• THE PLACE OF GOOD WORKS

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    “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”
    Titus 3:8

    What is the place of good works in our spiritual lives? Do good works have anything to do with our salvation? In speaking of salvation, Titus 3:5 says that it is “not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Good works do not save us. No one ever earned his way to Heaven. Most religions rely upon good works, in some form or another, to try to gain eternal life. However, the Bible is clear that works have nothing to do with our salvation. When good works are mixed with grace for salvation, the message of the gospel is corrupted. We are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ.

    Salvation is a gift and has nothing to do with any kind of works or deeds. However, our Bible tells us that those who are saved are to work for the Lord, saying that, “they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.” Good works are deeds of service done for Christ, by Christians, after their conversion.

    Who should be careful to maintain good works? The answer is “they which have believed in God.” Every person who has trusted in Christ as Savior, and by faith received His gift of eternal life, should be careful to maintain good works. Serving Christ is not the responsibility of a select few, but it is the duty of all who are saved.

    In writing to Timothy, Paul said that these things should be affirmed “constantly.” We need to be reminded often that we have a responsibility to work for the Lord. As a matter of fact, it is doubtful that we could be reminded too often. We are to maintain good works. All of us do not serve the Lord in the identical way, but all are to be working. All do not have the same spiritual gifts or calling, but all have a duty to serve God. We never retire from Christian service. There may be some things we cannot do, but there are plenty of things we can do.

    And the reason we serve is not to be saved, but because we are saved. There is a vast difference between someone doing religious deeds to find favor with God and someone serving the Lord because he loves Him and is grateful for His grace and goodness. For those who know Him, it is a delight to serve Him.

  • WE WILL NOT FORSAKE GOD’S HOUSE

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    “For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.”
    Nehemiah 10:39

    God’s people had spent many years in Babylonian captivity because of their disobedience, rebellion, and idolatry. Forsaking God’s law, His worship, His day, and His house had cost them dearly. By the grace and power of God, they were returned to Jerusalem. The destroyed city was being restored, the temple rebuilt, and the battered walls of the city repaired. With their past captivity fresh in their minds, they offered this great resolution: a fresh commitment to faithfulness to God’s house. The Bible records their vow of loyalty to the house of God, “we will not forsake the house of our God.”

    Our generation of Christians would do well to make a similar commitment. It is not an exaggeration to say that the house of God is too often being forsaken. One example of this is the great neglect of the place of the New Testament church in the work of God. The extremely popular, yet false belief in a universal and invisible church has caused many professing Christians to forsake the true house of God, which is the local church. I Timothy 3:15 says, “the house of God, which is the church of the living God.” The house of God is being forsaken because of the neglect of Bible doctrine concerning the church.

    Multitudes of those who claim membership in local congregations are also forsaking God’s house. They are forsaking God’s house by their lack of faithful attendance to the assembly of the saints. Church attendance by some is looked at as a suggestion rather than the command of God. Others are forsaking God’s house by their lack of financial support through consistent tithes and offerings. God gave His churches the responsibility to carry out His work in the world, and that work should be financed through the generous and consistent giving of the members. The house of God is being forsaken through the failure of members to use their gifts and abilities to serve in the ministries of the local church. The laborers are few because of those who are forsaking God’s house. For the sake of our Savior and His great work, “we will not forsake the house of God.”

  • BEWITCHED

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    “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?”
    Galatians 3:1

    Every Christian should be aware of the power and danger of deception. Paul was greatly disturbed by the fact that the Galatians had been influenced to turn from the truth. He referred to them as “foolish Galatians.” They were unwise, not using discernment, and not walking in wisdom. Paul said they had been “bewitched.” False teachers had deceived them. These believers had been corrupted by error.

    Error can have a powerful influence, even upon believers. It is very foolish for God’s people to take error lightly. The pattern that is seen in the churches of Galatia is being repeated today. Paul had been instrumental in winning these people to Christ. His message was salvation by grace, through faith in Christ, with no mixture of works. These people had believed his message and had trusted in the Savior for their salvation. Then along came these false teachers who began to confuse the new converts. These heretics told the Galatian believers that salvation, to be complete, required obedience to the law and works such as circumcision. This is a total corruption of the message of salvation.

    This is precisely the way modern heretics bewitch others. They do not concentrate on winning others to Christ. For one thing, they do not have the truth. Their strategy is to prey on those who have been won to Christ and try to bewitch them with heresy. Because false teachers have the appearance of believers, because they teach from the Bible, because they claim to be saved – their danger is not readily seen.

    To avoid the bewitching power of false doctrine, God’s people must take the Bible seriously and make it the final authority for faith and practice. Bewitching doctrine can be detected by comparing it to the Word of God. So many are being bewitched today because they believe some powerful or persuasive personality, or accept some traditions of men, when there is no Bible to base that teaching upon. Christians need to make sure they are growing in Christ and judging what they hear by the Word of God. As we study and rightly divide the Scripture, we will see that many false teachings, even those that are quite popular and well accepted, are not found in the Bible.

  • GOD WILL USE IT

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    “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
    Job 23:10

    Job discovered one of the great truths about God, concerning our trials. He will use our difficulties and hardships, and “when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” This is such an absolutely essential principle for understanding and enduring the circumstances of life. Why do Christians have trials? Why is the enemy allowed to attack believers? Can any good come out of the tragedies or disappointments of life? All these questions and others like them find answers in this verse and others like it.

    The Bible emphatically states that in the life of the Christian, God is working everything together for good. This is a great testimony to the wisdom and sovereignty of God. Even spiritual attacks from the enemy, God will use to serve His purpose. What about the wicked persecutions from those who resent us, and what we stand for? God will use it. We remember Joseph who was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and was deprived of thirteen years of family and friends. His words were, “ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20). What a mighty God we serve! God used the exile of John on Patmos to give us the Revelation. He used the mistreatment of Jesus to provide our salvation. The Lord used Paul’s imprisonment to give us much of the New Testament. He used Job’s circumstances to purify him. Whatever it is that comes our way, as painful or disturbing as it may appear, God can use it.

    Our Scripture also gives us insight into the specific purpose that can be accomplished through all that life brings; this purpose is to develop character in our lives. The Scripture tells us that God is using situations to further the process of conforming us to what He wants us to be. God uses circumstances to help produce Christ-likeness in His children. Job said concerning the almost unprecedented difficulties he was enduring, “when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”

    As we find ourselves in situations beyond our control, and wonder the reasons why, it is comforting to be able to say with confidence that God is going to use it for our good and for His glory. Our sorrows will not be wasted. They will only continue the refining process in our lives.

  • STRENGTHEN THE BRETHREN

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    “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
    Luke 22:31, 32

    Sometimes we are not as ready as we think we are to serve the King of kings. Peter thought he would never fail the Savior and would die before he would deny Christ. He could not imagine himself failing the Lord he so fervently served. But, Jesus knew better. However, the Lord also knew that Peter would survive the fiery trial and would be restored to a life of usefulness.

    Satan wants to destroy those who love the Lord and are committed to serving God with their lives. This is a theme that is repeated in the Scripture. Peter says that Satan walks about as a roaring lion “seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). We must take the enemy seriously and realize that a life dedicated to Christian service is not a life free from opposition or difficulty. As a matter of fact, the opposite is often true. Satan will make certain that our faith is tested, and if possible, that we are discouraged or defeated as God’s servants.

    From Peter, we can learn how dangerous it is to think ourselves incapable of falling or failing. Jesus knew that Peter would have serious setbacks in his spiritual life, but He promised Simon that He had prayed for him and that victory would come. Isn’t it good to know that Jesus is praying for us? It is especially uplifting to know that when we have failed the Lord, He has prayed for us that our “faith fail not.” May God help us to remember that although we have failed Him and then found ourselves ashamed and guilty, we are not finished as far as serving Him is concerned. Many who have made serious mistakes since coming to Christ have been convinced that they are of no use to God or others. This is not true. Falling down does not mean we are out of the race, unless we choose to stay down. As a matter of fact, Jesus told Peter that when he was restored, he would be able to “strengthen thy brethren.”

    God certainly does not want us to fail or deny Him. However, when we do find ourselves in those places of personal disappointment, there is something we should remember. Rather than allowing Satan to use our mishaps to destroy us, we must allow God to use them to help us be more equipped to help others.

  • LEARN, RETAIN, OBEY, ENJOY

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    “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”
    Proverbs 3:1, 2

    The blessed life is the obedient life. God’s way is best. There are great benefits to those who apply God’s truth to their lives, “length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.” These simple statements are so true, yet the devil has convinced people otherwise. He has caused the foolish to believe that the greatest joy and happiness is reserved for the sinner, and the life of serving God is something that must be endured, not enjoyed. We know those who, at one time, believed that a life devoted to service to Christ is a life of boredom, poverty, and regret. To the contrary, great blessings await those who apply these principles.

    The Scripture gives us both promises and a practical path to life as God intended it. We are cautioned not to forget God’s law; but in order to remember or retain it, it must first be learned. This is a very important step that leads to the blessed life; we are to discover or learn God’s truth. How can we obey something we have never heard? How can we apply something we have never known? Ours is a lifelong pursuit of wisdom and truth. We are to learn God’s ways and His Word. This comes from reading, studying, and hearing the Bible taught and preached.

    Then we are to retain, or remember, what we have learned. We are to retain His wisdom. It is easy to forget the things we have learned. One of the most common reasons we forget is because we fail to use or apply them.

    Then we are to keep, or obey, God’s Word. There is a breakdown that quite often occurs at this point. Knowing the truth is not enough; we are to apply it, or obey, what we have learned. If we would consistently live the things we know to be true, what a difference it would make!

    Also, we are told to “let thine heart keep my commandments.” This means that we are not to obey with a sense of dread or resentment, but with a cheerful attitude. God wants us to delight in His truth. His commandments are for our benefit. They will only serve to help us find His perfect will. It is not possible to over-emphasize the importance of God’s Word in our lives. As we learn, retain, and obey the principles of Scripture, we will also enjoy a fuller and more meaningful life.

  • Standing on God’s Ground

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    “He [Eleazar] was with David at Pasdammim, and there the Philistines were gathered together to battle, where was a parcel of ground full of barley; and the people fled from before the Philistines. And they set themselves in the midst of that parcel, and delivered it, and slew the Philistines; and the LORD saved them by a great deliverance.”
    I Chronicles 11:13, 14

    The Bible records one of the exploits of David’s mightiest men. The Philistines were assembled against Israel, and God’s people were fleeing from the enemy. Eleazar was one of those who “set themselves in the midst of that parcel,” and the Lord gave a great victory. The courage of these brave and loyal men of war should encourage us all. Many of God’s people were afraid of the enemy and chose to run rather than fight, but not Eleazar. He defended God’s ground and delivered it from the Philistines.

    Our history of Bible-believing Baptists is replete with the testimonies of those who have bravely stood for right and truth. Rather than cower down to those who used intimidation and terror in seeking to cause God’s people to recant their faith in Christ, they courageously stood for the Lord. They, by the multitude, preferred punishment and even death rather than the shame and disgrace of denying the Word of God. They chose death over the easier road of compromise. Like Eleazar, we need those in our day who choose to stand rather than flee.

    Our nation is in a period of great debate over moral values and the place of God and truth in our society. There are great efforts being shown to redefine marriage and to sanction homosexual unions. The value of life itself has been in great question with the legal permission to abort millions of unborn children. The Word of God, which was so instrumental in the founding of this great nation, will be removed from public view if the liberal lawyers and politicians have their way. Legal attempts are being tested that would seek to silence the voices of preachers who speak out against these sins from their pulpits.

    This ground that is being challenged by the modern day Philistines is God’s ground. God established the home, and He is the giver of life. God’s Word is to be reverenced and obeyed. This nation has been blessed because of our faith in God. Let’s take courage from those in our past and set ourselves with confidence to defend God’s ground.

  • Leadership

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    “Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.”
    Exodus 32:34

    When one thinks of great leaders in the Scripture, he must include Moses. He was God’s instrument to lead the Israelites out of their Egyptian bondage unto the land that was promised to Abraham. Moses had been preparing for this great assignment for many years while caring for his father-in-law’s sheep. Just as sheep need a shepherd (leader), people need a shepherd (leader). In the home, the work place, the school, the church, and in society, there must be leadership.

    The Scripture gives us some practical pointers about the subject of leadership. Leaders must have direction. God told Moses to take the people to “the place of which I have spoken unto thee.” God had given Moses direction as to where He wanted these people to go. Leaders need to have some idea of where they are going. Jesus described the aimless people of His generation, and ours, as sheep without a shepherd. Dads should have an idea of where they want to take their children. Pastors have the Word of God to help them know where the congregation needs to go spiritually. As leaders, we should seek to lead according to the Bible. If there are going to be leaders, there must also be followers. Moses was told to “lead the people.”

    It is a wise person that understands and accepts the basic fact that God uses leaders to guide His people. Sometimes people do not want to be led. Teenagers think they are as wise as their parents. Employees want as much say about their assignment or responsibilities as their employer. Church members resist the leadership of the pastor. The best of leaders cannot effectively lead if no one is willing to follow. Without leadership, everyone will be doing what is right in his own eyes. All of us, including those who are leading, are to be followers. Paul wrote that others should follow him as he was following Christ. For leadership to work, there must be followers.

    We also learn from the Bible that leaders can have assistance. God said to Moses, “mine Angel shall go before thee.” It is good to know that God will lead leaders who are willing to follow. Leaders are not alone, we can look to God for guidance and help.

  • HEAVENLY MINDED

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    “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
    Colossians 3:2

    We are strangers and pilgrims in a world that has lost touch with its Creator. Paul’s advice needs to be heeded by all who seek to live victoriously. Our hearts must be set on higher and loftier values. We are admonished to, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Our minds, attention, and focus must be on things that are above – in Heaven – rather than things that are below. We are encouraged to be more heavenly-minded.

    I have heard many times a warning about “being so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good.” Personally, I do not think that is a very real danger for many. It is the focus on earthly things that often results in stunted spiritual growth and neglect of spiritual priorities. Earthly things would be things such as possessions, popularity, or position. The race to acquire more, the appeal of success, and the pressure to be accepted are all examples of the kinds of things that crowd the minds of many of God’s children. God clearly charges us to redirect our thoughts toward things above. Things that are above would include such things as our eternal home, our Heavenly Father, our eternal reward, the wisdom that comes from God, the peril of lost souls, laying up treasures in Heaven, prayer, the coming judgment, the principles of God’s inspired Word, the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ, and many more.

    It is very natural to think mostly on earthly things. Human nature is drawn to the things of the earth. We are bombarded with messages of worldly wisdom and carnal values. The Spirit of God within us compels us to think in a more heavenly direction. We are taught in the Scripture to set our affection on things above. To set our thoughts on things above requires deliberate action on our part. We can control our thoughts. We determine where our attention and focus will be directed. The natural mind may drift toward earthly things, but we can choose to set our thoughts on heavenly things.

    When we realize that our thoughts are engaged too much in the things of this earth, let’s remember the words of a familiar song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” Like the men of old, we want to see Him Who is invisible and look for a city whose builder and maker is God.

  • HEAVENLY MINDED

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    “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
    Colossians 3:2

    We are strangers and pilgrims in a world that has lost touch with its Creator. Paul’s advice needs to be heeded by all who seek to live victoriously. Our hearts must be set on higher and loftier values. We are admonished to, “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Our minds, attention, and focus must be on things that are above – in Heaven – rather than things that are below. We are encouraged to be more heavenly-minded.

    I have heard many times a warning about “being so heavenly-minded that we are no earthly good.” Personally, I do not think that is a very real danger for many. It is the focus on earthly things that often results in stunted spiritual growth and neglect of spiritual priorities. Earthly things would be things such as possessions, popularity, or position. The race to acquire more, the appeal of success, and the pressure to be accepted are all examples of the kinds of things that crowd the minds of many of God’s children. God clearly charges us to redirect our thoughts toward things above. Things that are above would include such things as our eternal home, our Heavenly Father, our eternal reward, the wisdom that comes from God, the peril of lost souls, laying up treasures in Heaven, prayer, the coming judgment, the principles of God’s inspired Word, the victory that is ours through Jesus Christ, and many more.

    It is very natural to think mostly on earthly things. Human nature is drawn to the things of the earth. We are bombarded with messages of worldly wisdom and carnal values. The Spirit of God within us compels us to think in a more heavenly direction. We are taught in the Scripture to set our affection on things above. To set our thoughts on things above requires deliberate action on our part. We can control our thoughts. We determine where our attention and focus will be directed. The natural mind may drift toward earthly things, but we can choose to set our thoughts on heavenly things.

    When we realize that our thoughts are engaged too much in the things of this earth, let’s remember the words of a familiar song: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace.” Like the men of old, we want to see Him Who is invisible and look for a city whose builder and maker is God.

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