Diligent or Lagging by Tim Dooley

In Romans 12, Paul offers a number of short exhortations to his readers. The King James Version translates the first part of verse 11, “Not slothful in business.” The Christian should be diligent for his employer, but the context this verse has more to do with the business of the church.

We sing a song, “I want to be a worker for the Lord.” Do we mean those words when we sing them? Do we truly want to “be busy every day in the vineyard of the Lord, Of are we just giving lip service?

All disciples are to be actively engaged in the work of the Lord’s church. We should be busy making disciples Matthew 28:19), encouraging each other (Hebrews 10:24-25), and helping the needy (Galatians 6:10; James 1:27).

We do not always see the fruit of our labors, but we must not give up. If we are mocked or rejected or persecuted by those around us, we keep obeying God (1 Peter 2:19-20). The things we do in the name of the Lord are not done in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). May we never lag in diligence when it comes to the Lord’s work.

What It Means to Forgive by Gene Taylor

Forgiveness is more than just speaking the words. It must be sincere and from the heart. It must be patterned after the forgiveness God has granted to us. It must be accompanied by actions which befit true forgiveness.

Forgiveness involves a kind attitude all animosity and hatred. All bitterness, anger, abandoning – wrath, clamor and evil speaking should be put away (Eph. 4:31). We can hold no grudges. One must deny the impulse to get even and seek to do the forgiven one good.

Forgiveness involves forgetting (Heb. 8:12), but what does it mean to forget? It is impossible for a person to completely obliterate the wrong from his mind. Rather it means to not hold the person accountable for it anymore. When forgiveness is granted that should end the matter. It should never again be dredged up or held against the one who.
has been forgiven.

Forgiveness should be given by the “golden rule” (Matt. 7:12). One should always be willing to forgive– even at repeated offenses. Matthew 18:21-22 has the apostle Peter asking, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

The Tomb Was Found Empty

Excerpted from: The Tomb Was Found Empty, Wayne Jackson

Christ’s resurrection is attested by the empty tomb: the women found it empty; Peter and John found it empty; the angels said it was empty; the Roman guards terrifyingly declared it to be empty; the chief priests believed it was empty; the grave clothes were evidence that it was empty; and even modern skeptics reluctantly agree–it was found empty.

On resurrection Sunday, Jesus Christ was seen by: Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-10); by the other women (Matthew 28:9-10); by two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32); by Peter (Luke 24:34); by the apostles (with Thomas absent) gathered in the upper room (Luke 24:36 John 20:19).

Over the next 40 days (Acts 1:3; cf. 10:41; 13:31), the Lord was seen by the apostles (with Thomas present, John 20:26-31); by seven apostles at the Sea of Galilee (John 21); by his disciples in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-20); by 500 brethren at once (1 Corinthians 15:6); by James (1 Corinthians 15:7); by those who saw him ascend to heaven (Acts 1:9-10); and “last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared unto me [Paul] also” (1 Corinthians 15:8; cf. Acts 9:3-7, 27).

Therefore, Peter preached Jesus Christ, “whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.. This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses” (Acts 2:24, 32).

Don’t Take Credit for God’s Gifts by Kevin Cauley

In Deuteronomy 8:17, we read, “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.” Moses was speaking to the children of Israel about what would happen after they entered the land of Canaan and began to experience all the wonderful blessings that waited for them there. The temptation would be that they would begin to think that they earned these blessings because of their own righteousness. The next verse (18) says, “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” Do we face the same temptation today? 

Like the Israelites, we can sometimes forget that God is the One from whom all blessings flow, and we can begin to think that we have earned these blessings through our own righteousness. We should never forget Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Remember what Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Luke 17:10). I am so thankful that Jesus always got it right, and that through Him I have my salvation. Now, I can put my faith and trust in Christ to save instead of my own ability. Doing this means that I will obey Jesus, and that His grace will cleanse me of my sin (1 John 1:2. Let’s remember the warning Moses gave the Israelites and never think to take credit for God’s gifts.

Christ Is the Only Way by Gregory Alan Tidwell

We tend to be serious and exclusive when dealing with serious matters. When you go to a physician for treatment, the doctor doesn’t outline four or five arbitrary therapies, asking you to choose the one which “floats your boat.” Rather, a physician seeks the greatest precision in addressing the patient’s situation.

In the same way, but even more profoundly, Jesus claims to address the central elements of life, putting Himself forward to be the answer to our most profound needs. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden,” Jesus invites, “and I will give you rest.” This loving call invites us into a new way of life filled with blessings and with responsibilities. “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,” is the Savior’s commandment and promise, “for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30) The power of the gospel is transformational. It moves us from the way of the world into the way of salvation in Christ. Receiving the blessings of Jesus as your Savior entails entering into a relationship with Jesus as your Lord.

In contrast to the transforming power of the gospel, much of today’s popular religion is accommodating rather than confrontational. Worldly religions reinforce rather than challenge worldly behavior. In contrast to the world’s message of indulgence, the church must continually reinforce the Lord’s call to
repentance.

The Greatest Need in America

We’ve been thinking much about the state of our country. Economic woes, fear of enemies, health concerns, natural disasters, spiritual decline, and confused morality call for our attention; and we continually ask what God’s will is for this country.

We are perplexed but not surprised that the fastest growing religious group in America is the group that identifies themselves as having “no religion.” According to the American Religious ldentification Survey taken in 2001, adults who do not subscribe to any religious identification has more than doubled from 14.3 million in 1990 to 29.4 million in 2001; their proportion has grown from just eight percent of the total in 1990 to over fourteen percent in 2001. Only 77 percent of Americans now claim to be Christians.

Many of those who claim to be Christians have convictions far different from the teaching of the New Testament. For instance, the Pew Forum recently released a survey saying that 65 percent of American Christians say that many religions can lead to eternal life, a fact that contradicts Jesus’ plain statement in John 14:6 (see also Acts 4:12; Ephesians 4:4-6)

What America needs most is the gospel, the old story of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. That divine story will lead them to change their hearts and lives repentance and to unite with Christ in baptism. The gospel will open their hearts to faith, hope, and love.

The Priesthood of All Believers by Phil Sanders

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 2:4-5 NASB). serve as priests.

Under the old covenant, only the Levites could Priests had two functions: (1) they offered up sacrifices in worship, and (2) they were to “to teach the sons of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them through Moses (Lev. 10:11)

Under the new covenant, however, every Christian shares in the priesthood. Every Christian has the responsibility to worship and to teach others the unsearchable riches of Christ. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10 ESV).

There are souls all around your neighborhood that needs the gospel of Jesus Christ, and God has asked every Christian to be involved in proclaiming the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

We Love the Souls of Everyone – Phil Sanders

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Because we love the souls of men and want them to go to heaven, we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul knew this burden and said, “l am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So l am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:14-16)

Because we love the souls of men, we are not afraid to speak out against sin. We know that passions of the flesh “wage war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

Because we love the souls of men, we preach the need to follow Jesus. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

Because we love the souls of men, we point people to what is best. The Lord Jesus came to bring us an abundant life (John 10:10). His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). He is “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). We can do no better than to preach Jesus and Him crucified to every soul in every place who will hear. 

 

Finding My Worth in God by Kerry Williams

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Phil 2:3 NKJV).

One of the greatest struggles for humanity is the discovery of our own value and self-worth. People often feel so very empty and insignificant. The cares of life tend to batter down our self- image and leave us with a sense of meaninglessness and even self-loathing. This is part of the reason why so many people turn to so many vices-alcohol, drugs, sexuality-in an attempt to “fill the void.”

The world is quick to offer solutions. The self-appointed therapists of afternoon talk shows and the mega-rich attitude coaches of late-night infomercials tell us that we need to practice “self love,” and engage in more positive “self-talk.” They tell us that we have to love ourselves first before we can ever learn to love anyone else. Yet, however quaint their advice may be, it is as far from truth as the east is from the west.

The Bible tells us that positive self-image does not come through believing we are wonderful, but through the knowledge that God loves us. We don’t need better “self-esteem,” but need a better understanding of God’s estimation of us! In fact, the Bible tells us that the first step to wholeness is understanding and accepting our own wretchedness and turning in utter dependence to God’s awesome grace. Perhaps the old children’s song has more practical advice on developing self-esteem all ot today’s pop-psychology: “Jesus first, yourself LAST and others in-between.”

TEN WAYS TO LOVE

1. LISTEN without interrupting. (Proverbs 18)
2. SPEAK without accusing. (James 1:19)
3. GIVE without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
4. PRAY without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)
5. ANSWER without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)
6. SHARE without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)
7. ENJOY without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)
8. TRUST without wavering. (Corinthians 13:7)
9. FORGIVE without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)
10. PROMISE without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12)