Once upon a time, in perhaps another world (sometimes it seems like it to me!), I received my income by secular employment. That’s right; because I did not begin to work with a church as a located preacher till I was almost 30. During my early adult years I was not the Lord’s man and by that I don’t mean I was not a Christian because I was, but only in the sense that I received no financial support from the church for doing the work of preaching the gospel. Of course, gospel preachers are entitled to receive such support and usually depend upon it for their livelihood (as did Paul the apostle: Philippians 4:15&16; 2 Corinthians 11:8; Acts 28:30). For me the change from secular work to being dependent upon the Lord for a livelihood was really quite great. But there is more to this idea and I’d like to bring you to my point by explaining how I come to this.
Continue reading » "Are You On the Guerdon of the Lord?"
One of the wonderful effects of faith in the life of Christian is that emotional equilibrium is often added where imbalance and extremism had dwelt before. The Bible is amazingly balanced, recommending a life of moderation, but on the bases of two extreme positions. Faith is never to be moderated in favor of a lukewarm approach to God and there is no middle ground between Heaven and Hell for such a person to enjoy.
Still, we want to establish a place between worry and indifference, between pessimism and fantasy, between totally negative and only positive. This is true in our daily lives, our personalities and the preaching and teaching that we do together.
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Balance
One of the eternal struggles of the Lord’s disciples is to learn and practice a proper balance between the affairs of this life and the affairs of the kingdom of heaven. What we often feel we need is many times just something we want and the kingdom of heaven is left lacking of our time and talents while we spend these in carnal pursuits. One of the crying needs of our day is to learn to put the Lord’s work first (Matthew 6:33). We must be busy, of course, but we must learn the difference between working for “food that perisheth” and “food that abideth unto eternal life” (John 6:27). As I say, there is a balance in these matters and we must learn it or be found wanting.
The Bible does not condemn Christians engaging in business enterprises. In fact, examples abound which show disciples of the Lord practicing different forms of business. Matthew was a tax collector, Lydia a seller of purple, some of the apostles fishermen, and Jesus Himself certainly knew the carpentry business. The “worthy woman” of Proverbs 31 made and sold fine linen garments to the merchants. In addition to these examples of industry by faithful people, we may add the scriptures that censure those who would not “provide for his own” (1 Timothy 5:8) or who refuse to “labor with his hands” (Ephesians 4:28).
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Busy-ness
Satan wants you to stop spreading the gospel abroad. His desire is for you to become weary and discouraged with the glorious call of the great commission (Mark 16:15). He wants you to think it’s not worth it: it’s not worth the time; it’s not worth the money; it’s not worth the energy. The great deceiver of this world longs for you to believe the lie that the almighty gospel of Jesus Christ has lost its power to save (Rom. 1:16; Rev. 12:9). The devil wants you to adopt a “Why bother?” attitude concerning the subject of foreign evangelism.
Paul frequently faced times of difficulty, discouragement, and even suffering while he was preaching the gospel in foreign places (2 Cor. 11:23-33). But he never gave up on his mission to preach Christ and declare the whole counsel of God to a world rapidly hurling itself toward eternal destruction (1 Cor. 2:2; Acts 20:27). I certainly am no expert on endurance in foreign fields, but our brother Paul was. Let us learn from the faithful work of this one who refused to stop preaching abroad. Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: Why Bother?
Romans 12:1-2, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NASB)
James 1:26-27, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
I think it valid to consider these passages together. The words “religious” and “religion” used in the James’ passage have to do with the external acts we perform in regard to our service to God. There is no profit in the practice of showing piety in our congregational worship, while neglecting our duties and responsibilities of service and purity of thought and action, specifically, James said, in the area of self control of our tongues. Combining that idea with the teaching of Paul in the Roman letter, our “worship” to God is our service to Him in the presentation of ourselves as renewed and transformed by the good, acceptable and perfect will of God. Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Can We Take Our “Religion” Out of the Closet?
The rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by the remnant who returned from Babylonian exile is a wonderful success story. The remnant, under the direction of Nehemiah (cupbearer to King Artexerxes), accomplished the task despite great obstacles and opposition. The reasons for their success serve to teach us some very important lessons. In this article, we wish to make application regarding that success to the current needs facing the people of God in our time. The compassion of Nehemiah. Nehemiah had received word of the sorry state of those Israelites who had escaped captivity, and remained in Jerusalem. Of them it was said, “The survivors who are left from the captivity in the province are there in great distress and reproach. The wall of Jerusalem is also broken down, and its gates are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah heard of their distress: “So it was, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (1:4). Continue reading » Editorial: Lessons for Us from Nehemiah