Promises are like pie crusts, easy made and easy broken

As children we made promises to our friends about different things. Throughout the years we no doubt have promised to do things, and whether or not we have kept those promises is only for us to know. Mama always said, “Promises are like pie crusts, easy made and easy broken.” 

I was reading in Genesis recently about Noah and the flood. God made a promise to Noah and to all of us that He would never destroy the earth by water again. He not only said that orally but He backed up His promise with a sign, or a bow in the sky as the Bible says.

I remember standing on the hillside outside mother’s house during the 1990 flood of Elba, Alabama. I watched the water surrounding her house and across the street as far as the eye could see. It was rolling like a mighty river toward town. The sound I shall never forget. For a moment I was frightened. Where would we go if the water kept rising? I tried to think of the highest place even outside of the small town of Elba, and then I remembered God’s promise. 

“And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you and with your seed after you; and with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:9-11)

It is a beautiful promise of God and please read on through verse 17. God made a promise to Noah and all of us and he sealed that promise with a beautiful bow (rainbow). He said He would look upon the bow and remember the everlasting covenant (promise) between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

How beautiful is that? How beautiful is the rainbow we see in the clouds and always marvel at its beauty? How beautiful is it to know that it is evidence of a living God who made the promise to all of us. That is a promise He has never broken nor will it ever be broken. We can believe the promises of God about the rainbow, salvation, and eternity. His promises are not like pie crusts, easy made and easy broken. We can indeed stand on the promises of God.

#bible-study, #flood, #promises, #rainbow

What does the Bible say about the Christian’s real home?

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20)

By faith Abraham, “waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God…These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 3:10, 13).

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

This world in which we live in the flesh is not the Christian’s real home. We are just strangers and pilgrims passing through this world. It may be easy for us in America with all God’s blessings to forget that this earth is not our home. When we are fully convinced that our lives on earth are temporary; that heaven awaits those who faithfully serve the Lord; then we will put God first in our lives. (Matthew 6:33)

When we think on the wonders and glory of our beautiful mansion in heaven, compared to our home on earth, it should help us overcome the infatuation that we obviously have so many times with earthly possessions.

Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“Seek those things which are above…set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

To think on the words of songs like the following should certainly be helpful:

“This world is not my home, I’m just a passing thro’; my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”

“Earth holds no treasures but perish with using, However precious they be; yet there’s a country to which I am going: Heaven holds all to me.”

“Here we are but straying pilgrims; here our path is often dim; but to cheer us on our journey, still we sing this wayside hymn.”

“On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, and cast a wishful eye, to Canaan’s fair and happy land, where my possessions lie.”

Now is the time to prepare for your real homecoming.

 

#bible-study, #home, #homecoming

What does the Bible say about responsibility?

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“When you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do'” (Luke 17:10).

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Responsibility is defined as the state of being responsible or accountable; that for which one is answerable; a duty or trust; ability to meet obligations. Jesus used the word ‘duty’ which is defined as that which one is morally or legally bound to do; obligation. Thus, several words could be used that have similar meanings as does responsibility.

At Luke 17:7-10, Jesus taught a parable about a servant working all day, and at evening rather than being served he will be required to serve others first. Rather than being thanked, it was understood that he had only done his duty. 

Some have made Christianity to be so sweet and sentimental, but Jesus strips away the veneer to expose the real taskmaster of duty.

Sadly, from the time when Adam and Eve sinned, people have tried to blame others or shift their responsibility as Adam and Eve did.

Again, Jesus said, “Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). This is known as the Golden Rule, and when we practice it, and what Jesus taught about loving God and our neighbor, it summarizes our duty and responsibility.

This is what life is all about! Faith in God and our obedience involves responsibility.          

 

#bible-study, #responsibility

What does the Bible say about the Christian’s calling

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you werecalled” (Ephesians 4:1).

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1).

“For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13; Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21).

“Arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

People are called by the gospel to become Christians (2 Thessalonians 2:14), and as Christians we have a “heavenly calling” that involves our walking “worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

What does it mean to call on the Lord to be saved? Obviously it does not mean to pray for salvation by calling the Lord’s name because Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). We see then that to call on the Lord means to obey what He has told us to do.

To be forgiven of sin and prepare to go to heaven, we must:

  1. Believe in Jesus as God’s Son (John 8:24);
  2. Repent of our sins (Luke 13:3); 
  3. Confess our faith in Jesus as God’s Son (Matthew 10:32-33);
  4. Be baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27).
  5. Live as faithful children of God

Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).  

 

#bible-study

God can use us all

I am reading the letters that the apostle Paul wrote now and enjoying them very much. It made me think about Paul and him being, what he called, the chief of sinners when he was persecuting Christians.While on the road to Damascus. He was one we probably would have given up on for much less than what he did to persecute Christians. But God can take the meanest, the dirtiest, the ugliest among us and make us clean. That’s what He did with Paul, and just look at what a change Paul made. 

Look where Paul came from: He was born in Tarsus, educated in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. He was a tentmaker by trade. He approved of Stephen’s death and persecuted Christians to their death.

Look where Paul was going: Paul was on his way to Damascus with a couple of friends taking letters written to fellow Jews in Damascus, to arrest Christians and take them back to Jerusalem to be punished. 

Look how Paul was stopped: As he was traveling and coming near Damascus, about midday a bright light from the sky flashed suddenly around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” 

Look how Paul changed: He asked the Lord, “What shall I do, Lord?” and the Lord told him to get up and go into Damascus, and there he would be told everything that God had determined for him to do. He was blind and his companions took him by the hand and led him into Damascus.

Ananias, a devout man according to the Law and was highly respected by the Jews living there. He came to Paul and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight,” Ananias told him that the God of our ancestors had chosen him to know his will, to see his righteous Servant, and to hear him speaking with his own voice. He said he would be a witness for him to tell everyone what he had seen and heard. Then he told him to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:1-16).

Look at the wonderful servant of God Paul became: God used Paul mightily from that day forward. He was a missionary in love with the Lord. He wrote letters to the churches which take up much of our New Testament.

The thing I am thinking about is that God can take the scoundrel, the vilest of sinners, the dirtiest, the ugliest among us and make us clean. He can forgive and forget. That person can become a great servant of God. Let us look at each person we meet through the eyes of our Lord and see in him a soul that is worthy of being saved, and let us go about teaching him the precious gospel of Christ.

#bible-study, #practical-lessons

What does the Bible say about the church of Christ

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr

“The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16).

Jesus said, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18).

“…the church of God which He purchased with His own

blood” (Acts 20:28).

“There is one body” (Ephesians 4:4). God “gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

“And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Often, as in the above verses, Christ’s spiritual body is referred to as “the church” because there were no denominational churches as we have in the world today. The church is also designated as the “house of God,” “bride of Christ,” “church of the firstborn’. These references do not refer to different churches, but to God’s one spiritual kingdom. Each of these Bible designations glorifies God and His Son Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament foretold that the church would be set up during the days of the Roman kings in the city of Jerusalem. Acts chapter 2 shows these events taking place, and for the first time we read of the church being in existence on the earth as people were added to it by the Lord.

We never read in the Bible of anyone ever “joining” the church of Christ, but when people obeyed the gospel the Lord added them to His church.

As the Bible tells of these predictions that were made hundreds of years in advance, we read of them being “at hand” or soon to happen. At Mark 9:1, Jesus said he was speaking to some who would not die until the kingdom came with power. Jesus told the apostles to wait int he city of Jerusalem until they received “power from on high” (Luke 24:49). Acts 1:8 tell they would receive this power when the Holy Spirit came. The Holy Spirit came as recorded in Acts 2, so that is the time when God set up His church.  

 

#bible-study, #church-of-christ

Luke, my favorite doctor

I have approached my Bible reading differently lately in that I decided to read what Dr. Luke, the Physician, wrote. First I read the book of Luke and then continued with the book of Acts. Luke was an eyewitness from the beginning and minister of the word (Luke 1:2).

Luke said it seemed good to him also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first to write it unto Theophilus (beloved of God). Why would he do this? He continued, “That you might know the certainty of those things, wherein you have been instructed.”

I don’t recall much being said about Luke throughout the Bible. But we know from his writings, his knowledge, that he was there, he was listening, he was learning, and he shared what he knew. Other writers, namely Paul, mentioned Luke being with them on occasions, but he must have been a very quiet person. We know he was well learned. What can we learn from Dr. Luke? I suggest:

  1. He was there. He was in the presence of Jesus. He was where the action was going on. We might compare that to our being in regular attendance at all the services of the church. The Bible says “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
  2. He was listening. Smart people listen more than they talk. Someone has said, “I never learned a thing when I was the one doing the talking.”
  3. He was learning. Dr. Luke was smart but he continued to learn. We don’t ever outgrow our need to study the Word of God. There is always something we can learn. God knew if we could read the Bible one time and learn all we needed to know, that we would put it down and never pick it up again. We can always learn something new every time we read from the Bible.
  4. He shared what he knew, and aren’t we thankful he did? To read the book of Luke and continue with reading the book of Acts is wonderful in that one will get the full picture of the life of Jesus and the acts of the apostles in teaching His commands. We can share what we learn from the word of God, in fact that is our marching orders as brother Ira North used to say. We are to go and teach others the gospel of Christ. Luke wrote it because he wanted Theophilus (and all of us) to know the certainty of those things we are taught or read in the Word of God.

Not only are we thankful that Dr. Luke, our brother, was present, but he was listening, learning and was willing to share what he had both seen and heard with all of those who dare to take time to sit down and read his writings. I am most grateful for God’s word.

 

#bible-reading, #bible-study

What does the Bible say about guilt

By: Douglas M. Williams, Sr

“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; 10:17; Isaiah 43:25).

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Guilt is defined as, “The fact or condition of having committed a legal or moral offense. A feeling of remorse arising from a real or imagine commission of an offense. Guilty conduct.”

Bible examples of those who felt guilt after they had sinned and before they were forgiven:

  1. Adam and Eve – Genesis 3:7-8
  2. The bad treatment of Joseph by his brothers – Genesis 42:21.
  3. David because of his sins – Psalm 51.
  4. Peter after denying Jesus – Matthew 26:75.
  5. Judas after betraying Jesus – Matthew 27:3-5.
  6. Those who accused the woman of adultery – John 8:9.

We should have guilt because of sin, but when we obey the Lord and are forgiven we should no longer feel guilt. There is an unnecessary problem after we are forgiven; we fail to forgive ourselves and continue to have unnecessary guilt.

Jesus died for our sins in order that we not die. He took our guilt and death, and gave us righteousness and life.

Jesus paid for our sin with His blood, and offers us salvation as a gift. Will you accept His gift, or must you pay for sins with your soul even though Jesus has already paid for them?

Do you have guilt, or have you accepted God’s forgiveness?

 

#bible-study, #guilt

Money talks

Money talks. Oh, I don’t mean literally, but just look at James 2:1-4

“My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (NIV)

People show more respect for those who seemingly have money. Money talks.

Young people look up to the young fellow who has a beautiful new car. Money talks.

Store employees are more apt to drift toward the customer who is finely dressed as opposed to the poorly dressed customer. Money talks.

Church members sometimes are more receptive to those with money than the man of low estate. Money talks.

But the saddest time that money did its most damning talk was when the Bible says that Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. He went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus, our Lord. The Bible says they were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present (Luke 22:4-6). Money talks.

Satan is behind money talking even today through our thoughts, our actions, our deeds. May we ever keep our hearts right in the sight of God and man.

#bible-study, #money

What does the Bible say about hell

By: Douglas M. Williams Sr.

“The wicked shall be turned into hell and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

At Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells of two men that died. The beggar being obedient to God went to a place of comfort, but the rich man because of disobedience went to a place of punishment and torment. The Bible says, “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and sees Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).

Hell is a very serious subject, but recently Rob Bell wrote the book “Love Wins,” in which he questions what the Bible teaches about hell. The Dothan Eagle, March 28, 2011, carried this account from The Associated Press, Raleigh, NC, which stated, “What does hell mean to you? Is it an endless nightmare for sinners and unsaved souls, as mainstream Christianity has taught for centuries? Or is hell here on Earth, in the distractions, addictions, and emptiness of daily life?”

The article referred to some who agreed with the book, and others who disagreed, but the important thing is what God said about it as recorded in the our Bibles.

Usually the same people who don’t believe what the Bible says about hell do believe in heaven. If we believe the Bible as God’s inspired word we must believe both. You cannot believe in heaven if you don’t believe in hell. Jesus taught much about hell and His teachings are clear. Hell is a real place “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mathew 25:41). Hell is an eternal place of darkness, fire, and pain. In hell there is no rest, relief, or hope.

Indeed God is a God of love, but also a just God who must punish the disobedient and will reward the obedient. If we love God we will obey and live for Him in this life, and live with Him eternally in heaven and escape hell.                                                                        

 

#bible-study

What does the Bible say about heaven

by: Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

“Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and grace. I want to see my Savior’s face, Heaven is a wonderful place. I want to go there.” These are the words to a beautiful song.

The Bible describes heaven as:

  • A wonderful, beautiful, real place where God dwells, a place of God’s presence (Psalm80:14; Matthew 5:16, 45, 48).
  • A place where Christ was before He came to earth (John 3:13, 6:38).
  • A place to which Christ returned at His ascension (Acts 1:11).
  • The dwelling place of angels (Matthew 28:2; Luke 22:43).
  • The eternal dwelling place of the soul of God’s faithful children.
  • A place of rest where God’s servants shall serve Him (Revelation 21, 22).

It is from heaven that Jesus will come when He returns at His second coming in the clouds (Acts 1:11;                   1 Thessalonians 1:10; 4:16; Revelation 1:7).

Just as the Bible teaches that heaven is the eternal dwelling place of the soul of God’s faithful children, the Bible describes the only alternative as the awful place of hell, the place of eternal punishment for the wicked (Matthew 25:46; 2 Corinthians 5:1).

As Christians we can take great comfort and hope in Jesus promise of preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3). A beloved song stages, “Heaven holds all to me.”

Although the Bible tries to describe how wonderful and beautiful heaven is, we surely cannot fully and completely understand how great it will be.

In Revelation 21 and 22, we are told that God will be there with no tears, death, pain, sorrow, etc., for the things of this world will have passed away.

Are you prepared to go to heaven? Is your name written in heaven because you have obeyed Jesus in the forgiveness of sins, and you are living for Him (Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23)? If not, please make that preparation before it is too late. If I can help you in any way, I will be happy to do so.

#bible-study, #heaven

What does the Bible say about Christ coming again?

By: Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men ofGalilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11).

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him” (Revelation 1:7).

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32).

Jesus will come unexpectedly as a thief in the night (Matthew 24:43; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

When Jesus came the first time, He came as our Savior, but when He comes again He will be our judge (John 5:22; Acts 17:31). When Jesus comes again all will be raised in the resurrection (John 5:28-29). There will not be a long span of time between the resurrection of righteous and wicked. At Matthew 25:31-36, Jesus describes His coming again; His separating the righteous and wicked; and the Judgement Day.

2 Peter chapter 3 tells us, “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Nothing is more reasonable than the coming of the end of time, and nothing is more clearly taught in the scriptures. Yet there are people who live as though Jesus never came to provide salvation from sin for us, and that things discussed in this article will never take place. But it is a subject that we need to think about seriously, and make preparation for heaven as we obey and live for Jesus.

2 Peter 3 also tells us of scoffers who will not believe that Jesus is coming again. They say things have continued the same, but Peter reminds them that this is not true because of the flood during Noah’s day. Are you ready for the Judgement Day? We can help you if you are not. God bless you all.

#bible-study, #jesus-christ

The process of Bible study

This acrostic (“TIP”) might be helpful in remembering the necessary process of studying the Bible. Much can be said about each step, but this little item attempts to provide us a brief reminder. Continue reading

#bible-study, #hermeneutics

What does the Bible say about the church as the spiritual body of Christ

by Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body” (Ephesians 1:22-23).

“There is one body” (Ephesians 4:4).

“For as we have many members in one body…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14).

These verses tell us that the church is the body of Christ and that there is one body. So the Bible tells us there is one church.

A logical question should be which church is the Bible speaking of since there are many different churches in the world today. These churches are different because of the different people who started them at different times and places; they wear different names; worship in different ways; teach different doctrines; teach different ways to be saved. We must go to the Bible to learn of the one church which is the body of Christ.

Jesus promised to build one church (Matthew 16:18). He died for His church and purchased it with His own blood (Ephesians 5:25; Acts 20:28). The church belongs to Christ; He is the foundation of the church (1 Corinthians 3:11); “Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23). To be saved we must be a member of His body because salvation is not in the many denominational churches in our world today.

With these thoughts in mind we should have a greater appreciation for what the Bible says:

“The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:16), and “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Jesus prayed for unity “that all may be one” (John 17:21), and the Scripture teaches us how to be united.

#bible-study, #church-of-christ

What does the Bible say about Hope

by Douglas M. Williams Sr.

“For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope: for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:24-25).

Colossians 1:27 “…Christ is in you, the hope of glory.”

The Bible speaks of the “hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2; 3:7).

We can look “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

Our hope is “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). And 2 Peter 1:3-4 reads, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

“And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Hope is the moving force behind our activities. Sophocles stated, “It is hope which maintains most of mankind.” Our world is one of hope!

Martin Luther said, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

The Bible says, “he that ploweth should plow in hope; and he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope: (1 Corinthians 9:10). 

The hope of a crop encourages the farmer to drive the plow; the hope of victory urges the soldier to fight; the hope of winning makes the athlete run; and hope of the incorruptible crown inspires the child of God to run in the race of life (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Our hope is in God, and it is powerful! Our hope is obtained from the scriptures (Romans 15:4), and as long as there is life, there is hope. Our greatest hope is for eternal life in heaven. No matter how many times we lose in this life, we can look forward to eternal life where we win and never lose.

#bible-study