2023 Archives

For Love Of Money

  What do you think of money?  Perhaps you are not exactly sure how to articulate it, or maybe to divulge your musings would be a bit embarrassing.  But there is certainly nothing wrong with having “enough” money, after all money can be used to accomplish good things—but it can also be a gruesome taskmaster, and steal away the true substance of life as God intended for us to live it.  He said, “…a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (Luke 12:15)”  And yet so many have succumbed to the “song of the sirens,” and fallen into the clutches of the dollar gods who exploit our obsession, only for evil.

  Though I am sure it is not a categorical truth, it seems to me that few “professionals” (e.g. medical, legal, engineering, political, retail, etc.) offer their services for the health and betterment of mankind (My apologies to the exceptions).  Most seem to be motivated these days by the insatiable desire to obtain more money.  Moral and ethical decency seem to be set aside in order to gather dollars from the dark side—No, not illegally, but with motives and methods that they would rather not disclose.

  These are not my ideas, but God’s.  He has said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1Timothy 6:10)” These words are applicable to individuals, families, churches, businesses, and governments.  But our God is no cosmic killjoy who desires to keep us poor and miserable.  After all, His Son, Jesus, taught us, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)”

  So, how much is enough?  What are our basic needs?  The Lord instructs us,  “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. (1Timothy 6:6-9)”

A Christian Nation?

  In the process of time, God ordained three institutions: the Family, Government, and the Church.  Each of them was given specific, divinely ordered responsibilities to administer His principles and precepts in the various aspects of human life.  Because of the sinfulness of man, the institutes have become divided and developed a bias contrary to the moral laws of God.

  Jesus Himself said that the division in each of these institutions would result in their downfall.  Couples selfishly divorce, and family brokenness becomes generational.  Governments divide over transient ideologies and become ineffective.  Churches are infiltrated by divisive worldly philosophy and false doctrine and become venues for social interaction without spiritual fervor.  All three institutions in America began to crumble when divine principles were all but forgotten.

  Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th century French statesman, historian and philosopher, toured America in the 1830’s.  Here are some quotes commonly attributed to him, “In the United States, the influence of religion is not confined to the manners, but it extends to the intelligence of the people… Christianity, therefore, reigns without obstacle, by universal consent… I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors…; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.  The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.  The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other.  Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts — the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.”

The Babe

  When the phrase, “the Babe,” is heard at this time of year, perhaps most minds are still drawn to the Babe in a manger, 2000 years ago in the village of Bethlehem.  He was called Jesus, the Christ.  The word Christ in the New Testament, and Messiah in the Old Testament are the same word in different languages.  They mean Anointed One, and in the case of Jesus, God’s Anointed One.  In the scriptures, priests and kings were anointed with oil at their inauguration.  Jesus is both a Priest and a King—God’s Anointed.   

  The Bible tells us that in His incarnation [being born on earth], Jesus, who is God’s eternal Son, became, “God in the flesh.”  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)”

  This raises the question, Why would God choose to be robed in flesh and live among men?  The Bible clearly states that God, in His holiness, cannot tolerate sin.  In His justice, He cannot overlook sin, and His judicial laws require that the penalty of death be imposed upon all sin.    Since sinful man has nothing to offer in his own defense, Jesus became “God in the flesh” to bear the penalty for man’s sin, and make him eligible for forgiveness..

  But, according to God’s law, our redemption would require the bloody, sacrificial death of a Perfect Sinless Substitute.  “…without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness]. (Hebrews 9:22)”  The story of His passion is called the gospel, or “Good News.”  “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1Corinthians 15:3-4)

  Jesus is God’s gift to you, but you will have to receive Him!  “…if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)”

The Standard

  The word standard is one of those dictionary entries that in some cases takes up more than a page.  More than one of its definitions involve a peculiar , yet applicable model—authoritatively produced—by which morals, or customs, or values, or qualities, or quantities, or weights, or volumes, or units of distance, etc. are universally measured.  For example, a yardstick is a universal standard by which we can determine distances.  Imagine where we would be without standard units of measure in building automobiles or skyscrapers.  Imagine the confusion that would persist if there were not standards for measuring volume or weight in a bakery or a butcher shop.  Standards are essential in every realm or discipline.

  What about the standards for moral excellence or customs?  Who has the authority to decide what is right and wrong in a culture or society?  But without universal standards, everyone would simply do what was right in his own eyes, resulting in conflict and discord, and eventually civil unrest or even anarchy.  Historical and contemporary examples abound.

  Contrary to popular thought, no nation, society or individual has the authority to set the universal standards in the nonmaterial realm.  This would require a supreme authority, with unlimited knowledge of that realm—It would require a God.  Fortunately for us, there is such a God, and He has revealed Himself to us through His written Word.  Paul, the apostle, wrote in his letter to the Romans of old, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)”

  Not only does the God of the Bible have the authority and wisdom to set the standards for every nation and society, He has the right!  After all, it all belongs to Him.  “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1)”

God With Us!

  In the Christmas story, God moved Matthew to borrow the text of Isaiah’s prophecy of old, and apply it to the birth of Jesus Christ.  “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)”  So, the God of creation, came to earth and dwelt among men on that first Christmas Day!  He came to die for the sins of mankind.  He rose from the dead in three days, demonstrating His victory over sin, death and Hell.  He was indeed God with us.

  After He ascended back to Heaven, He kept His promise to replace His own physical presence on earth with that of the Holy Spirit, which He called, “The Comforter.”  “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26)”  He, the Spirit of God, would reside in the spiritual hearts of everyone who would repent of their sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  So, in a very personal way, God is still with us.  While knowing God is experienced in the non-material part of man, those who possess His Spirit are comforted by His undeniable presence.

  Jesus also promised, before He ascended back to Heaven, that He would return to claim for Himself, those who have made Him Lord, and accepted His gift of forgiveness.  “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:3)”  According to His Word, this return is eminent (it could happen at any time).  The event is commonly referred to as the Rapture or Catching Away of the Church.

  Even then, Christ’s work on earth will not be complete.  He promised the Hebrews of old that He would reign as their King for 1000 years from Jerusalem.  His reign will be a time of peace on earth, and truly good will toward man, but before that day comes, there must be a time of judgment on this sinful earth.  The Bible refers to this seven years of divine judgment as the Tribulation.  It will be a time of decision for all flesh; everyone will decide what he/she believes about the Lord, Jesus Christ—God with us.