Careful—But Not Careful! #4

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

The coronavirus pandemic has brought many drastic changes to our daily life. We are social beings, so confinement to our houses is difficult. It is particularly vexing for children, for many cannot play outside and/or go to an actual school building. While all the transformations are inconvenient, some are actually beneficial. For example, today’s society is spoiled—especially we in America. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having possessions, taking trips or vacations, eating out at restaurants, or seeking various forms of entertainment, it can be (and usually is) overdone. If our lives are so bound up in these, how traumatic is their absence! Coronavirus precautions and restrictions have eliminated or reduced these experiences.

With such distractions removed, and added stress due to medical and economic concerns, the world’s people are actually more receptive to spiritual truth than ever. They have come to realize what the Scriptures laid out 2,000 years ago: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Material possessions are “uncertain.” While we will certainly lose them (due to theft, economic downturn, death, et cetera), the timing of their forfeiture is unknown.

Another reality they are learning firsthand is James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” Living for the “here-and-now”—as if this life is the only one, as if there is no afterlife—has its limits. Life on Earth is ever so fragile, as any small threat (illness or accident) can immediately end it. Is it prudent to enjoy this life at the expense of the next one? No! At this time, people are contemplating their own mortality, and they had better keep heading toward the Scriptures….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Feeding the 4,000 and feeding the 5,000—same or different?

Careful—But Not Careful! #3

Monday, March 30, 2020

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7 KJV).

Friend, as we live in these strange times, let us “be careful for nothing!”

As our world undergoes the coronavirus pandemic, and people adjust to this new way of living to limit its spread, they have become quite basic. They can begin to glimpse what life without materialism is really like. Considering the economic decline—unemployment, less work hours, and so on—people cannot live extravagantly like they did before. With restaurants, concerts, theaters, casinos, and sporting events closed for business, they cannot be frequented anymore for “entertainment.” Money cannot be loved if it cannot be acquired!

First Timothy chapter 6, while referring to finances and ministry, is also the proper way to view personal money matters: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. [6] But godliness with contentment is great gain. [7] For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. [8] And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. [9] But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. [10] For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Please understand, there is nothing sinful about money per se. The love of money” is the problem (be careful not to misquote it like it often is). “Godliness with contentment is great gain…. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” In this “new world,” “food and raiment [clothing]” can be cherished now more than ever….

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 2, 2019

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Poor—Times Two!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

“Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour (Proverbs 19:4 KJV).

If the prosperous man loses his money, he will likely lose his friends too!

A famous multibillionaire once stated that he would like to temporarily lose his fortune. Why? He was curious as to who would remain loyal to him and who would abandon him. For once, his true friends would be apparent—if he had any. While he likely did not realize it, he was communicating the truth found in today’s Scripture (cf. Proverbs 14:20). The affluent members of mankind enjoy their extravagant, packed social gatherings. While it is certainly not a sin to be well-to-do, one does run the risk of unwittingly associating with phonies. “Friends” accumulate with the money. Eventually, they desire you to become their “lender,” among other favors. Once the bank accounts run dry, the contacts quickly say “goodbye!”

While most inconvenient, the fact is that no friendship is immune from destruction or hypocrisy. Christian relationships, while quite enjoyable, can turn sour in a heartbeat. Someone may be our “friend” only under certain conditions. When trouble comes, once difficulty arises, they could not be more aloof and unsympathetic. That is the result of sin. In that day, you will learn the foundation of your friendships. Was it luxurious homes and vehicles, exotic trips, and enormous loans? Or, was it love, kindness, and respect?

To better understand today’s Scripture, we look at it in context—namely, Israel’s kingdom (prophetic) program. One stipulation of being a follower of Jesus Christ in the Jewish program is to “sell that ye have, and give alms” (Luke 12:33). Unbelievers will retain their wealth, since they will align themselves with the Antichrist and his opulent political-religious system (Revelation 13:15-18; Revelation 17:1-18; Revelation 18:1-24). Israel’s Little Flock, the believing remnant, will experience today’s Scripture firsthand. They did back in the Acts period (20 centuries ago), and will experience it again (after our dispensation ends and their program resumes where it paused). Outcasts, destitute and oppressed, they “go forth therefore unto [Jesus] without the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).

Like them, let us remember that no matter how many “friends” we lose, the Lord Jesus Christ is more than enough to be gained! 🙂

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 3, 2018

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

Treasures in Heaven

Thursday, October 26, 2017

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 KJV).

In Heaven, not upon the Earth!

One of the most tragic, devastating life events is the loss of one’s property (especially a house) to some misfortune—natural disaster, health hazard, robbery, arson, bombing, and so on. Irreplaceable family heirlooms… gone forever. Vehicles… a total loss. Photo albums… permanently ruined. Important documents… marred. Memories remain… the structure severely damaged or destroyed. How distressing!

Dear friends and brethren, we never, ever want to grow too attached to this world. Certainly, we hold jobs, marry, purchase houses, settle down, and raise families. Nevertheless, we can be misled to believe this life is all there is or will ever be. Satan’s evil world system is very tempting… but it is also very temporary (1 John 2:15-17)! We can start seeking and idolizing wealth, material possessions, physical beauty, fame, and so on. Summarized, “Quickly get as much as you can, and quickly can as much as you can quickly get!”

The Lord Jesus knew all about the enticements of Satan’s evil world system. He thus warned His disciples not to grow too fond of this world. It was headed for the Tribulation (and still is!), and once those final seven years conclude, Satan’s reign will be terminated forever. This world and its elements are temporary. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Why are material riches “uncertain?” Jesus told us in today’s Scripture—moth, rust, and thief could always take them anytime!

For those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for our sins, and are continuing in the principles of grace, we are treasuring up some wonderful things in Heaven. We do not see them today, but thankfully, they can never be lost so we are guaranteed to see them one day! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How could Paul write that he ‘heard’ of the Ephesians’ faith?

Of God’s Own, We Give

Monday, October 23, 2017

Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee” (1 Chronicles 29:13,14 KJV).

What can King David teach us here?

In chapter 28, dying David assembled all the rulers of Israel for to deliver a speech; among them is Solomon his son and successor (verse 9). David purposed to build the LORD God a temple, but He forbad him because he was a “man of war” (verse 3). God has determined that Solomon will build the Temple, so David encourages Solomon and gives him the pattern God revealed to him (verses 5-13). Moreover, David has stockpiled building materials—the very best (verses 14-21)!

Chapter 29 is a continuation of David’s charges to Solomon. David has prepared silver, gold, brass, iron, wood, onyx stones, precious stones, and marble stones in abundance (verses 1-5). Moreover, “the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy” (verse 9).

Beginning in verse 10 and on into verse 19 (including today’s Scripture), David offers a humble prayer. Have they really done anything special for God in giving these supplies? No. As the Creator, He spoke those natural resources into existence… they were already His anyway! Yea, when He gave Israel victory over their enemies, the Jews gained such spoils/riches. Verse 16 says: “O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.”

Today, how sad it is that sin causes many professing “Christians” to not give so much as one penny to the Lord’s work and ministry! This should not be, friends. If the Jews of old “with perfect heart… offered willingly”—with such joy—how much more we should gladly give today! “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Inside Not Outside

Monday, October 9, 2017

“But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 KJV).

Whether 3,000 years ago or right now, today’s Scripture is one still worth memorizing!

A dear Christian lady once entered a church building. Having very little money, she wore the best outfit she owned. After the services, the pastor and his wife approached her. They informed her that she was not welcome to return because her clothes were not good enough! Deeply offended, she wanted nothing to do with Christianity or the Bible for a long time. (I recently ministered to her.)

I explained to the lady that that denominational church was too focused on externalism, formalism, outward appearances. While we should definitely dress modestly and sensibly, our financial situation may not permit us to buy expensive clothing. Furthermore, it is most unbecoming of a pastor to ban people from church services simply because they cannot afford nicer clothes. What if this physically poor person was really a spiritually poor person interested in coming to know Jesus Christ as his or her personal Saviour? Is God going to bar from Heaven one who cannot afford formal attire? No, the people kept out of Heaven are those depending on their self-righteousness, those who wear spiritual “fig-leaf” garments! Never forget, dear friends, that outward beauty does not make null and void ugly hearts of unbelief!

Thankfully, the God of the Bible looks beyond social standings, nationalities, physical sizes and shapes, ethnicities, wardrobes, financial statuses, romantic lives, faces, and external behaviors. Today’s Scripture says He looks on the inside—specifically the heart. The heart is part of our soul, the innermost region of our spiritual makeup where we make decisions (exercise faith or unbelief). Romans 10:10a says: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” Hebrews 11:6 reminds us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain Genesis 4:7?

The Thing Which is Good

Monday, September 4, 2017

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28 KJV).

On this Labor Day, we talk about work, “the thing which is good.”

In this day and age of increasing “government assistance,” people are becoming less and less aware of our hard work being the Lord Jesus’ preferred method of the source of our incomes. While the physically and mentally disabled are obvious exceptions, the God of the Bible expects all of us to contribute labor in order to provide for ourselves. For children and young adults, even being a student in school is work enough!

Observe the doctrine being communicated in today’s Scripture. The grace life does not merely teach us to quit doing bad things, but it also instructs us to start doing good things (Titus 2:11,12). Once a thief trusts the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for his sins, then God expects that thief to quit stealing and find a job so he can provide for his needs!

The God of creation calls work “the thing which is good” (today’s Scripture). Work is not something to be avoided; it is something to be embraced for the Lord’s glory!

When the Lord Jesus Christ put the first man, Adam, on earth, that man had a divine commission. Adam was not to simply loaf around and do nothing: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him in the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Adam was to protect that garden, to till its ground, to prepare it for Jesus Christ to come down and dwell in with he and Eve (because of sin, that earthly kingdom over which Jesus Christ will rule is still awaiting fulfillment!).

Saints, may we work to provide for our families (1 Timothy 5:8), and may we work to help those who truly are needy (today’s Scripture). In the words of God the Holy Spirit, that is “good!” 🙂

The Wise, The Rich, and The Generous

Sunday, August 13, 2017

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11 KJV).

The wise men… the rich men… the generous men!

Due to much abuse, money is always understandably a very touchy topic in churches. There are so many schemes and scams designed to take people’s hard-earned cash. Sadly, they are most successful in “Christian” settings. There is such a nice ring of truth to these religious messages. After all, over two billion people hold the name of “Jesus Christ” in such high regard. When that name is uttered—or even the general name “God”—people suspect nothing nefarious (even if the matter involves absurdities). The wise men of today’s Scripture indeed gave… carefully investigating instead of blindly supporting a charlatan!

When the wise men came to Jesus Christ, notice He was a “young child,” as much as two years old (see verse 16). He was not a baby. It was not the manger scene but a “house” in Nazareth. These wise men were also rich men, and they were willing to give their money for God’s work. They did not give indiscriminately. They gave in faith, believing God’s Word. They had seen the star of Israel’s King in the east. They had come to worship Him after that star had led them to His house. Their worship was not merely falling down before Him, or shouting, “Praise Jesus!” No, part of their worship was giving material goods. They were not greedy. They were not idolatrous. Rather than worshipping their wealth, they used it to worship Jesus Christ.

Brethren, let us by faith follow the example of the wise men. While we may not be rich, we can be wise in using what we do have, and we can be generous in giving to any sound (grace) Bible churches and ministries that benefit us. Second Corinthians 9:7: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Where in the Bible did Peter say he could not be crucified like his Lord?