The speck, the beam, and the eye

Being guilty of sin doesn’t mean it’s wrong to say another person’s sin is wrong. After all, if we say we have no sin the truth isn’t where we live spiritually (1 John 1:8). But this isn’t to say there’s not a present problem if we think we can correct the “smaller” sin (unintentional and intentional mistakes alike) of others while actually living (habitually committing) in a “larger” sin ourself without it being a major issue.

Removing the speck while having a beam in our eye (Matthew 7:1-5) has to do with requiring more of ourselves than we do of others instead of the vice-versa!

Removing our own speck before dealing with another’s beam has to do with understanding the seriousness of the lesson ourself before we try to teach someone else. It has to do with seeing ourself before attempting to help others see.

Take, as a rough illustration, the following example from an actual online spelling test given to a sister-in-Christ’s young child:

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#christian-living, #illustrations, #judging-others

Missing during roll call

On one occasion king Saul was in great distress over an impending battle when all of a sudden the enemy’s camp began to disband before the eyes of Israel’s watchman. When the news was delivered to Saul, his response was:

“…“Now call the roll and see who has gone from us.” And when they had called the roll, surprisingly, Jonathan and his armorbearer were not there.”” (1 Samuel 14:17 NKJV)

Oh if it were only so that when the church gave out a “roll call”, her missing soldiers were unknowingly out on the battle field serving God, but sadly such is not the case! Many brothers and sisters are A.W.O.L. and mired in laziness with a vacant zeal and silence when it comes to the roll call of serving God; such is the unjustifiable and pitiful reason for the shortage of Bible class teachers, loving elders and deacons, as well as a vacuum of needed funds for numerous righteous and godly works and missionaries.

May we all learn to be like Jonathan, a servant of God only “absent” from the body when he was busy being its hands and feet. And may we earnestly remember this lesson the next time we begin to think it’s okay to ignore our responsibility of being ready to answer the “roll call” of the church, else the importance of not being found absent by the true roll keeping King, who sees our works, slip our heart and mind.

And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” (Philippians 4:3 NKJV)

#devotional #attendance #serving-God

Unity in the body by the cross

The unity of the Spirit is a critical aspect of God’s will for the church (Ephesians 4:1-3) but another critical aspect of God’s will for the church, when it comes to unity, is the cross of Jesus:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)

The divisions of humanity are apparent … we look different physically, we live in different cultures, we speak different languages, we live under different governments, we fulfill different forms of employment, and we follow different forms of religion. I have no doubt that you can think of different examples of how humanity is divided through our differences.

Here’s what the gospel does to all those differences – it says we may be divided but we all have one common need and that’s our past and our present need for the cross of Christ when it comes to our future!

The cross of Jesus is a cornerstone of unity within the body of Christ because it’s by the cross that we can let go of our differences in order to lay hold of a heavenly unity that has the ability to erase all of our earthly divisions.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV)

#unity #cross-of-Christ #division

Legalizing the addiction makes it no less dangerous

The CDC reported its highest ever number of deadly drug overdoses in the United States for a twelve month period that ended in May, 2020 … over 81,000 people!

The Covid pandemic no doubt has had an affect on these numbers but, as the report acknowledges, the sad numbers were already on the increase before the full effect of the pandemic.

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#culture, #drugs, #politics

Remember your audience

I watched an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” today and it reminded me of an important principle for preachers, Bible teachers and personal workers alike.

The episode was titled, “The Sermon for Today” and it centered around a visiting preacher from New York. This visiting preacher preached a sermon called, “Watch Your Hurry” and the topic was exactly what you might think it would be … it was about the “modern day” obsession with being busy and the need for people to stop hurrying and remembering to relax. The lesson was so “soothing” a couple of the listeners comically fell asleep.

So what principle did this episode remind me about? It was about the importance of remembering your audience. The listeners definitely understood the lesson because they referenced it several times throughout the episode (even if they didn’t properly apply it), but if you were to ask me I think the preacher forgot his audience. His audience wasn’t the hurrying people of New York; his audience was the people of the sleepy little town of Mayberry, North Carolina.

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#illustration, #preaching, #teaching

If pork-barrels were as illegal to government as…

If pork-barrels were as illegal to government as pork-rinds were unclean to the Jews we would be better off.

Many politicians placate to the poor while feeding the rich; some even stubbornly wait until after elections to help in hopes of making others look bad or good depending upon your perspective. Take for example the latest “stimulus package” released by the American government – all nine-hundred-billion dollars of it! Mathematically spelled out that’s $900,000,000,000. And what will the average American get from this number? $600.

Now am I turning my nose up at $600? Absolutely not! But I will thumb my nose at anyone who thinks the politicians who held out support for regular people care anything about these regular people! I know people need help during this pandemic, but I also know that right now the rich are only getting richer and the powerful politicians care nothing about helping the common man. Know how? If this stimulus package was about helping the “common man” (instead of bailing out poorly run local governments and irresponsible fat-cat businesses) then more money would be given to the people instead of filling the coffers full of pork.

Do the math! What’s $900,000,000,000 divided by a nice round number of 300,000,000 people? See if that comes out anything close to $600! And be mindful that this is not the first time this is being done this year!

I am not an anarchist. The point I’m making has nothing to do with anarchy. I believe there are God-given responsibilities for governments and the leaders of whom it consists (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:17). I pray for our government as a Christian should (1 Timothy 2:1-4). But I also know you can’t dig your way out of a hole by making it deeper, and that respect of persons is no more beneficial in government than it is in religion.

The king establishes the land by justice,
But he who receives bribes overthrows it
.” (Proverbs 29:4 NKJV)

#politics #money #government

If we don’t share it we don’t possess it

Aside from being an English sentence with a double negative, there’s a lot of good to be found in this post’s title, and the following thoughts aren’t meant to be exhaustive with the idea. The following thoughts (particularly the first question) came to mind after a positive interaction with a stranger today.

What is our health if we don’t share our strength? What is our wealth if we don’t reckon it with compassion? What is our time if we don’t spend it with wisdom? What is our influence if we don’t use it for the benefit of others? What is our knowledge if we don’t teach others with it?

The answers to the above questions is weak, nothing, a waste, hollow, and empty. Because if we are not able to share what we have then we really do not own it – it owns us!

While it’s true we cannot share what we fail to posses (2 Corinthians 8:11-12), it is also true that possession is determined by perspective (2 Corinthians 8:13-15); and this is why perspective is so important! Because while possession is 9/10 of the law on this Earth, we will leave this Earth with 0/10 of it all! So let us use what we have while we have it to use.

For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. … Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:7, 17-19 NKJV)

#devotional #possessions

No issues with our past?

If you pay attention to the recorded dialogue of Israel toward God, between the books of Exodus and Numbers, you will eventually notice one thing about their perspective concerning Egypt and the wilderness – they never had anything bad to say about Egypt!

The Israelite generation who wasted away in the wilderness had numerous complaints about their new found freedom from slavery provided by God but seemingly only “fond” memories of the physical nourishment they enjoyed in Egypt. At one point they wanted to choose new leaders to go back to the land from which God had made them free!

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#salvation, #sin, #spiritual-analogies

Can you name that tune

We don’t have the musical notes to play “Name that Tune”, but we can use the lyrics.

If I were to say I watched a retail commercial the other day (in December mind you) and it played a song with a lyric that says, “Joy to the world…” what would you say if I asked you to “Name that Tune”by completing the lyric?

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Two’s company, three’s a crowd

In a nationally televised debate last night, two US Senate candidates (immensely powerful people in the US government) for the state of Georgia addressed the topic of abortion. In regards to his position, the Baptist preacher in the debate said the following:

The question is: whose decision is it? And I happen to think that a patient’s room is too small a place for a woman, her doctor, and the U.S. Government. I think that’s too many people in the room,” (“Reverend” Raphael Warnock)

Amazing! Pro-choice due to the lack of square footage in the room? I wonder if this preacher believes there’s enough space for God to fit in the patient’s room? Or would three still be a crowd?

That’s what happens when you confuse morality with politics.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.” (Psalm 139:7-12 ESV)

#abortion #politics #morality

Missing the principle points of Moses’ Law

Snickering, snide opinions and downright ridicule is how large swaths of people view “pointless” statutes of Moses’ Law. Rules for clothing, haircuts, diets, sacrifice and cleanliness fall on deaf ears because they hear the principal but not the principle.

For example, while discussing his right to companionship, rest and financial support, Paul asks, “Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.’ Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does he say it altogether for our sakes. For our sakes, no doubt, this is written…” (1 Corinthians 9:8-10)

Our generation does not live under the old covenant and we will not be judged by it (in and of itself), but if we fail to learn from its principles we will fall prey to the same old sins.

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)


Tanning, purple-making and laundering

The Bible mentions tanners, purple makers and launderers. These were jobs fulfilled by the common men and women of their time for the benefit of the multitude.

I recently watched a video that demonstrates how the aforementioned jobs were carried out. Mind you, the video shows how these jobs were carried out during the Victorian times of England so techniques from the first-century (and earlier) may vary a bit but the demonstrations are interesting none-the-less. I will warn you ahead of time, although there is no foul language used in the video, the processes used to accomplish these jobs can be foul in their own way.

The ease at which we are able to buy things in our culture causes most of us to take for granted the production processes performed by others, but we should not forget the benefit of having individuals in our culture who are honest, hard-working, and who are not “too good” to do jobs from which others enjoy receiving the benefit thereof.

So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel.” (Jeremiah 18:3)

#video #work

A poem called “If”

When I say I’m not the poetry type I’m not saying I don’t like poems … I’m saying I don’t like all types of poems. It’s all the rules that turn me off. When I write I just like to write, but I will happily confess that poetry, at times, is one of the highest forms of communicating man’s language and thoughts.

I recently heard a poem “written by a father for his son” titled “If”. The actual author is Rudyard Kipling.

Hearing the poem caused me to look it up so I could read over the words, many of which contain strong biblical principles. I thought it was worth sharing because I know at least one guy around here who appreciates “good” poetry from time to time.

For in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as also certain of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” (Acts 17:28)

#poetry #parenting

Good quote about sexuality

In the latest issue of House to House, the following statement was used as the first sentence in a very well written article:

Satan tries to get unmarried couples to- gether and keep married couples apart.

“The Marriage Bed”; House to House, Heart to Heart; Volume 25, Number 11, Page 4

The article may not be first time this idea was conveyed but it shouldn’t be the last time because it’s the truth!

#quote #marriage #PDF

Truth comes from totality

The whole story reveals all of the truth; not standalone snippets. This doesn’t mean standalone snippets are not true. It means until the whole story is available for consideration, the details cannot be compared to each other in totality so that the whole truth can be known (Proverbs 18:13).

It’s kind of like when a parent asks their child if they’re telling the whole truth. A little here without a little there leaves us without the sum total, right?

The scriptures are a source of record even to atheists, but to be fully useful, even to theists, the scriptures must become a source of truth. This only comes by allowing the entirety of the Bible to tell the entirety of God’s will. This is like comparing puzzle pieces sitting in a box to puzzle pieces that have been placed together.

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#bible-study, #devotional