)

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.” (1 John 2:12)

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”” (Matthew 1:21)

Whether people want to hear the name or not, there is authority, promise, rewards, encouragement, boldness, good will, salvation, holiness and so much more found only in the special name of Jesus. EA

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Learn From the Thief – But Learn from the Rest of God’s Word Too!

Many times when the forgiveness of sins is discussed there are some who eventually use the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43) as example of what people should do to be saved today. I am glad that the conversation of Jesus and the thief is recorded because it reveals the willingness and desire that Jesus had then, and still has today, to extend His mercy to the lost. But it saddens me when one tries to teach that “all a person has to do be saved” is believe like the thief did. This is simply not true. Let me quickly explain why with the scriptures:

First – the thief lived under a different covenant than we do today:

For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.” (Hebrews 9:16-17)

Second – the thief did not have to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead like we do today:

[T]hat if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Third – the thief was not saved by faith alone; he reviled Jesus at first but then he repented:

Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.” (Matthew 27:41-44)

Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”” (Luke 23:39-41)

Lastly – the thief found forgiveness because Jesus had the power to speak sins away while living on the Earth (Mark 2:10); Jesus gave the command for baptism for the remission of sins after the thief was dead:

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

If a person wants to learn about salvation today, they can learn about God’s willingness to forgive from the thief, but they must also learn from the rest of God’s word too. EA

Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” (Acts 18:8)

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You can’t talk Bible without talking Bible…

In the past I used to watch a TV show that I found somewhat interesting. The basis of the show revolved around “religious unity” and a “roundtable discussion” about “religious and spiritual” matters with leaders from different religious organizations and bodies who were supposed to present (although not defend) their stance on the issue that was being discussed on that particular episode.

I appreciated the fact that the moderator and the participating panel were respectful of one another even though they disagreed, and that the show in some ways encouraged people to sit and discuss matters where spiritual disagreements are held, but nonetheless, I put the above words in quotation marks because sometimes it really amazed me what topics they considered to be unifying and spiritual and worthy of discussion. And above all, it amazed me how so many religious discussions and matters of the faith which has been once and for all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3) could be held on the show and by the panel without ever mentioning the Bible. I don’t know if they had some kind of prearranged agreement backstage, but how can you have a discussion on biblical topics without mentioning the Bible???

The topic on the majority of the episodes produced by the program that I watched could have been settled with only a couple of referenced verses that simply stated what the Bible says instead of going around and around with varying opinions. Let me give you an example that can easily relate since tax season is upon us. One episode that I watched asked the question: Is paying taxes a civil or a religious duty? One person started the show by stating that paying taxes was a civil and religious duty, with another person stating and holding to the view that paying taxes is only a civil duty, and then the rest of the panel went on to tilt in one direction or the other.

As the show continued, all of the varying religious leaders gave their opinion as to why the answer they supported was the correct one based upon how government works or does not work to the advantage of the general welfare of the public. Not one time did any of the men involved in the discussion ever quote one verse from the one book that could have settled the issue in a simple and quick manner. Let me show you what I mean.

Did you know that Jesus once had a roundtable discussion” on whether or not God’s people should pay taxes to the government? You wouldn’t have known it if you were watching that episode I mentioned, but He did. The discussion is recorded in Matthew 22:16-22 which says:

And they sent to Him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and teach the way of God in truth; nor do You care about anyone, for You do not regard the person of men. Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? Show Me the tax money.” So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way.”

Do you see how simple it could have been to have solved the issue? It didn’t take 30 minutes – it only took 10 seconds to get the answer straight from the mouth of Jesus!

Later on in the Bible, in Romans 13:7, you can read where Paul taught the church at Rome (where Caesar’s throne was) to, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Simple enough isn’t it? Sounds like I’m religiously obligated to pay taxes after all…even if it’s a government that doesn’t care much for me on multiple levels!

The principle used with this topic applies to all other areas in our lives. God has “…given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,” (2 Peter 1:3). If we want to know God’s will then we need to read God’s word.

It’s amazing how “talking Bible” can become so much easier when we actually talk Bible. EA

If anyone has anything to say, let it be as the words of God;…so that in all things God may have the glory through Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 4:11 – BBE)

P.S. – I don’t recommend the show, that’s why I used to watch it. It belongs in File 13. In one episode that I watched, again without the mentioning and use of the scriptures, all of the “Christian” leaders, with the exception of one I believe, were unwilling to say that following Jesus was the only way to please God and to make it to Heaven today…which could have easily been settled with John 14:6 in which Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  When someone tries to talk Bible without talking Bible its because they want you to follow the words of men and women and not the word of God (Acts 20:26-32).

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