Suppose you were to receive an envelope in which there was a check made out to you for one million dollars tax-free. You didn’t earn it by hard work or even clever investments. It was a totally free gift that was unearned and unexpected. However, it is not unconditional if one wants to use it. There are some steps required with which you must comply to make it usable. First you must believe in the validity of the check itself or you might just tear it up or frame it and put it on the wall as a joke. Next you must prove your identity, then endorse it. Now it is finally viable to cash or deposit. Compliance is the act of conforming, yielding and cooperating. It is taking or receiving something offered by obeying the conditions requested.
Many kind and decent people have been led to believe that salvation is totally unconditional and universal because it can’t be earned by works of merit ( Eph 2:8-9) Since the beginning of time the Godhead has laid out conditions to be accepted and obeyed (Gen 2:16-17). The promise to the Israelites on Mount Sinai was that, “…IF you obey me fully and keep my covenant…you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation ( Ex 19:5-6) The people promised that they would ( v8) but continually reneged and most of them died in the desert without reaching the promised land ( Heb 3:16-18) It was a free gift that they hadn’t earned but they never received it.
Jesus Himself told us that, “If anyone loves me he will obey my teachings…( Jo 14:23) His teachings continued on throughout the New Testament in words given the Apostles by inspiration of the Holy Spirit ( 2 Pe 1:21). The Spirit taught only what Jesus wanted known ( Jo 16: 13-15). It is not total compliance to simple pray for Christ to some into one’s heart (Mt 7:21) Jesus’ teaching here is that calling Him Lord, Lord, does not get one into heaven, rather it is by doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven.
It is the Godhead’s will that a person who believes, (Mk 16:16) confesses Christ publically, repents from the heart, (Lk 13:3) and is immersed INTO Christ Jesus for forgiveness of sins, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit ( Rom 6:3-6) ( Gal 3:26-27) ( Act 2:38) Also one is then given salvation and assurance of safety from condemnation ( Rom 8:1).
These are all available to everyone not by works of merit, but rather by a humble, obedient compliance to God’s conditions. Much like the secular check, one must take hold of the free gift and take possession of it by fulfilling God’s teachings and commandments. The gift cannot be earned, it must be received and appreciated.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Have you ever considered doing a FRUIT check of your life? We should be doing this from time to time. As Christians we have these characteristics found in verse 22, but, are we allowing them to be expressed outwardly in our lives. Can others see this fruit in our conduct? If we are allowing our flesh to be controlled by the Holy Spirit then these characteristics will be expressed on an increasingly greater frequency. Each day as we are interacting with people we should be mindful of this fruit of the Spirit and we should strive, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to conduct ourselves with these fruits. We should do as verse 16 says and “walk by the Spirit” and then the desires of the flesh will diminish and the fruit of the Spirit will begin to be who we are becoming in Jesus. Is it time for a fruit check in your life?
Blessings to you all.
Chet Wiswell, Elder.
The total expenditure each year on cosmetics, hair care, jewelry, clothes and shoes to make women more beautiful must challenge the national defense budget. This biggest part of this is probably in an attempt to please the men in their lives. However, surely some it is spent to outdo one’s peers with the newest and most expensive fashion available. Without a doubt people do notice, admire and envy a woman who has outside beauty.
The problem is that, “ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting ( Pr 31:30). Few things are as sad as a woman (or man) who desperately cling to the outward appearance of youth as they age. To deny to oneself what is so apparent to everyone else is futile and even pitiful at times.
What a contrast to God’s Beauty Shop. He adorns the hidden person of the heart ( 1 Pe 3:1-6) with a meek (KJV) gentle and quiet spirit with an unfading beauty ( v 4) which is precious and of great worth in His sight. We find that the Holy Spirit is also present in this interior make-over. He can live within the hidden person ( inner being) of Christians ( Eph 3: 16-19). He not only endows them with beauty, He strengthens them with power and fills them with an imperishable love of Christ. Truly, “…mankind looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart ( hidden person) ( 1 Sam 16: 7). “…though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly (hidden person) we are being renewed day by day” ( 2 Cor 4:16) How much happier and useful would Christians be if we would look into our hidden person and see what God has put there! Nearly everyone wants to look his/her best physically but often feels that it is not enough and struggle to try any new panacea that comes around. What if we were to try even harder to beautify our hidden person?
We can start by renewing our minds (Rom 12:2). We can then move on to purifying our hearts ( 2 Cor 7:1) ( Jas 4:8). Praying, forgiving and loving others might also be important contributors to the make-over. After all, Christians are metaphorically called the Bride of Christ and must be pure and beautiful in their “hidden person.”
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Many of the things that mankind once considered impossible have been done within the last few decades. A human was never supposed to run a mile in less than four minutes---Roger Bannister, May 6th, 1954. For most of history it was said that mankind would never walk on the moon---Neil Armstrong, July 20, 1969. These and many other “impossible” feats have been accomplished and surpassed many times since then. Nevertheless, there are other things that remain impossible due to physical limitations. Asking a newborn to write or tie a shoe, jumping over the Grand Canyon in a single leap, trying to teach a fish to ride a motorcycle are just a few examples which come to mind.
There are some things that are impossible for humans in a spiritual sense. Without faith it is impossible to please God ( Heb 11:6). It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins ( Heb 10:4) It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened…who have shared the Holy Spirit…if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance…( Heb 6:4-6). It is impossible to claim lack of sin in one’s life ( 1 Jo 1: 8-10).
There is said to be at least one thing that is impossible for God. He will not lie ( Heb 6:18). Another verse says that nothing is impossible for God ( Lk 1:37) God could do anything, but will not because He must remain true to who He is. It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Jesus because God raised Him from the dead ( Acts 2:24).
There are many things that Christians cannot do on our own. We cannot pray as we should but the Holy Spirit Himself intercedes for us ( Rom 8: 26-27). We cannot force people to obey the gospel, but we can teach them what God demands of them (Mt 28:19-20) ( 2 Tim 2:2) ( 2 Tim 3:16-17). There is really not much we can do without divine help, but many things are given to us by the grace and promise of God ( Jo 15:7). We can pray for others ( Mt 5:44) ( Eph 6: 18) ( Php 4: 6). We can forgive others because the Lord forgives us ( Col 3:13). We can trust and obey ( Jo 15:10). We should focus not on what is impossible, rather on all the things that are now possible because of Jesus Christ.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Every year many tourists and locals make their way to the top of Pikes, Longs, Evans and other peaks to overlook the beautiful scenery below. However, the topic for today’s article will be about a different type of overlook. The first means to gaze out over. The second means to ignore, disregard or fail to consider. Our family has a saying when one seems overly concerned about one’s personal appearance, “No one looks at old men/women anyway.” Humorous, but it is based on at least a kernel of truth. Yet one does not have to be old to be overlooked in our society today. Nearly all of us have felt the sting of being forgotten, ignored or overlooked. With the advent of personal, portable electronic gadgets, it has become even easier to look through someone rather than at them. How rare, yet how pleasant it is to see people of any age engaging those who might otherwise be overlooked, in a genuine conversation about their lives, needs and concerns.
Most of these cases are due to self-absorption, but occasionally they can be premeditated. It is especially incumbent on Christians to notice and visit with outsiders, especially those who often seem to blend into the background ( Col 4:5) ( 1 Th 4:12) ( 1 Tim 3:7). The religious leaders of Jesus’ day wanted badly to overlook His teaching and miracles but just couldn’t ( 2 Cor 3: 14-15) ( Mt 15:14) ( Jo 12:42-43) ( Mt 23: 13-16). These leaders somehow overlooked every miracle and teaching of Jesus,and even hatched the absurd plot to kill Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead ( Jo 12: 9-11).
King David researched and found a crippled grandson of King Saul, Mephibosheth, who must have been overlooked for years. David greatly honored him and gave him land and servants and let him eat at the King’s table ( 2 Sam 8: 7-12). Jesus, the descendant of David, was always on the lookout for the overlooked in every area in which He preached ( Mk 8:1-3) ( Mt 9: 6-7) (Mk 1:30-31) ( Mk 6:34-44). Christ never overlooked anyone then or now. He is aware of and cares deeply for everyone. In the OUR DAILY BREAD devotional booklet, Ruth O’Reilly-Smith tells of a way to deal with rejection and disregard from others. “Learn what you can from criticism…then shelve it and humbly move on in God’s grace and power” In other words, overlook being overlooked.
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
Some things are inevitable because of the laws of nature. If one were to step off the top of a skyscraper without a net, the fall wouldn’t kill him---but the sudden stop would. Other things are not inevitable because they are avoidable. The motorist who speeds past a BRIDGE OUT sign at 90 mph can only expect the inevitable. In most areas of life there are situations in which all circumstances point an inevitable conclusion. Some just take longer than others, constant use of tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs are a few of these. In very rare cases the seemingly inevitable end can be evaded or escaped.
In several Bible events there is a fine line between avoidable and inevitable. Once people, then and now, purposely step outside that line in rebellion and blatant disobedience and, “…deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire…” ( Heb 10: 26-27). The thousands who died in the Great Flood ( Gen 7: 21-23) and in the desert wanderings ( Heb 3:16-18) were proof to that inevitability.
The Lord does not want such things to happen, “…He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance ( 2Pe 3:9) ( Jo 3:16). What a contrast and a blessing is God’s tolerance level, “…When we were God’s enemies we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son…” ( Rom 5:10) In fact, Jesus was forgiving those who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing…” ( Lk 23:34). Unfortunately, sooner or later, God’s justice demands the inevitable, “…This will happen when the Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of His power…” ( 1 Th 1:7-9) Judgement Day is inevitable (Mt 25:31-46) ( Jo 12:aa48) ( 2 Pe 2:9-10) ( 2 Pe 3:7). However, everlasting destruction is not ( 1 Th 4:16-18) ( Rev 21: 1-4)
Submitted by Jery Bailey, Elder
There are several ways to pay off a debt. One can pay off the total at the time of purchase. Another method is to make a down-payment and agree to pay a set amount each month until the item is paid off. Most of us have had to use this plan when we bought a house or a car. This plan allows us to use and enjoy an item but runs the risk of using it up, wearing it out or breaking it before it is paid for. The layaway plan also has advantages and disadvantages. This plan allows one to leave the item with the seller until it is completely paid off and then take it home. It is purposeful delayed gratification, which is often difficult, but keeps the purchase in mint condition and guarantees the original price and avoids the high interest that usually comes with credit card purchases.
Besides the monetary aspect, there are other times one should use the layaway plan. A college diploma, a honeymoon, a world cruise, an adoption, a toy and a pet are just a few of the many possibilities. Our children should also learn early and often the value of waiting in anticipation for a much desired object or destination.
Christians truly have the greatest layaway plan ever known. They are doing the work that God prepared in advance for them to do after His grace has saved them ( Eph 2: 8-10). They are working out their salvation with fear and trembling ( Php 2: 12). They realize that they are to work at whatever they do with all their heart because they are working for the Lord, not for men ( Col 3:32).They are working and waiting because they await the prize of eternal life. Paul put it this way, “ I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”( Php 3:14). He also said, “ Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” ( 2 Tim 4:8). Christians should long for that day even more than children do for their birthday. Their layaway plan will be well worth all the delayed gratification ( 1 Th 4:16-18) ( Rev 21: 1-4).
Provided by Jery Bailey, Elder
21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
The setting here is after the resurrection of Jesus and he is on the shore while His Apostles are fishing. They are back to work. Jesus shows interest in how they are getting along with their “job” by just asking how they are doing. He already knew but asked anyway because he wanted to see if they were listening and willing to be obedient. Jesus told them to throw their net on the right side of the boat and they would have a catch. So, they heard the request from Jesus and then they honored the request. The result was a large catch of fish. He provided a solution to their problem.
I think Jesus does the same today with us. He is interested in how we are doing also. He gives us instruction to help us in our times of trouble and need. He has our best interest at heart and wants us to live an abundant life ( John 10:10b ). With an open heart we can soon get to where we are hearing and receiving instructions from Him also.
May abundant life and blessing be yours in 2019.
Chet Wiswell, Elder
Almost everyone has felt rejected at one time or another. It is quite possible that some of us have rejected others without realizing it, or maybe, knowingly while rationalizing our behavior. Some rejections are necessary while others are selfish and cruel. Sometimes auto parts prove to be inferior or dangerous and must be recalled and rejected. Some college entrance applications are rejected because of limited openings and candidates with better qualifications. A writer’s story might not fit the editor’s needs and thus it will receive a rejection slip. All of these are valid reasons for rejection.
Unfortunately, there are far too many times when rejection is invalid and thoughtless. When small children are shunned by their peers, when one clique rejects same age schoolmates, when a former friend decides not to invite a person to a party, all these things hurt someone. When anyone uses age, race, socio-economics or physical handicap to rebuff, discard or cast off another, this is rejection of the worst kind. This does more than bruise an ego, it may cause that person to lose a belief in his/her intrinsic value. It shows the offender’s guilt, fear and selfish ego.
In the first Biblical family, God rejected Cain’s sacrifice and accepted Abel’s, but for cause (Gen 4:2-5). He also rejected the older twin Esau and favored the younger one, Jacob once again with a reason ( Rom 9: 13-15) ( Heb 12:16). The prophet Samuel thought the people had rejected him, but God told him that they were actually rejecting Him ( 1 Sam 8:7). God rejected all of David’s older brothers as His choice of a new King of Israel and chose a mere shepherd boy whose heart was in tune with God’s own heart ( 1 Sam 13: 14).
The Apostle Paul was rejected by his former Jewish comrades who now , “cast him into prison, flogged him, beat him… (2 Cor 11:23ff). He was constantly threatened and in danger from his own countrymen and from Gentiles (v 26).
Tragically, Jesus Christ was prophesied to be, “…despised and rejected by men…”( Isa 53:3). He was , “…rejected by men but chosen by God” ( 1Pe 2:4). “The stone which the builders rejected has become the capstone…” ( Mt 21:42) “…whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” ( Jo 3:36).
Jesus warns all his followers that those who choose to, “…deny himself and take up his cross daily…” ( Lk 9:23) will be persecuted just as He was. ( Jo 15:20) Paul adds, “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”( 2 Tim 3:12) Many martyrs found how true that is as they were rejected by being burned at the stake. They received the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to them and to all who are faithful to the end. If we want to be in that number, we also will reject the rejection of godless men.
Jery Bailey, Elder
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