What would we do without friends?
Adversities in life will help prove who is a real friend. It will expose the
“fair weather friend” (a person who stops being a friend in times of difficulty) and it will bring into your presence a friend for life who you had not connected with in this way before.
Wise Solomon had something to say about good friends and bad friends.
“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother…The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray” (Proverbs 18:24; 12:26).
Someone has said. "Friendship is like a soothing ointment for the cuts and bruises of life, a vine that clings to us despite our weaknesses."
What is a friend?
Covid-19 has transformed many things, some temporary and some permanent. For now, many congregations have changed how they distribute the Lord’s Supper. Traditionally, most congregations of the churches of Christ served the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to each person in the pew. Passing the plates/trays was commonplace among us. Depending on the size of the congregation, a number of men would be needed to serve each first day of the week.
Now we are using pre-filled communion cups with the wafer and grape juice individually wrapped. With the Coronavirus, and the change in the way we serve, those men are no longer needed in that role. For some, this was the only avenue of service they were willing or able to fill in a public worship service.
What do they do now?
There are many avenues of service in each congregation and throughout our daily lives (Romans 12:11).
One question we all need to keep before us:
How much am I willing to serve? What can I do in the service of Christ and His Church?
We have allowed our current culture to cripple and politicize the content and even the style, in some cases of our preaching. We have succumbed to our societies’ weak, watered down, politically correct, non-offensive approach to how we preach. In this vein, it is not uncommon to hear a preacher apologize for what he has just read or preached out of the scripture itself.
Why would a preacher apologize for the text of the Bible he was reading or quoting? Why is there so much apologizing in classes and sermons?
Apologies are being given for direct commands from God.
Is one who is making apologies for the Word of God he is preaching implying that he does not agree with what he is quoting?
Could it be that the cancel culture that is permeating our society partly to blame for men who fail to take responsibility for what they are preaching? For a long time sin has been masked; hiding behind words that are less offensive and more accepted among people in sin.
Should we hide behind Jesus or Paul, and “lay the blame at their feet,” so to speak? The Apostle Paul was not ashamed of the words of God as he told Timothy to follow the same path:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, who was a preacher Himself, said:
Every gospel preacher should be striving to please God by speaking in love “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) without apology.
Our work is to please God, not man.
“It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you are sincere.” Wow! This statement is so broadminded, tolerant, unprejudicial, unbiased, and politically correct. There is one problem with it: it’s irrational! Our culture assumes that: Truth is relative; We cannot know truth; There is more than one way to God; Everyone is entitled to his own opinion; Man legislates his own morality; Moral values are relative; We must look out for number one; The church must keep up with the times; The Bible is irrelevant to modern life. In answer to these societal beliefs, God’s Word offers the following: Truth is absolute (Psalm 119: 160). God's Word is truth (John 17: 17). Jesus is the only way (John 14:6). Man’s opinions are often wrong (Proverbs 14:1 2). Man cannot legislate his own morality (Jeremiah 10:23). Moral values are absolute (Romans 12:9). We must put others first (Matthew 22:37-40). The divine side of the church cannot change (1 Peter 4:1-5). The Bible is timeless (1 Peter 1:23-25).
The problem with what culture says, what society says, what conventional wisdom is, or what I sincerely believe, is that it keeps changing. God speaks about “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Man is not to add to or take away from or modify the Word of God (Revelation 22:18-19). God’s Word does not change!
We can be "established in the present truth" (2 Peter 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). Like Paul, we can be "teachers…in faith and truth" (1 Timothy 2:7. We can understand the knowledge of the apostles (Ephesians 3:3-5). We can know the truth like the early saints did (1 John 2:21). By our conduct we know if we are "of the truth" (1 John 3:18-19).
It is a common held belief that goes like this: “since none is infallible then none can be certain of any doctrine; and since none can be certain of any doctrine we cannot conclude someone else’s beliefs and practices are wrong…” When applied to biblical teaching, there are those who conclude that baptism for remission of sins is not essential. That the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship is a matter of opinion. They use the same reasoning to teach that individuals can divorce and remarry for any cause (Matthew 19:4) It is a mindset many use to try to justify those who teach salvation by faith only (Matthew 7:21). Bottom line: People have a problem with truth because it is absolute.
If we say we cannot be certain of God’s truth, then: We indict the power of God to communicate His will (Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Romans 10:6-8). There is a denial of the power of truth (2 Timothy 3:5-7; Romans 1:16). One Implies that Bible study is ultimately futile (2 Timothy 2:15). The implication is made that we cannot know whether we have gone beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John. 9; Galatians 1:8-9). It would make giving an answer for our hope an arrogant exercise (1 Peter 3:15).
Samuel Thompson, stated in Modern Philosophy of Religion (1956),
"Although religion requires sincerity, sincerity is not enough, for belief needs also to be true. The sincerity with which a person holds a belief, maybe some indication of its truth, provided he who holds it is a person, of knowledge and integrity, on the other hand sincerity and false belief may equally well expose the frailty of the mind which holds it. The only sound reason to advocate that a religious doctrine be accepted is to be found in its truth." (90-91).
What is going to be the authority for my life? What’s going to be the basis for my beliefs and my behavior? What’s my compass? What’s going to be the standard by which I evaluate my life? It will be either the world or the Word!
A new year brings brand new possibilities and opportunities.
12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. 31,536,000 seconds. What will you do with all that time?
A great opportunity…
The Bible’s concept of God: One (Ephesians 4:6). Our Creator (Genesis 1:27). Omnipresent (1 Kings 8:27). Omniscience (1 John 3:20). Omnipotent (Job 42:4; Jeremiah 32:17). Eternal (Psalm 90:2). God of love (John 3:16). Judge of mankind (John 8:50). These only begin to describe the attributes of the God of Heaven. God has expressed His truth (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and He expects us to honor it by obeying it.
Christianity is not a shopping mall or an online marketplace where we can shop and purchase whatever suits us or satisfies our desires religiously! Tragically, Satan has been successful in sowing the seeds of false teaching and division and the harvest is man-made denominational churches.
Denominational idolatry patterns itself after the idols of old where each idol had divergent attributes. Denominations have differing doctrines, creeds and disciplines and therefore have their own god. The God of the Bible has one body of truth / doctrine (2 John 9-11) and cannot be the God of the thousands of diverse denominations and world religions! The destructive advice that promotes the “Church of your choice” is essentially saying “the god of your choice.”
Moses and the children of Israel found many idol gods in Egypt. This serves as an example of man creating his own god through his own ideas and beliefs. John J. Davis observes:
The Egyptians were just about the most polytheistic people known from the ancient world. Even to this day we are not completely sure of the total number of gods which they worshipped. Most lists include somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty gods. As William Ward observes, "The many gods of Egypt acquired a variety of attributes and the many statements about them in the literature often make it impossible to describe a specific deity in logical terms." This confusing situation is a product of a system known as syncretism in which one god may assume the name and attributes of two or three other gods. As time went on the associations became more complex and intertwined (Moses and the Gods of Egypt, p. 94).
The tendency to follow after other ways instead of God’s has always been a source of trouble for man. “Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord; they did not do so” (Judges 2:17). While many denominations claim to be acknowledging and following the God of the Bible, they deny that practice through their varied and conflicting doctrines. God’s Word reminds us: “If it is not the Lord who builds a house, the builders are wasting their time” (Psalm 127:1). “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Christ is the builder of only one church (Matthew 16:18. 18). He purchased only one church with his blood (Acts 20:28). He is the head of only one church (Colossians 1:18). He is the final savior of only one church (Ephesians 5:23).
(If you have been reading Trending Topics for very long, you have probably noticed references from denominational sources that use the term “pastor” to refer to the minister or preacher in the local congregation. As a discerning reader, you know that the general meaning behind such use in articles from sources outside the brotherhood are referring to the preacher and not an elder. A preacher can serve as an elder if qualified and if the congregation supports that arrangement, but in general, the preacher is not a “pastor” in the biblical sense).
It would be considered an unusual week for the church office not to receive a call from someone asking to speak to a “pastor.” The titles of “reverend” and “pastor” are liberally applied when someone speaks to a preacher. What's the problem? Most people seem to believe that they are showing respect to those who minister on a full-time basis. Is it being too critical to call attention to the fact that the terms “reverend” and “pastor” are misused and misapplied (Matthew 23:8-10)? Where is the New Testament passage authorizing use of the term “pastor” or “reverend” being applied to preachers of the gospel? We should be interested in calling Bible things by Bible names and that includes using the appropriate, Scriptural designations.
Three passages contribute to a clarification on the use of the term “pastor.” “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, NASB). “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11, NKJV). “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:1-2, ESV).
J. W. McGarvey addressed this misunderstanding back in 1870.
1. Vine, W.E. Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.
2. McGarvey, John William. A Treatise on the Eldership: A Series of Editorial Articles Originally Published in the Apostolic Times. Cincinnati: Bosworth, 1870. Repr., Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff, 1956, 14-15
A worldview is “The Christian’s ability to think Christianly about every topic, every question, every decision requires that he or she develop a generally correct knowledge of reality” (Edward M. Curtis, Transformed Thinking, 5).
Included would be anything about which it is possible to have a belief; for instance: God, human life, gender, freedom, the meaning of suffering, marriage, family relationships, morality, and even politics, etc.. So, a worldview is the basic perspective we use to understand the world around us and our experience of it.
It is important to have a worldview that is consistent and aligned with the Creator of this world and of mankind. The reason is found in Psalm 100:3: “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (ESV).
A biblical worldview is the only avenue to understand our true beginning, purpose, and future.
"A worldview has been compared to a pair of glasses through which we see the world. Without these glasses, the world would appear as an unfocused, meaningless blob. The glasses not only allow us to see, but to make sense out of what we see. Everything we perceive must come through these glasses. If such glasses have “Christian” lenses, then everything we observe will be “tinted” Christian. We will explain the universe and life’s events from a Christian perspective. The same is true for those who wear Atheist glasses or Buddhist glasses. They will “see” the same world, but it will be understood differently. Their “glasses” (worldview) do not shape reality nor do they ensure a correct perception, but they do determine a person’s explanation and interpretation of life and the world.a perspective that sees everything through the “glasses” of Scripture. Rather than allowing culture or experience to determine a worldview, it allows the Bible to make that determination" (Phillips, W. G., Brown, W. E., & Stonestreet, J. (2008). Making sense of your world: A biblical worldview (2nd ed.). Salem, WI: Sheffield, 4, 16).
We are in a spiritual and cultural warfare where life, marriage, and America’s biblical foundations are under attack. Daniel Webster, in 1820, commented: “Lastly; our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be trusted on any other foundation than religious principle, nor any government be secure which is not supported by moral habits” (America’s God and Country, 669).
The role of Government is cited in the Bible (Romans 13:1‐7; 1 Peter 2:13‐14; 1 Timothy 2:1‐4). Civil governments are established by God to bring many benefits to human societies. The civil government should not govern “the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).
The tide has been turning for a long time. Albert Mohler warned back in 2012 of the seriousness and far-reaching implications of rejecting biblical principles and foundations in the moral fabric of our society:
"We are not looking at minor matters of political difference. We are staring into the abyss of comprehensive moral conflict. Christian voters can escape neither the consequences of their vote, nor the fact that our most basic convictions will be revealed in the voting booth come November. Christians cannot face these questions without the knowledge that God is the Giver of life, who made every human life in his image. We cannot consider this election without the knowledge that our Creator has given us the covenant of marriage as the union of one man and one woman as the demonstration of his glory and the promise of human flourishing" (https://albertmohler.com/2012/09/06/the-great-american-worldview-exercise-the-2012-election).
As we enter the voting booth in elections, our commitment should be to God first, not party, social status, race, economic standing, or gender.
There is wisdom in the following regarding our individual role in being a responsible citizen as well as living our lives in faithful Christianity:
"Do nations turn around, once they have started a slide toward moral chaos? Tragically, they almost never do. Not even the great nation of Israel could be salvaged by the persuasion of the prophets. It took an Assyrian conquest and a Babylonian captivity (of seventy years) to bring the Hebrews to their knees. Even then a terminal judgment finally came in the form of the Roman destruction of Judaism in A.D. 70 (cf. Mt. 22:7). I am certainly no prophet. I do not know what lies in America’s future. I can, however, follow the flow of human history as such is revealed in the Scriptures. And what I see in that does not make me comfortable about our nation’s prospects. I know this: Each Christian, consistent with his/her abilities, has a three‐fold responsibility. 1. We must commit to lives of personal goodness as a savoring influence among our peers. 2. We must teach forcefully the positive truths of moral conduct. 3. We must oppose the teachings of the immoral vermin who would destroy this nation" (Jackson, Wayne. "America--A Nation Out of Control." ChristianCourier.com. Access date: October 20, 2020. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/90-america-a-nation-out-of-control).
Our focus should major on policies and the implications of their plans and platforms. Some become blinded and fail to grasp that it is the issues that are of utmost importance in voting. We must remember that our vote for an individual on the ballot does not mean we think they are faithful in all things or the greatest human being. It may mean that they are better than the opposing candidate. Our goal should be to vote for the best stance on the policies that we deem important to us and the welfare of our great country. We would do well to consider questions like, “what does the team stand for?” and “are they equipped to lead in the best interest of the people?” Several issues come to the forefront in this election: Abortion vs murdering the innocent in the womb; law and order vs defunding the police; freedom of religion vs repressing freedom of religion; second amendment rights defending my life and family vs gun control and the outlawing and confiscating of firearms of citizens; appointment of conservative judges (who respect and uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights) vs liberal judges, etc., al.
Let each of us prayerfully consider the various issues, policies and platforms and vote in a way that we believe will best reflect His will. Remember, elections have consequences.
Our attitudes profoundly influence those who observe us. Do we want those we influence to develop our attitudes? Of course, if our attitude is right and proper, positive and godly, we will do well. We should answer “no” if our attitude and disposition is bitter, prideful, difficult to get along with, quick tempered, opinionated, or just generally unpleasant? If we are unhelpful, uncaring, stingy, lazy, too busy for others, unfriendly, pessimistic, and negative, what kind of a community might we be guilty of promoting? What an unfair burden it would be for a child, our neighbor, our spouse, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our fellow-Americans, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to inherit those kinds of attitudes.
May the following Scriptures remind us of our responsibility to change and conform to Jesus and His Gospel in every area of our lives, including our attitude.
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10::5).
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22-23).
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14).
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful (Colossians 3:15).
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you (James 4:10).
“Accuracy Matters, Your order should be correct every time. If it’s not, we’ll fix it right away, and give you a free treat for our trouble. Just let any associate know.” The place of business that issued this on the receipt has a high goal and standard. To get your order correct every time. It would be nice if all businesses adopted this type of customer service. In Samuel’s restating of what God required of Saul, he asked: