I have been blessed by God to have my third book published, and I give Him all of the Glory for this! It is entitled, A Quiver Full of Arrows: Accepting the Blessing of Children. This book discusses how children are viewed as blessings by God, rather than how they are viewed by some in society today, which often is negative. In this book, I use the Bible to discuss how children are gifts from God, as well as how to raise children up in the Lord. This book was published by Cobb Publishing, which is a church of Christ affiliated publishing company. It can be purchased through the publisher's website, www.cobbpublishing.com, or from Amazon. Amazon also offers a Kindle ebook edition of this book.
The act of repentance is a wonderful avenue of forgiveness that Christians are given by God. For those who have sinned after they have been baptized, they must repent. However, is praying for forgiveness or having someone else pray for your forgiveness the only thing necessary to do in order to be truly repentant?
The act of repentance must first take place prior to baptism. All who wish to be baptized for remission of sins must do so by following the Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Salvation involves 5 steps which include: hearing the Word (Romans 10:17), believing the Word (Mark 16:16), repenting of past sins (Acts 2:38), confessing that Jesus is the Son of the Living God (Matthew 10:32), and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:17-22). These are the steps to become a Christian and to be added to the church of Christ by the Lord Himself (Acts 2:38, 47). Then, upon becoming a Christian, a person must remain faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10). Once you complete all of these steps and become a Christian, you have many blessings and benefits that non-Christians do not have.
One benefit is that you have an ability to speak to God through the avenue of prayer. We are commanded to pray to God every day, and for any need that we have. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). We should send prayers unto God many times a day, thanking Him, praising Him, and asking for His Help in times of need. If we are faithful, then He will answer our prayers. “Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them" (Mark 11:24). We should also give thanks through prayer before we eat our meals (I Timothy 4:4). All prayers must be uttered in Jesus’ Name, because He and the Holy Spirit intercede for us in our prayers to God (Romans 8:16, 34).
It is through the avenue of prayer that we, as Christians, receive forgiveness from God for our sins when we repent of those sins and confess those sins through what is known as the “second law of pardon” (Acts 8:22, I John 1:9). If we have committed a sin that is only known to us, we can pray a private prayer unto God for forgiveness. If we commit a sin that is public and therefore known to others, then we must ask for the prayers of the church for forgiveness so that others know that we are remorseful for the wrong we have done and are turning back to God, thereby making a change.
However, once we have repented and have prayed ourselves or had others pray for our forgiveness, our duty to God doesn’t stop there. Once we have received forgiveness of sins through repentance, we must bring forth the “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). This means that, although we have prayed for God to forgive us of our sins, we are not truly sorry or repentant of those sins if we do not make efforts to change and show others that we have changed. For example, if we have done someone in particular wrongfully, we must repent and go to that person and apologize. If we have stolen something from someone, we must repent and return that thing which we have stolen. If someone has committed murder, then that person should repent and go to the victim’s family to apologize and to offer help in any way. If a person chooses to get an unscriptural divorce from his or her spouse, then that person must repent and make attempts to reconcile with that spouse. If the spouse agrees to reconcile, then the couple should remarry. If the spouse refuses to reconcile, then both spouses in the unscriptural divorce would have to remain single for the rest of their lives, since in God’s eyes they are still married. Showing others that you have changed is vitally important. This step cannot be ignored!
It is essential for Christians to realize that true repentance is not just going up to the front pew during worship service and asking prayers for forgiveness. It is not just having someone pray for your forgiveness of sins, and then you’re done. No! True repentance is showing change! It is showing that you are taking the steps necessary to make reparations for whatever wrong you have done. So, true repentance is more than a one-step process. True repentance involves showing God and others that you have changed, and making every effort possible to make all of the wrongs you have done right again with others! “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).
"Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." Luke 3:8
Nighttime is usually a designated time for sleep and the recharging of our bodies and minds after a long day of work and other activities. Many people, however, have issues with sleep, and these issues are sometimes caused by thoughts of fear and worry. We have probably all heard of someone who often wakes up in the middle of the night worrying about something that is troubling him or her, and those who lose valuable sleep over these worries. Likewise, many have had trouble sleeping for fear of someone breaking into their home, or some other negative event taking place during the night. If you or someone you know has issues with fear or worry during the night, there is a solution to this problem. The solution is prayer!
I make it a priority to pray at various times during the day, and the time before bed is no exception. After all of the children have gone to sleep, and before I lay my very tired head down, I pray to God for protection for myself and my family as we sleep. No matter what happens during the night, I know that God is always there to help us, and has the best for us in mind. This prayer, like all prayers, gives me comfort and a feeling of peacefulness, which helps me in going to sleep because I know my Heavenly Father is watching over us always. These prayers help me from being afraid, which is like what King Solomon said in Proverbs 3:24-26, “When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” Also, in Psalm 4:8, King David wrote, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”
Prayer can also help us during the night when it is a temptation to wake up and worry about various problems that we are facing or are anticipating in our lives. Worry is a symptom of a lack of faith in God’s ability to take care of us, therefore, we should not worry at any time. Instead, we should lift our burdens up to God in prayer, even in the middle of the night. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:62, “At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.” When we lift our prayers to God, and lay our problems at His feet, we can go back to sleep having that sense of peace and relief that only faithful Christians can have, knowing that our God will take care of things in ways that are best for us. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). “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).
So, instead of spending the night covered in worry and fear, take a little time to say a prayer or two to God for help, and He will help you! Of course, you have to do your part and trust in Him to take care of you. Saying a prayer for help, but not trusting that God will help you will not get your prayers answered. God always hears the prayers of obedient Christians, and He always gives an answer in the way He sees best. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (I John 5:14-15).
Even if you just have trouble sleeping for other reasons that do not include being fearful or worrying, pray to God for help with that issue, too! We should pray for everything of which we feel that we need help, no matter how little or big the situation is! Our Father always wants to hear from His Children! Sweet dreams to everyone, and may God bless you all richly as you serve Him! Good night!
Doing what we say we are going to do is so important in living the Christian life. Part of being a faithful Christian is honesty. “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;” (Colossians 3:9).
How many people do you know will say that they will do this or that for someone else but never actually do it? They may come up with some excuse as to why they did not do the thing they said they would do, but unless they are hindered by sickness or some emergency, these excuses do not hold up. As Christians, we need to do what we have promised others we would do, no matter how convenient or inconvenient it may seem.
As Christians, we are held to a higher standard than the rest of the world, because we are not to be like the world. We are to be keepers of our word no matter what. For example, if someone asks you to fix his car, and you say that you will do this, then you must fulfill your promise. You cannot come up with some excuse whenever the subject gets brought up, just because you no longer wish to do what you said you would do. This is dishonest, and goes against what is commonly known as the “Golden Rule. “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). When we are tempted to not do something that we have told someone else we would do, we need to reflect on Matthew 7:12 and think about the situation in terms of would we want the same thing done to us? For instance, if you told your friend that you would go to his child’s school program, but the program is scheduled to take place at the same time that your favorite ball team is to play on television, it would be beneficial to think about what you would want someone to do for you in a similar situation. Would you want your friend to skip your child’s program that you specifically asked him or her to attend in order to watch a ballgame? Probably not!
Also, we should mean what we say. James 5:12 says, “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.” This verse means that we should not say one thing to someone and then change our minds later. Of course, if we become unable to fulfill our promise due to sickness or some emergency, then God understands. However, it is best to ask the person’s permission to be excused from keeping our word before not doing it. Once again, this goes back to the “golden rule” where we have to treat others like we want to be treated.
Keeping our word to others and doing what we say we are going to do helps others to trust and depend on us. If we back out on other people for no good reason, then we are not trustworthy, and that goes against God’s command to be honest in all things. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). Our goal as Christians is to be as much like our Heavenly Father as we possibly can, and God is always Honest! “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19) We should always work to be shining lights to the world, and not be like those who are following the world instead of God! “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
The subject of angels is a very popular topic among Christians and non-Christians alike. Images of angels can be seen everywhere, and they usually have the same or at least similar appearance; which is that of a person draped in a white or some other color robe, with large, outstretched wings. The topic of “guardian angels” has been in debate for a long time and this idea had been made even more popular through television shows and movies. Many people wonder if angels have any involvement in our daily lives, such as protecting us from harm and “watching over” us. There are many ideas out there of the origin of angels, how they look, and how and if they interact with us today. Let’s see what information is given in the Scripture about these spiritual beings.
Where do angels come from? Angels are created beings because they were not in existence before the world was made. They are not a part of the Eternal Godhead. They were created by God sometime during the six day of creation. They were possibly created early on during the creation process because the book of Job speak of how they were already in existence when the “foundations of the earth were made” (Job 38:4,7). Angels are a heavenly order of beings, but they are not deity. In order words, they should not be worshipped. Angels worship God as we do. “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith ‘And let all the angels of God worship Him”(Hebrews 1:6). Angels are above the level of humans, but below the level of God. “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:” (Hebrews 2:7).
The purpose of angels can be found in their name. The world “angel” comes from the Greek word meaning “messenger.” The role of angels are to deliver messages and do God’s Work among humans. There are many examples of angels taking on physical forms and delivering messages to people in the Old and New Testaments. Likely the most well-known example of this is when the angel Gabriel delivered the message to Mary that she would give birth to Jesus (Luke 1:26). Although angels have appeared to humans in physical form in Bible times, they do not operate in this way today. The practice of angels appearing in human form was a miracle, and miracles do not happen today because we now have the completion of the revelation of God unto mankind through the Bible (I Corinthians 13:8-10, II Peter 1:3, II Timothy 3:16-17). This does not mean, however, that angels no longer any kind of work that they did in Bible times. Angels still work “behind the scenes” so to speak in the lives of all the faithful today. “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).
What do angels do when they become involved in the lives of the faithful today? We do not know exactly! We do know that they have an interest in the lives of Christians today (I Corinthian 11:10, I Timothy 5:21). We do know that they are involved in our lives in some way from the verses given. All of what is entailed in the ministering to Christians by the angels is not revealed in Scripture, but is within God’s Providential work. Unaccountable children also have angels that help them in various unknown ways, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). This is another verse to meditate upon when thinking of the possible guardian work role of angels.
We do know that angels take the faithful who pass away into Paradise as Luke 16:22 teaches. As we experience death, there are those loving angels to comfort us. They take us into our Paradise home.
Although we are lower than the angels, we have the hope of being more like angels when we reach Heaven! Those who pass away do not become angels, as angels are spiritual beings that are separate from humans. “For in the resurrection they neither marry, not are given in marriage but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30). We will be among the angels when we reach a home in Heaven, but we will not be angels. We will, in fact, be transformed upon the Day of Judgment as this mortal body is transformed into a resurrected body that will live eternally with God and His angels! “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Angels are truly wonderful creations of God! Knowing that angels are among us in our lives here on Earth is a comforting thought. The fact that God uses angels to assist and help us in our lives in unknown and wonderful ways shows His great love for us! Faithful Christians and unaccountable children have angels who help them in various ways that we cannot know or understand in this life. We do know, however, that God is using His servants to help us on our journey through this life as we work toward reaching our final destination which is Heaven!
A major goal in being a faithful child of God is to be different from everyone else in the world who are not faithful Christians themselves. This means that we are to abstain from sinful practices that the rest of the world partakes in. “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” (I John 2:16). At the same time, we must live in this world around those who are not conducting themselves according to God’s Word. So, how do we live in this world but remain not “of the world”?
One way is to love God more than things of this world. This involves such practices as studying your Bible every day instead of allowing worldly things to take time away from reading the Scriptures. II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In order for you to teach others about God, you must know the Scriptures well enough to answer questions that might be asked of you. Another way to strengthen our faith is to pray daily and often! Saying one prayer a day is not enough, because we must pray many times a day! “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).
Likewise, if you allow any secular activity other than sickness to take the place of attending worship services of your home congregation of the church of Christ, this is also a sin and it makes you more like the world rather than more like Christ. Would Christ work a secular job while a worship service is taking place? No! Would Christ participate in a ballgame or go to a family member’s ballgame instead of attending worship service? No! Would Christ choose to only attend worship service on Sunday morning rather than at any other time that His home congregation met if He was physically able to do so? No! That is because Christ is not of this world, and we are to follow His example. “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 10:25).
Another way that we can be in the world but not like the world is to monitor the company that we keep and the activities that we participate in. We should always strive to have other Christians as friends, and we should also strive to convert as many souls as we can for Christ. Those that we come into contact with on a frequent basis can hold a lot of influence over us, so we should work to be around the best influences possible. Likewise, we should be good influences on others, showing that the light of Christ is in us. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We should guard our influence and the influence we give to others by being cautious about the places we go, the activities we participate in, and the sources of entertainment that we choose to use.
Activities such as social drinking, public dancing, using foul language, participating in fornication or promiscuity, as well as other sinful acts causes us to sin, and it hurts our influence on others. Likewise, even if we are not actually participating in these sinful acts, if we give the impression that we condone these things, then this hurts our influence. Christ used every opportunity to teach, and so should we. We should take time to teach those committing public sins how to come out of those sins. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:15).
Lastly, focusing more on attaining luxuries and material possessions in this world than on your spiritual well-being will not get you a home in Heaven! Putting our jobs before God will not get you into Heaven, as well as putting making money over performing our God-given roles in life will not get you into Heaven. God gave men the role of breadwinner in the family, while He gave women the role of keeping the home and caring for the children (I Timothy 5:8; Titus 2:5). Just as it is required by God for a man to go out and earn money to support his family, it is equally required by God that a woman take care of her children and the home in which the family lives. If a woman neglects her children for money, then she goes against God’s role for her, and is no different than a man who refuses to provide for his family.
Someone might ask, “What about women who want to work outside of the home while their children are in school?” When her children have reached the age to attend school, it is certainly okay for a woman to work a job outside the home, as long as it does not take time away from her children when they are at home. A mother should be there for her children before they go to school in the morning and when they come home. Children need stability in their lives, and having a mother that they can rely on to be there when they wake up and when they come home from school will help them feel secure and better able to succeed in life. We can learn from the example of the virtuous woman in Proverbs Chapter 31, who Solomon described in this way; “Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her” (Proverbs 31:28).
These are just a few ways in which we, as Christians, can be different than the world and yet still live in the world. I encourage you to think of other ways as defined in Scripture to be more like Christ than those I have mentioned here, as I have just named a few. The world we live in today is corrupt, and Christians face many temptations and persecutions throughout our lives. We must always strive to do as Paul says in Philippians 3:14 and “. . . press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The faithfulness of Job, was so strong, that he was able to face many horrible challenges in his life, yet still cleave to God. He faced the loss of his worldly possessions, the death of all ten of his children, as well as various physical ailments, but he still did not sin against God (Job 1:22). His consistent obedience unto God is something to be marveled at, and we should all aspire to be as faithful to God as Job was. “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21).
Job’s wife, on the other hand, did not share her husband’s spiritual strength. She did not encourage her husband to continue his obedience to God, but rather, she told him to “curse God, and die” (Job 2:9). While her words are very harsh and definitely not what she should have said to her husband, it would be beneficial to look at the possible reasons for Mrs. Job reacting in the way that she did.
First of all, it is apparent that Mrs. Job lacked the steadfast faith in God that her husband possessed. It is important to remember that she underwent much of the same hardships that Job did. When Job lost all of his worldly possessions, so did she. When Job lost all ten of his children, so did she. We are looking at two people who went through almost the same circumstances at the same time, but each reacted differently. The difference between Job and Mrs. Job is that Job had taken the time to prepare himself so that he could stay spiritually strong during tough times, while his wife did not.
How can we prepare ourselves to stay spiritually strong when the storms of life come upon us? First of all, we must become Christians by hearing (Romans 10:17), believing (Mark 16:16), repenting of our sins (Acts 2:38), confessing that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32), being baptized (Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:17-22), and remaining faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10). After becoming a Christian, it is important that we study the Word of God each day, and attend all worship services of our home congregation of the church of Christ.
We are to immerse ourselves in the Word of God, and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Reading the Bible is a great comfort during trying times, and we can train our hearts and minds to stay spiritually strong during trying times in this way. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). Also, assembling with the saints each and every time our home congregation meets for worship is so important in cultivation of spiritual strength (Hebrews 10:24-25). Having the opportunity to devote ourselves to worship unto God and to feel the support and love from fellow Christians can help us during the challenging times in our lives. No one can face hardships and overcome them successfully alone. He or she must have God’s Help, as well as the help of others. Also, devoting our time to helping others is a great way to keep our minds focused on God during challenging times.
Mrs. Job had not taken the time to prepare herself for the challenges that she would be facing in her life. When being tested, she did not “make the grade” in that she showed unfaithfulness while bearing the same losses as her husband who kept his devotion to God intact. We all make choices on how a challenging event that takes place in our lives will affect us. As seen in the book of Job, the same event produced two different reactions. We can take this as a lesson in our own lives when challenging times come. Do we stay steadfast in the Lord as Job did, and was thereby blessed more than in his beginning (Job 42:12), or do exhibit unfaithfulness as did Mrs. Job? The choice that you make can determine whether you have a home in Heaven or a home in Hell one day. Please choose wisely!
Are you happy to be a Christian? This is a question that I am sure all Christians would say “yes” to, however, do the actions of all Christians show that they are happy to perform the responsibilities that come with being a child of God? As Christians, we are to be happy! Not only do we possess the ability to have forgiveness of sins, but we also have the hope of a home in heaven. With all that God has given us, we should be more than happy to do His Will, however, how many Christians find joy in doing what God commands them to do? Do you delight in serving the Lord, or do you go “through the motions?”
As Christians, we should love serving God! We should wake up each morning thinking of ways to be a better Christian and servant to God and others. We should embody the feelings expressed by King David in Psalm 40:8 when he says, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Serving God should come before any other activity in our lives, and we should perform God’s Work with delight, rather than with a sense of burden.
How many Christians really participate in the worship services of the church? Just by a casual observation, one might find that some members of the congregation will participate in all of the acts of worship, while others just sit there in silence during the singing of praises, and act as if they are not listening to the sermon. How many Christians do you know try to find any excuse available in order to not attend worship services or to not participate in church works? Are you like one of these people? Hopefully not! We should not be like those people. Rather, we should be as excited as a little child about attending and participating in the worship services of the church of Christ! We should always be focused on God during the acts of worship, and we should always be willing to participate in church works when we are physically able to do so. When I see how excited my own children are about attending worship services, it is a wonderful reminder of how I am supposed to feel as well. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4).
Attending worship services of the church of Christ and participating in other church works is just part of what we are commanded to do as Christians. We are to pray “without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17). Do you pray during the day? We often see examples of others praying at bedtime, but a prayer once a day is not enough! We are to pray before every meal and at other times during the day as well. If you woke up one morning with only the things that you gave thanks to God for on the previous day, what would you have left? Our Heavenly Father always wants to hear from His children, so we should make it a point to pray many times throughout the day, no matter how we are feeling and no matter how our day is going. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).
Also, are you willing to give of your time and finances to help others and to help the church? We are commanded to give generously to the Lord so that the church can finance good works (2 Corinthians 9:7). If you work a part-time or full-time job, just putting a dollar bill in the plate is not being a cheerful giver. We should be willing to give generously in the collection plate as our local congregation, as well as be generous with our time in helping others. Attending door knockings, Ladies’ Day events, Gospel Meetings, Vacation Bible Schools, etc. are all great ways of promoting the spread of the Gospel, which should be our primary focus in life. How many Christians today choose secular activities to participate in instead of helping with a door knocking activity, a Ladies’ Day event, a Vacation Bible School, or some other church work? How many parents are teaching their children to do the same? “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). We should also give of our time and means in order to help others with their physical need for food, clothing and shelter as well. By helping others with their physical needs, we can have the opportunity to teach them about Christ.
Finally, do you study the Word of God every day? I saw a post on Facebook one time that said something to the effect of if we studied our Bibles as much as we study our phones today, then everyone would be studying as they should. This is true. If you can find time to look at Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, you have time to read and study your Bible. If you have time to watch T.V. or read a secular book, magazine, or newspaper, you have time to read and study your Bible. If you have time to participate in any other secular activity, you have time to read and study your Bible. People are all the same in that they will always make time to do what they want to do in this life. Studying God’s Word should be at the top of the list of things to do each and every day. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
It is important to remember that Christ was delighted and happy to leave Heaven and come to a world where He would suffer on the cross and die for our sins. We should be just as happy to do His Will and to serve God each and every day of our lives. We should not leave our First Love, which is God, as is described in Revelation 2:4. but rather we should appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus gave for us, and to continue to keep Him as our First Love. If we do this, we have a home in Heaven awaiting us, and that is why we should be the happiest people on the planet!
In this article, I would like to focus on the following verse; “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” (2 Corinthians 9:8). What does it mean to “abound in good works?” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary describes the word “abound” as being “to have or possess in great quantity.” Therefore, Paul, is stating in this verse that it is God’s Will that we perform many good works in order to be pleasing unto God. By many good works, I mean that we should do more than the basics that God requires in order for us to be faithful. In order to “abound in good works,” however, we must first excel at the basic requirements that God commands us to do in order to be a faithful Christian. Only then can we go onto to do extra good works as 2 Corinthians 9:8 says.
But what are the basics that God requires in order for us to be faithful? Spiritual basics include the things that we must begin to do as “babes in Christ” so that we can continue to grow stronger and stronger spiritually. Before we can handle digesting the “meat of the Word” or the parts of God’s Word that take more than a novice to understand, we must focus on completing the first steps of becoming spiritually obedient unto God. If we do not complete the basics and continue doing them every day, then we cannot go on to performing our full potential in our obedience to God. The following are a list of some of the “basics” that we have to do before being considered faithful and obedient to God.
1. Become a Christian. This is the very first step to become a faithful and obedient servant of God, and eligible for a home in Heaven one day. In order to become a Christian, one must Hear the Word of God (Romans 10:17), Believe that what you hear is the truth, ( Mark 16:16). Repent of your past sins (Acts 2:38), Confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 10:32), Be Baptized Into Christ (Acts 22:16;I Peter 3:17-22), and Remain Faithful Until Death (Revelations 2:10).
2. Study your Bible Every Day: It is so important that a Christian be spiritually fed everyday from the Word of God, just as everyone would make sure to be physically fed every day. II Timothy 2:15 states, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” A Christian must study the Word of God in order to know what He expects of everyone in order to be faithful. Just hearing the Bible read, preached, or taught on Sundays and Wednesday nights are not enough. We must show our love of God by wanting to hear His Words to us each and every day. Think of it this way, would we want to hear from our loved ones just one or two days in a week? If not, then it stands to reason that if we are to put God above everyone else, then we should want to hear from Him through the Bible each and every day as well! “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). We should also read the Bible in order to be able to teach others about God’s Word so that they may become Christians themselves. “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). When a faithful Christian faces adversity, reading the Bible is such a great comfort, because he or she can be reminded of God’s Love for him or her, and what wonderful things await a faithful Christian at the end of life’s journey!
3. Attend church services regularly: There is no excuse that can be given to condone not attending worship services of the church of Christ every first day of the week and every other time a person’s home congregation meets unless one is sick or caring for the sick. This also includes the requirement that those who are Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week (Sunday) in order to be pleasing unto God. Of course, God in His Mercy will forgive those who miss worship services due to sickness or caring for the sick, but not attending for any other reason causes us to forsake the assembly. We should also not use issues that would not keep us out of our secular job as an excuse to miss worship services. We should always be joyful and excited to attend worship services to sing praises to and worship our Heavenly Father. For me, I always come out of worship service feeling so much better than I did going in! “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalm 122:1). The church is the house of the Lord today (I Timothy 3:15), and let us joyfully enter her assemblies!
3. Pray Often: Oftentimes, some people only turn to God in prayer during challenging times, however, we should have a prayerful attitude at all times. Prayer unto God will help us in any situation that we find ourselves because God hears and answers the prayers of those who are faithful. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). We should not only pray for ourselves but for others as well. Prayer not only helps to improve our spiritual health, but it also helps boost our moods and it encourages us to have a more positive frame of mind during discouraging times.
These are a few of the basics that God requires us to do in order to begin our lives as faithful Christian and servants. Besides the act of being baptized, all of the “basics” listed above should be done every day so that we can grow stronger in the Lord through knowledge and obedience. Only then can we go onto to “abound in good works” by doing more good works besides those listed above. Abounding in good works means that we do not stop with just doing the basics to please God, but going “above and beyond” the minimum that is required of us. We should not just stop at doing the list above and no other good works, but we should all look to do as many good works for others and for the Lord as we can put our hands and our talents to do. God gave each and every one of us specific talents that we should use to render obedience to Him so that we can improve our talents and gain new ones.
Are you going “above and beyond” in your service to God, or are you doing the bare minimum to get by? May we all make a habit of analyzing our own lives on a regular basis and consider how much we are doing for God, so that we will reflect more of Christ than ourselves unto others every day.
In today’s world, there are many people who believe that one can go to Heaven by just being a “good person.” It is true that there are many people out there who think about God and who want to do good toward others, however, is this enough for God to bless them with a home in Heaven when they die or at the Judgment? This is a subject that I have recently pondered while reading about a very notable person in the Bible named Cornelius.
In Acts chapter 10, we meet Cornelius who was described as a centurion from a band called the “Italian band.” Cornelius, a Gentile, was what we would consider today to be a “good person.” Acts 10:2 describes him in this way; “A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.” It is apparent that Cornelius was a very good man, and who was very mindful of God on a daily basis. Cornelius did as much good as he knew how to do, but was this enough?
No! God had bigger plans for Cornelius. God visited Cornelius to deliver him a special message. “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do” (Acts 10:3-6). After this vision, Cornelius did just as God instructed him to do. He sent some of his servants to seek out Peter who was staying with Simon the tanner.
At close to the same time, God worked to complete His Plan for Cornelius through Peter, also. While still in Simon the Tanner’s house, Peter was told by the Holy Spirit that three men from Cornelius’ house was looking for him. Peter was on his host’s roof at the time, and when he received this message, he quickly came down to meet the men. It is important to note that when Cornelius’ men spoke with Peter about their purpose in coming, they spoke very highly of their master, calling him a “just man” and “one that feareth God” and was of “good report” (Acts 10:22). This further shows that Cornelius was indeed a very good man.
When Peter met Cornelius, he mentioned that it was an unusual occurrence for a Jew, which Peter was, to be in the same company with Gentiles, which was what Cornelius and his household were. Under the Old Law, the Jews were God’s chosen people. Many Jews considered the disobedient Gentiles to be “unclean.” After Peter spoke to Cornelius and his family about Jesus’ birth, life and resurrection, the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius and his household and they were able to speak in tongues and do other miraculous things. Once Peter sees that a family of Gentiles was given the miraculous ability to speak in foreign languages, he commanded Cornelius’ entire household to be baptized. Seeing the Gentiles miraculously speak in foreign languages, proved to the Jews that the Gentiles could receive salvation.
We can learn several lessons from the account of Cornelius. One is that after Christ’s death and resurrection, the Jews were no longer the chosen people of God. As seen in Acts Chapter 10, both Jews and Gentiles who were baptized into Christ were now God’s chosen people. The next lesson is that although Cornelius was a good and God-fearing man, he was not saved until he was baptized into Christ. This goes against the idea that many people today have when they think that if a person is merely a “good person,” who believes in God and who treats others well, then that person will be able to go to Heaven. These people often either are members of a denomination or do not attend worship services of the church of Christ as they ought. I Peter 3:21 says, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”. Baptism saves.
Cornelius’ baptism shows that being good is not the only requirement to go to Heaven, but obedience is also a requirement. Being baptized into Christ and attending the worship services of the church of Christ on a weekly basis are a must, as well as other acts of obedience. A person can learn how to be a moral person from going to denominational churches or from modeling themselves after others who are moral, but unless he or she also conducts his or her life in obedience to God’s commandments, a person still cannot win a home in Heaven. Christ only built His church (Matthew 16:18), and He never built any denominations. Christ never sinned (II Corinthians 5:21). All other accountable people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and although some people act in more “good” ways than others, none of us earn the right to go to Heaven (Romans 3:10, 23). We are saved by grace, but in order to partake of that grace, we must have faith and do the works that God commands us to do (Ephesians 2:8, Hebrews 5:9).
We must set ourselves apart from others through our obedience to God. We do this by having an obedient faith and thus by doing good works. We do good works not to earn salvation, but we do them, because God commands them. We are not set apart by believing in God only, because even the devil believes in God, and he is certainly not going to Heaven! “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:19-20). Merely believing in God is not enough, though it is important. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Of course, one can only win a home in Heaven if he or she follows the Plan of Salvation, which is to Hear (Romans 10:17), Believe (Mark 16:16), Repent (Acts 2:38), Confess (Matthew 10:32), Be Baptized (Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:17-22) and Remain Faithful Until Death (Revelations 2:10). May we all work to do God’s Will each and every day, and conduct ourselves in faith and obedience to God Word!
How to Be Saved
God's Plan of Salvation:
Hear: Romans 10:17
Believe: Mark 16:16
Repent: Acts 2:38
Confess Matthew 10:32
Be Baptized: Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:17-22
Remain Faithful: Revelation 2:10