A new episode called "The Lord Will Find A Way" can now be heard on the 5 Minutes of Faith on Friday Podcast! Go to https://anchor.fm/brandi-gann to listen, or you can click the "Play" button in the upper right hand corner of this page to listen to this podcast!!
“ But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,” (Matthew 23:5).
This verse is a description given by Jesus to His disciples regarding the Jewish sect known as the Pharisees. This verse is a good example of how the Pharisees were very concerned about the praise of men rather than of God, and wanted to show off how religious they thought they were. How many Christians can relate to the description that Christ is giving the Pharisees in this verse? Are some Christians prone to bragging about their service to God?
When Jesus spoke these words, the Old Law was still in effect, however, the Pharisees were wrong in their beliefs because they placed rules that they expected the Jews to follow that were too strict, and that did not go along with Moses’ teachings. Jesus is pointing out in this verse, how that the Pharisees craved the attention and approval of men so much that they would “show off” how that they were worshipping God through their appearance and the things that they did.
For instance, the portion of the verse which says “they make broad their phylacteries” refers to the practice that the Jews would have in which they would carry portions of the Old Testament written on pieces of paper in two small boxes on their clothing. The Pharisees would take this a step further, however, and make these boxes extra large so that others would see how religiously minded they were. Was there any need for others to see that the Pharisees were studying the Scripture? Absolutely not! It is good to encourage others to study God’s Word, but we must be careful about how we approach it. Instead of showing off how much we study, we can talk to others about how much God has helped us and how studying the Bible is so important. We can give verses like II Timothy 2:15 to prove this fact.
A similar situation can be seen in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14. The Pharisee was boastful of how much he did for the Lord, and he considered himself better than others, including the publican. He prayed to God bragging about how much he fasted in a week, and how much he gave of his money. The publican, however, went to God with a humble heart and prayed for forgiveness of his own sins. Jesus ended this parable by saying that the publican was more righteous than the Pharisee because “every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
We hear little kids sing the song “I Don’t Wanna Be A Pharisee,” and this is a motto that we, as Christians, must remember to practice everyday in our lives here on Earth. I’m afraid that platforms like social media have made it easier for some Christians to behave somewhat like Pharisees. Christians behave like Pharisees when they boast of doing good works for others, and boast of how much they are studying their Bibles, worshipping, or giving to the Lord. All of these things need to be done in secret and without broadcasting it on social media. If we feel the need to have to tell others about the good works we are doing, then we already have our reward here on Earth, rather than having a reward from God. Others do not have to know, nor need to know when we are performing a good work for others, or when we pray. worship, or study God’s Word. That should be known only to us, and to God.
Of course, when we do good works for others, then more than God and ourselves know about the act, but let us be sure that we do not speak of the good work ourselves. Let others speak of our good works rather than ourselves! (Proverbs 27:2). We must not let our pride sabotage our goal of entering into Heaven one day!
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:1-6).
A new episode called "New Years Resolutions" can now be heard on the 5 Minutes of Faith on Fridays podcast! You can either go here https://anchor.fm/brandi-gann to listen, or hit the "Play" button on the upper right hand corner of this page, just above the "How to Be Saved" section. I hope you enjoy this podcast!
A new episode on "Prayer" can now be heard on the 5 Minutes of Faith on Friday podcast!! Click on https://anchor.fm/brandi-gann to reach the podcast page,
You can also click the "Play" button in the upper right hand corner of this page, just above the section on "How to Be Saved" and listen to the episode on "Prayer" here! Hope you enjoy
"Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17)
At times, I cannot help but notice how some people in the world today are growing colder and less friendly to their fellow man than in years gone by. Living in the South, it is a common occurrence to see strangers say “Hello” to one another on the street, but I have noticed that the small gestures of kindness that used to be so prevalent in our society 50 years ago are slowly fading away. So, I have decided to focus this article on a list that I have put together of things that it doesn’t hurt anyone to do:
1. It doesn’t hurt anyone to say “Hello” in response to someone else’s greeting, or, dare I say it, be the first to say “Hello!” Verbalizing a greeting to one another should be one of the easiest things to do. You don’t have to be an extrovert to just say “Hello” to someone. You also do not have to wait for the other person to say “Hello” to you first. All you have to do is have enough love in your heart for others to want to show your love and friendliness towards them. Whether we see someone in town, or we have guests over at our home, we should ALWAYS greet them, even if they do not initiate the greeting themselves. “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.”(I Peter 5:14).
2. It doesn’t hurt anyone to be encouraging to others: We should always try to say and do things to make others feel good. We never know what another person is facing in his or her life, even if that person seems to be happy and to “have it all.” We should always try to find ways to lift the spirits of others, which will in turn, lift our spirits up as well! We do not have to wait until people are upset or facing challenges in order to be encouraging to them. We can encourage others during their good times and challenging times! “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24).
3. It doesn’t hurt anyone to go out of their way to help others. This is something that is on the decline, even in the church. It used to be the case that people would go out of their way to help someone in need, whether it be to help them fix something, give them money or food, or even give them a way to attend church services. Today, there are some people out there, even Christians, who are only willing to help others when it is convenient for them (i.e. they get something in return, or it doesn’t require too much effort on their part). Jesus tells us to do MORE than what is asked of us for those in need. “And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.”(Matthew 5:41).
4. It doesn’t hurt anyone to say, “I’m Sorry.” This is a big issue for some people who do not want to apologize for anything. When we have made a mistake or have done something wrong, we must be willing to apologize to anyone involved. I have seen it be the case in recent years that more people are less willing to show humility and apologize. We are to be humble servants of God rather than live with pride in our hearts. Those who are unwilling to apologize for their mistakes are doing so out of pride. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble”. (James 4:6). In order for us to be faithful Christians, we must resist the urge to be prideful, but rather, embrace a meek and humble spirit. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10).
These are just a few examples of ways that I think some people in our world today can improve on the way they think, feel, and act. Our lives are temporary and “like a vapor” (James 4:14). Therefore, we should do all we can to help others and to serve God faithfully while we are still here on the earth. No matter what we have to give up or how much energy we have to use in order to serve God and help others, we will know that all of our efforts were worth it when we reach our home in Heaven! “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:12-14).
IT'S HERE!! You can now listen to the first episode of the 5 Minutes of Faith on Friday podcast! Go to https://anchor.fm/brandi-gann to listen!! This episode discusses the topic of Faith!
The episode on "Faith" can be listened to by clicking the "Play" button on upper right hand side of this page, above the section entitled "How to Be Saved."
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
NEW PODCAST ANNOUNCEMENT!!! On January 1, 2021, I will launch my new podcast called "5 Minutes of Faith on Friday!" As the title implies, this podcast will feature episodes that will only be around 5 minutes in length and will air every Friday! In this podcast, for Ladies, I will be teaching short lessons from the Bible on various topics that I hope will be relatable to the lives of all women! On January 1, 2021, go to https://anchor.fm/brandi-gann to hear the first episode which will be posted at 6 o'clock that morning! As I said before, all episodes are around 5 minutes, so, Ladies, please take that brief amount of time out of your busy day to spend with me studying the Bible!
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)
With Christmas fast approaching, I have often seen the phrase “Jesus is the reason for the season” at various times in reference to this holiday. Christmas is seen by many as Christ’s birthday, and many celebrate this holiday as such. The truth is, however, we do not know the actual time and date of Christ’s birth, and there is no reference in the Bible that tells us to celebrate this event at Christmas. What the Bible does tell us is to honor Jesus and celebrate everything He has done for us ALL the time and during EVERY season!
Jesus created us and created all of the universe, and we owe everything that we are and everything that we have to Him. Not only did He create us, but he died a cruel death on the cross so we could have forgiveness of sins and the opportunity for Everlasting Life! “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Isaiah 43:7). “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). With that being said, it is vitally important that we worship and honor Jesus during all seasons of the year, and not just during Christmas. We should honor and praise God every single day of our lives, and many times during the day. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31).
Something that is often seen close to Christmas is higher rates of worship service attendance. It is sometimes the case where people who do not attend worship services any other time of the year will show up around Christmas time. It is good that these people attend worship service at this time, but it is more important that they are in regular attendance all year round. By regular attendance, I mean that a person should attend every worship service on the first day of the week and at any other time that the leaders of their home congregation set aside for assembling (Acts 20:7, Hebrews 13:17). “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
It is certainly not wrong to glorify Christ and be to mindful of all the things He has done for us during Christmas, but we should make it a point to always have our minds on God and to work each and every day to be faithful servants of Him. The Holy Scriptures do not authorize us to celebrate December 25 as the date of the birth of Christ, but we should honor Christ every day and be thankful for His birth every day (Colossians 3:17, II Peter 3:18). I hope that this article helps to show the importance of remembering that Jesus is “the Reason for every season,” not just the Christmas season!
My family and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!!!
In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential Election, many people from all political parties and sentiments seem still confused about who would be the next Commander in Chief of the United States. No matter which party you align yourself with, or which candidate you voted for, the person who becomes President of the United States every four years is given that distinguished title because God is allowing him to have it!
No matter who is leading our country, we are to subject ourselves to their authority, because that person who is in a position of power, has been given authority by God. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” (Romans 13:1-2). We are to subject ourselves to the rule of the President, so long as he is not telling us to do wrongfully. If a leader is telling us to do wrong, then we are not required to do these things. Even the apostles of Jesus went against their rulers who commanded them not to preach the Gospel, and even threatened them to not speak at all nor teach in the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:18-20). We should work to change laws that promote sin. This applies to anyone in authority, whether it is a President, king, emperor, etc. God is the ultimate authority of everyone, including those who derive their authority from Him. “For the kingdom is the LORD'S: and he is the governor among the nations” (Psalm 22:28).
Those who are set as rulers over a country are “ministers” or “servants’ of God (Romans 13:4). Those who rule all nations are placed there by God for a specific purpose, to either help the people being ruled over, to punish them, or to bring about a specific result. Presidents, kings, and other rulers throughout the years who have been corrupt and evildoers were still placed in their positions by God to punish the people for the wrongdoing they have done. For example, King Nebuchadrezzar was a wicked man who was placed in his position as king of Babylon to punish the people of Judah for their own sins against God (Jeremiah 25:8-9). Although King Nebuchadrezzar carried out God’s Will, he was still punished himself for his wickedness (Daniel 4:1-34). God still picks certain people to be in positions of authority through His Divine Providence to either reward or punish the people. God does this to maintain order in a world that is prone to rebellion against Him.
After the recent Presidential election, it is important to remember, that no matter who is inaugurated as the new President of the United States, God is ALWAYS in control! That person is President because God gave him that authority, and he is there for a reason. God tells us in Daniel 4:17, “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” We, as Christians, do not need to worry when a person who supports sin comes into office, because God will work all things together for good to those who love the Lord and to those who are the called according to His Purpose (Romans 8:28). God is still in control. He sets up those who come to power. We do not always understand in the moment why one is in power, rather than another. It may be that we will come to an understanding of this later in life or it may be that farther along in eternity we will understand why, but in all cases, God is still in control.
What takes place in this life is only temporary, and evil rulers will be punished with the rest of the wicked world. God always has our best interest in mind, and He will take care of us, even through trials and tribulations! We just have to be sure that we are being faithful to Him and following His Word, even when a President or some other ruler tells us not to do so (I Peter 2:13-16). Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” It is only through living the faithful Christian life that we can have the “peace that passeth all understanding."
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” (Hebrews 9:27).
Death is a subject about which very few people enjoy thinking or talking. Everyone will die a physical death unless the Day of Judgment comes beforehand.
Death is something that all of us will face, although the majority of the population express a fear of it. Even in Bible times, some people feared death. Bildad, the friend of Job, described death as the “king of terrors” (Job 18:14). Death is viewed as an unknown by many today, but it does not have to be an unknown. The Bible describes in great detail about what death will be like for both the faithful and unfaithful in Christ. For those who are faithful, death is a wonderful event; a passage to a place of rest from pain and suffering. For the unfaithful, however, the outcome is devastating. Here is what the Bible tells us about what death will be like for all of us.
The world sees death as something unknown and scary, but to Christians, death is a wonderful time of reuniting with loved ones, and being in the presence of God Almighty. Those who are in the world and those who do not follow God will find death to be indeed a scary place. The Bible makes it very clear as to what happens to both the faithful and unfaithful after death, and no one can make it to Heaven by accident. “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.” (Hebrews 4:1). It takes a conscious effort to do God’s Will throughout one’s life to be rewarded with Heaven. May we all work to reach our Heavenly home each and every day, and may we work to bring as many souls as we can to Heaven with us! “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).
The topic that I am about to cover in this article is one that I do not hear spoken about very often, and that is the subject of Christians exhorting one another. In Hebrews 3:13, we are told, “But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” This verse means that Christians are to encourage other Christians to talk about spiritual things among themselves as well as to speak of spiritual things to non-Christians. It is so often the case that Christians will be around one another and talk about everything under the sun except anything to do with spiritual matters. What does Hebrews 3:13 say about this?
First off, the writer of Hebrews says that we are to “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day.” What does this mean? This means that Christians are to encourage one another by talking about spiritual things (i.e. God, Jesus, the Bible, the church, saving the lost, etc.) EVERY DAY! By every day, this means that we should have spiritual matters on our minds so much that we have to talk about them every day to not only other Christians, but to non-Christians as well. We should feel compelled to teach others how to be saved through the teachings of the Bible, because the Bible is God’s Word, and the final authority! “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (II Timothy 3:16).
Why should we talk of spiritual things EVERY DAY to both Christians and non-Christians? One reason is that, if Christians are encouraged to keep their minds on God, they may be tempted to focus too much on the temporary things of this world, and as a result, become spiritually weak. Those who have become spiritually weak have had their hearts hardened by the “deceitfulness of sin” as Hebrews 3:13 later says. Those Christians who have had their hearts hardened against sin must be rebuked in a loving way so that they can get their priorities back on track. As Christians, we can always benefit greatly from the positive influence of other faithful Christians by talking about the various aspects of the Christian life.
Another reason why we should discuss spiritual matters every day is to help non-Christians learn how to be faithful Christians. It is not just the preacher’s job to teach and preach God’s Word, to both Christians and non-Christians, it is every Christian’s job to do so! “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23). Christians need to be around other Christians and need to talk about spiritual things every day. These talks can take place anywhere; at work, at school, at home, while shopping, on social media, on blogs/websites, by letter, by phone, etc. We should always take the opportunity to talk about God’s Word whenever possible!
It is amazing to see how some Christians who are not used to talking about spiritual matters on a daily basis will sometimes act less spiritually minded than non-Christians! An example of this took place the other day when I was talking to a long-time Christian and member of the church of Christ about two non-Christians who were said to have been working all day and night at their secular jobs and building things. I had told the Christian that the non-Christians should put their focus on being converted to Christ rather than on the temporary things of this world and that she would be a great source of encouragement to them to do so. This Christian lady was surprised that I had even brought up the fact that these two non-Christians needed to be converted. It appeared that, although this lady attends worship services of the church of Christ regularly, she was not used to thinking about their lost spiritual state, but rather was focused on the worldly things that they were doing.
This is a common occurrence among Christians, and that is why the penman of Hebrews speaks against it. Many Christians place more focus on the temporary things of this world such as obtaining material possessions, having secular careers, being “people pleasers”, and so on. They place less emphasis on worldly matters and less emphasis on talking to others about God and the life of a Christian. Christians should care enough about their own spiritual state and the spiritual state of others that they feel compelled to teach and speak about the Word of God daily to at least one person. By doing this, their hearts will be firmly planted in the Lord! “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).
Of course, Hebrews 3:13 does not mean that we cannot focus on the things of this world that are good, but we should try to make it a point to talk about God, Jesus, the Bible, and other spiritual matters every day. That way, we can keep our priorities straight, as well as be an encouragement to others! “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24). We must focus on spiritual matters first, and make that our priority. If God and spiritual matters are our main focus in life, this will be reflected in our actions and in our speech. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:2). Our job as Christians is to help one another in our journey through life so that we may be with each other for eternity in Heaven. We also want to take as many souls with us to Heaven as well, so let us all make it a point to talk about spiritual subjects to at least one person every day! If we do this, that will help us get into the habit of keeping our hearts and minds on the Eternal God rather than this wicked world that will soon pass away!
When we think about ourselves, we tend to see ourselves in a certain light. For example, we may see ourselves as attractive, smart, witty, loving, caring, the list goes on. We also tend to view ourselves in a certain way as compared to others. We may see ourselves as better or worse than someone else, as well as having or lacking certain skills that others either do or do not have. All of these things make up our self-image that determines our self-worth. Our self-worth will determine how we feel about ourselves and the world around us. Our self-image will also help determine what kind of life we will live. Our self-image is often subjective, however, because we look at ourselves and others through our own lenses that are often skewed by our thoughts and experiences that we have in life. If we view ourselves in a more negative light, then we may be more inclined to become withdrawn, depressed, and have an overall negative view of the world. Conversely, if we have a more positive view of self, then we are more likely to have a positive view of the world and interact with others more positively
A problem that can arise from our own self-image is when we view ourselves in an overly positive or negative way. This happens when we either discount, or ignore, our true worthiness and God-given abilities, or we esteem ourselves and our abilities too highly, without giving God the proper credit. It is often the case that most people have a skewed view of themselves, whether it be too negative or too positive. The apostle Paul, himself, cautions us not to think too highly of ourselves. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3).
What about how others view us? Can we get a more accurate view of ourselves from others? We should always strive to set forth good examples before others. “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,” (Titus 2:7). If we are obedient to God’s Word, and following in His Footsteps, then what others think of us does not matter. It is often the case that those who are the most faithful will get the most criticism from others who are not faithful to God. Jesus Christ, who was the only sinless Person who will ever walk the Earth, was accused falsely by His enemies (John 8:41, 48; Matt 12:24).
Likewise, a person who works to make others think she is faithful to God when she really is not is a hypocrite. There are some people, especially celebrities, who are elevated far beyond what they should be by society. Sometimes, even certain members of the church are elevated by other members due to their pious and faithful appearance, when in actuality, they hide a multitude of sins.
For example, there were a group of Jews in the New Testament known as the Pharisees. The Pharisees not only considered themselves as holier than those about them, but others also viewed them in the same way. The Pharisees would make their acts of worship public so that they would be noticed and viewed favorably by others. They would stand in the streets when they prayed, and make their faces disfigured when they fasted (Matthew 6:1-18).
Since how we see ourselves and how we are seen in the eyes of others can be deceiving, we should put our focus on how we are viewed in God’s Eyes. God sees us as we truly are, because He made us. We cannot hide our true selves from Him, no matter how much money we have, what possessions we have, how we are dressed, or how faithful we pretend to be. If we are not “the real deal” in our spiritual lives, God knows it! We can be pleasing in God’s Eyes by studying our Bibles every day, and doing all that God wants us to do. If we are pretentious in any way, God sees this, and it is an abomination to Him. “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15). God saw through people like King Saul, who was admired by many, but inwardly he was not as he should have been. “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (I Samuel 16:7).
If we compare ourselves with how God sees us, then we will have a truly honest view of who we are, and who we should strive to be. The world sees us by what is on the outside and values that the most. God sees us from what is on the inside and values that the most. We should return the favor and value what God values the most, also! “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
“Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.” (II Corinthians 10:7).
We women wear many hats in life. From Christian wife, to mother, to daughter, to employer/employee, to sister, aunt, grandmother, friend, the list goes on. As soon as our feet hit the floor in the morning, we are bustling about the day, trying to check the various jobs we have to do on our never-ending “to do” list. As most of us are busy, when should we take time out for God? Does God understand when we get so focused on the duties we have to perform in this life that we “forget” or choose not to take time for Him?
Luke chapter 10 gives a great illustration of where our priorities should be in regards to God and the various cares of this life. At this time, Jesus and His disciples had been traveling from place to place, teaching multitudes and healing the sick. They came into the village that Martha and her sister Mary lived in, and Martha invited Jesus and His disciples into her home to rest (verse 38). While her guests are resting and waiting for a meal, Martha is very busy with the duties of a hostess. No doubt those of us who have had guests come over for dinner at our houses know about all the work that a gracious hostess must do to make her guest feel comfortable and well-fed!
As Martha was working, her sister, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, and listening to Him teach God’s Word. This would have been an amazing time for Mary because she was able to hear the greatest Teacher that every lived in that moment! Seeing that Mary had chosen to listen to Jesus rather than help her with the many duties of serving their guests, Martha became upset and voiced her concerns to Jesus. “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” It is clear from her words that Martha did not understand why she was having to do all of the work herself while her sister sat and, in her mind, did nothing.
Jesus, as always, gave the best answer to Martha’s plea for help. “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (v. 41-42). The New King James version of the Bible uses the word “worried” in place of the word “careful,” which hints at the idea that perhaps Jesus was referring to other times where Martha was worried about things in the past, along with her worry about serving her guests in that moment. Whatever the case, Jesus showed Martha that Mary had her priorities in order by putting her focus on eternity rather than on the temporary duties of this life.
So, are you a Martha or a Mary? Do you take time out of your day to study God's Word and focus on spiritual things, as Mary did? Or, like Martha, do you bustle about your day, and stay so busy that you fail to focus on what is most important? We can learn so much from this story. What Jesus told Martha about putting Him First over the menial tasks she had to perform applies to us today. No matter what we have going on during the day, we should always put God First! How can we do this? One way is by making sure that we put studying our Bible everyday a priority, just as we would make cleaning house or grocery shopping a priority. We should also make attending worship services of a congregation of the church of Christ a priority just as we would make attending our jobs a priority. Everyone does exactly what they want to do every day of which they are able to do, and we, as Christians should want to take time out for God each and every day of our lives! Completing the daily tasks that we are given to do is important, but serving God is more important! If we do this, everything in our lives will fall neatly into place! “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:33-34)
You hear your alarm clock buzzing loudly as you open your sleepy eyes and slowly realize that it is Monday morning. Monday morning usually finds many of us getting up early and preparing to go to work, or helping our spouses and children get ready for work and school. Some people dread having do these things every weekday, especially on Mondays, but we should remember that every day that we are given is a gift from God. "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24).
David, made many mistakes in his life, but he was a man after God’s own heart. (Acts 13:22). He not only was open to repentance when he realized that he had committed sin, but he was ever-praising to God in both good times and bad. David wrote Psalm Chapter 3 as a morning song of thanksgiving unto God at a time when he was facing many trials and challenges in his life.
At the time that Psalm Chapter 3 was written, David’s son, Absolom, was trying to usurp the throne away from his father, and had caused David to flee from Jerusalem in hiding. Not only was David hurt by the possibility of his kingship being stolen from him, but he had to deal with the fact that his own flesh and blood was treating him so terribly. When faced with problems such as this, it would be expected by many for David to become depressed and have a negative attitude. On the contrary, he penned Psalm Chapter 3, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in the midst of his hiding from his son, and it is a song about how good God is, rather than David complaining about his current situation.
David does acknowledge his plight in the first two verses of Psalm 3; “ LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” But rather than continue with talking about his problems, he goes onto praise God for all of the help He has given David during these trying times. “But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.” (Psalm 3:3-4).
How many of us wake up in the morning praising and thanking God for allowing us to have the blessing of another day, just as David did? Something that we should all do is pray every day to God, thanking Him for all that He does for us. We should pray many times a day, especially before meals, when we go to bed, and when we wake up. We should pray so many times in a day, we cannot keep up with the number of prayers we have uttered in a day. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
David also shows his unwavering faith in God during challenging times. In Psalm 3, he goes onto to talk about how he has no trouble sleeping because he has complete faith in God to take care of him and to destroy his enemies who surround him. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” (Psalm 3:5-8). How many of us have the faith David had in times of trouble? We must believe that God will take care of us always, just as a small child has faith in his or her parents to provide their needs.
When you wake up in the morning, make it a point to pray to God and thank Him for all of the blessings He has given you in this life. No matter how challenging your life may be, remember that God is always with you, and He will always work everything out for your good, as long as you are faithful to Him! “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).
Being a mother is one of the most important roles a woman can ever have in this life, besides that of Christian and wife. Mothers have such a profound influence on their children, which will shape who they will be as adults. That is why it is important that children be raised by both parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Two faithful Christian parents who are in a loving marriage with one another have an increased likelihood of raising children who will grow up to be faithful Christian adults in my experience. Unfortunately, in this world that only focuses on the material and temporal aspects of this life, there is much shaming that occurs towards women who choose to be stay-at-home mothers. Women who stay at home with their children are seen by the world’s view as unmotivated, without ambition, and even lazy. This cannot be farther from the truth. That being said, what does God expect a mother with young children to do about making it in a time when the cost of living is higher than it used to be, and many families are in two-income households?
A great example of the woman that God wants mothers to be can be seen in the woman that is mentioned in the book of II Kings that is from the small village in Israel called Shunem whom the prophet Elisha regularly visited. We are not told the name of the woman of Shunem, but she is described as a “great woman” in II Kings 4:8. She was greatly loved by the prophet due to her hospitality toward him and her love of family. She was so hospitable, that she spoke to her husband about making a special room for Elisha when he came to visit her. Her husband agreed, and Elisha had his very own room in her house (II Kings 4:9-11).
The woman of Shunem is also considered a great example in God’s Eyes because she made a home for herself and her family. The father is the head of the house (Ephesians 5:23), but the mother is the keeper of the home. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:3-5).
Another reason that the woman of Shunem is considered a great example for mothers is that she honored her work and position in life. She put taking care of her home and family before seeking out a career outside of the home. So many mothers today have little children that they throw off on babysitters so that they can pursue a job outside of the home. The role of the father is to provide for the financial and physical needs of the family, and it is the role of the mother to take care of the children and the home. Of course, both are to provide the spiritual needs of the family. The mother cannot do her job without the father doing his part, and vice versa. The woman at Shunem was there for her children in a way that only a stay at home mother can be there for her small children. A mother who works outside of the home is not there physically and emotionally for her children for 8 or 9 hours a day, for at least 5 days a week typically. This makes it a challenge for a mother to give the attention and care that children really need in the early years of their development. The world today needs more women who honor the works of wife and mother, which are the roles that God has assigned to them. Of course, this applies to mothers who have husbands to provide for them and their families. Single mothers have to be both mother and father to their children, so work outside the home is essential for survival. This situation, however, is not ideal, so if a woman who is a mother has a husband that can provide for her and her children, then she needs to be at home with her little ones!
Yet another way that the woman of Shunem is a great example of how mothers should be is her faith in God in times of crisis. Being a mother who puts her God-given role of wife and mother over her desire to seek a career outside of the home is essential. It is also essential for both men and women alike to work to remain faithful, even during challenging times. No doubt, the woman of Shunem was ecstatic when Elisha told her she would have a son! I am sure that she loved that child very much and did many wonderful things for him. On the day he passed away, the woman of Shunem did not become angry towards God, nor did she sin in any other way. Instead, she sought out her friend, Elisha, for help. Her faith in God came through in this moment, because she knew that God would help her through Elisha. God did allow Elisha to raise the boy from the dead, just as the woman of Shunem knew he would. This great woman of God also showed her faith when she was forced out of her house due to famine and returned to finding that all of her worldly goods were gone. Did she blame God for this, or become angry about the situation in which she had been placed? No! She remained faithful throughout all of the trials that she faced, which is how we all must do as well. Due to her faith in God, all of her worldly possessions were restored to her. (II Kings 8:1-6).
The roles of wife and mother are so important that women should feel honored to assume these positions in life. Not all women become wives and mothers, and these women can serve the Lord faithfully in their own capacities. The positions of wife and mother, however, carry responsibilities that women should feel blessed and honored to assume, rather than to cast them off for the sake of maintaining independence and a career outside of the home. I believe it is also the husbands’ duty to allow and encourage their wives to stay at home with their young children, at least until all of the children begin attending school. A husband who makes his wife work outside of the home in order to obtain and maintain material luxuries is not behaving in a godly manner towards his wife. Fathers are given the responsibility to raise up children to be faithful Christian adults, and they can only do this if both parents stick to their God-given roles in life.
It is time for women to take pride in their works as wife and mother, because those who fill these roles are in the careers God has chosen for them. Women who want to be truly faithful to the Lord should focus on becoming a successful woman in His Eyes, rather than what the world’s view of success is. Ladies, let’s work to be successful in the Eyes of the One whose thoughts matter the most--God!
This is the last article in the series of articles on the Beatitudes. Facing persecution is part of being a faithful Christian. After all, the only perfect Person is the who ever walked the Earth faced persecution from His enemies. Jesus had to deal with enemies trying to trouble Him and stop Him from teaching and preaching the Word. It is no wonder that those who live their lives as faithful children of Christ also face persecution at some point in their lives. Being persecuted by the world can be a very sad and painful experience, but the good news is, a Christian who overcomes persecution without sin will be rewarded.
In Matthew 5:10, Jesus gives the last beatitude in the Sermon on the Mount; “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This verse means that those who are treated wrongly due to making strong stands against sinful behavior will be able to go to Heaven if they persevere. The apostle Paul warns us that we will face persecution if we are faithful to God. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). Persecution can come from both Christians and non-Christians. If we are living a faithful Christian life, there are those who will not agree with us or like us just because we are living a faithful Christian life. The sad part is, we will have people who consider themselves Christians, who will not like us just because we do not agree with whatever “pet” sin they do not want to give up. We should not be surprised when this happens. “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (I John 3:13).
When we are persecuted for doing what God wants us to do, we should respond with gladness, because we are living our lives like God wants us to do. We should also rejoice in our suffering because much suffering helps us to become more patient in this life. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:3-5). Not only does persecution give us patience which helps us in this life, but we are reminded of how short and temporary this life really is, and that we have a better home awaiting us in Heaven. “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (I Peter 4:13).
When suffering persecution, it is important to remember to pray earnestly for God to give you comfort and the strength needed to get through the trials being faced. It is also important to remember that being persecuted for Christ’s Sake is different than being mistreated for something wrong that you have done. If you are facing ill treatment for living a sinful life, then you will not be blessed as you go through it. You will only be blessed if you overcome persecution that you face for being a faithful Christian. I Peter 4:14-16 goes on to say, “ If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” Let us be thankful that we can suffer for the Cause of Christ for in doing so, we know that the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us and that through persecution, growth and patience results.
We all must work every day to be faithful followers of God, and work to overcome any persecution we may face. All of the problems that we face in this life will be counted as insignificant when we reach our Eternal Home in Heaven! “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4: 17-18).
It’s summertime, and that means Vacation Bible Schools are in full swing! Attending Vacation Bible School is a wonderful way to learn about God’s Word in addition to attending Sunday worship services and Wednesday night bible studies. Children are the main focus at Vacation Bible Schools, and all children who attend VBS classes report that they had fun and learned many things about the Bible that they will remember for years to come! Children of all ages enjoy Vacation Bible School, and bringing your children to these events only strengthens their love for the Lord, which will help them grow up to be faithful Christians in adulthood. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”(Ephesians 6:4). Vacation Bible School is also beneficial for adults, who can learn more about the Bible through the adult bible classes given there.
Please make plans for you and your family to attend Vacation Bible School with us at the Campaign church of Christ in Campaign, Tennessee! There will be classes for all ages! Please see the flyer below for more information regarding VBS times and location!
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalms 122:1)
In today’s world where so many people are willing to voice their opinions through use of physical force and violence, it is important for us to remember what Jesus says in Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Peace is something that is needed so much in the world today.
What does it mean to be a peacemaker? The word “peacemaker” comes from the Greek word, εἰρηνοποιός, which means “loving, peace, pacific.” The dictionary defines “peacemaker” as “a person, group, or nation that tries to make peace, especially by reconciling parties who disagree, quarrel, or fight.” Those who are peacemakers are those who want to avoid a conflict rather than go around looking for a fight.
The Bible speaks about the importance of being a peaceful person Romans 12:18 says “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” Those who use protesting as a way to inflict violence upon others are definitely not living peaceably with all men and are abusing the right to peacefully protest. We should try to get along with everyone, and make attempts to be friendly with others. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24). We are to treat others like we want to be treated, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12).
If we are peaceful with men, we are being like God. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,” (Hebrews 13:20). We are to be like Christ, who is the Prince of Peace! “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Being peacemakers does not only apply to our relationship with others, but it applies to our relationship with God, also! The most peaceful life that can be enjoyed here on Earth is the life of a faithful Christian! Of course, that does not mean that the life of a faithful Christian has no challenges to overcome. Faithful Christians can face many challenges in life, and they can be faced with many temptations to commit sin, just like everyone else. The advantage that true Christians have over others in the world is that we know that this world is not our home, and that our sole purpose in this life is to fear God and keep His Commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Christians who have their focus on God rather than the world do not worry about the chaos that is going on around them. They do not focus only on the negative things that are going on in the world, bur rather focus on staying on the strait and narrow path that will lead them to Heaven! “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). It is only through the faithful Christian life that we can find the peace that passes all understanding. “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7).
Since the Prom is coming up soon, I thought I would dedicate this article to what the Bible says about such events as this and other social dances. I know that the Prom is a very popular event to attend for high school seniors, however, a Christian teen and any other young Christian must first think about what is most important to God, rather than what is important to the world.
I am glad to say that I did not attend the Prom or any other social dance growing up, even though I had opportunity to do so. I was asked twice by a young man who was also a senior in high school,to attend the Prom with him, but I declined the invitation both times. I did not want to hurt my influence in front of others by causing them to think that I danced at an event such as this. I am also glad that my husband did not attend the Prom as well. We can teach our children from our example about not attending the Prom, and we do not intend on allowing our children to attend these events.
The main issue with the Prom and other social dances is just that, dancing. Dancing in and of itself is not wrong, as long as it is done in the privacy of your own home between those who are married. The issue of dancing in public, especially dancing between members of the opposite sex, however, is that activities such as this may tempt a person to lust. Dancing usually involves either making sensuous movements or touching of some sort between males and females, and these actions could cause lustful thoughts. I John 2:16 speaks against lust by saying: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” Even dancing on your own in front of others can cause others to have lustful thoughts toward you. Even though we cannot control what others do or think, we, as Christians, should never be a stumbling block to others, and we must show ourselves to be in the world but not of the world in front of others. This is shown in Galatians 5:16-21; "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." "Lasciviousness" involves indecent physical movements and unchaste handling of males and females. Clearly, the prom fits under the definition of the word lasciviousness. Knowing the meaning of lasciviousness and knowing for a fact that such occurs at the prom, I am very thankful that there are congregations and families that determine to have prom-alternative trips.
We should never participate in activities that can cause ourselves or others to sin. I know that there are many at the prom who dance without the intent of inciting lust in themselves or others, but there is always a risk that this may happen.
Another issue with the Prom and other social dances is immodesty. Usually on the night of the Prom, I see many pictures on Facebook of teens in their prom attire. Many of the dresses that the ladies wear are either too low or too short. What is modest is exemplified by how God clothed Adam and Eve after they realized they were naked. Genesis 3:21 says, “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” He clothed them in coats of skins that covered them from their shoulders to their knees, according to the Hebrew word for “coat” as used here, which means “tunic.” A tunic in the Bible was a garment that reached from the shoulders to at least the knees. Since this is the ONLY example given in the Bible of how God wants us to dress, then wearing anything less today would be immodest. The Bible speaks against exposing our chest, loins, and thighs, and showing any of these body parts is considered “naked” in the Bible. We would be considered naked if we exposed any of these parts while either standing or sitting. Since the Prom promotes lustful actions such as dancing, it is no wonder that there is such a prevalence of young ladies who are also dressing in a lustful manner. It all seems to tie together.
What about younger Christians who are too young for the Prom? Should they be able to attend school formals, and dances in middle school and high school? Would these events teach them that it is acceptable to dance in public and dress immodestly? Do these events teach young Christians that it is acceptable to attend the Prom? A dance in middle school or high school is the same as a Prom. Anywhere that dancing is taking place can cause a Christian young person to place a stumbling block before themselves or before others. Therefore it is best that parents teach their children that being a good influence to others is more important than following the crowd. I John 2:15 says, “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
What if a Christian attends a social dance but doesn’t dress immodestly or dance? It is good that a Christian young person chooses to dress modestly and chooses not to dance at such an event. However, attending an event that involves dancing can harm a Christian’s influence in front of others. We must always guard our influence in front of others, because it is our job as Christians to lead others to Christ. I Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” How can we lead others to Christ if we do not show ourselves to be Christ-like? Would Jesus go to the Prom or any other social dance? If He did, He would speak against the activities taking place. It would be acceptable if a Christian youth went to the Prom or any other social dance to teach against these activities, but how many young Christians do this?
Our goal should be achieving the gift of Heaven, and not being pleasing to men. Matthew 5:13 says, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus said; “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Since all of us should want to see and dwell with God for all eternity some day, we should want to be “pure in heart” like the passage says. But what does it mean to actually be pure in one’s heart?
First of all, what does it mean to be “pure in heart”? The Greek word for “pure” is katharos, which means “clean” and “free from contamination.” For us to be considered spiritually “pure” we must not have any sin unrepented of in our lives, and devote ourselves to living righteously each and every day of our lives. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (II Timothy 2:22). Of course, we must begin the process of purifying ourselves by being baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38, I Peter 3:21). After baptism we must continue to keep a clean and pure heart and soul, free from sin. We are not incapable of committing sin after baptism, but we can be cleansed of those sins through repentance.
How can we practice keeping a pure heart each day? First of all, we should study God’s Word every day so that we will know what He wants of us in order to live a faithful Christian life. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15). Also, we should pray every day, many times in a day for help from God while living the faithful Christian life. “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
We should also monitor outside influences that can tempt us to have impure thoughts and actions. We should prohibit listening to music and watching movies or television shows that have foul language or sexually explicit content in them. We should also avoid socializing with people who use foul language or have other behaviors that are sinful, unless we are going to be around them to teach them. We have to do this in order to not be influenced to sin, and to not be an influence to sin for others. “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:7-8).
We are to be more like Christ and not like the world. We cannot have one foot in the world and the other foot in Christ at the same time. We either are following the influence of the world, or the influence of Christ, we cannot do both. “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Luke 16:13). In our effort to be pure in heart, we should always focus on what God wants rather than what the world thinks is acceptable.
When we strive to be pure in heart, we also have to guard our own influence, so that we do not influence others to commit sin. For example, if we are listening to music or watching movies and T.V. or Netflix shows that have foul language and/or sexually explicit content then we can be an influence to others to do that same thing (Philippians 4:8). Likewise, if we are in certain places where sinful activities are taking place, we hurt our influence by merely being there. To be pure in heart, we cannot cast a stumbling block before ourselves or others. “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.” (I Corinthians 8:9).
We should always strive to be more like Christ and less like the world each day that we live our Christian lives. Everyone is tempted in different ways, and we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Being pure in heart means having to deny yourself of things that the world is doing that may look like fun, but in the end, it will cause you to become spiritually lost. In Luke 9:23, Christ says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Enjoying sin for a short time is not worth losing your soul for all eternity. Heaven is far too great a reward to ever risk losing, no matter how important the temporary things of this world may seem in the moment. The temporary world will end, but eternity is forever. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
While I was in the hospital, waiting on the arrival of my youngest child, my father got into a conversation in front of me with the nurse that was assigned to help me during the birthing process. He told the nurse that he “never imagined” that he would be a grandfather of 5 healthy babies due to the fact that I was “born so early” and “struggled so much the first 3 months” of my life. The nurse, who was probably in her late 50s, asked me how early I was born and what my age was. I told her (with confirmation from my mother) that I was born at 23 or 24 weeks gestation at Vanderbilt University Hospital. I also told her my age, and her response to me was that she started working in the Labor and Delivery unit at Vanderbilt a few months before I was born. She said it was “almost unheard of” that a baby born before 26 weeks survived during the time that I was born. “We told mothers of babies who were born before 26 weeks to just hold their babies because they usually didn’t survive,” she went on to say. Then, in the midst of the conversation, she looked at me and uttered these words, “That is amazing! You have no idea how blessed you are to be here. You are definitely here for a reason!”
I remembered that nurse’s words because what she said is true. I am here for a reason, and so are you! God chose for all of us to come into this world for a reason, even before we were conceived. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; . . .”(Jeremiah 1:5). You were chosen by God to be someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, someone’s mother, grandmother, etc. God has a Plan for all of us, and He only wants what is best for us. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11). As Christians, God’s ultimate Plan for us is to reach Heaven and to take as many souls with us as we can. He employs His angels to help us in this life in unknown ways as well. “But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:13-14).
In order to make sure that we are living our lives according to God’s Plan, we must be sure to live as faithful Christians. Although God gave us our life to be here on the earth to live out His will, we still have free will, and can choose whether or not we want to follow Him. “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).
No matter what we are facing in this life, we can take comfort in the thought that we have a purpose in this life, which is to fear God and keep His Commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). God chose us to do the works that He wants us to do. He has created us as unique individuals, giving us talents and abilities to use. We are all unique and special, made in the Image of our Creator. We were made for the Glory of God. “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7). We should be thankful always to God for everything He has given us, especially our very lives. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalm 139:14) We are so important that Christ came to die for us. (Matthew 26-28). Best of all, He has given us the hope of Heaven, which makes everything we have to face in this life all worth it! May be all live up to our best potential in this life, because we are all definitely here for a reason!
In Matthew 5:7, Jesus says, “Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The word “merciful” comes from the Greek word “eleēmōn” which means “compassionate.” Another definition for the word “compassionate” which would also apply to the term “merciful” is “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. In today’s society, many people do not want to show sympathy toward others who are in less favorable circumstances than they are. Many people prefer to be self-centered and unmerciful toward others. Is this how we are supposed to be as Christians?
As Christians, we are to work to be so much like Christ that others will see more of Christ in us than they see ourselves. Christ tells us in Matthew 5:7 that we are to show mercy towards others so that we will obtain mercy from God the Father. Luke also speaks about the need to show mercy when he says in Chapter 6 and verse 36; “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” The apostle Paul speaks against those who do not show mercy in Romans 1:28-32: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
What are some examples of how we can be merciful, or show sympathy and compassion towards others? One way is to help widows and orphans, which the Bible commands us to do; “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.”(I Timothy 5:16). This verse is referring to the need for men and women to take care of their widowed parents, and/or grandparents, and to not leave them to the church to provide for because widowed men and women who have children or grandchildren to help them are not widows indeed. Widows indeed as mentioned in I Timothy 5:16 are those who do not have any children or grandchildren to provide financial and physical support for them. Another verse that stresses the importance of caring for widows and orphans is the following; “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27).
Other ways that we can be merciful towards others is to forgive those who have wronged us and who have asked for our forgiveness. “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). We can also help those who are in need of food, clothing, and shelter. “Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away” (Matthew 5:42). “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:37-40). Other ways we can be merciful is to take people who do not have a means of transportation to worship services, Bible studies, or simply to run errands. There are many ways that we can show mercy towards others. We should do as many acts of mercy as we can, so that we are abounding in good works as we are commanded to do in II Peter 1:5-8: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This world needs more mercy in it. We need to be sure to show mercy towards others in this life so that God will show mercy to us when we die and when the day of Judgment comes. No one can earn the reward of Heaven, no matter how many good works they do in this life. It is only through the Grace and Mercy of God that we can have a hope of Heaven if we are faithful. Let us be like our Father. We are told of Him, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7). May we work every day to show mercy in all aspects of our life, just as God shows mercy toward us!
Do you love being a Christian? I can’t imagine any Christian saying otherwise, however the actions of many Christians show a lack of desire to worship and serve the Lord properly. In Matthew 5:6, Jesus says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness?
When you are hungry or thirsty, the main focus that you have in your mind is to obtain that food or drink that will help fill you up. Some things that you may have to do will take a backseat to obtaining the food or drink you crave until you have fulfilled your goal of satisfying your hunger or thirst. When it comes to serving God, everything else must take a backseat to fulfilling His Word. We should desire to learn God’s Word, and serve God so much, that it is our main focus in life! We should meditate on God’s Word every day. We should have the attitude that King David did in Psalm 1:2, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Christians cannot hunger and thirst after righteousness if they are not attending worship services regularly, not reading God’s Word daily, and not praying often. Basically, Christians cannot hunger and thirst after righteousness if these disciples of Christ are not living the Christian Life. If we are not desiring to follow God, then we will not enter Heaven!
We should not let the temporary things of this world distract us from seeking God and putting Him First in all things! I want to conclude with the words of II Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
If we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we will be blessed in many ways in this life and in the next life as well. In this life, we will be blessed with the best life one can possibly have, which is the that of a faithful child of God. Following God’s Plan for us will help us conduct our lives in such a way that our lives will be much better than those who are living their lives in sin. “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard. (Proverbs 13:15), We have many blessings in this life, so many that we cannot name them all. God sent His Son to the earth so that we could have an abundant spiritual life here and in the next life as well. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
In the next life, those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will have the blessing of Heaven! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Ephesians 1:3). Let us all be sure to focus on what the real purpose of this life is, which is to fear God and keep His Commandments! “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
May we all be like the Christians in Acts Chapter 8, who went everywhere “preaching the word” and starting new congregations of the church of Christ even after being scattered out of Jerusalem amid persecution. They did not hide in their houses, but rather shined their Christian lights for all to see. The apostles who stayed in Jerusalem during the persecution assembled together and worshipped God as a congregation of the church of Christ in Jerusalem. Also, they supported the other disciples who were starting new congregations in other parts of the world. The church did not hide out of fear, but grew. May we shine forth the Light of the Gospel as they did!
“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, EXCEPT THE APOSTLES. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
In Matthew Chapter 5, verse 5, Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” The personality trait of meekness is very important for every Christian to have. However, what does it mean to be meek, and how are those who exemplify meekness viewed by the world?
First of all, what does it mean to be meek? The word “meek” that is used in this verse comes from the Greek word prays which means “mildness of disposition” or “gentleness of spirit.” The word “meek” can also mean “mild” and “humble.” One who shows meekness would not act in any way that would be considered arrogant or attention-seeking.
There are various places in the Bible that encourage us to show meekness. The apostle Paul admonishes us to show meekness in Colossians 3:12 when he says, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”. He encourages Timothy to do the same in I Timothy 6:11, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” We are encouraged to conduct ourselves before others in a meek manner, even when we are trying to help them see their mistakes. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Finally, we are to be like Christ, and Christ described Himself as One who is meek, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).
A person who shows meekness has much spiritual strength, however, that same person may be seen as weak and a “pushover” by the world’s view. Many in the world today believe that in order to be considered strong, one must adopt an arrogant, loud, and self-centered personality. This cannot be further from the truth. People who conduct themselves in this manner are focused on the here-and-now and temporary things of this world. Those who behave in ways that are not meek cannot enter into Heaven. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Another good description of meekness is “strength under control.” A person does not have to be big, loud, and boisterous in order to be strong. There are those who are spiritually strong who exemplify the Christian attitude of meekness. In today’s world which exalts those who loudly speak their mind, striving for the last word, we should work to be different from the world and maintain a manner of meekness and humility, always keeping our focus on our Home in Heaven! “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”(II Corinthians 4:18)