Choose The Good Part

Choose The Good Part                                                 November 27, 2022

Jesus, the Son of God, was in the house.  What an important time.  Surely everyone in the house was giving Him undivided attention.  Yet, that was not the case.  In fact, not only was it not the case, one sister got mad because the other sister was sitting with Jesus giving Him her undivided attention.  The two sisters, Mary and Martha, were close friends of Jesus.  It was Martha’s house.  She apparently felt the need to care for the things of the house.  She was “cumbered” or burdened down with much serving.  She must have felt very close and comfortable with Jesus.  After a period of time she scolded, “Lord, do you not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  Bid her therefore that she help me.”  Jesus responded, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful; and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).

Certainly having Jesus in the house was a blessing.  Yet Martha was too busy to enjoy the blessing.  God gives us a multitude of blessings each and every day.  One of the greatest blessings of life is our mate, children, grandchildren and friends.  However, are we busying ourselves with things that really do not matter?  Are we busying ourselves with things we cannot lose?

Perhaps women are especially guilty of this.  It seems they are ALWAYS busy!  Does the house have to be absolutely perfect?  Are some of the household chores we busy ourselves with really necessary?  Are we losing memories which can only be made once because we are too busy in the moment to see the moment?  Men are probably guilty of the same thing when they become workaholics and do not give quality and quantity of time to their families.  Are we too much of a perfectionist about the way our homes look as it relates to developing meaningful Christian fellowship which can turn into deep relationships?

Our Savior said, “Choose the good part.”  He then defined the “good part”  by saying it was the things which cannot be taken away from us.  We can lose our health and our money in the blink of an eye.  What cannot be taken from us are the memories we make for ourselves and/or for others.  Are you too busy to enjoy life?  Are you missing the most important moments of life because of life?  God wants us to live life to the fullest.  He wants us to choose the good part.

Written by David McDonald

Search Me, O God, And Know My Heart

Search Me, O God, And Know My Heart                               November 20, 2022

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalms 139:23-24)

In Psalms 139 David shares with the reader the amazing aspects of God’s omnipresence and  omniscience.  He is present everywhere all at the same time and is all knowing.  No matter where one goes, He is there and He’s aware of all the things that are happening throughout the world, even the thoughts within the mind of mankind.  There is no place that man can hide from Him nor thing that one can conceal from Him.  Indeed, He is God Almighty.

When Adam & Eve sinned, then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked so they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings (Genesis 3:7).  Then when they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden they hid themselves from His presence among the trees.  Then He said to them, ‘Where are you?'” (Genesis 3:8-9).  God knew where they were.  It’s just that they knew that they had sinned against Him and were ashamed.  God made the first step to reaching out to them about their problem with sin.  What a beautiful thought to know that whenever we get caught up in some sin, God is there for us and doesn’t want us to hide from Him but approach Him for help and forgiveness. 

The Hebrew writer reminds us that there is no creature hidden from God’s sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (have to answer to; to whom we are accountable to) (Hebrews 4:13).  There is no cave in which we can hide nor island we can fly to in order to escape from God.  Wherever we go, He is there.  The prophet Jonah couldn’t hide from God nor can we.

Consider the alternative.  Instead of hiding from Him, why not turn to Him.  Since He knows everything about us; where we are; what we’re going through & what we’re struggling with, then it just makes sense to go to Him, especially since He truly cares for us (I Peter 5:7). 

In Psalms 139, the Psalmist asks God to search him thoroughly.  He wanted God to know about his anxieties and hidden concerns so that God could help him but he also wanted God to see if there was anything in his life that would prevent him from pleasing Him.  Have you ever wondered about such in your life?  He wanted to be okay with God; acceptable in His sight.  And if there was anything in his life that would keep that from happening, then he wanted to rectify it. 

His final request was that God would lead him in the everlasting way (the way that leads to everlasting life).  One is more apt to sin when he/she follows their own feelings rather than the truth of God.  The Psalmist is simply saying to God:  You take the lead and I will follow You.  I’ll be safe when I keep my eyes focused on You (Hebrews 12:1-3).

What a great thought to dwell on.  Being a Christian is about being a follower of the One who will lead us right into eternity.  Along that path, He will cleanse us from all sin (I John 1:7); intercede before God on our behalf whenever we sin (I John 2:1-6) and give us confidence in the Day of Judgement because as He was on earth, so are we when we follow His leadership (I John 4:17).

Who are you following today?

Brian Thompson

What If?

WHAT IF?                                                          November 13, 2022

(The following article was read by Peter McDonald at Barb Ellis’ funeral in her honour as she took time in her life to serve the needs of others, especially in Cuba.  I’m not sure who the author is but it really touched me and that is why I am sharing it with you today – Brian)

What if God couldn’t take the time to bless us today

Because we couldn’t take the time to thank Him yesterday?

What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow

Because we didn’t follow Him today?

What if we never saw another flower bloom

Because we grumbled when God sent the rain?

What if God didn’t walk with us today

Because we failed to recognize it as His day?

What if God took the Bible away tomorrow

Because we would not read it today?

What if God took away His message

Because we failed to listen to the messenger?

What if God didn’t send His only begotten Son

Because He wanted us to be prepared to pay the price for sin?

What if the door of the church building was closed

Because we did not open the door of our hearts?

What if God stopped loving and caring for us

Because we failed to love and care for others?

What if God would not hear us today

Because we would not listen to Him?

What if God answered our prayers

The way we answer His call to service?

What if God met our needs

The way we give Him our lives?

High Standards

High Standards                                                                 October 6, 2022

Most of us work in industries which demand high standards.  High standards are necessary to ensure the safety of the public, employees, the environment and to prevent loss.  Standards have been established to govern practically everything we do, measure, buy, sell, or build.  As an engineer it was necessary for me to meet certain established standards to practice as an engineer.  The same is true of doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, electricians, etc.

There are many in our world today who want to relax or erode established standards.  A recent news article documents how some university students signed a petition to have a professor removed because an organic chemistry course was too hard and many of them had failing grades.  They argued their grades didn’t reflect the time and effort they had put into the class.

Not only are some writing to devalue technical standards but our moral and ethical standards are also under attack.  For the most part our moral standards were based on Biblical principles, however, our world has chosen to significantly deviate from those standards.  Acceptance of such things as homosexuality, same-sex marriage, selfishness, not honouring commitments (divorce and family break-ups), lack of respect are just some examples of society’s departure from following God’s standard.

Our heavenly Father has provided a standard for us.  He first established this standard with the Jewish nation as defined in the Old Testament and it is frequently referred to as the “law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12; Acts 13:15; 24:14; Romans 3:21).  The Jewish nation was tasked with keeping this law.  Jesus reinforces this in Matthew 7:12-20.  Furthermore, God has a desire to establish a relationship with all people.  He did this through Christ and His gospel message, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  It is God’s desire that we understand and are obedient to His standard established through His Holy word.

God has set this high standard for us.  However, He has also guaranteed us:

  • His Word and ways are perfect “The Law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7).
  • God and by association His word and ways are unchanging.  “For I, the Lord, do not change, therefore you, the sons of Jacob, have not come to an end” (Malachi 3:6).
  • God’s standards are high, and He expects us to abide by these standards.  Therefore you shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
  • Through Christ, meeting our God’s standard is attainable.  “See to it that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, rather than in accordance with Christ.  For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over every ruler and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision performed without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:8-12).

Are we committed to achieving God’s standard through Christ?  Achieving God’s standard requires more than simply putting in time and effort; it requires a full commitment like it was of Israel with their covenant with God in the Old Testament.  “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13).

We have to make a choice.  The world’s standards are ever-changing and imperfect; God’s standards are unchanging and perfect.  Following the world’s standard will lead to eternal damnation.  Following God’s standard through Christ will allow us to reach our eternal  Heavenly home.  “But if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served, which were beyond the Euphrates River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

By Kevin Pickles                      

Discouraged by Galatians?

Discouraged by Galatians?                                 October 30, 2022

The Galatians owed Paul so much because he had given so much to them.  Who were these Galatians and where did they live?  Evidently the boundaries of Galatia extended to include those cities Paul visited on the first and second missionary journeys.  The churches in Galatia and in many places were established in times of great trials.  Paul had given so much of himself to them, even to the point of almost dying  when they stoned him in Lystra.  Just weeks after this horrid event, he returned to again preach in that city.  He had given so much even to these churches, yet shortly after he departed from them, they were forsaking the Lord.  Paul said, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ” (Galatians 1:6).  With anguish in his heart, he asked the Christians in Galatia, “Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16).  When this happens, it is so easy to become discouraged.

Perhaps you have had these same feelings when you have given so much to teach others about Jesus.  Then, with anguish in your heart you saw them rejecting Him.  How do you deal with your broken spirit when you are giving so much?  You watch them as they reject, not you, but the message of Jesus.

Even Jesus Himself experienced this in His life.  You are not alone – they rejected Jesus.  “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).  When the rich young man came to Jesus and the Master told him what to do, “He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:22).  It was not Jesus who failed on that day, it was the rich young man!

Because of His teachings, Jesus was rejected by the Jewish nation.  The Bible describes what happened as He approached Jerusalem in His triumphant entry.  “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41).  He entered the city, and then said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).  It was not Jesus who failed, it was that nation who refused to listen to Him!

So even when your heart is filled with anguish because others will not respond to the words of Jesus you are showing them, do not become discouraged.  Your heart weeps for them, just like Jesus’ heart was filled with grief because they rejected Him.  However, this did not keep Him from telling others about the will of His Father.  Do not become discouraged.  Speak the truth; speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).  When others refuse to obey, you have not failed – they did!

By Dan Jenkins

Persistence

Persistence                                                                   October 23, 2022

“The secret is not to give up hope.  It’s very hard not to because if you are doing something worthwhile I think that you will be pushed to the brink of hopelessness before you come through the other side.” (George Lucas)

There are times in my walk with God that I have felt like throwing in the towel and giving up.  I have struggled with the same temptation and given in and sinned.  When the light at the end of the tunnel cannot be seen, why not just quit?  There were times that I felt it was hopeless.  I would never change.

I have learned that the feeling of hopelessness comes from viewing God primarily as a judge.  That has changed over the years.  I have found that I cannot leave God’s word alone.  I had a hunger for reading His word that persisted even when I wanted to give up.

One thing that changed the way I thought about God was the parable of the talents.  I realized that the one talent man was condemned for not trying (Matthew 25:14-30).  The first letter of John also helped me to persist in light of my hopelessness.  God desires to forgive me and will if only I will confess my sins to Him (I John 1:9).

The second chapter of I John reminded me that if I sin, then Jesus is my Advocate.  This ties back to the simple fact that I must be honest about my sin.

My Father wants me to persist in my struggle with sin.  The greater my persistence, the easier it becomes.  However, if fleshly desires are less of a temptation, then perhaps pride becomes a greater problem.

Paul said, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).  Trust in Jesus and His cleansing blood and in the proven love of the Father.  That is what my hope is based on.

By Ed Wittlif

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“Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation. I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints;” (Jude 3)

Up To You or Up To God?

Up To You or Up To God?                                            October 16, 2022

            Who determines where you will spend eternity?  Is it up to you, or is up to God?  The short answer is “Yes!”

            That salvation from sin and the resulting eternal life are a gift cannot be denied successfully!  Romans 6:23 couldn’t be clearer: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  We call Jesus “Savior” for a reason – if we could provide for our own deliverance from the guilt and penalty for sin, we wouldn’t need a savior.  But obviously we cannot!

            Unfortunately, some have erroneously concluded that since we cannot save ourselves by ourselves, we must be totally passive.  They believe God unconditionally picked and chose certain individuals to be saved and exercised irresistible grace toward them regardless of any faith or obedience.

            Others have bought into the equally mistaken idea that by working really hard we can “almost” save ourselves, and God’s grace just gives us a little nudge over the finish line.  Such a notion ignores the fact that good works can’t wash sin away – only Jesus’ blood does that.  The bird lady in “Home Alone – Lost In New York” was wrong: a good deed doesn’t erase a bad deed.  Not even Christmas!

            The fact is, a gift is given on the terms of the giver.  Complying with God’s terms to receive the gift of eternal life isn’t meriting or earning salvation!  In no way does it deny the grace of God.  And we have the free will to decide whether to comply with God’s terms or to refuse them.  God elected (chose) Jesus to be our Savior, and He elected (chose) to save those who trust and obey Jesus.

            So, is it up to God or up to you?  Yes!                                           By Joe Slater

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The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:56-58)

Always Have A Thankful Heart

Always Have A Thankful Heart                                              October 9, 2022

“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

A car will go nowhere without gas.  A toilet is useless without water.  A freezer isn’t cool unless it’s plugged in nor is a Christian’s life effective unless it is motivated by a thankful heart.  Gratitude should be the key behind everything a Christian thinks, says and does.  Whenever one gets tired of living the Christian life then it is evident they have forgotten the countless ways they have been blessed in Christ (II Peter 1:1-11).

Consider these thoughts on Gratitude:

  • Gratitude turns what we have into enough
  • Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have
  • Your first thoughts in the morning should be, “Thank you!”
  • If you never learn the language of gratitude, you will never be on speaking terms with happiness (www.PartyDomme.com)

As Christians, here are some things we should be consistently thankful for:

  • We can know that we have eternal life (I John 5:13)
  • Every prayer we offer is heard and answered by God in accordance with His will (I John 5:14-15)
  • If we walk in God’s light & practice what is right then the blood of Jesus will cleanse (forgive) us from all sin (I John 1:7; 3:7-10)
  • We have a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and an imperishable inheritance and salvation reserved in heaven (I Peter 1:3-5)
  •  We have a God that knows us intimately – inside and out and is there for us whenever we need Him (Psalms 139:1-24)
  • We have a God that has demonstrated His love for us by giving us the one thing most precious to Him – His only begotten Son (John 3:16).  This unselfish love enables us to love one another (I John 4:10-11)
  • We have a God that wants us to give Him (cast upon Him) all our anxieties because He cares so much for us (I Peter 5:7).  We are not alone in this life with all our concerns and worries.  God is with us as long as we remain with Him and do the things that are pleasing to Him (John 8:29)
  • We have a God that provides us daily with our spiritual and physical needs (Matthew 6:8-13)
  • God has welcomed into His spiritual family that includes all the faithful from the beginning of time until now.  What a privilege and what a blessing to belong to such a family!! (Ephesians 2:11-22)

These are only a few things that Christians should be consistently thankful for.  There are many more but these, at least, remind us that we have far more to be thankful for in life than most.  Christians should never be ungrateful for anything.

As a Christian, what are you grateful for?                                                 Brian Thompson

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Paul, the Aged

Paul, the Aged                                                                                   October 2, 2022

“Yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you – being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 9).

When he wrote his short letter to Philemon, Paul was an old man.  We don’t know exactly how old he was, but he was no longer young.  He could call himself “Paul, the aged.”  We live in a day when being “aged” is nothing to brag about.  It is no longer viewed as being desirable in any significant way.  Today, hardly anything can be imagined that would be worse than being old.  Everybody wants to GROW old, but nobody wants to BE old.  Most younger people flatter themselves that they’ll live a long time, but having done so, they won’t look old, dress old, or act old.  Old age itself is despised, and it is assumed by our culture that agedness should be camouflaged in every way possible, as if the reality of being old were something to be embarrassed about.

I wish that we could see that it’s not old age that is undesirable, but only the disabilities that often come with it.  What repels us is the thought that when we have reached that point in life where we have the most to offer, our bodies (including our brains) have often become so dilapidated that our ability to function is seriously hindered.  It is the decrepitude of old age that is unwanted, the ravages wrought by time on the bodies in which our souls dwell.

Because of the decline of our physical “tabernacle,” old age in this world can be a trying experience.  In the Scriptures, we are warned to enjoy the years of our lives before our bodies begin to wear out.  “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come …” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

But even so, there is a sense in which we ought to look forward to being like “Paul, the aged.”  Our last years can be our very best.  And more than that, we ought to look forward to Heaven and the state of being that we’ll enjoy then.  In our resurrected and glorified bodies, we’ll enjoy an eternal maturity and wisdom that are unhindered by the disabilities that affect our joy and usefulness in this world.  We will be perfectly “aged.”  We’ll enjoy all the advantages of having “grown up” without any of the disadvantages!

“Eternity has no gray hairs!  The flowers fade, the heart withers, man grows old and dies, the world lies down in the sepulcher of ages, but times writes no wrinkles on the brow of eternity” (Reginald Heber).

By Gary Henry via WordPoints, September 10, 2012

elderly man wearing glasses using cane clipart

Having Confidence in Your God

Having Confidence in Your God                                             September 25, 2022

“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.  Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.  Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.” (Micah 7:7-8)

The name of the prophet Micah means, “Who is like Jehovah?”  That meaning has significance as one reads through the book of Micah because he is quick to state his confidence in his God as noted in the verse above.  There is no one like Jehovah who will act on behalf of His people.

Micah’s god was not a god of stone or wood or some other physical substance like the gods of the pagans who  would make their own gods and then bow down and worship them (Isaiah 44:12-20).  Can you imagine falling down to worship a block of wood?  That piece of wood does absolutely nothing for you yet some thought it would deliver them when they needed help.

In Micah 7:7 he begins by saying, “As for me.”  Micah’s confidence in God wasn’t based on just what he had heard God had done for others but on what God had done for him.  Micah knew God on a personal basis rather than just hearing about Him.  So that is why he speaks so confidently about Him.

He says, “I will watch expectantly for Him.”  Whenever Micah would pray to God he would expect a reply so that is why he would be watching for the answer to happen.  That is faith at its best!!

Also,” he was willing to wait for God to act.”  He was not an impatient child of God like some.  Since he regarded God as the Lord of his salvation he was willing to wait for Him to act in His time and in His way. 

Micah was confident that “God would hear his prayers.”  His enemies may rejoice over their apparent victories over Micah but he is telling them not to rejoice for his God will act on his behalf.

Whenever Micah would fall because of sin in his life or because of his enemy “he was confident that with God’s help, he would rise again.”  Whenever he would dwell in darkness, even there, “the Lord God will be a light for him.”

When it comes to our confidence in God what words come to mind?  Perhaps the following thoughts you share as well:  He’s loyal & completely faithful.  He never rests but works on our behalf even when we sleep.  He is always nearby and will never forsake or desert us.  He cares for us in ways we cannot fully fathom and desires to forgive us of all of our sins & make us perfect & acceptable in His sight through the blood sacrifice of His Son.  There is no love greater for us than the love God showers upon us and He desires our worship in heaven for eternity.

These are just a few areas in which we can have confidence in God.  Perhaps you know of many others.  The point is that He is not a silent, inactive piece of wood like the gods of pagans were but He is the only true and living God, the Creator of all things and the sustainer of all things. 

Is there anything in your life that you can have so much confidence in that compares to the confidence Micah had in the Lord his God?

We live in a very fragile world, and it is such a blessing to have confidence in One you can depend on.

Brian Thompson