28 February 2012

Christian Living

Holiness is an important factor in matters pertaining to church growth. Holiness is a way of life, that is, the character of all those people who are pure in heart (Matthew 5:8; Hebrews 12:14). How we think, talk and live before our fellowman is important. A light that flickers and salt that loses it preserving power contribute to the stagnation of a local congregation. Christians who are living godly and involving themselves in the care of others will influence sinners in the way of the Lord. Hypocrites, who deceive, negligent members who are filled with apathy and brethren who stray, injure the cause of the Lord more than they realize. Preaching without practicing prevents many from obeying the gospel.

A congregation may possess the greatest orator for a preacher but no one will come to hear him if the church is not respected in the local community. The fact is, neighbors and friends visit mainly because of their respect for you, the life you live before them, and the example you are. They may disagree doctrinally but they will respect your convictions. A ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude turns people away; however, a true sense of concern and compassion for others will entice them to listen to what you say.

It is not necessary to wear certain kinds of apparel or to carry a placard advertising that you are member of some religious group. Your friends and neighbors already know what you are. They notice your enthusiasm or your indifference. They observe your faithfulness or your ungodliness. You are preaching and practicing before them every day.

Our peers are listening to our speech, watching what we are wearing, observing our habits, noticing our recreational activities, learning of our dealings with others and they are even concerned with our loyalty to the Lord and the local church. In fact, someone is scrutinizing every aspect of your daily life. You may, in fact, be the reason a person decides to become a Christian or to remain in sin. Never underestimate the power of your influence for good or bad!

The sentiments expressed by the apostle Paul as found in Philippians 2:12-16 should be considered and obeyed by the children of God: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His great pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among which you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

One of the greatest contributing sources to church growth is the individual Christian who is living faithfully to the Lord before his fellowman. What kind would your congregation be if all the members lived just like you?

16 February 2012

How Much Was Whitney Houston Worth When She Died?

This was the heading of an article that was written which I found on Google News early on Tuesday morning, February 14, 2014. The body of the deceased singer had barely reached the funeral home and days before her body would be buried when numerous writers began filling the newspapers and other medians of communication with such unimportant matters. This person had a beautiful voice and everyone who has ever heard her sing “I Will Always Love You” will testify to this truth. There is no doubt but that she made multiple millions of dollars in her life time but when a person comes to the end of life on this earth, it doesn’t really matter whether you have all the wealth in this world. Jesus said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his life” (Matthew 16:26)?  The rich man in the story that our Lord told lost his soul in torment, not because he was rich but rather that he left God out of his life. The poor man whose name was Lazarus was in “Abraham’s bosom”, not because he was poor; rather it was because he included God in his life (Luke 16:19-31). The measure of a person’s worth is not how much silver and gold one may accumulate in this life. But, this is what counts the most in the eyes of so many people. The Preacher said, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The patriarch Job exclaimed, following the tragedies he experienced, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). In my understanding, the question raised in the heading of this article is really not important and was in poor taste so soon after the death of this icon in the music industry. The question ‘what was the worth of her soul while she lived’ is more appropriate. And that is applicable for all of us. The answer is found in the familiar passage in John 3:16, 17: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The apostle Paul expressed the attitude of God in this manner: “For this good and acceptable in the Sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3, 4). In short, God wants all mankind to be saved and He provided the way of salvation through the death of His Son on Calvary. Those who believe in Jesus Christ and are submissive to His will by repenting of sins and are baptized in His name will have that salvation (Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38; 2 Timothy 2:10).

10 February 2012

The Honeybee and The Buzzard

Surely we all have some knowledge regarding this insect and this fowl. Both have been placed here on this earth for different purposes as designed by the Creator, God Almighty. While their functions are vital, they are radical in contrast. The buzzard is rather despised by the human family. We esteem this bird as being unsightly in appearance and undesirable because of its work, the devouring of dead
carcasses. Yet, in the balance of nature, this scavenger has a rightful place in our environment. The honeybee, on the other hand, is well thought of and respected. While we dislike the sting of such a small insect, we do appreciate the delicious honey that it makes for us. The bee can be seen visiting the beautiful flowers and various blooms in the vegetative kingdom. No wonder the honey that this bee makes is so sweet.
Strangely enough, the buzzard and the honeybee remind us of the various attitudes and dispositions found in different people. First of all, some folk enjoy dwelling on the ungodly, the gossip, the hearsay, the ugly, the bad, the filthy, the hurtful, and the immoral. They seem to get their kicks over telling or hearing a good piece of juicy slander. And, the worse it stinks, the better they like it. This old world is filled with individuals who love filthiness. The Bible refers to people who “speak folly” and whose “heart will work iniquity” (Isaiah 32:6). Paul writes of the unrighteous in this manner, “Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness" (Romans 3:13, 14). Their ultimate end is eternal perdition, for Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, 37, “And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

We are grateful however that there are many Christians who love the good and the beautiful things of life. They think upon that which is pure, honest, just, true, lovely, and of good report (Philippians 4:8). They feed upon the word of God that is “Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb” (Psalms 19:10). They know that “pleasant words are as honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24). They “love life” and endeavor to “see good days”; therefore, they “refrain their tongues…from evil” and “speak no guile” with their lips (I Peter 3:10).

The question therefore is, “To be or not to be”. That is, are you soaring over dead carcasses and seeking the corrupt; or, are you feasting upon the beautiful and the good? Let us all ‘be’ (live) like the honeybee and not the buzzard!