Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Consistency...Thou Art A Jewel

I’ve heard the above statement practically all of my life.  It’s a good statement, particularly as it relates to moral convictions and human behavior.  We like for people to be honest and consistent in life.
Inconsistency was strongly condemned by the Lord when he chastised the Pharisees for tithing “…mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law” (Mt. 23:23).  He earlier told his disciples and the multitudes who gathered to hear him that they were to do and observe what the Pharisees told them, but not to do according to their deeds, “for they say things, and do not do them” (Mt. 23:2).  Nobody respects a hypocrite.  That’s true in religion and society as a whole.  However, hypocrisy abounds!!
Let me give you a case in point.  You’ll need to bear with me on this one and follow me to the conclusion, but I will get to the point.  I love animals and have been around them most of my life.  Virginia and I don’t have a dog, cat, or bird in our house any longer, but it isn’t because we don’t like them.  We just don’t prefer to have them in the house.  The mission of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  They sponsor ads on television that pull at the heartstrings in an effort to promote care and compassion toward innocent animals, especially household pets.  I am certainly in favor of their efforts in this regard.

My problem is with the inconsistency of our society.  While we applaud efforts on the part of ASPCA and other similar organizations to provide quality life to animals, we pass laws that take away the opportunity of life for babies in the womb.  Am I missing something here?  Millions have been aborted since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.  The rate is about 3,315 daily abortions in the U.S.  Where is the compassion toward unborn babies that is shown for animals?  There is something inconsistent here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Demon Possession and Man's Free Will

There are several instances in the New Testament in which it speaks of people being possessed by demons.  Such possession was manifested in a variety of ways.  An individual may become blind (Mt. 12:22), unable to speak (Mt. 9:32), lame, mentally deficient (Mt. 17:15), possess unusual physical strength (Mk. 5:3-4), dropsy (Lk. 14:2), or even have epilepsy.  Demons are special servants of the devil who inflicted mental and physical anguish on men during the first century.  They only did harm and never anything good (Jn. 10:21).  During his ministry the Lord manifested his power over the demonic world by casting them out of men (Mt. 17:18).  The demons knew who Jesus was, the Son of God (Lk. 4:41).  They even recognized his power over them as evidenced by the fact that some demons entreated him to cast them into a herd of swine and he granted their request (Mt. 8:31-32).  The ultimate end of the devil and his angels is the eternal fire of hell (Mt. 25:41) and he wants to take as many as he can with him.

Several years ago the comedian Flip Wilson coined a phrase that became popular, “The devil made me do it.”  Anytime an evil deed was done it was attributed to the devil’s influence as if that absolved man of all responsibility for the wrong committed.  The interesting thing is that even during the period of time in which demons actually possessed man, you never read of their forcing a person to violate God’s word against their will.  Demon possession was always manifested in some mental or physical malady…never in causing a person to transgress the Lord’s will.  James said, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (Jas. 1:14-15, emphasis mine).  Thus, if we meet the Lord on the Day of Judgment in a lost condition, we can only blame ourselves.  We can’t even blame the devil.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Convert or Die"

Polycarp was a contemporary of the apostle John and, evidently, one of his friends.  Polycarp was born about 52 A.D. and was martyred around 156 A.D.  He served as an elder in the church at Smyrna for many years and was noted for his deep devotion and commitment to Christ.  When he was brought into the stadium where he was burned alive at the stake, efforts were made by his executioners to get him to recant Christianity.  They said to him, “Have respect to thine age.  Swear by the genius of Caesar; repent and say, Away with the atheists.”  With solemn countenance, Polycarp looked upon the stadium filled with the lawless heathen and waved his hand toward them and said, “Away with the atheists.”  When pressed further to deny Christ, Polycarp said, “Fourscore and six years have I been his servant, and he hath done me no wrong.  How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”  Then, threats were made to execute Polycarp unless he denied Christ.  He responded by saying, “You threatenest that fire which burneth for a season and after a little while is quenched: for thou art ignorant of the fire of the future judgment and eternal punishment, which is reserved for the ungodly.”  Shortly after speaking these words, Polycarp was burned alive at the stake.
Muslim extremists today who say to people professing Christianity, “Convert to Islam or die,” are carrying out dreadful actions.  People are being beheaded, crucified, or executed in some other manner.  Many have fled Iraq to escape death.  While such extreme measures are not being used in the USA today, there is intimidation and mockery of those who are disciples of the Lord.  Those who oppose Christians, the Bible, and God are becoming more open and brazen.  Eventually, at some point in the future, this may lead to violent opposition.  It would be wise for us to prepare ourselves for survival by spending more time in prayer and Bible study.  Now is a good time for us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to die for Christ?”  Even more significantly, are you living for him now?

Sunday, August 17, 2014


When our daughters were small children and we were taking a trip, they would ask the proverbial question, “Are we there, yet?”  Most of the time we were a long way from our destination, but they were either inquisitive or impatient.  I don’t know which.  Naturally, we would give them an estimated time of arrival, but, since they had no concept of time, it didn’t mean much to them because they would ask the same question a few minutes later.  When children are small I guess it is a part of their learning process to ask questions.  One of the most repeated questions asked by children is, “Why?”  They will even prolong an explanation by repeatedly asking why to every response.  Sometimes a matter can be easily explained and at other times it cannot.  But, it is a good question.  It seeks for a reason or motivation behind an action.
The word “why” occurs at least 284 times in the Bible.  Here are some examples.  “Why are you timid, you men of little faith” (Mt. 8:26)?  “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say” (Lk. 6:46)?  “And now why do you delay” (Acts 22:16)?  “Why do you regard your brother with contempt” (Rom. 14:10)?  These are just some samplings of this important question from the Bible.

I have a few “why” questions of my own.  Why do people who wear the name Christian choose not to worship God on Sunday evening or study his word on Wednesday night?  Why do people ruin their lives through needless worry when God has promised never to forsake his children (Heb. 13:5)?  Why do people work so hard to get ahead materially when possessions do not really satisfy (Lk. 12:15)?  Why do people think they’re going to heaven even though they live ungodly lives (Rev. 21:27)?  Why do people who know the truth not obey it?  Why do people redeemed by Christ’s blood choose not to serve him?  Why do people bring children into this world and, yet, have no intention of properly caring for them or spending much time with them?  Instead, they farm them out to day care centers or nannies while they continue to pursue their professional careers.  Why do some people spend a lot of money to sit in snow, rain, or heat to watch a ball game, but will not attend worship services where they sit on padded pews in a weather-controlled environment?  Why do people make plans for their retirement, but give little or no thought to their eternal destiny?  Perhaps we need to pause and give some honest and sincere reflection to these questions.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I'm Tired...But I'm Not Tired

      I’m tired of hearing the gutter language that is spoken by some who lack the vocabulary skills to communicate sensibly.  I’m tired of having the homosexual agenda, sometimes in subtle ways and sometimes in ways that are not so subtle, being pushed off on society.  I’m tired of immodesty being so openly and approvingly displayed.  I’m tired of hearing the conflict and wars that are constantly being fought in various parts of the world.  It seems that greedy and power-hungry people are always being disruptive and won’t allow the common person to live in peace.  I’m tired of hearing the reports of innocent people being slaughtered.  I’m tired of reading about rapes, drug abuse, child abuse, spouse abuse, and many other acts of cruelty.  I’m tired of the dishonesty, shady dealings, and duplicity that are often involved in politics.  It’s almost to the point of not being able to trust or have confidence in anyone who is a politician.  We live in a great country, but in my opinion we have almost reached the point where we govern by the polls rather than by what is right or best for the country.  I’m tired of the entertainment industry spewing their ungodliness on the movie screen for all to see, especially the impressionable minds of children.  I enjoy sports as much as anyone, but I’m tired of the fanaticism that some people have toward athletics to the point of ridiculous behavior and blind loyalty.  I’m tired of false religions spreading their deceptive messages that result in the eternal condemnation of people who think they are faithfully serving God.  I’m so tired of these and many other things that I feel much like the apostle Paul who said, “Come, Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 16:22).  There will be no relief from these and many other problems on this side of eternity.  That’s true because “…the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19, NASV).
      While I’m tired of many things, some of which I have mentioned in the preceding paragraph, there are many things of which I am not tired.  After more than 50 years of preaching the gospel, I am not tired of doing it.  It is just as invigorating as it was when I began.  I have never grown tired of the gospel message or the presentation of it.  I have never grown tired of studying the Bible with people in a private setting.  I enjoy listening to good, sound preaching and teaching of God’s word.  I have never grown tired of seeing people change their lives from serving Satan to serving God by obeying the gospel.  I have not grown tired of seeing people develop and mature spiritually.  I have never grown tired of reading and studying the Bible.  It is like a refreshing drink of water to the soul and never becomes commonplace.  I don’t know how many times I have partaken of the Lord’s Supper in the 56 years I have been a Christian, but it has never become old to me.  Singing praises to God with my brethren in the worship services stirs me to this day.  Some of the greatest people I have ever known are my brethren.  They may not be in the headlines or make the evening news, but they are the salt of the earth and I enjoy being in their company.  They make me happy and stimulate me.  I’m never bored being around them.  I have never grown tired of reading and hearing about heaven.  It gives me hope and motivates me to live for God that someday I may be in a place where there are no wars, murders, rapes, abuse, or dishonest people.  God has his own timetable, but I am “…looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:12).