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Change Is Inevitable?
In this world we experience many changes in our lives. Health, relationships, work, location, focus, needs, etc. all seem to change at a rapid pace. As inevitable as change is in our lives, there are very few who embrace or look forward to change. Paul, John, Peter, Jude, and Jesus make it clear that we need to be careful about the "winds of change" that occur within the church. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." (Hebrews 13: 8). Adhering to and ensuring sound, Scriptural doctrine is always at the center of everything we do must be the first priority is determining if change is helpful. Changing things just for the purpose of doing things differently is not always beneficial. Traditions are not necessarily detrimental.
There is one change all Christians should be looking forward to and longing for. "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52). The day is coming when we shall shed imperfection and put on perfection. Let us make sure our doctrine will enable that change and not leave us imperfect and subject to the punishment of hell.
- Bryan Naugle
"... and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart..." (Acts 2: 46b). The early church exhibited a great desire to learn the truth, spend time together, and help one another. This is especially evident in this passage in Acts 2: 42 - 47. Their gathering from house to house soon became known (according to tradition) as "love feasts," without including the sexual depravity of the pagan world. The Holy Spirit, through the pen of Luke, let's us know that they were filled with joy and without complexity or ulterior motives.
We desire to be as much like the early church as we can, but we often let the "cares of this world" and the "attraction of sin for a season" get in the way of "church activities." Is our earthly family more important than our heavenly family? Are our earthly possessions more important than spiritual treasures? Is our worldly employment more vital than our Christian employment? Each Christian must take the time to examine their life and check to see if they are just living "in the world" or they are actually "of the world." When worldly functions and duties take priority over spiritual activities, is the godly truly more important than the earthly?
- Bryan Naugle
"Red Rover, Red Rover, We Dare..."
In the children's game of Red Rover, the side which was calling out for an opponent to test their resolve and strength would do what they could to ensure their line would not be broken. They would set their feet solidly on the ground, lean forward a little, and hold on to each other as tightly as they could. What a great analogy of how we should be as Christians!! "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15: 58). Having a solid foundation that provides us with the stability to withstand the winds of ungodly change and worldly doctrines is vital for survival in God's Kingdom.
We should ensure that we have our Spirit firmly planted on the solid foundation of God's Word (steadfast in doctrine) and hold on to each other as tightly as we possibly can (steadfast in fellowship). Paul reminds us that we lean forward by remembering that good works done for God are never empty or worthless. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2: 10). Good works for the Lord will never go unrewarded.
- Bryan Naugle
Whose Fault Is It
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15: 3). I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, "Jesus Christ Died For Your Sins." I really did not think that much about it because it is a true statement. For some reason, though, it stuck in my head and I begin to think about what that meant. I then happened to think of the question Paul asks in Romans 6: 2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" I began to wonder if we truly understood the significance of Jesus dying FOR our sins?
"Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness - by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (1 Peter 2: 24, 25). Jesus Died BECAUSE OF our sins. This statement reminds us it is "our fault" that Jesus had to die. If we would have chosen not to sin like Adam and Eve, then Jesus would not have had to be a sacrifice to cleanse us of our unrighteousness. Praise God and Jesus that they are willing to clean up our mess!!
- Bryan Naugle7/10/2016
How Much Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!!
Abraham showed His faith and respect for God by not withholding the son of promise (Genesis 22: 12). The prophets showed their love for God by delivering His message to people who were rebelling against God and often hostile to His messengers. The apostles showed their love for God by preaching the Gospel to whomever had ears to hear and by teaching those who had a heart for the truth.
God showed His love for us by sending Jesus to this earth to be the sacrifice that would cleanse and purify us to enter into His presence. He did this in the face of ignorance, infidelity, apathy, rebellion, and laziness. He has shown His love even though we acted unloving. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 4: 8). With infallible proof, God has shown how much He loves us.
Hebrews Chapter Eleven provides numerous examples of faith from the Old Testament. Those examples can also be viewed as proof of their love for God. Now for the question. How have you shown your love for God? When you really love someone..."actions speak louder than words!!" Would your actions be recounted in a list showing love for God!? "But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another" Galatians 6: 4). Something to ponder.
- Bryan Naugle
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (James 1: 2, 3). It can be really difficult to be joyful in the midst of pain and despair, but Christians have a reason to be joyful. We know that whatever we are going through will only be temporary. We also know that it will get better. No matter how bad life gets, heaven will be worth it all.
Consider what Jesus went through and then hear the words of the Hebrew writer. "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12: 2). Jesus provides us with the ultimate example of how to overcome the heartaches and pains that we go through. We must have our eyes set on that which will make our trials and problems seem truly insignificant.
Count it all joy, brethren because it will come to an end and it will be worth it all!!
- Bryan Naugle
"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light" (Colossians 1: 9 - 12).
Our prayers are often filled with requests concerning health, life's difficulties, and concerns about the world about us. Paul focused his prayers for the Colossian church on their spiritual growth in the Scriptures, living a life worthy of the name Christian, strength to persevere, and thankfulness to God for everything.
Join me in praying for God's wisdom, fruitful Christian living, and strength to do His will as we grow in Him. "...but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4: 15, 16).
- Bryan Naugle
THEY DON'T KNOW
"And these things they will do to you because they have not know the Father nor Me" (John 16: 3). Jesus is directly speaking to the apostles about what the Jewish leaders will do to them after He has left this earth. He warns them they will be kicked out of synagogues and even killed and it will be done in God's name (John 16: 2)!
He reminds the disciples that the Jewish leaders have blinded themselves and deceived themselves into believing they are doing what is right, but the truth is they do not know the Father nor do they know Jesus. This teaching culminates in His example on the cross when He says, "Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23: 34).
How can we forgive when someone has hurt us? How can we forgive when someone spitefully uses us? Remember Jesus!! They do not understand their actions are putting them at risk of the punishment of Hell. They are not thinking spiritually. They really do not know what they are doing!!
- Bryan Naugle
Lest We Forget
For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15: 4).
Abel ensured his sacrifice was acceptable to God regardless of what others did.
Noah built the Ark in a time of tremendous depravity and godlessness.
Abraham lived in tents in a land where he was a foreigner.
Sarah gave birth past the child bearing years.
Moses' parents obeyed God rather than men by hiding him.
Moses was 80 years old when he become the leader of Israel.
Prophets, Priests, Kings, and myriads of Martyrs suffered at the hands of evil people.
"And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise" (Hebrews 11: 39).
The Scriptures help us to understand that God uses imperfect people in impossible situations to accomplish His will. We must be willing to allow Him to use us as He has need of the talents, gifts, and abilities with which He has blessed us. "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12: 1).
- Bryan Naugle
We Need Help!!
"And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'" (Genesis 2: 18). God indicated from the beginning that man was not designed to live in this world alone. Therefore, He created "a helper" to assist him in his physical life.
In the same manner, we are not designed to be alone spiritually in our Christian life. "Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you" (John 16: 7). Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help us live spiritually. The purpose of The Helper is to guide us into all truth. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come" (John 16: 13). We must understand that the Holy Spirit will only guide us spiritually to the Truth. We should not be deceived into thinking the Holy Spirit will guide us by man's wisdom or words. He will lead us through God's word, speaking only that which God approves.
Make God's Word, the Bible, your source of inspiration, comfort, wisdom, and knowledge. Pray the Holy Spirit will guide you into a better understanding of "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
- Bryan Naugle
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1: 3, 4). What can I say to someone to get them interested in Jesus? How do I get them to take time out from the pleasures of this world to look at the truth? Peter reminds us of one possible approach.
The same things which draw us to Christ can also draw all men to Him. How many people wish they could be born (begotten) again and have a second chance at life? How many people have lost all hope in life and mankind? How many wish they were in the will of a rich relative who was leaving them a sizable inheritance? Please notice what Peter says again. Blessed be God. Why? He has (1) begotten us again (2) to a living hope (3) to an inheritance. He has given us a chance to start life all over full of hope and expectation with the promise of a perfect inheritance.
How many people will throw away the letter or ignore the phone ringing that bears the news of the possibility of them being named in God's will? Far worse, though, is how many will never be sent the letter or have anyone call? Is there someone you are neglecting to let in on the reading of God's will?
- Bryan Naugle
"And Jesus answered and said to them: 'Take heed that no one deceives you'" (Matthew 24:4).
"Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is" (Mark 13: 33).
"Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him" (Luke 8: 18).
"And He said to them, 'Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses'" (Luke 12: 15).
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10: 12).
"Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4: 16).
Are we heeding the Words of the Scripture or just what our itching ears (ref. 2 Timothy 4: 3) want to hear?
- Bryan Naugle
Keeping Your Focus
In 2 Peter 1: 3 - 11, Peter advises us that if we have increasing quantities of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love, then our future will be made sure. It is often much easier to determine what we need than it is to know how to get what we need.
A very important beginning point is to have the right focus. If there has been one lesson we have learned from the treatment of addiction, it has been the need for the addict to come to grips with the fact that they have a problem which needs to be overcome. This is also an important first step to increasing the Christian characteristics Peter describes in Second Peter. We must realize that we can do better and earnestly desire to increase these qualities in our life. Having the right focus means changing from that just being a goal to being near the top of our priority list.
"Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1: 10, 11).
-- Bryan Naugle
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