Psalm 26:7--That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

Monday, September 24, 2012



O lost and dying wayward soul,
won’t you come to God’s red tide?
Won’t you be made clean and whole
by blood that flowed from His own side?
Know you not He died to save
your soul from death beyond the grave?
Know you not that without Him
in fiery flames of wrath you’ll swim?
How can one resist such grace
that wholly makes all sin erased?
How can you not drink the draught
that quenches God’s eternal wrath?

O Christian saved from death and sin,
how can you not care for him?
Why loose you not your given tongue
and share the news of Christ the Son?
Will you not unstop your ears
to hear the cries of endless years?
Will you not release your eyes
to see the life that truly dies?
Know you not that without Christ
you’d still be held in Hell’s harsh heist?
Know you not that you must say
and give account to God some day?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reverent Refrain

Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31--Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Above is a refrain that is repeated four times in the 107th Psalm. A refrain is a phrase or verse repeated throughout a work; to us they are most recognizable as choruses of songs. As any repetition, refrains add emphasis to their subject. This is used to help an idea stick in the audience's mind and underscore its importance, and it often displays the theme of a work. So, what is the Holy Spirit trying to tell us here? It's pretty obvious: we should praise God! Why? Because He's good and has done wonderful things for us.

The list of God's amazing works is endless, but the psalmist, still utilizing repetition, relates a specific theme throughout Psalm 107: God's help in times of trouble. He illustrates this with four scenarios, each developing in the same pattern and revealing the theme of God's saving mercy and grace. First, people are in some sort of trouble; second, they cry to God for help; third, God delivers them. The psalmist always then follows with the above refrain, emphasizing that we should praise and thank God for His goodness to us.

The simple message is no matter what your situation, God can help you if you turn to Him. That's what it means when the Psalm says the people cried unto God. They gave up every hope except the Lord and knew He was the only One capable of saving them. They turned from everything else and cried to God for help, trusting in Him to rescue them. And He did.

So are you in one of the situations mentioned in this Psalm? Even if you're saved, you can be in one of these circumstances. Are you wandering through a desert, lost and famished? Are you bound in the darkness by sin and its consequences and punishment? Are you sick and despondent, physically or spiritually? Could you be in the midst of a storm, tossed about, confused, terrified? Whatever the case, God is there to help. Just call on Him. Forsake all other helps and rely on God. Only He can bring you through, and if you trust in Him, He will.

The natural reaction to this should be praise, which is what the refrain highlights. If God has saved you, which these examples illustrate, praise Him! He has given you the greatest gift possible. Whenever He does a good work to you--which, honestly, He does every day by allowing you to live and breathe--praise Him! He has blessed you with something you absolutely do not deserve.

God is the highest, the holiest, the mightiest; and He deserves all praise. All good things come from His ever-faithful and righteous hand. He deserves our total adoration and devotion. Don't be like the lepers Jesus healed and walk away without giving thanks. This reveals a selfish heart. Praise God; let His works be known. As it says earlier in the Psalm, "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so". Make God's praise the refrain of your heart, lips, and life.

Lastly, are you saved? Do you know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're going to Heaven? Maybe your life feels like one of the scenarios described above, but you haven't called on God to help. He will if you ask Him. First, though, you must realize the most drastic situation you are in: the lost condition of your soul. This must be fixed before anything else, and only God can do it. You can't do it; another person can't do it; good works can't do it; religion can't do it. Only God can. Will you please come to Him now and be rescued from eternity in Hell? Then you too can praise Him for His wonderful works in your life. Click the Salvation tab above for more information.

Thank you for reading, and God bless!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Proverbial Paradoxes

Proverbs 11:24; 13:7--There is that scattereth , and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.

A paradox is something that contradicts itself but is somehow true. God uses many paradoxes in the Bible: the first shall be last, and the last shall be first (Luke 13:30); whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus' sake will find it (Matt. 10:39). Rationally, these statements seem contradictory, yet they are true. There is one general lesson we can learn from all of God's paradoxes: "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my [God's] ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).

Above are two very similar verses. In them, God tells us that if we give away our material possessions, it will actually increase our wealth, but if we hoard our possessions, we will be poor. How does that make sense? It doesn't, but, as stated above, it reveals one of the miraculous ways God works that is much better than what we could conceive.

So what are some ways in which this works? To begin with, God will bless you if you give. First Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver", and again in Proverbs 22:9, "He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor." God has promised to bless those who are generous givers and who give out of a cheerful heart. It's relatable to the biblical principle of reaping what you sow. Furthermore, we can never out-give God; if we are being wise stewards of what He's given us (which includes giving), He will continue to increase our blessings as He does our faith and wisdom.

This raises several points about motivation, however. Obviously, as 1 Corinthians 9:7 states, we shouldn't give grudgingly or because we feel like we have to. Neither should we give because we think we will be blessed and gain more back. These are completely wrong attitudes, and God can see them. He always looks on our hearts, always knows what we're thinking, and always knows why we do everything we do. Whenever we give, it should be out of love. That's why God loves a cheerful giver. When you give out of love, you realize it is better to help someone else with what God has given you than store it away. It truly is a great blessing.

Now, some would say that this only applies to spiritual wealth. They would say giving your material things away for God's glory is good, but it will only result in spiritual rewards. I do not believe this is so. We certainly will be blessed, grow spiritually, and receive rewards in Heaven, but we will also receive repayment here on earth. The text verses mention nothing about spirituality, though they could certainly be interpreted that way. The basic application is that if you give materially, you will also get back materially. We know that God has promised to provide every need for His children, so when you give of yourself, you can have faith God will still provide for you.

It is vitally important, though, that we make sure material things are not our focus. This should never happen. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal" (Matt. 6:19), "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Luke 12:34). "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2), for "the life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment" (Luke 12:23). Also, we must make sure than when we give, we focus on meeting a person's spiritual need instead of just his or her physical needs.

Lastly, we must give responsibly. Although God has promised to provide all we need and assured His blessing on those who generously give, it doesn't mean we can empty our bank accounts, sell all we own, and give everything away. Faith is crucial to the Christian life, but God gave us common sense for a reason. When I left for college, a friend wrote in a card he gave me, "Always have faith in God, but don't try to cross a street blindfolded." Will there be times in life when you have to step out blindly in faith to follow God? Yes. I've experienced them myself. But simple charitable giving is not one of them. When we give, we must utilize the common sense God granted us. Remember that it's biblical wisdom to save, just not to hoard.

So let's summarize what we've learned:
  • God uses paradoxes to show us His ways and thoughts are higher than ours and to increase our faith
  • God will bless you if you give, both materially and spiritually
  • We should never give grudgingly, because we feel we have to, or in order to get a reward, but always out of love
  • Our focus should not be on material things, but on spiritual things
  • We must make use of common sense when we give
How's your giving? Are you tithing? That's very important. Do you give to love offerings, charities, Christian ministries, visiting speakers, or missionaries? How about your motivation? Are you cheerfully giving out of love because you truly want to meet someone's needs? Or do you do it because you think you have to or to be seen? Be sure to examine these areas in your life. Giving doesn't have to be financial, either. You could donate clothes, cans, or food to someone who needs them. And the greatest gift of all is your time and yourself. Try volunteering at local ministries. I promise, you will be greatly blessed.

In closing, there is one more thing paradoxes teach us about God. They show us that God can, in fact, reconcile two contradictory things. The ultimate example of this is the cross. When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible for sinful man to be reconciled with righteous and holy God. These two can now be brought into a harmonious relationship. It is unthinkable and impossible in man's eyes, yet perfectly possible--and greatly desired--in God's. Have you been saved? If you died today, do you know for sure you would go to Heaven? Click the Salvation tab above for more information.

Thank you for reading, and God bless you as you seek Him. Hope you to see you next week!

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Tenses of Salvation

John 5:24--Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Sometimes tiny details give mounds of information and are extremely important in correctly conveying or understanding an idea. Such is the case with verb tenses. In English, verbs can be expressed in one of two tenses, past or present, and it makes a huge difference which case is utilized.

For example, if someone's car runs out of gas and he asks me who he can borrow ten dollars from, I might direct him to my friend Jimmy and say, "Go ask Jimmy. He has ten dollars." "Has" is present tense and gives the idea that Jimmy possesses ten dollars at that moment, so the person thanks me and goes to Jimmy. But all along I know Jimmy used his ten dollars on the ridiculously expensive ice cream he is now enjoying. A few minutes later, the person comes back, frustrated because Jimmy did not have ten dollars and he is still stranded. This mistake could have been avoided had I used the right verb tense to correctly relate the information I knew. I should have told him, "Jimmy had ten dollars." By using the past tense, the person would have understood that Jimmy possessed ten dollars in the past, and then we could have had a nice conversation about the outrageous price of Jimmy's ice cream while trying to find someone who actually has ten dollars.

That is a silly example, but a suitable one. Incorrect verb tenses can cause mass confusion, especially when applied to serious subjects. In the above verse, Jesus is speaking on the topic of salvation, and He uses several verbs to describe the condition of a person once they are saved and point out that this salvation cannot be lost. And you can be sure Jesus never mixed up His verb tenses.

Jesus begins by stating that the believer "hath everlasting life". This is the same as saying the believer has everlasting life; it is in the present tense. This means from the moment a person "heareth [Jesus'] word, and believeth on him that sent [Jesus]", he or she possesses eternal life. Gaining spiritual life is being saved. This is why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:3 that he had to "be born again". If you're not saved, you are dead spiritually in your trespasses and sin, but once you put your trust in Jesus, you come alive spiritually and are born into God's family by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus' choice of verb tense, we know that spiritual life isn't gained sometime later in life or when we get to Heaven. At the moment of faith in Christ, a person gains spiritual life, and the fact that it is "everlasting life" means that it will never end. If the verse stopped here, it would be enough to prove that one cannot lose one's salvation, but Jesus then shifts to another verb.

He follows with "and shall not come into condemnation". This denotes an action (or, in this case, lack of action) in the future. However, there is no future tense in the English language. We use what are called modal auxiliaries in connection with present-tense verbs to express action in the future. Shall and will are two basic examples of modal auxiliaries.The condemnation spoken of here is an eternal sentence to Hell, and with this statement, Jesus affirms that this will never happen to the believer. For one who has been forgiven of sins and given eternal spiritual life, it is impossible to be condemned to Hell. The only future after salvation is Heaven.

Lastly, Jesus uses the past tense in the phrase "but is passed from death unto life." Once a person is saved, his or her sins are in the past, his or her death is in the past, and he or she has "passed from death unto life". Salvation and eternal life aren't merely things you possess and can misplace or have taken from you; they are a complete transition from one state of being to a completely opposite one. Salvation is a one-time deal and doesn't need to happen again because it lasts forever. As mentioned above, the life you pass into is everlasting and will never end. You cannot lose your salvation. Some great passages on this are John ten, Romans eight, and Hebrews ten.

In one sentence, Jesus uses all three realms of time to express the fact that salvation cannot be lost. If you've been saved, you passed from death unto life in the past, possess eternal life now, and will never come into condemnation in the future. What a great comfort! One saved, always saved. No matter how bad we mess up, we are still protected under God's grace. As Paul asked in Romans 8:35, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" What a wonderful, loving, gracious, kind, and merciful God we serve!

However, this comes with a huge warning. As Uncle Ben once told Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility." We should not use our eternal security to freely sin. That is not why God gave it to us. We have been given eternal life, eternally freed from sin and death, so we can choose to love and serve God and others (Galatians 5:13-14; Romans 6:1, 2, 15). If we abuse God's grace by continuing to live in sin, our lives will be miserable. We will not go to Hell, but we will still face consequences from our sin (Galatians 6:7). If you claim to be saved and use eternal security as an excuse to sin, it brings into question whether or not you have truly been saved. This leads into the next matter.

Do you know you are saved? As stated above, if you claim to be a child of God, yet use God's grace as an excuse to sin, it's highly unlikely you are saved. I'm not judging, but that is not the way a Christian is to live. The Holy Spirit will not lead a person to sin, and if He lives in you, He will convict you when you do wrong. You will not have a desire to sin. Examine your heart and life. Make sure beyond one hundred percent you are saved and going to Heaven.

Maybe you don't claim to be saved. Maybe you know if you died, you would go to Hell. Well, that can be fixed. You can be saved and eternally secure right now! Jesus gave the requirements in the verse above: hear His Word and believe. Please don't put it off another moment. Click the Salvation tab above for details.

Thank you for reading, and God bless.