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?

Wearing Rags But Rich in Faith

Monday, April 3, 2017

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto you assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay [gorgeous, attractive] clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 KJV).

Although written to and about Israel, today’s Scripture has a disturbing parallel to today!

Many years ago, a certain Christian woman and her children visited a local church where they were criticized for wearing “raggedy” clothing. Not one person—including the preacher—asked her why their clothes were so tattered. Furthermore, no one offered to give them any better clothing. Rather, these religionists condemned them. The lady was actually poor; she could not afford any nice outfits. Greatly offended, she left that assembly and never returned. In fact, she decided to stay at home. Understandably, she wanted no part of God or the Bible. (We have recently come into contact with her and have located a grace assembly for her to attend!!)

It is human nature to judge according to outward appearances. The classic example in Scripture is when the Prophet Samuel was observing Jesse’s sons to select Israel’s next king. First Samuel 16:7 says: “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.” In that light, James 2:5 adds, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

All we may be able to afford is “cheap” clothing. Thankfully, God is looking beyond the external. He looks upon the heart for faith, or trust, in His Word. If we must wear “rags,” let us still be “rich in faith!”

Saints, (only if you can afford it!), please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com for info on how to give by regular mail. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

“And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry” (Luke 12:19 KJV).

Would we do well to “…eat, drink, and be merry?” (Nay, we would not do well!)

The King James Bible, first published over 405 years ago, has greatly influenced the English language. Listen closely to English speakers and carefully read English writers. You will pick up on “various and sundry” quirky sayings. From whence are these? While it greatly disturbs people to acknowledge it, many decades ago, Bible verses (horrors!!!!) were required in public school curriculums here in the United States of America. Those students grew up and went on to dominate the 20th century in various capacities. They incorporated those Bible phrases into their everyday speech and writing. Newer generations picked up those phrases. Even today, Bible haters unknowingly often quote the Book they detest! (“Holier than thou;” “apple of mine eye;” “warp and woof;” “judge not, that ye be not judged;” “flies in the ointment;” “ask and ye shall receive;” “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s;” “words smoother than butter;” et cetera.)

Consider this detailed case in point. While shopping a department store not long ago, I saw various Christmas decorations for sale. One particular little knick-knack had the following phrase painted on it: “Eat, drink, be merry.” This is a common maxim, heard and read in a wide range of contexts. Having read today’s Scripture, my friend, you know exactly from whence that expression came! Moreover, if you examine that verse in context, “eat, drink, and be merry” is actually evil. A covetous man, having accumulated so much material wealth, spoke those words in false assurance. He had worked hard, but had ignored God. The Lord Jesus issued this parable to correct the mentality of a certain individual wrapped up in worldly goods (verses 13-21). Those worldly possessions were “uncertain,” to be certainly lost at death (1 Timothy 6:17).

Friends, while it is not a sin for Christians to “enjoy” life (1 Timothy 6:17), the phrase “Eat, drink, and, be merry” actually typifies carefree living without the living God. If we must “take [our] ease,” let us rest only in Jesus Christ!

ATTENTION: The 2016 Slidell Grace Bible Conference is scheduled for Friday-Sunday, December 2-4, just north of New Orleans, Louisiana. Speakers are Richard Jordan, John Smith, and myself (Shawn Brasseaux). We would love to have you! (Videos to be archived to YouTube later in the year.) For more information, see: https://arcministries.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/2016-slidell-gbc.pdf.

Enjoy, With Godliness and Contentment

Monday, September 26, 2016

“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 KJV).

Enjoy life, friends, with godliness and contentment!

Some Christians, seeking the title “The Epitome of Simplistic Living,” consider pleasure a sin. (Supposedly, the more basic one’s lifestyle is, the “holier” he or she is!) Eating at a nice restaurant—NO! Wearing makeup and nice clothing—NO! and NO! Watching television shows and movies—NO! (“Christians should remain home and avoid the world!”) Or, maybe their life’s goal is to scrimp and stash spare change in their pockets, and collect every last penny on sidewalks. They “stash” it underground for “Jesus’ glory!” (Ignoring, “God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”) Furthermore, although they have taken great precautions to hold to that wealth, something bad will eventually happen—another person may find and keep it, the economy may collapse, or they just may die!

Other Christians know nothing but pleasure. They love entertainment wherever they go… at home, at school, at work, at church, and so on. They too have trusted in “uncertain” riches. Life for them is all about how much they can spend and sport—bigger homes, faster cars, beautiful spouses, highest-paying jobs, educations, and so on. They have a God-shaped vacuum in their hearts, and they are desperately trying to fill it with everything but sound Bible doctrine.

Dear friends, God wants us at neither extreme. We need to strike a balance. Today’s Scripture says, “Nor trust in uncertain riches… but in… God… who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” Contrary to popular belief, it is not a sin to “enjoy” life by owning nice possessions. If we can afford what we want, we may purchase it—“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)! Yet, let us not trust in those “uncertain” riches. Remember, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Timothy 6:6-8).

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who, crucified on Calvary, mocked Jesus?

Wealthy of Goods But Destitute of Truth

Sunday, May 29, 2016

“Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:5 KJV).

Their pockets are full—their teachings are vain.

Recently flipping through a religious magazine, the following tidbit caught my attention: “When he requested early retirement due to reasons of health in late [year], Bishop [name] gratefully acknowledged that, despite difficult times, the last five years of his service to the people of [location] was marked by a 35 percent increase in offertory collections throughout the diocese.”

Friend, the above paragraph justifies people’s claims that religion is all about money. This bishop, who had served his parishioners for many years, “gratefully acknowledged” one accomplishment in particular. Notice it was not that he ensured that the Gospel of the Grace of God was clearly preached throughout the hundreds of churches that he oversaw. Notice it was not that he guided his people into the truths of God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Notice that it was not that his diocese had glorified Jesus Christ. Nay! He was most proud of the fact that the diocese’s income increased 35 percent with him as leader!

When instructing young Timothy how to operate a local grace church, Paul reminded him not to let materialism corrupt his ministry (today’s Scripture). God’s ministry needs funding, no doubt, and we should give to sound Bible ministries. But, ministers should exercise great caution that they not worship wealth (see 1 Timothy 3:3,8; Titus 1:7).

Remember, Israel’s religious leaders had made God’s religion of Judaism into a “lucrative business.” They were cheating people in the name of “JEHOVAH” and—adding insult to injury—they were doing it in His house, the Temple (Matthew 21:12,13)! Jesus fittingly called them “thieves.” He could easily say this about so many professing “Christian” churches and ministers today (go back to the “bishop’s” noteworthy accomplishment!). They focus on installing ornate woodwork, fine paintings, stained-glass windows, and “state-of-the-art” electronics. Meanwhile, they are less concerned about teaching sound Bible doctrine and handling God’s Word God’s way. Their church buildings appear nice and godly, but are full of unsaved, spiritually ignorant people. May we have enough Spiritual grounding to avoid them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated?’

Estate Sales and the Eternal State

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

“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 KJV).

Friend, have you ever been to an “estate sale?” It is a sale of many items in the home of a recently deceased individual. Whether treasures or trash, the individual could not and did not take these items with him or her.

The deceased left possessions that others can now browse through, purchase, use, and appreciate. For those who think that this life is all there is to our existence, they do everything in their power to hang on to as much material goods as possible. Today’s Scripture calls material goods “uncertain riches”—you will certainly lose them, but when is the uncertainty!

Please understand. There is nothing wrong with saving your money and spending it wisely. Remember, “our” money is actually God’s money. We need to be good managers of that with which God has entrusted us. But, the Bible believer should not be a miser, someone who saves and saves and then, despite the acquired fortune, begs others for freebies. This is silly, but even Christian people do it.

When you pass through the home of someone who has departed this life, you can see his or her life on display—pictures, clothes, books, furniture, kitchen appliances, and so on. Whether his or her soul is enjoying the glories of heaven, or being tormented in the flames of hell, he or she has no need for such items. Those possessions are of no use in eternity. Dear friend, you will take two things with you when you die physically. Firstly, you will take your soul. Secondly, you will take God’s Word. Those things will last forever. The eternal Word of God stored into your eternal soul should be (is?) the primary goal in your life.

Surely, you will leave this world one day. People will go through your possessions and use them. However, they will never be able to take your soul, and they will never be able to take away the Word of God you built into your soul. Of that, we can be certain! 🙂

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Can you explain, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner?’

Bent on Being Content

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

“… Supposing that gain is godliness…. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 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. 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” (1 Timothy 6:5-10 KJV).

Most definitely, there is no wagon behind a hearse, but you will be taking your spiritual purse!

In this life, the Bible says we should be thankful if we have only food and clothing. However, “the love of money”—as history bears record to time and time again—has led to ever so many other evils. This is particularly true of religions (the context of today’s Scripture). Human flesh is a pig—it wants more and more and more. Envy creeps in and you become willing to take the life of anyone who has what you want. Yet, after all the effort of trying to gain, gain, gain, we lose it all anyway.

No matter how tightly people try to hold on to their material possessions, they will lose them in the end. Death is the ultimate thief. It takes away our loved ones, it takes away our material goods, and it takes away our life. People can put wads of cash into our pockets as our body lies in its casket for its last viewing. Still, it will profit us nothing because we are not even there anyway. We will be either in heaven or in hell—and earthly wealth is useless in both.

The only thing that matters in eternity is God’s Word because it will never, ever, ever disappear. Friend, if you do not have God’s Word, you have nothing. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (today’s Scripture). You read all about godliness in the Bible, particularly Paul’s epistles. Learn of the spiritual wealth God offers you in Christ, and, friend, be content with it. It is “great gain.” 🙂