Associations with God

Do you recall the first occasion when you went to this congregation? Did you stroll in not knowing anyone? Did you experience obscure confronts, music, and propensities? What made you feel welcome? What brought you back?

Since you got this bulletin you undoubtedly venerated with us; likely more than once. Some of you are long-term individuals. Many have as of late worshiped and present with us. Others are looking at things.

Each of us was at one time a “guest.”

We are an assembly based upon genuine associations with God and each other – not affectation or false devotion. Since we know we are miscreants spared by elegance we try to expand that effortlessness towards others. Every individual partakes and contributes as they are capable. Individuals are included instead of onlookers – a family as opposed to a crowd of people. The worries and delights of every individual are shared by the others. Our most noteworthy composed endeavors are to serve others in Jesus’ name instead of ourselves. These are signs of the collection of Christ.

God’s call is for us to welcome individuals to participate in what God is doing in and through us. Signs, sites, uncommon occasions, and follow-up programs all have their place yet in the event that adoration, connections, and investment are recognizing characteristics of this assemblage at that point love, individual connections, and inclusion are the ways that we will develop and prove to be fruitful for the kingdom of God. Every individual from the gathering contacting their neighbors and associates is much more successful than the most exorbitant publicizing efforts. Individual contact and care by the general population of the congregation towards guests and newcomers are significantly more compelling than favor pamphlets and undesirable mail stuffed in a letter drop.

Give us a chance to keep on dedicating ourselves to contacting those God acquires our entryways on Sunday mornings. Here are a few ways you can offer assistance.

When you see somebody you don’t know present yourself. In the event that you overlooked somebody’s name inquire.

Wear your unofficial ID. We wear unofficial IDs to be useful to other individuals. You can ask for another or substitution informal ID by putting your name on the clipboard by the unofficial ID racks.

Have a go at sitting in better places so you can meet diverse individuals.

Welcome a guest or somebody you don’t know to sit with you.

Try not to ask, “Is this your first time?” Instead, simply present yourself and say that you are happy that they are here.

Make proper acquaintance with a couple of individuals you don’t know before investing energy with your great companions.

In the event that somebody needs to help – let them! On the off chance that you can’t consider anything for them to do at that point welcome them to do what you were doing.

For extra focuses, have a go at reaching somebody you as of late met amid the week as opposed to holding up until Sunday.

Holy places don’t develop unintentionally and neither do connections. I cheer that Jesus left his solaces and benefits to connect with us. I implore that we will keep on demonstrating this adoration to others.

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Faith II: Saving Faith

Faith II: Saving Faith

by Gene Taylor

The Bible teaches that there are different degrees of faith. These include faith that is:

  • Great. “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel'” (Matt. 8:10).
  • Strong. In speaking of Abraham, Romans 4:20 says, “He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.”
  • Little. When Peter, walking on the Sea of Galilee to get to Jesus, “…saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'” (Matt. 14:30-31).
  • Weak. “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things” (Rom. 14:1).
  • Dead. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

Faith That Saves

For a faith to be a saving faith, it must be strong enough to cause one to obey God for obedience is essential to salvation (Heb. 5:9; 2 Thes. 1:7-9). A mere conviction is not enough to save. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble!” Though demons believe, no one would argue that they are saved. John 12:42 states that many of the rulers of the Jews believed in Jesus but they would not confess that belief because they did not want to be expelled from the synagogue. Would anyone aver that they were saved?

Faith must include obedience in order for it to be a saving faith. As a matter of fact, in every reference to “faith” as a means of salvation, the saving faith is an obedient faith. John 3:16 is often cited by those who say that faith is all one needs to be saved. But compare John 3:16 with John 3:36. In verse 36, the word “believe” occurs twice in the KJV but the original Greek text had two different words. The first “believe” is from the Greek word pisteuo, the latter from the Greek peitho. Pisteuo means “to be persuaded, to place confidence in, to trust” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of NT Words), while peitho is to “obey” (Vine). The latter implies the obedience that is produced by the former. More than simple belief, conviction, is necessary for salvation.

Salvation Is Not By Faith Alone

Salvation is by faith (Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:8-9) but not by “faith only.” Faith alone is dead while an obedient faith is living (Jas. 2:17, 20, 26). Faith alone is imperfect while an obedient faith is perfect (Jas. 2:22). Faith alone does not save or justify but an obedient faith saves or justifies (Jas. 2:14, 24). Faith alone characterizes the demons (Jas. 2:19-20) while an obedient faith characterized Abraham (Jas. 2:21-23; Heb. 11:8-10). Faith alone characterized many of the Jewish rulers (John 12:42-43) while an obedient faith characterized Noah (Heb. 11:7).

The only occasion in which the phrase “faith only” is used in Scripture is to show that it, by itself, justifies no one (Jas. 2:24).

Conclusion

A saving faith is one that is strong enough to cause the believer to obey the gospel, God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

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Faith I: The Necessity of Faith

Faith I: The Necessity of Faith

Written by my friend Gene Taylor

Faith, pistos, is conviction of the truth of anything, trust or confidence springing from that conviction. The original Greek term is “…used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e., a conviction, full of joyful trust, that Jesus is the Messiah — the divinely appointed author of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God, conjoined with obedience to Christ.” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon, p. 511)

The Biblical definition of faith is found in Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Since hope is desire with expectation (see Romans 8:24-25), there must be some basis or reason to expect a desire to be realized. This basis is faith. Faith is the “substance,” hupostasis, i.e., the “thing put under, substructure, foundation.” (Thayer, 645) Since the things hoped for are not seen, yet the proof or evidence, elenchos, that they exist is faith.

We are convinced of the reality of things unseen by the truth or confidence we have in God. If someone we love, respect and trust promises us something — a gift, trip, etc., though we have not seen the promised thing we desire and expect it. Why? Because of the confidence we have in the integrity and honesty of the person who promised it.

What evidence is there that there is a Paris or London, or that George Washington or Abraham Lincoln really lived? Have you seen these places or men? The fact that they are, or were, is accepted by faith. You trust those who informed you.

There is a heaven, etc., and as faithful Christians we expect to go there. The evidence? The basis for hope? God, who cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), has told us. We believe Him.

The Necessity of Faith

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Since it is by faith that one obeys God in entering into an approved relationship with Him (Gal. 5:6) and lives a life approved by Him (Gal. 3:11), it follows that faith is necessary to please God (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24). Faith must be in one’s heart in becoming a Christian and it must be retained and even augmented throughout his life as a Christian (Rom. 5:1; 2 Cor. 5:7). There is no sin more devastating than the sin of unbelief because it eliminates every phase of usefulness before the Lord (John 3:18). Unbelief, which so easily besets a person (Heb. 12:1), keeps him from fellowship with the living God (Heb. 3:12).

Trust and confidence comes through a knowledge of God — His character, love, dependability, sovereignty, etc. — revealed in Scripture, thus faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17).

Conclusion

Since faith only comes by hearing the word of God, go to the Scriptures, His inspired word, to learn of Him and Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son who lived and died for you. Allow the facts presented in the Bible about them to generate faith in your heart and then manifest that faith by submitting in obedience to the gospel, God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), so that you might have your sins remitted (Acts 2:38); be added to Christ’s church, the body of the saved (Acts 2:47); and have the hope of eternal life (1 Pet. 1:4).

Genesis 3:20-21

Genesis 3:20-21

By G. E. Watkins3/29/2017

At this time the woman was simply “ishah” (woman), but now she is given a name by her husband. We should consider that she was not given a name with which to remember her folly in the Garden, or a name to remind her of the sentence she was under (the pain in childbearing and the subjection to her husband), rather she was given a name corresponding to her honorable position as mother of all living. It seems to me to be a queenly name. From the beginning a man’s wife was to be cherished and not demeaned or bought and sold like cattle as was done in the ancient world and is so often done to this very day.

We turn our attention to verse 21. Notice the care given by God here and bring to mind other possible responses He might have made. Instead of abandoning them, or torturing them the God who had been insulted by disobedience was actually caring for them in their sin. He covers their shame. To do this he sheds blood. This is required to provide animal skins. Under the New Covenant when we sin God clothes us with Christ (Gal. 3:27). Christ had to die for this to be so (Romans 5:8).

Let’s also notice something on the subject of modesty. When God clothed our parents how did he do so? God made them coats or tunics. This word signifies a garment designed to cover them to below the knee. In their shame God considered this to be modest.

Preaching The “Offensive” Gospel Of Christ

Preaching The “Offensive”

Gospel Of Christ

By Mike Riley4/2/2017

In Acts 17:2-7, the scripture states the following concerning Paul:

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.”

In the context of the above passages, Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica (vs. 1) preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The preaching of the Gospel always brings either a positive or negative response. Some believed and accompanied Paul and Silas (vs. 4), but others did not believe and sought to bring harm upon Paul and Silas to the extent that the brethren sent away Paul and Silas under the cover of night (vs. 10). The charge was, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (vs. 6).

When preaching the word of God the way it ought to be preached, people will be offended especially with those who reject what the word of God demands they do. With this clear fact that is shown throughout the New Testament, we wonder why some preachers are so afraid that they might “offend” someone when preaching the Gospel unto them?

We Might Run Somebody Off!

Over the years I have met several brethren who were more concerned with.”running someone off” than with converting someone to Christ. Their thinking was that it was better to have someone continually attend services than to teach something that made that person make a choice of whether or not they were going to obey the Lord. They would often comment “I sure hope that sermon doesn’t run ’em off”!

One wonders what brethren with this kind of thinking feel when they read accounts such as Paul and Silas in Thessalonica? I wonder how some that have the “offend nobody mentality” feel when they read accounts such as the reaction of the people in Ephesus at the preaching of Paul against idolatry (Acts 19:25-29)? This type of preaching caused confusion and strife among the town folk, thus God must have been upset with this, right? Wrong! The record states, “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:18-20). From this text, we can clearly see that the preaching of the word of God caused some to be “offended” to the point that they “believed, confessed, and showed their deeds” (vs. 18).

What The Preaching Of The Gospel Is About

Stephen wasn’t stoned because he tried to keep from running someone off (Acts 7:51-60). Preaching the Gospel is about telling people what they need to do to be saved (Acts 2:37-41). When you tell someone they need to be saved, you are telling them that they are lost! Some, maybe even many, will not take kindly to being told they are in need of a Savior (John 8:32-37). Nevertheless, while some may be offended, it is our work to take the word of God to them wherever they are (Acts 5:42; Acts 20:20). As we look at the examples in the New Testament and see the many reactions to the preaching of the word of God, our question should not revolve around whether or not we will “run someone off”. Our question should be, “why we are not pricking the hearts of individuals with the Gospel enough to get a reaction out of them?”

Conclusion

Yes, preaching God’s truth can, will, and most times offend people. When you offend someone you cause that person discomfort. What more can you ask for? Should we not want to preach that which causes someone to be uncomfortable with their lifestyle of sin? Are we not in the wrong when we allow someone to think that they are okay living the sinful life that they are living (Acts 20:26-27; Romans 6:1,15)?

The Gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Those who reject the words of our Lord do so out of offense not from the teacher, but out of being offended by the Lord. God commands us to teach and preach nothing more than His word (2 Timothy 4:2). Brethren, if we become the enemy of someone because we adhered to the word of God, so be it!

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Labels

Labels

By Kevin Cauley4/8/2017

On the outside of an old fruit crate sitting in my office is a label: “Liberty Brand / Grown and Packed by Escondido Lemon Assn. / Escondido – Calif. / Sunkist.” I understand that these fruit crate labels today are collectors’ items, though this one has been damaged to the degree that it wouldn’t be all that valuable. Nevertheless that label had a purpose. It identified the original contents of that crate, the grower, packer, and the brand name of the distributor.

There are some people who do not like labels. Usually these are individuals who do not want to be characterized as subscribing to a particular point of view, though they do. I had a professor in college who refused to be identified by the label of his philosophy, though, that was his philosophy. A life certainly can’t be described in one word. However, I believe that he missed the point. A label isn’t supposed to tell you everything about a person’s life. It tells you what is responsible for that person’s beliefs. My lemon crate label tells me who is responsible for the product. So also, certain labels tell us what is responsible for the beliefs and decisions made in an individual’s life. Let’s consider for a moment our lives as crates. What we have in our crates are our beliefs and decisions. What label would we put on our crate?

Some would have to put the label “hypocrite” on their crate. The outside of their crate appearing pure, but the inside being full of wickedness. This is what Jesus labeled some of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.” Hypocrisy had become the characteristic that was most responsible for how these men lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some would have to put the label “lawless” on their crate. Seemingly there are more and more individuals in society today who behave as if there are no standards of decently and morality by which we must live. Jesus said about such individuals, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness)” ( Matthew 7:23). For these individuals, lawlessness had become the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some, however, could put the label “honest” on their crate. Some individuals in the world, when confronted with God’s truth, have the integrity to listen and respond appropriately to God’s word. Jesus said of such individuals, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” ( Luke 8:15). For these individuals, honesty became the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

Some also could put the label “faithful” on their crate. These are individuals who believe the gospel and live by it, refusing to hide their talents, and by using their abilities bring increase to the Lord’s kingdom. Jesus said of such individuals, “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). For these individuals, faithfulness became the responsible characteristic by which they lived their lives, and so they were labeled.

There is one label by which I wish to be recognized when my life is done: Christian. If it can be said of me that I magnified Christ, that I exemplified His words to those around me, that I honored and glorified Him in His church on a regular basis – if it can be carved upon my headstone, “He was a Christian” – then it will be enough. There are many today who take that name and denigrate it either through verbal castigation or through hypocritical living. May such never be said of us who desire that holy label.

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Bible Success

Bible Success

By Mike Riley4/10/2017

Different people in various ways define success. Success to some is the accumulation of goods. To another success may be academic achievement. And yet to another, success may be linked to the number of successful relationships in his life. Although one may enjoy success on several different levels, if he is not in a right relationship with God (Mark 16:16), he cannot truly say that he is successful in the most important endeavor of all (Mark 8:36,37). He does not enjoy Bible Success.

Joshua, the son of Nun, was a successful man. He was both the assistant and successor of Moses (cf. Joshua 1:1; Numbers 27:18-23). He was a man of faith and trust (Numbers 14:6-10; Joshua 24:15). He was a great military mind (cf. Exodus 17:13, Joshua 8,12). He was the one who would lead the people into the Promised Land allotting to each tribe its territory (Joshua 11:23). He was given a difficult task to carry out (Joshua 1:2,6) yet he did it with skill and grace. In every way, Joshua was a success.

In the first chapter of Joshua, the Lord set forth the basics or ingredients for Joshua’s success. If Joshua were to adhere to the instruction therein he would enjoy “good success” (Joshua 1:8). These same instructions will allow us to stand successfully before God as well. Joshua’s success was dependent upon:

1) Choosing Proper Role Models (Joshua 1:1-2).

Moses had been a faithful servant of God and a great prophet (Numbers 12:3; Deuteronomy 34:10). If Joshua were to be successful in the same role, he would need to mimic the strengths of Moses. This he did. At the end of the book that bears his name, he is referred to as “the servant of the Lord” (Joshua 24:29). If we will follow in the steps of our Lord (1 John 2:6), faithful men of the Bible (1 Corinthians 11:1) as well as godly elders, deacons, preacher, Bible class teachers and members we can have good success as well.

2) Knowing What It Was that He Sought To Accomplish (Joshua 1:2,6).

Joshua had a God-given goal to achieve. He would be the one who would lead the people into the land of Canaan. This was to be His focus and mission. Our focus and mission is to glorify God in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31; Isaiah 43:7) that we might enter spiritual Canaan (cf. Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 14:13). This is made possible when we understand what our goal is and that it can only be accomplished through single-eyed devotion (cf. Philippians 3:13,14).

3) Trusting God No Matter The Situation (Joshua 1:3-5).

Joshua had big shoes to fill. He was assigned to do what Moses could not accomplish. How would he pull off such a feat? He would do it by trusting in the Lord to carry Him through. We too can have the same confidence that we can be pleasing to God in every situation if we will obediently trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5,6). Whatever God would have us to do is possible (Philippians 4:13). He is for us (Romans 8:31). Therefore let us trust that by His grace we can carry out our mission of faithful living (Rev. 2:10).

4) Living Courageously (Joshua 1:6,7,9).

Success in any field begins with courage. It takes courage to try new ideas, to stretch one&#39l;s self, to leave the realm of the comfortable to the realm of real growth. Joshua had a huge task in front of Him (Joshua 1:2,6). He would have to overcome the enemies of God and remain faithful to the Law of the Lord (Joshua 1:7,8). This would take courage. Courage is needed in standing up for Jesus. This courage is made possible by understanding, as Joshua did, that the Lord will not leave us nor forsake us (cf. Hebrews 13:5). He has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore let us be willing to “wage the good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18) and to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

5) Knowing God’s Word and Doing It (Joshua 1:7-8).

Joshua’s success would be dependent upon observing the Law of Moses, not turning to the right hand or to the left (Joshua 1:7). The Law of God was not to depart from his mouth but rather he was to meditate in it day and night for the purpose of carrying out all of it (Joshua 1:8). Spiritual success is still dependent upon knowing God’s Word and doing it (James 1:21-23).

6) Possessing Proper Thoughts (Joshua 1:9).

Success comes when we think successful thoughts. The Lord provided Joshua with all the comfort needed (Joshua 1:5,9). Therefore, there would be nor reason for fear or dismay. Proper attitudes breed successful living. How is your attitude? Do you murmur and complain (Philippians 2:14)? Or do you rejoice in the fact that you are a child of God headed for Heaven, the Lord being with you every step of the way (Matthew 28:20)? Let us think proper thoughts that aid in our spiritual prosperity (Philippians 4:8).

Conclusion

All of us should desire real success, the kind of success that is based upon the fact that we are walking faithfully with our Maker. Again, this success is made possible when we incorporate the above admonitions into our character.

Three words, “CAN”, “WILL” and “NOW” help lead to spiritual accomplishments. I “CAN” live, as God wants me to live. I “WILL” live, as God wants me to live. I will live, as God wants me to “NOW”. Are you successful? If not, why not? God’s Word contains all the basics of successful living.

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Are You An Accessory to Sin?

Are You An Accessory to Sin?

By Kevin Cauley4/13/2017

Within the legal code of the various states within the U.S.A., one may be found guilty of being an accessory to a particular crime. If one supplies a murderer with a weapon knowing what the intent of the murderer is, then one will be found guilty of being an accessory to murder. If a person drives the get away car for a bank robbery, then he will be found guilty of being an accessory to the crime of robbery. There is also the crime of aiding and abetting a known felon that in essence is a crime of accessory. The law clearly makes provision to punish those who may have not committed the actual crime itself, but are involved to such a degree that the crime could not happen without their influence. Such a person is called an accessory to the crime and is held accountable and often punished for helping another do something that is wrong.

As Christians, the crimes that we are concerned about avoiding are not merely against men, but against God. Such crimes against God are referred to in the Bible as sin. Isaiah states that sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2). James writes that sin when it is full-grown brings death (James 1:15). And Paul states that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Holy Spirit makes it clear through these inspired men that sin leads to eternal separation from God and that sin is, therefore, serious and deadly business. Just as being an accessory to a crime is in itself a crime, so also being an accessory to sin is in itself a sin.

How does the Bible say that we can be an accessory to sin? One of the first passages that comes to mind is 2 John 10 and 11. In this passage, John writes to a Christian woman telling her not to receive false teachers into her house. There was nothing wrong with receiving strangers into one’s house to care for them as they were traveling through town. In fact, Hebrews 13:2 states that when Christian’s practice such they are acting in a way approved by the Holy Spirit. However, when receiving a false teacher into one’s home, the situation is different. John states in verse 11 that when one does this, one is partaking of that false teacher’s evil deeds. There is a difference between doing something that is right to support that which is right and doing something that would otherwise be right to support that which is wrong. The Holy Spirit says that the latter is sin. When we give aid and comfort to false teachers, that is being an accessory to sin.

A Christian can also be an accessory to sin by approving that which is wrong. We read in 1 Corinthians 5:1 that there was fornication among the church at Corinth. The response of the members of the church at Corinth was not to condemn that which was wrong, but to be proud about it (1 Corinthians 5:2). In other words, the church at Corinth was, through their attitude of pride concerning the fornicator, approving his action of fornication. Paul wrote in verse 6 that their “glorying” was not good. It was evil and they should not have been doing this. No doubt, many of the Corinthian Christians who were “glorying” in this man’s sin were not committing that sin themselves. Yet, because they were “glorying” in it, they were committing sin themselves: the sin of approving of something that is evil. Paul states in Romans 1:32 that not only are those who practice evil worthy of death due to their sin, but those who approve of such things are equally worthy of death due to their sin of approval.

Finally, a Christian can also be an accessory to sin by providing service to that which is sinful. John writes in 1 John 2:10 “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” The one who loves will not provide an occasion of stumbling in another. The opposite is also true, the one who sets forth an occasion of stumbling before another does not love him. And, when one does not love his neighbor, he violates what Jesus calls the second command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

Providing service to that which is sinful is of itself a sin. It would be a sin to give an idol to the idolater though you yourself may not worship it. It would be a sin to provide a fornicator a prostitute, though you yourself may not commit fornication. It would be a sin to give drugs to an addict, though you yourself may not do drugs. It would be a sin to serve alcohol to a drunkard, though you yourself may not drink at all. It would be a sin to take a gambler to a slot machine, though you yourself may not gamble. At the least, a person who acted in such a way would be a hypocrite. Paul writes in Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” When we act out of a non-hypocritical love toward our fellow man, we will not encourage him to engage in sinfulness by providing the means of his sin. Instead, we will abhor what is evil. Abhorring something means that we put it as far away from us as possible. If we serve evil, we fail to abhor evil.

At the most, the person who serves those who sin, while not actually performing the evil act himself, is participating in the evil act through his influence. In the first part of the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks directly to the seven churches of Asia through John. To the church at Pergamos Jesus said, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication” (Revelation 2:14). Jesus had something “against” this church. They were guilty of the doctrine of Balaam. What was that doctrine? The verse says that he “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel.” Balaam’s sin was not that he worshipped idols or committed fornication, but that encouraged others to do this through his influence. The incident to which this verse is referring is found in Numbers 25:1-7. An interesting fact in this regard is that Balaam had already left the proverbial “scene of the crime.” In Numbers 24:25 we read, “Then Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place:.” Yet, although Balaam was not present during the activities of Numbers 25, we see later that he was killed with the sword because of his transgression (Numbers 31:8) and that Moses held him personally responsible for the evil that had come upon the children of Israel (Numbers 31:16). Jesus stated to the church at Pergamos that Balaam was guilty of sin purely because he used his influence for evil and that the church at Pergamos was guilty as well because they taught his doctrine. How can we say that we are pure when we use our influence for evil? Jesus directly condemns such thinking.

Let us resolve not to be an accessory to sin whether we are supporting a false teacher, approving that which is wrong, or providing service to that which is sinful. Our end will be no different than those who practice the sin itself.

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Genesis 4:8-16

Genesis 4:8-16

By G. E. Watkins4/16/2017

Cain commits the murder of his brother, Abel. Instead of repenting of sin his heart hardens and leads to more sin. This is the danger of not obeying the Gospel (John 12:42-43). We are changed in one of two ways when we hear the truth. Either the heart is molded by the truth or it hardens. There is no middle ground. Cain hardened and his crimes extended from improper worship to murder and lying to God.

God then gives His sentence. God uses object lessons often to teach truth, that is, He uses visible effects to teach others. The smoldering ruins of Sodom and Gommorah come to mind (Genesis 18:19 Abraham would take that lesson and use it to teach his house about the sins of Sodom and Gommorah while the smoke still rose from the cities of the plains.). This may be the reason that God didn’t use the death penalty in Cain’s case. Cain, the vagabond, would be a reminder for centuries of God’s punishment on the evil doer. Having Cain around with God’s mark on him was a deterent to others who would settle their disputes in this manner.

Why would sevenfold vengeance be taken on the one who killed Cain? Because God had exercised His sovereign authority and had ruled on the punishment of Cain. No one else had the right to do so once God had settled the matter. It would be presumptious to seek to override God’s decision. The mark God placed on Cain must’ve been much like a king’s seal, indicating the authority of the king.

“Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.” From the beginning sin has always separated God and man (Isaiah 59:1-2). Ultimately the separation caused by the sin of man is an eternity spent in hell (Rev. 20:15). There are many who believe that God is just too loving to condemn a soul to eternal hell. However we have already seen twice in the sacred text that God enforces His laws. He has already removed man from the tree of life. If God says that an eternal hell awaits the sinner we had better believe it. Notice 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 25:46.

Wallpaper

Wallpaper

By Kevin Cauley4/20/2017

As I type this article, I am suffering from the cumulative effect of having stayed up very late for the past several evenings. What have I been doing, you may ask, to keep me up so late? Mary Lynn and I re-wallpapered the living room this past week and we have been moving around furniture and rearranging how we live to prepare for some new living room furniture that we will be getting this coming week. The only major piece of furniture that I can recall ever having purchased in our married life is the blue couch that is now sitting in our office and so it has been a long wait for us to have such things. This was also the very first home redecorating project that we have undertaken together in the first 15 years of marriage. (I can already hear the men saying, “What a blessing!” and hear the women saying, “What a shame!”) So we are both duly exhausted from having completed this project this past week and we still have much work to do in rearranging the sleeping quarters for the boys and getting Eddie out of his baby bed and Austin into his own room and etcetera.

However, looking back at the project, it seems that it has been a good experience and I thought I would share a few lessons learned. First, you’ve got to remove the old before you can put on the new. We spent several hours simply taking off the old wallpaper before we even thought about putting up the new wallpaper. In addition to that, we appropriately prepared the surface of the wall so that the new wallpaper would stick better. God told Jeremiah: “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10). Jeremiah had to root out, pull down, and destroy before he could build and plant. There’s a principle that’s true for wallpaper and godly living both!

Second, a healthy dose of patience goes a long way toward hanging wallpaper. When that stuff gets wet, it’s heavy and it also goes wherever it touches initially. Then you’ve got to peel it off again and retry until you get it right. This involved several different communication strategies between Mary Lynn and I several of which sent us in various different directions initially, but after the first five sheets were hung, we were able to develop a nice rhythm to putting the stuff up. Life is like that too. New things tend to frustrate us and cause us to rethink our situation, but with a little patience we can soon develop a successful rhythm. James said, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:4).

Finally, a good straight edge can solve a number of difficult problems. We measured, cut, hung, and cut some more and we needed a good straight edge for each step involved in the process. Of course, a straight edge is nothing more than a correct standard. God gives us the correct standard in His word and it is up to us to measure and cut our lives along that standard so that our lives turn out right and we don’t make a bigger mess than when we started. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “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, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Who’d of thought that hanging wallpaper could be so spiritual?

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