2018 Archives

A House Divided

  In late January, our President will likely deliver the State of the Union Address. The world will listen again as America both applauds and ridicules the position of our leaders on issues like defending freedom on foreign soil, the sanctity of life, caring for our elderly and educating our youth. It is not my purpose here, to offer a discourse on any politically motivated topic, but to point out that which must seem so obvious to the world, America is a house divided.

  We live in a land that no one can deny is God blessed—but not forever. Our liberties came to us at great cost to those who hungered for them and loved them more than life. These same individuals set out to establish what has been called, “One Nation Under God.” Contrary to popular opinion, it is not these great men who made our nation great; it was the Great God of these men. The fact is, that these men were great men because they had a great God. Men cease to be great when they cease to walk with God, and great nations fail for lack of great men.

  My friends, the dividing lines in our nation are not drawn between political parties, they are drawn between good and evil. America will continue to be blessed as it continues to be good, but our unity on the side of righteousness and goodness is weakening. We are indeed a house divided, and God has said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Matthew 12:25).”

  Lest I appear to be the prophet of doom, let me quickly add, There is hope! Our nation can certainly be united again under God. The burden though, is not on those who have strayed, but on those who remain “under God.” The solution is stated by God Himself, who says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Chronicles 7:14).”

New Beginnings

  What is it about the new year that makes it worthy of celebration?  We often hear the word resolution in conjunction with this time of year.  There are those who resolve to lose the extra poundage that secures their place in the ranks of the over-nourished.  Many will resolve, again, to forsake an old habit, or to establish a new routine.  Whatever the commitment, we content ourselves with the idea that a NEW year will afford us a new beginning— and so we celebrate.

  Do you suppose that God celebrates the new year?  It would not be hard to demonstrate from scripture that God is unaffected by the passage of time.  Man’s little gimmicks and mind games to mark the days do not impress the Almighty, and the new year does not afford us a new beginning in His eyes.

  There is however hope for those who want to start over.  God is Himself the author of new beginnings.  For those who have lived life to this point with no knowledge of His purpose for them, God’s new beginning is such a magnificent event that He refers to it as being “born again.”  Interested?  All that is required on your part is a desire to escape the bondage and consequences of sin, and a sincere confidence in His promise to save all who believe.  According to the Bible, we are all sinners and Christ came into this world to pay the penalty for sin through His death on the cross and victorious resurrection.

  To those who have already placed their trust in His saving grace, our Heavenly Father offers a new beginning whenever it is needed.  When sin destroys your joy and effectiveness, and makes you feel like life is no longer worth living, it is time for a fresh, clean start.  God’s Word tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1John 1:9).”

  Don’t expect life to change because it is January of a new year.  Look to God, the Author of New Beginnings!

What’s In It For Me?

  Many of us still view the Christmas season as a time to celebrate the first coming of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to the stable in Bethlehem.  We know that He was and is God in the flesh.  Others view Christ as a historical figure whose memory has outlived its usefulness.  Some would do anything within their power to remove every mention of His name from modern society.  Without question, there are two diverse perspectives of Christ.

  At first glance, the biblical story of Jesus’ birth seems to suggest that everyone was awaiting deliverance that would be realized after the coming of Messiah (God’s Anointed).  But, even in that day, there was diversity of opinion as to what this deliverance would entail.  For some, Christ’s coming would mean deliverance from the political tyranny of Rome, while a few focused on prophecies that spoke of deliverance from sin.

  In Luke 2, Mary and Joseph met two such people when they traveled to Jerusalem where they would present the baby Jesus before the Lord for circumcision, as required by the Law.  There was an old man, Simeon, and an old prophetess, Anna, who understood this baby to be, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:32).” They believed He was God’s gift to all who “looked for redemption. (Luke 2:38).”

  Certainly, the secular celebration of Christmas has a way of promoting a What’s in it for me? attitude, with its focus on material.  But, as Simeon and Anna have shown us, when it comes to Jesus, the benefits of Christ will not be realized first in the physical, material realm.  Those who take that perspective will be eternally disappointed.

  So, What’s in it for me?  We celebrate Jesus, In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (Colossians 1:14).  Jesus told his followers, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10).”  To know Jesus is to know God’s forgiveness, peace, purpose, power and plan!  What a Gift!  What a God!

The Holidays

  To most Americans, a holiday is simply a day set aside by custom or law in which normal activities are suspended (e.g. work, school, etc.). The word has even been used to refer to days in which corporations don’t have to pay taxes (i.e. a “tax holiday”).  In Britain the word holiday is synonymous with vacation.  Like many words shaped by our cultural use of the English language, the meaning of holiday has evolved.

  The origin of the word holiday dates back to the late first century when the two words holy and day were combined to represent days set aside for celebrating Jesus Christ.  Originally, Christmas was exclusively the celebration of Christ’s birth, and Easter was a celebration of His resurrection.  It was not until the 1400s that holiday started to acquire other, more secular meanings.

  Thanksgiving was rooted in our early days as a nation.  When settlers reached this new land and started enjoying the bounty, they intended for God to be the recipient of their thanks.  But the idea of offering thanks to God has faded too, and the focus now is on everything from turkey to hunting to parades and ball games.  Those who still take time to give thanks are often more inclined to offer it to family and friends, to Mother Nature or even to their “lucky stars.”  As the definition of the word holiday evolves, the holy days continue to lose their significance to the advance of secularism.

  Christmas celebrates a bearded old man who dresses in a red suit and gives toys to children.  For years, Easter focused on a giant rabbit who delivered candy through the night.  Each generation seems to introduce its own fantasy to our secularized holy days.  (e.g. Black Friday, Elf on a Shelf, etc.)

  Perhaps we would do well to learn a lesson from the pages of history.  God told His people Israel, “And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, …I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19).”

Have Ye Not Read

  Do you remember when the words “One nation under God, indivisible…” were treated as if they were sacred?  “In God we trust” seemed to be written on the hearts of nearly every citizen, and not just on the coins he carried in his pocket.  But things have changed, and some would dare to ask, Why?

  Jesus often alluded to the cause of this same breakdown when it led to the demise of His own people: And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read (Matthew 19:4).   Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read… (Matthew 21:16).  The same phrase is used nine times in the gospels.

  Neglect of the Scriptures has always resulted in an extinguished spiritual flame.  Nowhere is this truth more visible than in our families.  In order to perpetuate godliness, we must teach our children the essentials of faith, but we have utterly failed.  According to the Bible, the burden of this responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of us Dads.

  Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”   Together, the words “nurture and admonition of the Lord” include every aspect of raising children: cultivating the mind and morals, training them to care for their bodies, curbing the desires of the flesh, reproof and correction, etc.  

  Hey Dads, isn’t it time we took our God given responsibility seriously?  We need to stop dropping the burden of child rearing on our wives.  Let’s get serious about raising our children in the Book!  …and by the Book.

  We would do well to revisit the timeless truth that was delivered to Israel many years ago.  “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)  Only in the Word of God will we find deliverance from the spiritual darkness of our day.