Real Christianity

Real Christianity                                                       January 16, 2022

“And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and began observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.  And calling His disciples to Him, Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.'” (Mark 12:41-44)

I have always been amazed at the contrast Jesus reveals between many rich Jewish people and a poor Jewish widow as noted in the text above.   When it came to giving money into the temple treasury there were many impressive amounts of money given by the rich but there was only one giving that really got Jesus’ attention in a positive way.  It was the giving of one cent from a poor widow.

This was a matter of great importance as Jesus brought it up before His disciples.  By discussing it with them He taught them that it’s not how much we give that impresses God but rather the heart behind our giving that has His undivided attention.  Upon giving His only begotten Son to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16) God knew what it was like to give up everything He had.  He knew how to give even when it hurt to do so.  The giving of this poor widow was similar to God’s in that she gave up everything she had to live on; all she owned for the pleasure that she received in giving all for God.  Her attitude behind her giving was a heart that so wanted to give back to God even if it hurt her to do so.  That kind of giving got Jesus’ attention and praise.

In Acts 20:35 the apostle Paul reminds the elders at Ephesus of the words Jesus said concerning giving that it is more blessed to give than to receive.  I wonder when Jesus said these words that He had this poor widow in mind.  You see Jesus could relate to this poor widow in that He would give everything He had for the world in order to accomplish God’s will.  He would give even when it would hurt.  Jesus gave His body up to be crucified on the cross for us.  I hope all of us can see more than just a cross but a heart behind the cross that clearly says, “I love you enough to die for you; to give up everything for you.”

Real Christianity isn’t showy Christianity where your spirituality is shown off before others (Matthew 6:1-18).  God looks at the heart and it’s there that He finds either the  genuine, sincere, honest heart of a servant of God or He finds a heart of someone who is more interested in pleasing others and himself than God.  Concerning this Paul writes, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God?  Or am I striving to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).  He also states, “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts” (I Thessalonians 2:4).

Real Christianity is “Heart Christianity” where a heart of gratitude is behind every word and action of the Christian (Colossians 3:17).  He/she does not live the Christian life for show but rather to express how thankful their heart is for all that God has and is and will do for them.

As Jesus saw the heart of this poor widow it reminds me that He also sees my heart and yours.  Is our heart real and sincere like that of the poor widow?  Would He want to tell His disciples about it and use us as an example of the kind of heart He would desire in others?

What is the condition of your spiritual heart?

Brian Thompson

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Can Any Person Understand the Bible?

Can Any Person Understand the Bible?                January 9, 2022

“My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you, make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; if you seek wisdom as (one would) silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.  For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:1-6)

Do you believe the Bible can be understood by only certain people?  Have you been told this from childhood?

Well, if this is true then it would be quite a relief to many because then they wouldn’t have to be responsible for knowing what God expects of them.  They can leave that up to others to let them know.  But the problem with that kind of thinking is that one is totally trusting their salvation to another person’s understanding and interpretation of the scriptures.  What if they are wrong?  Try to picture a person standing before God at the Judgment and explaining that he’s justified before God because it wasn’t his fault that somebody else got it wrong and misunderstood the scriptures.  What do you think God would say to such a person?

The Bible is for everyone to read and to understand and for them to know and to discover the will of God.  Since one’s salvation depends on one knowing God, don’t you think one would want to know for themselves what God has to say to them?  Don’t you think they would want to open the Book of God to know His will for their own lives?

Satan wants to keep everyone out of the Bible because he knows that it is a light unto one’s path; a light that gives direction for mankind which will lead them to an eternity with their Creator (Psalms 119:105).  And if, perhaps, some do get into the word of God  then he uses false teachers to mislead them and teach them error (II Corinthians 11:12-15). 

Eternity is a long time.  It is a time without an ending.  Don’t you want to know for yourself what God has to say to you?  Yes, at times the Bible can be hard to understand (II Peter 3:14-18) but that doesn’t mean one can’t discover God’s will for their lives.  They just have to search for it continually like one does for hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:1-6). 

God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and He grants wisdom to all those who ask for it as long as they don’t doubt that He will give it to them (James 1:5-8).

Perhaps the question shouldn’t be “Can any person understand the Bible?” but rather “Do people today want to hear what God has to say to them?”  Many are only interested in what they want to hear and nothing more but I hope that your desire is to know God fully and be willing to spend much time in His holy word.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“and that from childhood you (Timothy) have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (II Timothy 3:15)

Brian Thompson

One Thing God Cannot Do

One Thing God Cannot Do                                      January 2, 2022

“Paul, a bond-servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ago, ” (Titus 1:1-2)

When one thinks about the only true and living God, the One who created all things and through whom all things are sustained it is hard to even imagine that such a God is incapable of doing anything.  However, the apostle Paul notes that when it comes to the promise of eternal life, God cannot lie.  Did you catch what Paul said – God cannot lie. It is totally against His nature.  In God there is absolutely no darkness at all, only light (I John 1:5).  He cannot sin!!  His Son, who is the light of the world (John 8:12), never changes.  He has always been the same, is the same today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  And like His heavenly Father, Jesus never sinned even when He lived here on earth (II Corinthians 5:21; I John 3:5; I Peter 2:22).

Well, what does that mean for all those who follow Him?  It simply means this … we can completely trust whatever God or His Son says to us.  Whatever He promises will definitely come to pass.  There’s His promise of forgiveness (I John 1:5-7-9), of hearing all the prayers of His people and answering them (I John 5:14-15), of never forsaking or deserting His people (Hebrews 13:5), of providing an inheritance for His people which is reserved in heaven for them (I Peter 1:3-5), of giving His Holy Spirit to all those who are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38), etc.  The point is that there are many promises God makes which will all come to pass for this simple reason – when it comes to promises, God CANNOT lie!!     

Peter refers to God’s promises as being precious and magnificent and by them one  might become partakers of His divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (II Peter 1:2-4).

It is fantastic news to know that God cannot lie concerning any of His promises that He makes with us.  After all, who would trust anyone who makes a promise to them that they don’t keep?  When it comes to promises, trust is important but that trust will be easily broken when those promises are not kept.  What a blessing to know that God is a keeper of His word.  Our salvation depends on that truth.

Brian Thompson

Nothing Like A Fresh Start At Life

Nothing Like A Fresh Start At Life                          December 26, 2021

“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” (II Corinthians 5:17-19)

We live only once in this world and how we live our life determines whether we have any regrets in it or not.  I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have some regrettable memory from their past, have you? 

Yet, because of Christ, our regrettable past can have a new beginning, a fresh start.  In the scripture above, God wants every sinner to have a new beginning.  In Christ, one’s past has truly passed away, new things (a new life) have come. 

God so loved the world (with all their regrets, mistakes, sins, etc.) that He sent His only begotten Son into the world that whoever believeth in Him may have eternal life (John 3:16).  Jesus is the only means whereby God is able to bring back to Himself all those who have sinned against Him (back to a right relationship, an acceptable relationship with Him).  This is what spiritual reconciliation means: to bring one back to a rightful relationship with God.

When I read the Bible there are numerous accounts of people who sinned before God and regretted what they did.  Their sins had separated them from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).  So, to be right again with Him, they needed to be reconciled and Jesus is God’s only choice (means) for that to happen. 

Do you have a past that continually haunts you and makes your present day miserable?  Past sins have a way of gnawing away at one’s conscience and causing them such misery. David talks about this very thing when he kept silent before God and others about his sin in Psalms 32:3-4 which states, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night, Your hand, O God, was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.”  So what choice did David make concerning his past sins?  “I acknowledged my sin to God, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgression to the Lord’; and He did forgive the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

Do you want a new start at life; another shot at living with a conscience free from the burden of guilt?  Only Jesus can provide that for you but along with that comes the responsibility of living a new life; a life fashioned after the likeness of Christ; a life that says, “No!” to sin when it knocks at your door (Titus 2:11-14).

There is much to say about what’s involved in being reconciled to God so if you want to know more about such then please email me at: oscofc50@gmail.com for more details.

Brian Thompson

Giving or Receiving, Which Do You Prefer?

Giving or Receiving, Which Do You Prefer?          December 19, 2021

“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes.  You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.  In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.'” (Acts 20:33-35)

Ask a young child if they would prefer giving presents for Christmas rather than receiving them and what do you think their response would be?  As a child I remember the excitement and eagerness I had at Christmas when a gift was given to me to open.  What was inside?  Would it be something I would like?  Was it a toy or candy?  I also remember having to wait for others to receive a gift before I was handed another.  Dad always distributed the gifts to me and my siblings that way.  I also noted that mom and dad didn’t receive as many gifts as us kids did.  As a child I enjoyed giving gifts to my family but to be honest, I really enjoyed receiving them and perhaps more so.

I have spent a number of Christmases with my grandchildren and have witnessed that same excitement on their faces when a gift was given to them to open.  I’ve even seen them volunteer to open their younger siblings presents because they were too slow in getting their presents opened.  Gifts are special and as a child it’s a thrill to receive one.

As an adult, would you rather receive a $100 or give such to someone?  I guess it depends on where that $100 would be going, right?  Giving is great when it goes to a worthwhile cause.  There’s that satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping someone who is truly in need but could you give your time or money to those who may not appreciate your generosity?

Jesus was the master giver.  He gave because it pleased God and that made Him feel really good.  Much of His giving was received by those who didn’t appreciate it but that never stopped Him from further giving.  Whenever He gave to others, He gave to God and that was such a blessing.

If our giving is only successful when it is appreciated then we are apt to be disappointed.  Always remember that God knows the heart behind any gift.   We know His heart in giving us His only Son for our salvation.  No one can give like God.  He keeps giving to the just and to the unjust (Matthew 5:45).

Enjoy giving and receiving gifts this holiday season but remember, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Brian Thompson

Have You Ever Been Angry With God?

Have You Ever Been Angry With God?                  December 12, 2021

“But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it.  And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.  And David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah (the breakthrough of Uzzah) to this day.” (II Samuel 6:6-8)

According to the verses above God was angry with Uzzah because he reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it.  This action by Uzzah showed irreverence as far as God was concerned.  Why?  Because according to Numbers 4:1-16 only the sons of Kohath had the right to carry the holy things of God.  If anyone including the sons of Aaron were to touch any of these holy things then they would surely die.

Uzza(h) and Ahio drove the new cart upon which was the ark of God (I Chronicles 13:7).  There is no mention that Ahio made any attempt to touch the ark, only Uzzah.  Perhaps Ahio was driving and was unable to touch it or he was too afraid to touch it.  The Bible just doesn’t say.  But it does mention that Uzzah touched it.  And what he did was wrong and it cost him his life.

However, David had trouble accepting the anger of God against Uzzah and he became angry.  He was afraid of God that day and did not take the ark with him to Jerusalem but instead left it at the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months.  God blessed the family of Obededom while the ark stayed in his house (I Chronicles 13:11-14). 

Although it is not wrong to have anger as long as it doesn’t have you, it is not good to store it up.  We need to let it go.  Get rid of it.  Substitute it with goodness.  Talk to God about your anger even when it may be against Him.  However, do so in reverence of Him and remember that God sees and knows what we don’t see and know regarding the hearts of men and Uzzah’s action towards Him was irreverent.

I believe what I just suggested to you about anger was exactly what David did concerning his anger towards God.  He continued to serve God faithfully but with a whole lot more reverence.  We’d be wise to do the same when our anger tries to take over our hearts.  Don’t give Satan any opportunity to use your anger against God (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Brian Thompson

Wanting to Get Even

Wanting To Get Even                                               December 5, 2021

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.  ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:18-21)

Wanting to take revenge on someone who has hurt you seems like a natural reaction.  After all, if someone slaps you on the face then why shouldn’t you want to get even by slapping  them back?  I believe it’s called the “you hurt me then I hurt you” mentality. 

However, that is not the attitude Jesus wants His followers to have.  There is a better way; a more effective way.  In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus told His followers to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecuted them.  God’s love for all mankind is perfected in His followers when they act like His Son did when He was mistreated.  The apostle Peter tells us that Christ was this way, “and while being reviled, Jesus did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to God who judges righteously;” (I Peter 2:23).

Followers of Christ are not in the revenging business but in the saving one.  God notices every hurt we experience from others and He tells us that He will take revenge for us.  In being kind to those who mistreat us we enable them to see themselves as they truly are.  When they lie down in bed they remember how amazing it was that we didn’t act in a revengeful way.  They are reminded of our kindness rather than our retaliation.  They wonder why we acted the way we did.  It just wasn’t natural.

Whether you’re a Christian or not, taking revenge only enhances and prolongs the problem between you and the other person(s).  It may cause you to think that things have been taken care and it may even make you feel good but, in fact, the problem has worsen.  Now you have to look in the mirror at night and see yourselves as you really are and you have to try to go to sleep knowing you took things into your own hands rather than God.  In your mind you may try to justify your retaliatory action by saying that they deserved it.  But was that your choice to make or should it have been God’s?

We need to wait on God for revenge and then our conscience can be clear.  Never be overcome by evil but always over come evil with good just like Jesus did.

Brian Thompson

Controlling One’s Spirit

Controlling One’s Spirit                                            November 28, 2021

“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

I find it fascinating why some people desire to constantly control people.  They seem so compelled to do so.  And in so doing they convince themselves that they are so powerful and that others should look up to them because of their great strength and dominance.  Truth be told, they are actually very weak.  Why?  Because they lack the strength to control themselves.  In the scripture above it takes a lot of power to capture a city but even more power to control one’s spirit (the urge to do whatever one wants to do).

I also find it interesting that in controlling oneself from doing what most people would do in your situation the individual who refrains himself is made to feel very weak and to some degree ashamed.   According to Hebrews 12:2 Jesus despised the shame and remained focused on what God wanted Him to accomplish.  It would be difficult to match the strength and controlling spirit found in Jesus Christ.  The apostle Peter says this about Him, “and while being reviled, He did not revile in return, while suffering He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to God who judges righteously;” (I Peter 2:23).

In Psalms 103:8 David recognized this about God: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Did you catch what David said?  God is slow to anger.  So when we’re slow to anger we are just like God.  Having a loving and kind spirit reigning in our hearts enables us to be more patient with others when they mistreat us or take advantage of us.  Most people wouldn’t be able to tolerate such mistreatment if they were in our situation.  There is power in being like God – not weakness and we need to remind ourselves of this truth when opposed by those who think themselves better than everyone else.

We also need to remember what Paul says in Romans 12:19-21.  We are never to take our own revenge.  Leave that to God.  He will deal with those who oppose His children.  In the meantime, don’t be overcome by evil, but rather, overcome evil with good.  Later in Ephesians 4:26-27 Paul says that it’s okay to be angry as long as we don’t allow that anger to cause us to sin.  If we are able to fix the situation in which someone makes us angry then we should do so as soon as possible.  Otherwise, we may allow the devil an opportunity to influence us to do evil rather than good.

Salvation is possible for every soul because Jesus, with God’s help, was able to control His spirit.  Just think what the outcome will be when you and I do the same.  May others come to recognize Jesus at work in us through our controlled spirit and experience salvation and hope in Him.

Brian Thompson

The Misery of Concealing Sin

The Misery of Concealing Sin                                  November 21, 2021

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!  When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me.”  (Psalm 32:1-4)

There’s nothing better or more enjoyable in life than to know that you’re okay with God; that He accepts you.  Yet, we know that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).  So what happens when I get caught up in some sin and reap its unexpected consequences?

Such was the case with King David when he committed adultery with a very beautiful woman named Bathsheba.  The details of this sin and others that followed are found in II Samuel 11 & 12. 

When Bathsheba became pregnant David knew his sin would be exposed.  Instead of confessing his sin before God he tried to conceal the matter from Him, from Bathsheba’s husband and from anyone.  No matter what he did to hide his sin it didn’t convince his consequence that it never happened.  Over time he became restless and couldn’t relax and be himself.  He couldn’t sleep well and became agitated and, as he says, his body wasted away.  Concealed sin has a way of eating away at a person as their conscience keeps reminding them of what they have done and how wrong it was.

In the midst of this misery David said that God’s hand was heavy upon him.  There is never any rest for the sinner unless that sin is dealt with.  David should have been killed for his sins but God sent His prophet Nathan to help David with the misery of his concealed sin.  Yes, God forgave David of adultery, lies and murder but, nevertheless, he reaped the terrible consequences of his actions.

It is better to deal with our sins than try to run from them.  Why?  Because no one can ever get away from their sins that are stuck in their conscience.  Wherever you go, they follow.  If you’re dealing with hidden sin – God can help.  They must be addressed and they can be forgiven but, like David, you may have to suffer the consequences.

Brian Thompson

When My Heart Becomes Angry

When My Heart Becomes Angry                            November 14, 2021

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (Ephesians 4:26-27)

I’m so glad it’s not sinful to be angry.  However, anger can lead to sin if I’m not careful.  You see, it’s not wrong to have anger as long as it doesn’t have you; doesn’t control your thoughts, words and actions more so than God.

Even though it isn’t wrong to be angry, it is dangerous to flirt with.  Anger is just one letter away from danger.  An angry person is so close to sinning and will likely do so unless they learn to control their angry thoughts.

One of the best ways to deal with anger is to do so as soon as possible.  Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.  Deal with it that very day.  Don’t let it fester inside.  Don’t dwell on what angered you and don’t go to bed thinking about it all night.  Uncontrolled anger has ruined many relationships, friendships and marriages.  Truthfully, harboring anger is one of the worse things we can ever do.  It is so destructive.

The real reason we have to nip our anger in the bud is to nullify any opportunity for the devil to use us.  He’s successful in using us when he deceives us into thinking we’re justified in continually being angry.   In reality, he’s using us to bring about his wicked schemes and we can’t see it for the anger in our hearts. 

So, be angry, but let that be it.  Go play tennis and smack the ball for a couple of hours until you’re tired or better yet, pray to God about what’s troubling you and may He give you peace and soothe your anger.  If someone has angered you, confronting them, in love, about the situation can also bring about healing. 

When angered, be like Jesus and allow others to see Christ at work in your life.

Brian Thompson