Plain Truth

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I think it is a blessing and a curse that we have so many churches in America, that it seems there should be no excuse for anyone to have not heard the truth of God’s word. It is a blessing because in America, we don’t have to go very far before we are reminded of God by seeing him represented on buildings bearing his name. But it may also be a curse because not all churches are equal. Not all churches represent God in a way that truly reflects who he is. Not all churches support, and hold true to, the entire Bible. And some churches have resorted to using gimmicks, deception, or they even distort the word of God in order to grow their numbers. This can make it extremely difficult for those who are seeking salvation to hear the plain truth from the Holy scriptures. Paul made sure the Corinthians understand that the word of God speaks for itself. It doesn’t need us to distort it or to deceive people with a bait and switch. It says is second Corinthians 4, verse 2:  

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Paul understood that the plain truth of the Bible is what we need. It doesn’t need any additional help to reach the hearts of people, because the Bible is most powerful when we let it speak for itself. Churches who try to lure people in with gimmicks or deception, churches who distort the word of God, or churches who have a different agenda than sharing the plain truth about God should be avoided. I encourage you to evaluate your church. Does it proclaim the plain truth of God’s word? This is not a time for the church to produce spiritually thin Christians. We need the plain truth of God’s word, because any other version or method is distorting what God intended for his people.

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The Bible tells us that God’s word will not return void. In other words, when the plain truth of God’s word is shared, he will use it to affect lives; he will use it to draw men unto himself. We’re making a big mistake when we think we need to revise God’s word to better appeal to our time or culture, or when church becomes a comedy act or a performance in an effort to make it more fun. We do not have to convince people to come to the Father because we’re not the ones who draw men to him. The Bible is clear that God draws men unto himself. Our job is to proclaim the truth plainly, as Paul puts it, without changing it and without compromise. Any other strategy is of the flesh.

Do Not Forget

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Are you in a dark place right now? Are you calling out to God for some form of deliverance with great hope that your situation will change? If you are, and God delivers you, I encourage you to praise God and to use that experience to become more dedicated and more obedient to him. It is human nature to beg for something we need, and when we get it, to focus on the provision and forget about the one who gave it. Joseph experienced that when he interpreted the vision of the chief cupbearer. Once the chief cupbearer got what he wanted, he forgot Joseph. Jesus experienced it when he healed the 10 lepers. Only one came back to praise him. And Moses warned the Israelites, in Deuteronomy chapter 8, verses 10 through 14, not to fall into that trap. It says:

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

We need to heed this warning as well. When God blesses us, or delivers us, it should encourage us to be more dedicated to him. It should encourage us to praise him, to love him more, and to become more dependent on him. We shouldn’t become proud and forget who saved us from our despair. So I challenge you to remember God when he delivers you or blesses you. Heed the warning Moses gave to the Israelites, because it is human nature to forget the one who delivers us.

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When God blesses you, or delivers you, praise him and use that experience to become more dedicated to him. Never forget what he did for you. It is human nature to beg for something in our despair, and when we get it, to forget about the one who saved us. With believers, it should never be that way; not with our fellow man, and especially not with God.

Power of Words

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When someone used to tease you as a child, did you ever respond by saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? I heard that a lot when I was growing up, but if we are honest with ourselves, we know that those words are false. Words can hurt, and sometimes words can hurt worse than sticks and stones because the wounds they cause may take longer to heal. The Bible tells us that what we say to others is important. It tells us that our words can be used to build others up or tear them down. Proverbs, chapter 15 verse 4, reminds us:

“The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”

Also in chapter 12, verse 25 it says:

“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”

Our words can be a weapon, or they can bring healing to those who hear them. What kind of words are coming out of your mouth? If we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, like the Bible commands us, we should use words that bring healing; words that cheer up the heart, as these parables explain. With our words we have more power than we might think. So I encourage you to use your words wisely. Consider how you can use them in a way that honors God and encourages your neighbor.

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Proverbs isn’t the only place in the Bible that warns us about our tongue and our words. There are several verses warning us about the words we choose to speak both in the Old and New Testament. The Bible encourages us to be slow to speak and quick to listen. But when we do speak, our words should be those that encourage, uplift, and build people up. Who knows, a few kind words could change the course of someone’s day. At the right time, with the right heart, a few loving words can even save a life. So please, consider what you say and when you say it, because your words can have the power to heal as well as the power to destroy.

Good Soil

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If I dwell on the state of our country and the world, often times, I become discouraged. Evil seems so pervasive, there seems to be an overwhelming aversion toward anything Christian, and it seems as if everyone is selfish; caring only about themselves. If you get caught up in the news, you may begin to wonder if God is at work in the world anymore. You may even begin to question if anyone is trying to share the gospel anymore. But when I read the parable of the sower, found in Luke, I’m encouraged that the word of God is being spread, but the ground in which the seed is sown may be more hard, more thorny and more shallow than in days past, producing fewer crops. In effect, the word of God may be shared, but it is having a more difficult time finding good soil. When Jesus shares the parable of the sower, he explains that when the seeds of the gospel fall on soil that isn’t good, the word may be ineffective. Only when the seed falls on good soil will it produce a crop. It says in Luke, chapter 8, verse 15: 

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Have you heard the good news? Has anyone told you that the blood of Jesus has the power to save your soul? If so, do you believe? Did those words fall on good soil? Because only when they have are you truly able to grow in your faith and produce a crop.

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In the parable of the sower, Jesus tells us that “the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop”. Is your heart made of good soil? Do you expose yourself to the word of God, retain it and by persevering produce a crop? I encourage you to get serious about your faith. Allow the Holy Spirit to till the soil of your heart so that when you hear the word, read the word, or in any way are exposed to the word of God, you retain it. And that by living out what you’ve learned you’ll be able to produce a crop by leading others to Christ and storing up treasures in heaven.

Made Wise

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There is great wisdom to be found in the Bible. So much so, that if we read it and do what it says, I believe that we are getting a better education on how to live life than any doctorate can give you from any university. If we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us through the word of God, we are made wise. We are wise with the kind of wisdom that teaches us how to live well in this life and how to prepare for eternity. But we need to read it, we need to think on it, and we need to follow what it says. Psalm 119, verses 97 through 99, encourages us with these words:

“Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.”

Do you believe that claim? Do you believe that God’s commands found in the Bible can make you wiser than your enemies; that it can provide more insight than any teacher or professor? I do. I believe it because we are taught that the words found in the Bible are God-breathed. They are instructions and guidelines on how to live, given to us by our creator. The Bible points us to the Savior who points us to the Father; the one who has the power to bless us, to forgive us, and to save us. I encourage you to do what this psalmist did; meditate, or think, on his word all day long. Read it, learn it, follow it, and gain more wisdom than any man could teach you here on earth.

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I don’t think we, as human beings, understand how powerful the word of God is. If we did; if we truly believed that the Bible is the inspired word of almighty God, why wouldn’t we become scholars of it? Why wouldn’t we do everything we could to know everything we could about it? Why wouldn’t we do what the psalmist did; love it and meditate on it all day long? I want to remind you that the Bible is, in fact, the inspired word of God. If you read it, and allow the Holy Spirit to help you understand it, and if you follow what it says, you will be exceedingly wise. Proverbs teaches us our first lesson; that it all begins with a reverent fear of the Lord. It says that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I encourage you to be made wise today. I encourage you to study the Bible.