Month: October 2012
WITH WHOM WILL YOU STAND?
In Judges 19 we read of the city of Gibeah of the tribe of Benjamin located only a few miles northeast of the city of Jerusalem. A Levite from Ephraim, along with his concubine and his servant, were traveling and stopped to spend the night in the city of Gibeah where an old man took them into his home. The men of the city of Gibeah had become corrupt in the same manner as the men of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and they approached the house with the intent of homosexually raping the visiting men. The old man tried to dissuade them and even offered them his virgin daughter and the visitor’s concubine to do with as they pleased, but they would not listen. The visitor then sent his concubine out to them and they raped and abused her throughout the night. At daybreak they let her go and she returned to the house where she fell at the door and died. The Levite returned home with the body of his dead concubine, cut her body into pieces and sent a piece to each of the tribes of Israel.
In Judges 20 we read that all Israel came together before the LORD at Mizpah to determine what should be done to the wicked men of the city of Gibeah. It was determined that the men guilty of this lewd act must die and Israel’s four hundred thousand man army marched on Gibeah and demanded that they surrender the men who had committed this vile act. But the people of Benjamin assembled an army and came out to protect the city of Gibeah and the men who were guilty of the crime.
God sent the Israelite army against the Benjamites who destroyed their army and put everyone (men, women and children) to the sword. All that was left of the tribe of Benjamin were 600 men. God’s judgment came on those who stood with and protected the homosexual offenders just as it did on those who were guilty of that vile sin.
If you had lived in Israel during those days, with whom would you have stood?
Would you have stood with God and his people as they opposed the wicked deeds of the men of Gibeah, or would you have stood with the Benjamites who condoned and sought to protect the rights of the wicked men of Gibeah?
In a few days we will go to the polls and chose those who will lead our nation for the next term. There are many issues that need to be considered as we cast our vote, but one very important question that we, as Christians should consider is, “Will I stand with those who support and promote the homosexual agenda or will I stand with those who support and promote biblical principles and values?”
The 2012 Democratic Party gives full support to the homosexual agenda. It identifies, as an ethnic group, the community of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) and seeks to protect them from discrimination. It gives full support to same-sex marriages and rejects the idea that marriage is only to be the union of one man and one woman. It seeks to force both federal and state governments to recognized same-sex marriages as legitimate and to affordsame-sex marriages the same legal benefits as traditional marriage.
The 2012 Republican Party gives full support to traditional marriage, and supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. While the Republican Party platform embraces the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity, it does not in any way support or promote the homosexual agenda.
It is very clear where the parties stand on the issues of homosexuality. The question is; “With whom will you stand?”
I neglected all season to look out and see this crape myrtle in full bloom…and now the flowers are withering and it is too late. How could I have not thought about it? Even when I was outside on the porch, I didn’t think about this tree and its beauty. Now it is too late.
There is something even more important that people neglect and that is their spiritual life and the spiritual lives of their offspring, until it is too late. How tragic that is! How can they not think about it?
I will try to remember next year to enjoy this tree and all its beauty. I look forward to it. I also look forward to seeing my children, grandchildren and their offspring and all of our generations, on down to eternity…in heaven. It can happen if none of us drop the ball. We MUST not drop the ball!
Among my fondest memories as a boy are the times I spent with my Grandpa Ingram. As we spent time together fishing and hunting and working around the place, Grandpa always had a story to tell that related to whatever it was we were doing. I probably heard them all a hundred times, but I never got tired of listening to them.
I recall one of the stories he told was about when he was a young man and did a lot of trapping for furs. Thought it was serious business because much of the family income came from the furs he would sell, Grandpa always enjoyed trying new ideas to try to outsmart the critters in the wild. He said that he knew raccoons were curious creatures and that they loved shiny objects, so one day he placed a shiny pearl button in a small knot hole in a log that lay across the creek. He knew that the moon would be full that night which would make the pearl shine and he knew raccoons had been crossing the creek on that log. He wanted to see if a raccoon would try to get the button out of the knot hole.
The next morning my grandpa got to the creek just as it was getting light enough to see, and sure enough, there sat a big raccoon with its paw in the knot hole working frantically trying to get that pearl button out of the log. The raccoon had become so preoccupied with the pearl button that he hadn’t noticed it was getting daylight nor did he notice my grandpa as he walked up to the log. Well, to make a long story short, which my Grandpa never did, he added that raccoon’s skin to his collection.
When I first heard that story as a boy, I thought how foolish that raccoon was to lose his life for a pearl button. Though that button was pretty and shiny, it was of no value to a raccoon.
Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:26: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole wold,yet forfeits his soul.” When compared to the value of our soul and our eternal destiny, this world and all it has to offer are about as valuable to us as a pearl button is to a raccoon.
And yet, it’s so easy to become preoccupied with trying to acquire the things this world has to offer. It seems this is one of the most powerful tools of Satan, seeking to preoccupy us with the things of this world, to the neglect of our souls’ salvation.
Let us never forget the value of our soul and the souls of our children, of the precious peace that Jesus has brought and the eternal kingdom that God has prepared for us.
Let us never allow ourselves to become preoccupied with the things this world has to offer, which are of no lasting value…any more than a pearl button would be of value to a raccoon.
Something to think about: Especially myself!
God had strong things to say to His people in olden times about judging others according to their own standards.
“…Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will recompense, even recompense into their bosom,…” (Isaiah 65: 4-5)
Has someone ever come across as offensive and judgmental that every time you thought of them, you had a bad feeling deep in your heart? The very thought of them brought up that bad feeling? I can’t help but wonder if someone thinks of me that way…and I pray not! I’m praying earnestly that if that has been the case, that God will help me to change my actions.
And also in the New Testament:
“Who art thou that judges another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4
This does not mean that we can not know when another person is wrong, but judging our brother by our own opinions is quite different from judging them by God’s Word. If we couldn’t judge them by His Word, we couldn’t know who to go to and teach the gospel.
One of the most frustrating things we deal with as Christians is the knowledge that we are to evangelize the world, yet, the difficulty we face in getting people to listen and respond to the gospel message. It seems that the majority of the people in our society and in the world are not interested in spiritual things but are pursuing money, pleasure and the things this world has to offer.
People will not be interested in salvation and a Savior if they are not aware they are lost. Yet, most people take offense if we tell them they are lost. People will not be interested in the eternal hope held out in the gospel message when they are focused on filling their immediate hopes with the wealth and prosperity of this world. Yet, most people take offense when we try to impress upon them the deceitfulness of wealth and the futility of materialism. The question is, “How can we get them to listen?” The answer to this question is found in the beginning of the church in Acts 2. In Acts 2:47 we are told that the early disciples were…enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. The daily conversions that the early church experienced were due to the fact that the people of Jerusalem liked what they saw in those who were Christians. What they saw in those first disciples was a love and fellowship, a sharing and caring, a peace and hope that was not common in the world, not even in Judaism. Many people liked what they saw and they wanted to be a part of such fellowship.
If we want to be successful in getting people to listen to the gospel message, we must convince them that there is a better world view than the one they presently hold. The only way that we can do this is to demonstrate this world view in our lives, both as individuals and as a family of believers. Let’s consider some passages of scripture which discuss this.
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life— (Philippians 2:14).
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (Titus 2:9-10).
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (I Peter 3:1-2).
Brothers and sister, we all have friends and family that we desperately want to bring to Christ and I know it is frustrating, trying to get them to listen to the gospel message. But if we will commit ourselves to living the gospel, to demonstrating in our lives the teachings of Christ, to cultivating the love and fellowship that are to be characteristic of Christ’s disciples, this will make the gospel of Christ attractive, it will cause us to shine like stars in the universe, and we will be a shining light to a world lost in darkness. Only when people see the gospel demonstrated in our lives will they be interested in hearing our message.
Most everyone in our society loves to eat out, and to many in our fast paced society, eating out has become a necessity. There are all types of restaurants and eating establishments in almost every community; the fast food restaurants where you can grab a meal and go in a matter of minutes, as well as family restaurants where you can sit and enjoy a leisurely meal together. I am thankful we have these eating establishments. It is so convenient when traveling to have a place to stop and eat at meal time and an occasional meal in a restaurant gives mom a break from the kitchen.
I wonder though, as I ponder the conduct of some Christians, if we have not developed a view that the church is a kind of “spiritual restaurant”. Some brethren attend the assemblies only occasionally as if the church were a restaurant where one has no responsibilities or obligations but can come and enjoy a spiritual feast when the mood strikes and it is convenient. Some attend only on holidays and special occasions as if the assemblies of the church are designed to be enjoyed only on rare and special occasions. Some run in, grab a Bible class and maybe a Lord’s Supper and then they are gone as quickly as those who run in to the fast food restaurant and grab a coke and a burger. Some Christians seem to want to sit alone and keep to themselves in the assemblies as in a booth in a restaurant, oblivious to the others who are present.
The church of our Lord was not designed as a restaurant! It was designed as a family. Just as every good family enjoys mealtimes together, the assemblies of the Lord’s church were designed to be the spiritual family’s “meal time”. It is where God’s people enjoy the fellowship of being together. It is where we can enjoy feasting together on the Word of God. It is where we join our voices together in praise and adoration for God our Father and a time to remember the death of our Savior.
Being part of a family brings great blessings but it also carries great responsibilities. No loving family member would miss a meal time with the family without a good reason and a prompt explanation. No loving family members would leave without explanation before the meal was over simply because there was somewhere else they wanted to be. No loving family, when meeting together for a meal, would hesitate to check on an absent family member who was expected to be present. Brethren, we are God’s family! Let’s act like family! Let’s love like family!
I think some of you will remember a time when electricity was a luxury instead of a necessity. Look at where we are today. Electricity is in nearly every home and business in Altus. We view this technology as a necessity instead of a luxury. Over the past days, the electricity has been out and it has changed how I go about my day…because of the lack of electricity, many businesses were closed and unable to operate. Through this I was unable to go to work and pursue a normal day. Not only had the city of Altus shut down because of the blackout, but also my ability to perform normal day-to-day activities.
Deuteronomy 6 is probably one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. I like this chapter because no matter how long this earth stands, these words will apply to every people and every generation that walk the earth. It not only gives us our greatest command to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5), but it also tells us what we need to be doing as families to create faith in our children. In Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Moses continues: “These commands that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hand and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”
It is through these Scriptures that we know that we should love God. Through these Scriptures we also understand that it is our job to show and teach our children how to love God. You don’t have to go far in Scripture to find out how well the people of Israel listened to these words of Moses from God. Moses died and Joshua led the people into the land of Canaan. Joshua was a righteous man and followed God and led the people toward God. In Judges 2, we see how well the Israelites obeyed the commands of God that were spoken by Moses. <b> Joshua has led the people into Canaan and they have triumphed in taking possession of the land. Joshua has now died and the elders that outlived him have passed away also. “After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). Wow! One generation passed and God was forgotten!
Many times we do not realize how important something is until it is gone. Over the years we have taken electricity for granted. Through this ‘black-out’ I believe that we truly understand how important electricity is to our lives.
As a church let’s not lose an entire generation before we realize the importance of teaching our children to love God. Electricity is something that is out of our control. The next generation is something that we have control over and God fully expects us to “impress these things” on the next generation of His church.
By Daniel Ingram, Elm & Hudson church of Christ bulletin, Altus, OK