16 October 2018

"BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS"

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” These are the words of the “Prince of Peace”, Jesus Christ, as found in Matthew 5:9. This beatitude is somewhat different from the rest, such as those who are “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, “the meek”, “those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”, and, “the merciful”. The reason being, the expression, “the peacemakers” implies an action on the part of the disciples. It an adjective signifying peace-making. The “peacemaker” is to give “diligence to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesian 4:3). The “peacemaker” has to have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) in his heart. Paul wrote in Romans 5:1,2: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We are not only to be ‘peaceful’, we are to be peacemakers. Abraham Lincoln said: “Die when I may, let be said of me that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” Today, we need more people who will ‘plant flowers’ and ‘pull up the weeds’; meaning, there is a great need in our world to have more ‘peacemakers’ instead of ‘peace-breakers’! The Lord knows we have too many ‘peace-breakers’ in His church, in our community and in our nation. We live in turbulent times. Everywhere we find hatred, bigotry, prejudice, racism and violence existing, even in own nation. It doesn’t take much skill to cause confusion in a family, in the church or in our society. It isn’t easy, however, to be a peacemaker because you will be most likely criticized from every side. But, the ‘peacemaker’ is one who had rather suffer injury than to inflict injury upon others. He had rather settle difficulties through prayer than through force. This is the first beatitude “which shows blessedness pronounced as alighting upon a person, not in the first for some personal quality, grace or virtue, but his works sake in the interest of others, whether of family, the world or the church” - “For they shall be called sons of God.” The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:8-11, that if we love life, we should “seek peace and pursue it”Christians are to “Pursue peace with all people” (Hebrews 12:14). Of course, there is not to be compromise when truth is involved. The question is, Am I am a ‘peacemaker’ or a ‘peace-breaker’? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” These are the words of the “Prince of Peace”, Jesus Christ, as found in Matthew 5:9. This beatitude is somewhat different from the rest, such as those who are “poor in spirit”, “those who mourn”, “the meek”, “those who hunger and thirst after righteousness”, and, “the merciful”. The reason being, the expression, “the peacemakers” implies an action on the part of the disciples. It an adjective signifying peace-making. The “peacemaker” is to give “diligence to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesian 4:3). The “peacemaker” has to have “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) in his heart. Paul wrote in Romans 5:1,2: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” We are not only to be ‘peaceful’, we are to be peacemakers. Abraham Lincoln said: “Die when I may, let be said of me that I always pulled up a weed and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.” Today, we need more people who will ‘plant flowers’ and ‘pull up the weeds’; meaning, there is a great need in our world to have more ‘peacemakers’ instead of ‘peacebreakers’! The Lord knows we have too many ‘peacebreakers’ in His church, in our community and in our nation. We live in turbulent times. Everywhere we find hatred, bigotry, prejudice, racism and violence existing, even in own nation. It doesn’t take much skill to cause confusion in a family, in the church or in our society. It isn’t easy, however, to be a peacemaker because you will be most likely criticized from every side. But, the ‘peacemaker’ is one who had rather suffer injury than to inflict injury upon others. He had rather settle difficulties through prayer than through force. This is the first beatitude “which shows blessedness pronounced as alighting upon a person, not in the first for some personal quality, grace or virtue, but his works sake in the interest of others, whether of family, the world or the church” - “For they shall be called sons of God.” The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:8-11, that if we love life, we should “seek peace and pursue it”.Christians are to “Pursue peace with all people” (Hebrews 12:14). Of course, there is not to be compromise when truth is involved. The question is, Am I am a ‘peacemaker’ or a ‘peace-breaker’?

09 September 2018

MARRIAGE IN OUR SECULAR SOCIETY

We now live in a secular society in our nation. One aspect of a society that no longer respects the authority of the Almighty God, as found in His Holy Word, is the disregard of what He teaches regarding the sanctity of marriage. The following is one definition of the word, “Secularization”: “Secularization refers to the historical process in which religion loses social and cultural significance. As a result of secularization the role of religion in modern societies becomes restricted. In secularized societies faith lacks cultural authority, religious organizations have little social power, and public life proceeds without reference to the supernatural. Secularization captures a long-term societal change, but it has consequences for religion itself. In Western countries, where it has been most pronounced, it has made the connection to their Christian heritage more tenuous. Yet secularization is important beyond the formerly Christian West, given that many of the forces that first sustained it there affect other societies as well.” - Frank J. Lechner It is generally understood that a structure is no stronger than its foundation. This is true of civil governments and nations. When the foundation has been weakened, society is most likely to crumple, decay and implode. In Psalm 11:3 we read, “If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?” The foundation of any civilization is the family unit. Someone has rightly said, “As the home goes, so goes the nation.” In our country, the traditional understanding of marriage and the home is under attack by Satan and our secular society. Biblically speaking, marriage is the joining together of a man and a woman as husband and wife (See Genesis 2:20-25; Matthew 19:4-6 & Ephesians 5:22-33). This is God’s design for marriage and the home, and believers in His Holy Word are bound by the will of the Heavenly Father in this important matter. In today’s society, same sex marriages have become acceptable, even among some religious adherents. It is estimated that 40 percent of children are born outside of marriage. These are only two examples that manifest a total disregard of objective truth regarding God’s design for the sacredness of marriage as found in the Bible. Here are a couple of passages of Scriptures that should be considered by all: Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Psalm 9:17: “The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God” (NKJV). “Every violation of truth is a stab at the health of human society.” - Emerson.

02 July 2018

"EXTREMES BEGAT EXTREMES"

I remember well these words spoken by a wise and knowledgeable teacher of mine when I was in college. Brother Rex A Turner, Sr. had many ‘sayings’ but this is the one I want to emphasize presently. I have lived long enough (83 years) to know factually and by experience that this is true in our society today. He also said that a man need a “Balance wheel”, which we sorely need today. We are people of ‘extremism’. This is so evident today in the political world. Seemingly there is no ‘middle ground’ for some of our elected officials, and, in society in general. It is truly sad to witness the prejudice, bigotry and hatred manifested in our country. You can find such attitudes in people of different races and ethnic backgrounds. When you watch the news on television, or, read the newspapers, you can be assured the actions of such extreme attitudes of various individuals and/or groups are reported. I am reminded of the opening sentence in the book, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, written by Charles Dickens (1857): “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” In short, the description of the society in which the author lived, describes, in many ways, our present extreme attitudes and actions of our own time. As Christians, we should follow the teachings of Jesus Christ who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:17, 18, “Repay no one evil for evil, Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” In Hebrews 12:14, we read, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” We should not only be children of God who possess “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7); we must be “peacemakers” in the church and in society. And that , my friends, is a great challenge for all who are followers of the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The following should be the prayer of all Christians. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved, as to love.” - Francis of Assisi

24 March 2018

IF THERE IS NO HELL, CAN THERE BE A PLACE CALLED HEAVEN?

Now, think with me. If there is no hell, then we cannot believe in the Bible because hell is mentioned in the Holy Scriptures as being a real place. And, if the Bible is not reliable, God did not create the heavens and the earth as claimed in Genesis chapter one. Neither can we believe in God even though the Bible states that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). Additionally, we cannot believe in the Holy Spirit regardless of what the apostle Peter wrote, “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2:20, 21). Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:10-12, that, what he had received and spoke was from the “Holy Spirit.” And, if there is not a place called hell, how can we believe in the one who mentioned hell more than any person in the Bible. Did you know that the word “hell” (Greek, Gehenna) is found 12 times in the New Testament? In the book of James, we read that the “tongue is set on fire by hell” (3:6). Eleven times you will find the word “hell” mentioned in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke. You will find expressions like, “hell fire” (Mt.5:22); “eternal fire” (Mt.18:8); “son of hell” (Mt. 23:15). Do you know who used the word “hell” and these expressions? It was Jesus Christ! If there is not a place called hell, how can we believe in the person called Jesus Christ, because He often spoke of that terrible place. If we do not believe in Jesus Christ when He spoke about hell, how can we trust Him when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this”(John 11:25, 26)? Or, the beautiful and precious promise He made in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God believe also in Me. “In My Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so,I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” And then, there is that final and grand invitation extended to all who have believed in Him and have given their lives to Him: “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25:34). My friends, can you not understand the fatal and final results of such illogical reasoning by rejecting the biblical truth that teaches there is a terrible place call hell? But thanks be to God that He is, that the Holy Spirit inspired the writings of the Holy Scriptures; and, Jesus Christ died for our sins so we could be saved. And, that by His grace, we have the precious promise of being with all the redeemed in heaven when this life is over. God does not desire that anyone should die and go to the awful place call hell (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).