PERFECTED The love of God…

PERFECTED

The love of God is perfected in a person’s life when he or she obeys from the heart the words of Christ (Rom. 6:16-18); without obedience, one has not reached a mature state (1 Jn 2:5). Perfection is not a matter of being flawless or sinless (in this context), but the willingness and desire to allow the will of God to control one’s life. It was Jesus who said to those around Him, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’, ‘Lord’ and do not the things that I say?”

Secular Society – A False Hope

In a secular society, there is no good reason for a young woman to NOT commit suicide! If you say there is, what would it be? Then, after you give that answer, why is your answer better than another’s answer? It’s not, it’s only different.

If there is no God, then whatever it is that people want to do in our secular society, they should do it. If it means violating their own life, then let them do it. If it means violating someone else’s life, then let that happen also. There is no moral reason to not do what one wants. On what basis would it be wrong to not do what one wants? Is it because someone says it’s wrong? So!

Secular society can be very evil and wrong-headed.

Another young woman gave up her life for a hope she never had, only to stand before the Lord on the other side! Secular philosophy kills people, as it does children! A young woman had hope. But all her hopes turned into delayed disappointments. An educated woman with a loving mother (father?) and living with no hope! She hopes to see her mother after she is dead, but why? Did she receive something in the way of information not already present with us? No. She lived and died with a false hope.

We live in such an ignorant (unlearned) time. “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31, ASV)

Our Plague

That which plagued Israel is always a threat to us. Israel was interested in doing things after their own desires. We also tend to do the same. Therefore, God has put much emphasis upon what He said. When we worship God, we are only to worship Him but that worship must be and is reflected in one’s life of holiness. RT

Recognize

People can’t recognize you as having been with Jesus (Acts 4:13) if you:

1) don’t attend with the saints,

2) do not speak the words of God but give your opinion,

3) speak in such a way to do more harm than good,

4) do not live a holy, sanctified life.

If you do all these, you are recognized as a wannabe! RT

The Fourth Commandment

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11).

The Gospels are filled with the tension between Jesus and the Pharisees over the observance of the Sabbath (cf. John 5). Biblical history has shown the observance of the Sabbath day has been very important to the Israelite community; if one deliberately violated the Sabbath, judicial execution was the penalty (Exodus 31:14). To stay painfully close to the “letter of the law,” the Pharisees “strove to complete a formal code for Sabbath observance.” During one part of their history, Jewish armies refused to take up arms on the Sabbath. According to the Mishna (a collection of Jewish writings, compiled around A.D. 200), there were 39 forms of labor prohibited on the Sabbath. (McClintock-Strong, pp. 190 ff).

Are Christians obligated to observe the Sabbath? No, for two reasons: first, the Sabbath was given to the Israelite nation and no other (Exodus 31:15-17). Notice, it was exclusively to the Israelite nation. Secondly, under the New Covenant, the Old Law (Old Covenant) was nailed to the cross and this includes the specific command of Sabbath observance given to Israel (Colossians 2:14-15; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-12). Thus, when the Lord came, He took with Him to the cross the exclusivity of the entirety of the old Law with Him. The commands, all the commands and ordinances given to Moses to teach the community of Israel were put to death.

Some of those commands given by God to Moses transcends covenants; that simply means the positive application or the negative prohibition always apply regardless of which covenant is in force. In the case of Israel, most of those commands given by God to Moses were narrowly focused in an Israelite application, such as Leviticus 23. Under the New Covenant, there is no exclusivity to an ethnic people like there was under the Old Covenant.

Sometimes there is an objection offered such as the following: “Are you telling me God nailed only the fourth command of the Decalogue to the cross, but left the other nine for a New Testament implementation? Where is that in the New Testament [NT]?”

With this objection, what is in mind is the disconnect in understanding why the Lord would take all but one command from the Ten Words (commandments),and bring them into a NT application, leaving out only the fourth command out. There might be a ready acceptance of the Lord taking out (or nailing to the Cross) all the other ordinances given by Moses, such as one reads in Exodus 22-24, but since the NT does not make this express delineation, how is there any justification for others to do so?

This is a failure to understand the role of the Law of Moses to an exclusive people. The Sabbath Day was a day to keep holy, to set apart as a day of rest. It is important to notice the sabbath command is not given to any people as the command to be observed previous to Exodus 16. Many “Sabbatarians” (people who insist on observing the sabbath day command in a New Testament context) would have you understand the sabbath command goes back to the time of Genesis 1 and 2, but this is false. When the Lord made the seventh day of the week holy, He made it holy but obligated, as far as the Record is concerned, no people to observe a seventh-day rest from work, or anything else. It’s not until one reads Exodus 16, thousands of years after creation, that the Lord enjoined the Israelites to this command.

If you took a look at the reference to Jeremiah 31 from above, you will notice the Lord’s words to Jeremiah are prophetic in nature, saying the New Covenant is not like the Old Covenant, thus the complete putting away of the Old for the New (31:31-32). The value of what we call the Old Covenant is as Paul said in Romans 15:4,

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that through patience and through comfort of the scriptures we might have hope (ASV)

There is a principle for us in “the day of rest” command given to Israel. Many people have negatively influenced themselves and family members with continued secular working on the first day of the week, failing to put any degree of priority on one’s spiritual health or on God’s desire and demand to meet with the saints. It will catch up with those so guilty. RT

Third Commandment

     “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). What is in view? It is a prohibition against false swearing and includes the idea of profane or vain swearing. Dennis Prager gives a perspective that slightly varies from this. “Do not carry God’s name in vain” (Exodus, p. 245). Since God’s name is holy, one who carries God’s name, like Islamist terrorists or religious leaders who prey on people (woman, children, same-sex, greed), these are people who say one thing (in God’s name) but do the opposite of that which the Lord would Himself do.

Thus, more than the use of the word is in mind, but an actual way of thinking and living is in view. Do not be misled, however. Before the way of thinking and living can begin to exist, it must first start with outside influences; from those influences’ words are used, however innocent one might be in the use of those words.

The New Bible Dictionary says, “[s]trictly speaking, Yahweh [Jehovah] is the only ‘name’ of God.” Further, “The name is no mere label, but is significant of the real personality of him to whom it belongs” (pp. 429-431). The importance of this is in relation to how you would think of it if one were to misuse your name. For instance, your name is “Tom.” A slight acquaintance of yours comes up to you and calls you “Tim.” It is likely you will gently correct that person. If the same person, knowing your name then comes up and purposely calls you by another name or mocks your actual name – how would you respond to that?

The Scriptures attests great significance to the qualities/character of God. In the model prayer (Matthew 6:9-14), the Lord taught His disciples to “hallow” the Lord’s name, keep His name holy in one’s thinking, speaking and living. “The big man upstairs” (or some similar expression) is not a reflection of reverence.

Some try to avoid misusing the Lord’s name, instead a substitute is used with little to no thought about its association. This is known as a euphemism (a substitute). Rather than saying “oh my god!”, some say, “oh my gosh!” Look in any dictionary and you’ll see the word “gosh” is used as a substitute for “God.” Perhaps the intent of the person using the word is because it’s less offensive and there is no desire to use “God” in cavalier way. Commendable, I grant you.

The point in these words is not to prohibit expressions as much as it is to educate about the significance of the Lord’s name, how we need to respect and honor Him who has that name or mark of identification. To misuse the Lord’s name is to express disrespect and to violate the spirit of the command given to the nation of Israel.

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name(Psalm 111:9; KJV). The Lord God redeemed (saved) a people from bondage, He gave the same people a covenant to live by in order to bring them to His desired spot, a resting place with Him in Glory. His name, then, to those who love the Lord, is holy (set apart and sanctified) and it is to be revered, that is, to be feared. The Holy Spirit said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). RT

 

 

MOVE ON

There are circumstances in life wherein the discouragement seems to be greater than the encouragement. What does a person do?

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58, ASV).

“Yea, well this is great! I know what the Scripture says, but you have not been in my shoes. I am worn out by all the discouragements I have experienced through these many days. Is there not something else that can be said?”

Perhaps there is, but my limited wisdom would not know what to say than that which the Lord said. If you don’t move forward with the Lord’s exhortation, then with man’s you will move to the side, perhaps slightly forward at an angle or maybe even regress. Neither of those options are good. Why not move toward the goal of the prize of your high calling? Why not keep your eyes glued on Him who is the Creator of life?

Move on, move forward, arrive safely.  RT

Second Commandment

   “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments(Exodus 20:4-6).

No Carved Images. The previous command gave attention to the object of worship, now this one with how one is to not approach the Lord. Those who worship the Lord do not need a visual reminder, an aid to facilitate worship in the proper way. It was Jesus who said that each person who comes to come must come to Him in spirit and truth. To create an object for appearance sake is to limit the Almighty to that created object. In other words, the object becomes holy and more than just a representation. The condemnation is not against art or sculpture, per se, but against that which would be used in worship (cf. Deut. 4:15-19). One of the reasons for the popularity of religious relics, purchased nearly anywhere, is that an image helps one reflect and think on that which is divine. The Lord said this is not necessary, in fact, He forbids it.

No created object is to represent the Lord or that which is of and by Him, and since this is so, it is even more the case no one is to bow down before a created object used in worship. Genuinely motivated as they are, the Catholic Church clearly understands what is being said, so they seek for an explicitly forbidden command from the Lord, but those faithful to the Lord understand the spirit of the prohibition. In Churches of Christ, we are not immune to similar approaches. A practical application of this forbiddance is not in worship, but in how a church building is used. Their resistance notwithstanding, some people consider a church building sacred. Somehow, it is acceptable to use the restroom inside a church but not eat in it?

The basis of idolatry is self-will. To have an idol of any sort is to rebel against God in the way He commands. The Scripture speaks of God as a jealous God. He goes to great lengths to redeem – and this is the thanks He gets! This self-will approach is also known as spiritual adultery. Spiritual adultery has long tentacles, limbs the reach out and sink roots of destruction in following generations. People who do not obey, whether out of ignorance or rebellion, are people who hate the Lord; there is no interest in obeying His commands. It does not matter that a person rejects the use of the word hate in this context, for there are, really, only two options from which to choose. First, if one loves the Lord obedience follows; if one does not obey the Lord then it is necessarily the case one hates the Lord’s way.

APPLICATION. Those who love the Lord will worship Him in spirit and truth. Worship is a matter of genuine interest in pleasing the Lord (not one’s self) and in accordance with His revealed word. Those who love the Lord are not ignorant of His word, they choose to obey Him who is the giver of life. RT

 

 

 

#ten-commandments

Only a Fool!

We live in a land of abundance. As each year passes one can’t help but notice not only the abundance of wealth in our country, but also the deprivations that others experience because of varied reasons. In Luke 12:13-21, the Lord addresses the  vanity of one who possessed much, but failed to see things that were even of greater importance. The man who owned much in the way of material things only desired to expand his holdings (12:18), and he did this for his own retirement’s sake. The Lord looked upon his actions and his heart as that of a “Nabal” (cf. 1 Samuel 25:25), only as a foolish one.

Some of us are more fortunate than others in this country. Since we are in the position we are as a result of the Lord, since we are educated (at whatever level), since we have an internal drive to accomplish much on the way of good, what have we done with what is ours? Rather than build a large place to live, why not be satisfied with a “cottage below” in this world? Do we really need something that is considered large even by our own standards?

Not long ago I was speaking with a man who built a house in our area; it is a large house (to me), but I learned that it was much larger than I imagined. He and his wife have been fortunate in life. She is on staff at the University of Illinois and he has his own business. They were able to give themselves that which they wanted, and the square footage of their house was around 6, 500 feet. A husband and wife (with children gone) with a house that large struck me as something similar to that which is read in Luke 12:13-21.

Let me be careful in these remarks. As far as I am aware, there is (and was) no sin involved in this couple’s home or even in that which they were able to mass. Nevertheless, there is a home in Bowling Green, Kentucky and Valparaiso, Indiana were the staff is making appeal after appeal for Christians to help in provisions as they (the Children’s Home) give children a structured life and love.

We are fortunate because the Lord gave us life in the United States, a location wherein many opportunities abound. Are we building barns, or are we helping in the building of lives (Luke 12:34)? RT

 

BulletinGold.com

Vision

“A man’s sight depends upon what is inside him” (V. P. Black). The significance of this is easily understood. If you look at things suspiciously, then at people you will look the same. If you doubt in the trustworthiness of people and institution, then it is likely you will doubt the Lord’s people and institution. This is a terrible way to live life. RT.

 

Appearances

Keeping up appearances is only a façade, a covering that hides the struggle and anguish of one’s loneliness and shame underneath. It’s not always easy to address, but it must be given attention. The attention one must give, however, is not a wall to keep out others, but a door opened when Jesus comes knocking. RT

 

First Commandment

     “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3). The Lord God is the one true object of worship. The word “worship” is a word that conveys the idea of adoration (adoring) and obedience to His will. In one translation of the Bible, in the margin, are these words: “an act of reverence.” To revere the Lord is to hear Him and to obey Him (cf. Luke 6:46). To the Israelites, in the Book of Exodus, the Lord demonstrated Himself thoroughly when He brought one nation (Israel) out from another nation (Egypt), taking them to the land of promise, the land promised to the heritage (descendents) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. With this knowledge in hand, those of the Israelite nation were in good position to not only move forward under the Lord’s protection, but with that protective wall about them, they could easily swat the attempts of Satan to overcome them. This, however, did not stop Satan from making his attempts to get man to worship something other than God. Man’s great adversary is wildly successful at accomplishing this because he knows the weaknesses of man. When an individual or a nation succumbs to the temptations of Satan and then makes that pleasure their guiding light, this is called Idolatry.

Keep in mind the meaning of the word worship. Idolatry is worshipping some person or object other than God. It means to adore (give much attention to), to obey whatever precepts are given to maintain that adoration and act of reverence. This is false worship. In our current environment we, as a people, are not so cultured and civilized that we are not guilty of worship toward idols of our own making. We simply substitute God with something we like, adore and reverence – whatever that might be.

When God gave this command to the Israelites, He understood quite well what the Israelites were coming from. They came from a polytheistic nation. They included the Egyptian gods with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were very confused. When they built the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai, they did what was familiar, they did only what seemed right to some. Nevertheless, because that which the Lord did for them, educating them away from this type of thinking, their actions were inexcusable. You would think that these words would have resonated with them. For some it did, for others it did not. Israel, in their long history, was plagued by idolatry for 8½ centuries. Painful examples and experiences were given by God to the people to get them to turn away from their evil but they still held on to that which they wanted to believe.

     That which plagued Israel is always a threat to us. Israel was interested in doing things after their own desires. We also tend to do the same. It was the prophet Jeremiah who spoke to the people about their idolatry associated with both work and worship (Jeremiah 44). Without going along with society’s demands the people were unable to provide for their families, so they went with what was demanded of them by the community of people in which they lived. Because they did this, their worship of the Lord was all but gone. They were too busy and sleepy. God put much emphasis upon what He said to the nation—there was to be nothing before Him. It is the same today; there is to be nothing before Him. When there is, the Lord begins the process of turning away Himself (cf. Rom. 1:21-31). RT

 

#ten-commandments

The Door Will Be Open

The rain is coming down on a dark evening. It’s early, not much activity is taking place; in fact, not any activity is taking place except to wait for a snow storm to come dropping 2, 3, maybe 5 inches, with an additional treat of high winds.

Services on Sunday morning….well, not sure if the saints and visitors can make it in. Still, the doors will be open for those who can.

In the dark evening, early evening, there is time to reflect on the Scripture.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Somehow, in the quiet evening these words are just right.

#door, #just-right

Too Busy to Pray

The devil is not far away when you are too busy to pray. This sentiment also applies to one who is too busy to gather with the saints or who enjoys the company of those who do not belong to the Lord more than with those who do. The reason for this is in relation to that with which one is comfortable. “I’ll be fine…” “I don’t need…” “You’re too judgmental…” and other walls of excuses are put up, as Satan encourages them to be put up. RT

 

#busy, #pray

Damage Done

If you marry a child of the devil you will have trouble with your father-in-law.

The above is a bulletin anecdote I thought to be interesting. With the thought in mind, consider: Marriage is the Lord’s institution wherein two people become one. If one is a descendant of Satan’s ways, a child of God has no earthly idea the struggles he or she will face. Into the marriage one goes with blinders, only to come out scarred and eyes wide-open, but damaged.

Damage is already done. Recovery is difficult. RT

#marriage