Weekly Bulletin Articles
“How we travel to someplace determines how we feel about that place.”
The above quote comes from writer Eric Weiner on Travel with Rick Steves. During his interview, Mr. Weiner also commented upon the connection between traveling and travailing. “To travel is to travail,” he said. He was speaking in the context of taking a long train ride and feeling differently about his destination as a result of his journey. But my thoughts went to much more consequential things.
As followers of the Way and sojourners upon earth, we are all travelers. It is certain that how we travel determines our destination. If we walk “in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), “in the light” (1 John 1:7), “in the truth” (2 John 1:4), and “in love” (Ephesians 5:2), by God’s grace we will dwell with him for eternity. Peace, joy, rest, and utter amazement will be ours forever.
If we walk in our own ways (Acts 14:16), according to the flesh (Romans 8:4), in idleness (2 Thessalonians 3:11), or in darkness (1 John 1:6), then we reject the sacrifice of Christ and earn for ourselves the judgment of God (Romans 6:23). Pain, horror, loss, and constant dread will be ours forever.
The two destinations could not be more diametrically opposed. One holds the promise of the personal presence of the Provider of all that is good (1 Thessalonians 4:17; Revelation 7:15-17; James 1:17). The other is the absolute absence of anything good (2 Thessalonians 1:9; Matthew 22:13; 25:41)
Yet within those absolute places, it appears that there is room for degree.
“I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. ” (Luke 10:12-14).”
The powerful demonstrations and explanations elevated expectations. Later in Luke, Jesus expands upon the relationship between knowledge and responsibility.
“And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more” (Luke 12:47, 48).
While ignorance is not an excuse, it does seem clear that those who know Jesus and reject him will incur a worse judgment (Hebrews 10:26-31), and those who abandon the Lord will find themselves in a worse state (2 Peter 2:20-22).
In a state of absolutes (joy or sorrow, peace or pain, delight or depression), how can we experience degrees? Perhaps it is how we have traveled.
Those who sacrificed all, who gave up family, friends, and freedom will appreciate the gifts of heaven all the more. Those who have plumbed the depths of suffering while walking with their Savior will find his personal comfort that much more soothing. Those who have grown from infants (1 Peter 2:2), to fully mature (Hebrews 5:14), who have drunk deeply at the well of living water (John 4:10, 14), will be more prepared to fathom the flavors of the tree of life.
The opposite must also be true. Those who have turned from walking with the Lord will spend eternity in agony knowing exactly what they lost. O what soul-crushing agony to have looked upon the Saviors face, to have stepped in his glorious light, only to turn to self and destruction!
The details belong to God, but this seems clear, how we travel will impact not only our destination, but also how we experience it.
Travel well, my friends. The travail is worth the triumph.
Serious talk. Guys, I’m a little bit scared. When my elders announced we would be resuming class at the church building on Wednesdays, of course I was excited. BUT—and here’s what I debated sharing publicly because I’m embarrassed—there was a part of me that was disappointed about “having” to be at the building Wednesday again. Disappointed.
Why? Because it’s been over 3 months since the church met together for Bible study. I’ve grown accustomed to coming home from work, eating dinner with the family, and then relaxing in the living room watching some sort of canned Bible study on my TV (with my family). I’ve officially gotten out of the habit of the family getting ready for Bible class and driving to the church building on Wednesdays.
So there was a part of my heart that was actually disappointed—bummed—over the “burden” of going back to Bible study.
And that scares me.
Of course I’m taking my family back. That’s not a question. I’m excited! (And I’m the preacher, so I kind of need to be there!) There’s no danger of me or my wife “falling away.”
I’ve just gotten out of the habit. And psychologically, my mind has grown accustomed to it. I don’t like this about my heart. And in my prayers, I ask God to rid my heart of sinful desires like this (like the desire to stay home when I can assemble, which is a heart problem).
Here’s another scary thought to me: What if I was 18? That time was an impressionable time for me. I look back, and I sometimes think I could have gone one way or another with my faith. I would have been vulnerable to this if this happened to me then. I NEEDED the assembly—every assembly.
What if I was 5? Or 10? Or 13? Kids that are that age are going to remember this. And we have deprived them of assembling with the saints in some major, important ways.
What if I was a new Christian? What if I was a weak Christian?
If I felt disappointment in my heart, think what others may be feeling at the thought of “going back to church.”
I still think the churches, collectively, did the right thing in postponing their assemblies for a number of weeks. But elders did this to better assess the situation. At first, because of the unknowns, the virus was a major concern. And it still is a concern. But over 3 months later, at what cost?
This virus isn’t going away any time soon. At some point, we need to think, “What is the end game?” Am I willing to be absent from the assembly of my church family for another month? Three more months? Six? 2021?
(Why even go to church anymore? Let’s sell the building and do everything online! Is that what some of us are good with??)
At some point, we have to ask: what’s a greater threat to the church: a virus? Or the effects “scattering” is having on the church after months of isolation?
I don’t want to oversimplify things. But if your conscience isn’t as burdened over this anymore, then—I say this kindly but bluntly as your brother in Christ—you have a heart problem. The virus is no longer the biggest danger in your life.
God designed His church to be an ASSEMBLING church. Online “worship,” while I’ve been thankful for it, will never be a substitute. His people need to be willing to take a little bit of RISK to follow His plan and ideal. We need to have a little bit of FAITH—not that God will miraculously protect us from getting the virus—but that assembling with His people is more pleasing to Him than cutting ourselves off from the church.
Let’s take safety measures. But I need “church.” I need to be in relatively close proximity to my brethren. I need the friendships. I need the encouragement. I need the congregational singing. I need the classes. I need the accountability. I need to hear YOU—in person—push me to keep going, “and all the more as we see the Day drawing near.” Let’s not give Satan one more inch.
(Although I don’t agree with this statement, “I still think the churches, collectively, did the right thing in postponing their assemblies for a number of weeks.” the problem that this brother is concerned about is very real. Mike)
By Rick Brumback
So often during times of crisis, despair, or when the obstacles of life seem to overwhelm us, we wonder where God is, and if He knows or cares what we face. Each think of a time, and it may even be today, when we have felt buffeted by the forces of life that threaten to swallow us. It becomes difficult to function; we dread the prospect of a new day with its troubles and wonder if it all matters.
The atheist should have no trouble because survival of the fittest is the rule. Those who look to God (or some “higher being”) struggle to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with the presence of God. The argument usually goes something like this: If God is all powerful, and If God is all loving, Why do evil and suffering persist? There have been many theories, called “theodicies,” and books to try to give an answer. You might recall such a book: Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. But the ultimate, correct answer will only come from God’s thoughts and inspired Word.
The truth is that people can and do choose poorly, and that is the source of trouble. First, our poor choices, aka. sins, take their toll on us (Prov. 13:15). Second, the sins of others affect us (Ex. 20:5). But we can rightly ask why our parent, or our child, is afflicted with a terrible disease. Did they do something to merit this? That was the view of the ancients (Cf. Job 4:7-8; Luke 13:1-5; John 9:13). But there must be a better answer. We live in a realm characterized by sin. From the Garden of Eden sin has tainted everything it touched because perfection was ruined. That is why Joshua said “I go the way of all the earth” (Josh. 23:14). The result is that none escapes the touch of evil or pain (Ecc. 9:1-2, 11-12). But it would be wrong to say that we are hopeless.
Often people try to make sense by considering themselves, and then everything else in relation to them. But perhaps there is another way. Instead, let us try to look at God and then all existence in relation to Him. Our questions are not new; God has heard them before. But what have others seen in response to these questions (Psalm. 4;39;49)?
How should we react to problems? Let’s look at the case of Job. His faithfulness was tested by the loss of property, family and health (1:8-19; 2:7). This testing is allowed as a demonstration of his commitment to God. Job did not understand all that was behind this suffering, and he wished God would explain. But the reality is that God did not explain Himself, He expected Job to know that His ways are ultimately inscrutable and that one need only be confident in His wisdom and ability (40:1-2; 42:1-b). But one thing is certain; Job did not lose integrity or faith in his God (1:20-22;2:9-10).
Perhaps we forget that there may be value to suffering. It helps us realize that we should not be satisfied with life here. It affords opportunity to demonstrate our integrity and confidence in God. It teaches us that we can win with God even when times are tough. (Heb. 12:3-13;1 Pet. 1:6-7). And while we may not seek occasions of suffering, we should not be overcome when such come. There are some things we know and are to remember I can decrease the trouble in my life by choosing to follow God’s good ways rather than indulging in wrongdoing. And even if we choose this course, not one of us is immune from other troubles. We help one another to bear up (Gal.6:2), because we share a common challenge and a common bond. The presence of absence of evil is not to be equated thoughtlessly with our spiritual faithfulness of God’s concern for us. Therefore we should not make the mistake of speaking for God by saying, “God just wanted her to come home” and other phrases of “comfort.” It places blame on God for all evil, when it really belongs with Satan and the presence of sin in an imperfect world. God does not intend to spare us all challenges or troubles; they can serve a purpose if we will let them. The real battle is not in our flesh, or our careers, or family health. The real battle is in our minds as we are determined to maintain our integrity and not charge God foolishly.
This all started with the question, “Where is God when I need Him?” Is He listening to my cries? Does He care? The answer to these questions is thus: God is right here hurting with us, wishing things were perfect and that sin did not exist. God has walked in our shoes and cares about us. What’s more, God was at the cross, suffering, so that we could escape to a place that is perfect.
Most of us have likely heard one or more of the following statements: “I don’t believe in arguing the Bible;” “The truth doesn’t need defending;” “Debating is unchristian.” The devil couldn’t be more pleased with such statements —they contradict God and the Bible! Contrary to such thinking, Christians are obligated to think logically, to reason soundly, and to use logic and reasoning in defending the faith (Jude 3).
Paul states, “Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). To prove is to try, discern (Phil. 1:10), examine (Gal. 6:4), and put to the test (1 Cor. 11:28). The conclusion being that Christians are to prove, try and test what is heard regardless who the speaker might be. The Bereans were of this disposition, “searching the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). For this reason, “they were more noble than those in Thessalonica.”
Those who mix truth and error are consistently before us and we must ever be on guard. Subsequently, we must not only be studious, but questioning and testing what is said. Jesus warned, “Take heed what ye hear” (Mark 4:24). Our testing equipment in testing what we hear is the Bible. It is our measuring rod, our “yardstick” to determine correctness.
Peter exhorts, “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer...” (1 Peter 3:15). The Greek word translated “give an answer” is a legal term used in court wherein the attorney talks his client off a charge levied against him [Wuest’s Word Studies, First Peter, p.89]. Since the Bible has no verbal defense except its believers, persons of faith must be its defenders. Therefore, Peter enjoins upon Christians the obligation to defend the faith in a verbal way —“give an answer.” The only restriction given is that it must be done with an attitude of “meekness” and “fear” in trusting God and His word rather than self.
God called upon Israel to “reason” (Isa. 1:18) and so Elijah debated the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:21). Religion needs to be constantly tested and tried as to its quality. In the cases of God and Israel, and Elijah and the false prophets of Baal, the genuineness of the two religions was tested and that which was not of God was shown to be vain and wanting.
One’s “Christianity” stands in its right to exist as the religion from God when it can be substantiated in faith and practice in light of Scripture. Children and servants of God are: 1) To not believe every speaker (1 John 4:1); 2) Not to succumb to a perverted Gospel (Gal. 1:6-9); 3) Beware of those who go onward and abide not in the Doctrine/Gospel of Christ (2 John 9- 11); 4) Mark them that cause divisions and occasions contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Rom. 16:17-18); 5) Contend (go to battle) for the faith once delivered (Jude 3); 6) Reason out of the Scriptures as Paul did at Athens and Ephesus (Acts 17:17; 19:8); 7) Expound more accurately to others the way of God as did Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:26); and 8) like Paul, be “set for the defense of the Gospel” (Phil. 1:17).
Valid and sound argument is not wrangling or contentious dispute, but is the method of giving proof and evidence. By reasoning truth, we confirm Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God; the New Testament plan of salvation and worship; church polity, etc. We are confident in what we believe and practice because we have Scripture to witness to our intellectual hearts in the matter. Consequently, such confidence allows us to teach and preach with all boldness (Acts 4:29).
The Bible is God’s message of love and concern for mankind. It is also a story of mankind’s need of redemption. God created man in a state of purity, innocence and sinlessness. Adam and Eve were blessed to begin life in a perfect world —a veritable Paradise (cf. Rev. 2:7). The Creator wanted them to enjoy life as His special creatures made in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). Genesis 1:31 reveals that at the end of the Creation, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.” This statement certainly included the first two human beings. They were “very good” because they were not yet marred by sin. As such, they were initially able to have unimpeded fellowship with God who made them. God created man to have fellowship with Him (1 Cor. 1:9; 1 John 1:3-7).
Colossians 1:16 says of Jesus, “All things were created by Him and for Him” (cf. Rev. 4:11). We were given life to please God! This only happens when we obey His will. Sadly, man’s earthly paradise was lost when sin entered the world (Gen. 3:6-19). Significant changes occurred as a result. Adam and Eve lost their innocence, sinlessness and close fellowship with God (Gen. 3:21-24). Death entered the world for the first time (Rom. 5:12). Though their disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit may seem trivial to many, God viewed their sin as a heinous crime. Before their transgression, the Lord had warned the first couple that the penalty for disobedience would be death (Gen. 2:17; 3:3). Did they die the day they ate fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Yes, they did! They did not die physically — that would occur 930 years in the future (Gen. 5:5). But, Adam and his wife died spiritually that awful day when they broke God’s simple law.
In the Scriptures, death is a word that has the root meaning of separation —either of the spirit from the body (James 2:26) or of the soul from the presence of God which is also called the second death (2 Thess. 1:7-9; cf. Rev. 21:8). Sin transformed the first two souls who had been created as “very good,” into people who were now outcasts! They were no longer good people in God’s eyes. It was fitting they should be driven from the presence of the Lord (Gen. 3:24). God did not want them to remain in the Garden of Eden because they would have access to the tree of life and could eat of it and live (physically) forever. However, God, in His great love for man, was not willing for that to happen. He had much better plans in mind but this required a restoration of fellowship. He was willing to save man from his ruined condition.
Adam and Eve were originally good people for they were created that way. Almost 3,000 years ago Solomon observed: “God made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29, schemes). The same sad story is repeated whenever sinless young souls make their first accountable decision to sin (cf. John 4:11; Heb. 5:13-14; Matt. 18:3). Sadly, when sin first touches a soul, that person ceases to be inherently good. This is not to say that the person cannot never do good again. However, just as with Adam and Eve, there is a need for sin to be forgiven in order for fellowship with God to be restored. As long as sin remains unforgiven, the guilt and potential for eternal punishment remains. Sadly, this fact is rarely appreciated by most people. During the Lord’s earthly ministry, Jesus taught that many will be lost when the Day of Judgment arrives (Luke 13:23-27; cf. Matt 7:21-23). Few will enter by the narrow gate that leads to life because few are seeking it (Matt. 7:13-14). Jesus promised that if a person seeks, he will find (Matt. 7:7-8). The reasonable conclusion from this teaching is that most people are lost, and will continue to be lost, and will ultimately perish as the ungodly and unrighteous souls they truly were. They will forever be known as sinners and enemies of our Lord (Rom. 5:6-10). Such are not “good people” in God’s sight regardless of how “good” man considers them to be.
Man and God often see the same thing in two very different ways. This is a very old problem. Samuel, the prophet and judge, declared concerning God, “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7; cf. Acts 13:20).
Have you ever heard a person speak of another and say something like, “She was such a GOOD person!” Most of us probably have. Comments like this are often heard in eulogies at funerals. We need to remember that few people are truly “good” as God sees it because few people are right with God! You can be right with God by obeying the Gospel and living faithful the rest of your life (Acts 2:38).
Christians are named after Christ who is their leader. This name brings honor and glory to Christ and denotes one as a follower of Christ by adhering and conforming to His doctrine.
God foretells that He will "Call his servants by another name" (Isaiah 65:15). And, "The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name" (Isaiah 62:2). Here God foretells that He will give His people a new name after both Jews and Gentiles are involved. Also notice the Lord would give the name. By Acts chapter eleven the gospel had been preached to both Jew and Gentile and the church in Antioch was composed of both. In fulfillment of this prophesy we read "And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch" (Acts 11:26). "And in His name shall the Gentiles trust" (Matthew 12:21). It was the Lord who gave the name after the Gentiles began obeying the gospel.
After the apostle Paul had preached the gospel to King Agrippa , "Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’" (Acts 26:28). Almost is not good enough. When we wear the name Christian, we give glory and honor to our Lord. "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this manner"(1 Peter 4:16). We should never be ashamed to wear the
name Christian. Jesus says, "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory" (Luke 9:26).
But there are those who must be ashamed of Christ since they will not wear His name, the name Christian. They wear the names that glorify other men or things such as John the Baptist, Martin Luther, the apostles, the methodical way of doing things, the community, Rome, the Day of Pentecost, etc. Even by their names they don't even claim to belong to Christ. Why would anyone want to wear a name that does not have God’s authority and approval? Denominations do not exist by the authority of God and are contrary to the doctrine of Christ (John 17:21).
The term Christian is used very loosely today. One is not a Christian just because he says he believes in Christ. "Even the devils believe and tremble" (James 2:19). Today every kind of church doctrine, tradition, and practice is labeled as "Christian". Even the United States is called a Christian Nation. This is a misnomer.
Christians are only those who have been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38) so they can be saved (Mark 16:16). Then "The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). Only Christians are in the Lord’s church and have the promise of Heaven when this life is over (Ephesians 5:23). We should give glory and honor to Christ by wearing only the name Christian, which the Lord Himself gave for us to wear.
Change, any change, all change from the divine pattern is error. Error causes both its teacher and doer to be lost, no matter how sincere they may be. Jesus wants us to know the truth which makes us free from error (John 8:32). We must love the truth or suffer the consequences of believing a lie. Those who believe a lie will be damned (2 Thess. 2:10-12).
The Bible always answers error because it is the all-inspired and all-sufficient Word of God. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim 3:16-17). Notice how verse 16 says that all Scripture is profitable for "doctrine" (teaching, showing what is wrong), for "reproof" (exposing, rebuking and convicting one for doing wrong), for "correction" (showing how to correct the wrong and reform one's ways) and "instruction" (showing how to continue in that which is right and training in the right way). The apostle Paul did not just write his own words. He said to the church at Corinth, "...the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). We read in 2 Peter 1:3, "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." Everything we need to know how to live in this life and please God can be found in the New Testament. Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).
The Bible tells us to test those who are supposed to be teachers of the Gospel. The apostle John writes, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). A "Gospel preacher" is not offended when questioned about his belief, teaching and practice. He welcomes it. On the other hand, those who teach error are usually insulted and angered when questioned. This serves as a warning sign of those who are not sound in the faith. When you find one like this, beware!
The Bible tells us what to do with those who teach error. "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (2 John 1:9-11). Faithful Christians cannot help or assist those who teach error. We must not do anything that could be interpreted as supporting them in their error. When we do so, God counts us as guilty as if we were teaching that error ourselves. This is "guilt by association" i.e., we are counted guilty because we fellowship them. Too many refuse to see that their fellowship of those in error makes them guilty of error. The old addage that says "birds of a feather flock together" is certainly true.
Paul writes, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Rom. 16:17-18). To "mark" means to observe -- turn attention toward. Brethren everywhere need to be made aware of those who are teaching error so they will not be "taken in" by their false doctrine. This, of necessity, involves "calling names." Those who teach contrary to the doctrine of Christ must be identified. It is impossible to do that without knowing who they are, that demands knowing their name. There are even occasions when we are to "mark" those who faithfully follow the Lord so we may imitate them (Phil. 3:17). However, that cannot be done without knowing who they are. Therefore, they must be identified by name. To not do so is a violation of Romans 16:17 and Philippians 3:17.
The Bible tells us the end result of those who teach error. They "...shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess 1:9). In Old Testament days, "...there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Peter 2:1). All false teachers, along with "...the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev. 20:10). Those who follow them will suffer the same destiny.
No one can change God's way and escape the consequences.
“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:18-19; Emp.JS)
There is much that could be discussed from the text above, such as the sinfulness of drinking alcoholic beverages, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, singing without the mechanical instrument, and unity among the brethren. However, the subject that encompasses the entirety of the text is thanksgiving. For we cannot keep ourselves from worldly desires in allowing the word of God dwell in our hearts and give praise to the Lord in song (Colossians 3:16) while dwelling together in unity without being thankful to God. We could not do anything that the Lord commands us to do without giving thanks to God (Colossians 3:17). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18). We will now notice three things for which we should be giving thanks always to God.
Giving Thanks Always For What God Has Done For Us
We should give thanks always to God for giving us life (Genesis 2:7; Acts 17:29; Hebrews 12:9), and for giving us the things that sustain our lives (Matthew 5:45; 6:25-26; Acts 17:25-26). Most of all we should give thanks always to God for giving us what we must have to have the hope of eternal life (John 3:16;Titus 3:7; 2 Peter 1:3). “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
Giving Thanks Always For What God Is Doing For Us
We should give thanks always to God for His plan of Salvation and His providential care for us. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Acts 8:28). “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Peter 3:12).
We should give thanks always to God for His promises. We should be thankful to God for His being longsuffering toward us (2 Peter 3:9). We should be thankful to God for allowing us to enjoy our fellowship with Him and for all spiritual blessings He gives us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-7). We should be thankful to God for never forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5-6). We should be thankful to God for allowing us to enjoy our fellowship with Him and for all spiritual blessings He gives us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-7). We should be thankful to God for never forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5-6). We should be thankful to God for the blessed assurance we have of His Promise of eternal life. “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).
Giving Thanks Always For What God Will Do For Us
We should give thanks always to God for allowing us to live one day in heaven for eternity. What a joyous day that will be for us when we will be able to show forth our gratitude to God forever when we heart: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23). Let us be giving thanks always.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19).
Each of us has a soul or inward man which is to grow and develop into maturity—into manhood and womanhood. The fact of the reality of the soul is mentioned numerous times in the Bible. In speaking to his disciples, Jesus taught to “...fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). The Son of God also stressed the value of the soul and compared its worth to the physical things of this world. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul” (Matt. 16:26)? Furthermore, by inspiration the apostle Peter, concerning the importance of man’s soul growing into maturity, exclaimed that we should “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” and exalted Christians to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
As we consider God’s teaching in regard to the soul, we might find it good to ask, “What size is our inward man?” Are we growing spiritually as we ought, or are we still mere babes in Christ (1 Cor. 3:1; 14:20)? It would be well for each of us to consider and discern the progress of our inner growth. It is something that can be measured...not as a box might be measured with a ruler or tape. We cannot see the soul, except in the mirror of God’s word. But we can determine the size of the inner man by the measure of its manifestation.
The size of the soul may be measured by determining the height of its ambitions. Big souls are always ambitious souls of high ideals and worthy goals. We must never be found guilty of becoming the “one talent man” of Matthew 25. Because he felt he could not do big things in the sight of the Lord, he did nothing.
Christians should continually strive onward with their eyes focused upward. “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16). Christ came to do big things and gave us a big job.
The size of the soul may be measured by the depth of its convictions. Hebrews 11:1 speaks of a “conviction of things not seen” (ASV). This has always been a characteristic of God’s great people, with his honor roll of faithful followers forever recorded for our learning. Daniel was another example of our Father’s expectations, proving himself to be a man of deep convictions and faithful to the will of Jehovah. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank” (Daniel 1:8). Big souls have convictions concerning right and wrong, truth and error, and matters of duty.
The soul may be measured by the length of its love. Consider the measurement of God recorded in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” God so loved the world. “So” is an adverb of degree. It tells how much God loved the world. He went so far as to give his only begotten Son. And when we read this, it should bring to our minds a much-needed question: How does our love measure up in regards to God, the church, and the lost? 1 John 4:19 should be emblazoned within our hearts and thoughts. “We love him, because he first loved us.”
The size of the soul may be determined by the weight of its influences. Matthew 5:14-16 relays a command to be carried out by every Christian. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” How much light do we radiate? One of the Lord’s parables brings forth a closely related reminder. “The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened” (Matt. 13:33). Are we leavening for others through our actions and our words? What is the weight of our influence for those around us?
May we each ask ourselves the soul-searching question: “How big is my inward man?”