Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Biblical View of Work!

Monday we celebrated Labor Day.  A time set aside to celebrate the rights that have been restored for the American worker through the American Labor Movement and the men and women who do so much to make it a prosperous country through our labors.
Yet, I wonder how many have a Biblical view of work.  Often we hear people talk about how horrible work is like it is a result of sin, yet if we look at the Scriptures Adam was told to tend the garden (Gen. 2:15) and to name the animals (Gen. 2:19) which made for a busy day of work that first day of creation.  Sure sin brought much harder labor than it was before the fall of man (Gen. 3:18-19) but that does not mean we should whine about it. In fact as believers we are told to do all things without complaining or disputing. (Phil. 2:14)
What many do not realize is that all are expected to work.  Even some of our founding fathers used the Biblical principle from II Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  Every able bodied individual (Able-bodied opens a whole new can of worms I cannot address in this short essay…) should be doing their part to provide.  We happen to live in an area Brown/Schuyler County where the unemployment rate is the lowest in the state and likely among the lowest in the country.  If people want to work and have not disqualified themselves through character flaws or laziness, they can find work.  I understand it may not be the most glamorous or enjoyable, but it will put food on the table and some kind of shelter over the head.

The manner in which we work is addressed in a few other places.  For example, In I Cor. 10:31 we are challenged, “Whether therefore you eat or drink do all to the glory of God.”  Even more pointedly in Ephesians 6:5ff those who are working for others are challenged to work “in sincerity of heart, as to Christ:” in other words we work as if Christ is our boss.  In fact it continues “not with eye service as men pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service to the Lord, and not to men.”  Just think of how many people work hard if the boss or the foreman are somewhere that they can see them, but as soon as they walk out of sight they go back to being lazy and their production drops.  As believers we work to please God, and I have found that most of the time if my work pleases the Lord then my work will please man as well.  I understand that occasionally there are those difficult bosses that will never be pleased, but they aren’t our concern.  In the end we do not answer to them for our attitudes and actions, but we will answer to God.  And if we are believers we are representing Jesus Christ even in the way we work including our attitudes and actions.  May Jesus Christ be praised by our work ethic!  (This article was first published as the "Feature Preacher" article in the Rushville Times)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Walk In Love

The Bible calls us to “walk in love” by following the example of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 5:2).  Walking in love is not about doing what feels good to me, but about doing what is best for the other person. In the face of danger, loving action may even seem harsh in the moment, such as when I remind my children to look both ways at intersections to avoid getting hit by a car while riding their bikes. 
Many would like us to believe that the only way to love an individual is to allow them to do whatever makes them happy for the moment, but God would have us understand that there are actions that are “unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11).  There are actions that feel good for the moment (like riding a bicycle at high speed through an intersection), but in the end they lead to only to pain and destruction (like being hit by a car).  The Bible calls these destructive actions “sin” because they violate God’s holy law for how we as people were designed to live. Therefore, we find true love, life, and fulfillment by “finding out what is acceptable to God” (Ephesians 5:10) and avoid the things that are unacceptable to God.  This passage in Ephesians lists some actions that are unacceptable to God, such as, fornication (i.e. all sexual sin outside the bounds of Holy Matrimony between a man and woman), covetousness (greed for money and possessions), and mouths that cannot be controlled.
But wait! Isn’t listing sins judgmental and unloving?!  Certainly it is if we put ourselves in the position of the Judge – God himself. There is, however, a solemn responsible for us to loving warn others about the consequences of their self-destruction actions. We are not the judges, but God is the judge, and he will both judge and punish sin (Ephesians 5:6).
Part of loving others must include warning them of sin and its painful consequences.  Loving others means showing the way of safety and salvation. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the only remedy for sin and he is the only one who can reconcile us with God and bring us into eternal life, joy, and peace.
So yes, as people who believe in the Bible, we will continue “walk in love” warning people of sin and sharing the wonderful good news about the Lord Jesus.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Staying Faithful

Christmas is approaching fast!  We set aside December 25th to remember the day of our Savior’s birth.  In all of the busyness of our often “hijacked holiday,” let us take time to re-read and learn from, the passages reminding us of what was going on in the lives of the people involved.
Today I would encourage you to go and reread Luke chapter 1.  Think about Zacharias and Elizabeth.  Verse 6 lets us know that they were righteous.  They had faith in God, as we know from Romans 4 that all who are justified or “declared righteous” have put their faith in God, both in the Old Testament Times and the New Testament Times.  The also had a daily walk in their lives in which they were considered blameless when it came to keeping the Lord’s commands!
It is amazing that they kept this attitude, even when God had not seemed to grant them their wish of a child.  Because of not having a child, they bore the reproach of people around them (vs.25).  Many people of the day assumed there was a sin problem if God had made one barren.  The statement in verse 6 makes it clear that this was not the case.  In today’s society, I have met many people who give up on their walk of faith if God, who they look at as a Genie in a bottle, does not grant them their wishes.  As we study the customs of the priests serving in the temple, we realize that if Zecharias is indeed well advance in years along with his wife, that he would be approaching retirement age of 50 as prescribed in Numbers 4:30.  The priests usually only got one opportunity to go in and trim the candles,  burn the incense, and offer the blessing on the people yet he had served many years and never gotten this special opportunity.  Yet, they remained faithful!

Their faithfulness, as always, was worth it.  God would bless them with being the parents of the one who would come in the “Spirit of Elijah,” as the forerunner of the Messiah!  May we stay faithful no matter what we face in our walk of faith!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Karma or Harvest?

I seldom go through a week without someone seeing or hearing someone use the term “karma.”   “He got his karma.,” “Karma is a pain!,” “I’ll give him his karma.” or “Your karma is coming.”  In these contexts, it is nearly always dealing with someone getting back in kind for their wrong actions.  Some of the time, it is an excuse for revenge.  These ideas are derived uses of the term which comes out of Buddhism and Hinduism, though the meaning has been changed to some degree.

My concern is that this attitude seems to be prevalent in many who would claim to be Christians.  Karma is not a biblical concept.  The biblical concept is harvest.  If I go and plant a corn seed in my garden, I expect to pick corn when the plant matures.  The same is true for beans, tomatoes, or whatever I plant.  I expect to harvest in the same kind as the type of seed that I have planted.

God in His word tells us in Galatians 6:7–9 (ESV) “7Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

All through scripture we see people receiving the consequences of their actions.  He reaffirms that here in this passage.  The things we sow, or plant will come back to us.  We see it in the lives of individuals in scripture.  How many can you name?  Do we see it in the lives of nations? Do you remember them?

Some think it is their responsibility to pay back for the wrong people have done to them.  This violates Romans 12:17 where we are commanded, “Repay no one evil for evil.” And vs. 19 “Do not avenge yourselves.”   Why does God tell us this? Verse 19 continues, “Vengeance, is Mine, I will repay.”  When we try to pay back individuals for wrongs that they have done to us we are trying to take the place of God.  We need to let God work in His way in His time.   He sees, He knows, He cares, and He has promised.  If we take vengeance upon ourselves, then we are wrong, and will bring consequences upon ourselves.  Our part is to “repay evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21)

The greatest challenge today as you read this is to evaluate what you are sowing or planting with your life.  Have you trusted Christ as Savior so that you can sow to the spirit?  If you have not, you are simply sowing to the flesh.  The final harvest then will be corruption; eternal punishment in the lake of fire.  Put your faith in Christ today, and begin to serve Him, then you will know a blessed harvest!  

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Accept All or Separate and Expose?

This status from Joel Osteen Ministries was recently shared with me.  “Galatians 5 says, “Don’t think that your group is the only one that’s right.” We’re all missing it somewhere. The main thing is that we agree that Jesus is the Son of God, He rose from the dead, and now He’s our Savior. Let your love for others be bigger than what church they belong to.

At first glance it seems to be a neat statement that would bring peace to many a situation, yet as I considered it I felt I needed to respond to it.  Here is my response.

Yes, we are thankful for those who minister the gospel of Jesus Christ, and for those who have Jesus Christ as their Savior.  Unfortunately it is not as simple as this quote makes it sound.
I do not want to come across as proud, in fact, I humbly realize that those who teach will receive a stricter judgment (James 3:1) yet this is where God has lead me.  As a teacher of scripture I have a great responsibility and do not want to hear what Christ told the Pharisees in that they were making their followers “twice children of hell.”  (Mt. 23:15)  So if I am missing it somewhere I want someone to come along and show me the scripture I am violating and help me to understand it because I do not want to lead anyone astray.

Yet, Jesus (Mt. 7:15) and Paul (Acts 20:29) both warned of wolves who would come in sheep’s clothing.  Paul warned twice in two consecutive verses in Galatians 1:8-9 about those who would preach a different gospel.  You see there are churches that teach that because Jesus died on the cross all are going to heaven.  This is universalism and it is contrary to the truth of John 3:16 and many other passages.  Christ’s blood is sufficient for those who have put their faith in Christ for salvation but not for those who do not. (Rom. 5:1ff)   There are also those churches that teach that you must have works on top of your salvation so they are not trusting in Christ alone but Christ and works too!  This seems to be the entire theme of Galatians.

There are churches that do not believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. If He was not born of a virgin then he too is a sinner and therefore was not the perfect sacrifice for us.  Rom. 5:12ff.
There are churches also that do not believe that Jesus is God (John 1:1).  If he is not God he is a liar and therefore would once again not be able to be our sacrifice.

You see, we are encouraged by the Bereans of Acts 17:11 who searched the scriptures to see if what the preachers were preaching was consistent with what the prophets had written.  We too need to search the scriptures to make sure that the preachers today are preaching truth as well.  Yet, there are many pastors who seldom refer to scripture and many professing believers who do not even take their Bible to church open it or open it when they get home to see if the preacher is really speaking the truth of scripture.  In regards to this I just read through ten different translations/paraphrases of Galatians 5 (NKJV, AV, NEB, NAB ESV, NET, LEB, HCSB, NLT, NRSB) .  The point of the passage is not to accept anyone else’s view of how to get to heaven, rather Paul is rebuking the Galatians for being lead away from the truth and is challenging to come back to the gospel.  The fruit of their lives would reveal whether they were walking in the flesh or in the spirit and we are challenged to walk in the spirit!

So in closing we are grateful for those who teach the whole counsel of God faithfully proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ and challenging those who repent to live lives that bring glory to God because of their separation from the world.  But regarding those who twist the truth and preach another gospel we have to separate from them and expose them.


Larry, a country preacher.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is It Time To Rebuild?

Years ago, when my wife and I were newly married, we bought our first house. That first house had some real problems.  The main one was that whoever built it did not take the time to put a footing under the foundation.  Therefore, the house had settled on one end.  The 20 foot living/dining room dropped about 12 inches from one end to the other. It took an incredible amount of time and effort to try to get that house back to level.  Eventually, someone had to come and dig out the old foundation, and put in a new footing and foundation, so that the house could be solid.
Today I see many families struggling.  They will say things like, “My kid is on suspension from school.”, “Our marriage is falling apart.”, “My kids won’t listen and obey me,., and the list goes on…

When you get a chance to talk with them and challenge them, you realize that their lives and families have a foundation problem.  They need to return to the Biblical principles, and teaching, and Jesus Christ in their lives and families.  Matthew 7:24–27 (NKJV) 24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Some of you may think that you are fine, because the storms of life have not yet hit, but they will.  Many others are facing the storm and seeing their homes beginning to sink. and oOthers are seeing them collapse.  I want to let you know there is hope!  Remove the foundation that is allowing your life and family to fall apart, and start rebuilding on the Rock of Jesus teachings.  I am not here telling you it will be easy. It will be harder than rebuilding the foundation of our house, but it will also be more rewarding when you are done.  I also am not telling you to do it alone, in fact, I will work to help you in this process, or connect you to someone else who will point you to the Biblical principles that are needed in the life of you and your children.  Don’t put it off, because the longer you wait, the more difficult the job becomes.  If your children are young the job will be easier than if they are old, if you are working from multiple generations of the improper foundation your work is cut out for you, but don’t lose hope.  Do the job “one brick” at a time, then slowly and surely, you will see the benefits of your efforts as you submit to God’s Word in your life and family!

For assistance contact: First Baptist Church 309-257-2290 or

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Bully Solution

This comes as no surprise to anyone, but the issue/problem of “bullying” has grown to epidemic proportions. Many are saying “Stop bullying!” or “We need to stop bullying!”, yet they are not addressing foundational principles that will help get to the heart of the issue.  Rather, they are address symptoms and say they are “helping,” which is like saying a Band-Aid is “fixing” cancer.  Please read through the following principles and consider how we need to address the foundational issues of bullying.
What is Right?  We must teach a standard of right and wrong that is unchanging.  Nearly everyone will say that the bully is wrong.  Yet, one must admit is that in the majority of cases the bullied has broken God’s standard of righteousness by wrongfully responding to the bully even before it becomes a “bullying” situation, and usually afterward, as well.  We must bring both parties to the point of recognizing that God sets a standard of right and wrong His standard does not change with society’s whims.  We therefore bring them back to the truths of God’s Word.  Psalm 119:9, 11 (NKJV) “How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word.  Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
Who am I?  We must teach individuals that they are created in the “image of God” (Gen. 1:26-27), as the greatest of all of God’s creation.  Our value, therefore, comes from the fact that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Psalm 139:14   My value or worth does not change when someone calls me a name, or makes fun of my clothing.  My value does not change by how smart, good-looking, or talented I am.   These things are all temporary, and will pass away.   The bullied needs to change the way they look at themselves, to see how God looks at them.  The bully needs to recognize that they are attacking one whom God specially created for His purpose, and they will give account to Him for their behavior.
As one created in God’s image, all of us are to be reflecting the character of God by striving to be loving, caring, holy, forgiving, gracious servants of Him.
How do we resolve our conflict?  The majority of bullying situations grow out of unresolved conflict.  This conflict and fighting comes as a result of our own selfish desires (James 4:1). We must learn not to respond to others sin by attacking them.  I must learn to respond calmly (Prov. 15:1).   We must learn that retaliation is never right (Prov.  20:22; Rom. 12:17; I Peter 3:9).  We must know that God has saved revenge as His right and responsibility (Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30).  He sees and knows all, and He is all-powerful, and therefore able to deal with the problem.  We must trust Him to deal with the problem through the authorities that He has set up or personally.  It may not always be the response for which we were wishing, but we can be certain God will deal with it.
Our response is to do everything in our power to live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18).   This does not mean we can compromise the truth of God’s word, or disobey His
commands, but we can do everything up to that point to bring about peace in our relationships.
The starting point:  In just this short space we have recognized that there is a standard of right and wrong that has been compromised in our relationships.  This “missing the mark” of God’s righteousness is called sin.  And the “wages of sin” is death (Rom. 6:23). That is bad news, but the good news is that the “gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23).  God in His love sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin (John 3:16).  We therefore must recognize our sinfulness and the consequences or our sin and believe that Jesus Christ is the only remedy for that sin.  Are you ready to put your faith in Christ to take the punishment for your sin? 
This bullying problem will continue to increase if we do not teach and train individuals with these truths.  For more help, daily encouragement and more thorough explanations, as well as, other topics such as love and authority: find “The Bully Solution” on Facebook or twitter (@BullySolved) and follow so you get all the updates, or look up to follow our blog.   The bully solution is a ministry of First Baptist Church of Littleton, IL .
Faith-based counseling to help those struggling on either side of this issue is available by calling 309-257-2290.