Children are from God
Aaron J. Dodson
Paul wrote that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen “being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [Deity]…” (Romans 1:20). God had him write this as a means of demonstrating that man is “without excuse” before God (Rom. 1:20c). The creation of heaven and earth are evidence of God’s power and marvelous design. Of course, someone might argue that there are many defects in the universe and in mankind and such is evidence that God does not exist. However, careful examination of both creation and Scripture demonstrate that God created all things “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and when sin entered the world so did the consequences of it including death, decay, disease and the like (cf. Gen. 2:17; 3:16-19). The thing that God created sometimes described as the “pinnacle” of His creation is human life. On the sixth day of creating God said “Let Us make man [mankind] in Our image, according to our likeness...” (Gen. 1:26). Mankind has been rightly described in this way because God declared of mankind that we are to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:26). As a person reads Genesis it becomes clear that the first man and woman were mature adults not babies. What a sight that must have been! We know that since that time all have been born from a man and woman as babies. Though Jesus was not physically born from a man he was born of a woman (cf. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Gal. 4:4) and in this He shared in humanity (“yet without sin” Heb. 4:15). On Saturday, August 29th 2015 our daughter Cheyenne was born at 6:11a.m. Mommy Lindsey experienced and endured a completely “natural” (without pain medications) birth. Lindsey described the experience with one word, “intense.” Despite the pain, to see Cheyenne born and to see mommy hold her in her arms and to be with mommy and baby through the entire experience is simply breathtaking and amazing to say the least. It baffles me to no end to think that there are many “educated” people who proclaim that this entire birth process is a result of rocks, dirt and gases (with no Divine beginning), with no logical explanation (“it just happened, no God started it nor designed it”), through long, long, long, long, long periods of “natural selection,” (billions of years) methodically created and caused all material things to exist and be perpetuated and sustained as they are now! This is what I call the “god of chance.” The One true God says “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1). To me its sad that anyone could experience all the joys of childbirth and then attribute all of it to “nothing” that came from “nothing,” that had no “divine purpose.” The One true God says “..children are a heritage [possession] from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3)! Thank you Father in Heaven NOT the “god of chance” (that doesn’t even exist).
Time For Spring Cleaning
Victor M. Eskew
For some reason, spring is the time for cleaning the house and yard. We refer to it as “Spring Cleaning.” During the course of a year, things get dirty, out of order, and piled up around the house. Prettier weather makes individuals want to clean up, organize, and get rid of things around the house.
Since, it is the time of year for Spring Cleaning, maybe each of needs to take a look at our spiritual house. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul states: “What! Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Each Christian can view his body and the life that he leads as a house. It is a spiritual house. It is designed for more than secular pursuits. It is designed to bring glory to God. Our spiritual houses are much like our personal houses. They need to be cleaned up from time to time. So, maybe it is time for some Spring Cleaning.
Over the course of time, we have a tendency to collect things in our home. Some of the things we collect become “junk.” Junk consists of things that we no longer need or that are no longer useful to us. Junk just takes up a lot of space. We may sell our junk at a yard sale or donate it to Goodwill. We know that we need to get rid of it. In our spiritual lives, there are things that we need to cast out. It could be sin, or bad habits, or a bad relationship. In the opening verse of Hebrews 12 the writer exhorts us, saying: “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” James, the brother of our Lord, gives us a similar admonition in James 1:21 “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.”
In our homes, things often get out of order over time. We are busy and we throw things here and there. We intend to put them in the right place, but never get around to it. When we do our Spring Cleaning, we get things organized again. We put things in their rightful place. Our spiritual lives can also get “out of order” in time. The less important become the important. The urgent takes the place of the essential. Our wants come before the things of God. Thus, when we do our Spring Cleaning, we have to put order back into our spiritual lives. As we do, we keep in mind such passages as Colossians 3:1-2 “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” As we live our lives, the here and now becomes more important than the then and there. It is imperative that we take some time and restore the right order to our lives. Jesus counsels us in this matter in Matthew 6:33 “But see ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
When we do Spring Cleaning at home, we really do some deep cleaning. We dust. We wash. We scrub. We sweep. We mop. We make the inside and outside of our homes like new again. We need to do the same thing when we clean our spiritual homes. We have a tendency to put things to the side and they collect dust and need to be cleaned. It may be that we need to get the dust off our Bibles. We had good intentions of studying more, but we have not. We need to clean the dust off, open the cover of our Bible, and begin to diligently read and study its divine contents (2 Tim. 2:15). We might need to clean out our prayer closets as well. Again, we believe in prayer and intend to pray, but others things often get in our way. Before we know it, our prayer closet becomes a dusty, musty mess. We need to open it up, clean it out, get in, close the door, and pray fervently to our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:6).
When individuals get involved in Spring Cleaning, they clean the house from top to bottom. It is not just a cleaning of the floors and carpets. The one cleaning looks at the ceiling, the crown molding, the lights, and the ceiling fans. All of the dust and cobwebs in these places are removed. In like manner, we may need to reach into the upper parts of our house and do some cleaning. There are times when the cobwebs of opinions, earthly principles and false teachings clutter our minds. If they are not removed, they begin to take over our thinking processes. Paul’s instructions in 2 Corinthians 10:5-6 are worthy of implementation. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.”
Spring Cleaning is difficult work. It means the investment of a lot of strength and several hours of toil. However, when it is finished, a person looks at his/her house with a sense of satisfaction. The same is true when a person cleans his spiritual house. It requires an investment of time and work. When it is done, the individual will look at his/her spiritual life with great satisfaction. Sadly, some never get around to Spring Cleaning their house. They allow the dirt, and filth, and clutter, and junk to remain. The same is true of the spiritual lives of some Christians. Don’t let this be you. Set aside some time. Do that Spring Cleaning. You will be glad you did!
Why “Fellowship” is so Much More Than Potluck Meals #2
Personally, I love enjoying a potluck meal with my church family. But unfortunately, many Christians so primarily associate the word “fellowship” with eating a meal that the two concepts have become virtually synonymous. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I went to a church fellowship yesterday.” But did you know, biblically speaking, “fellowship” isn’t something you do or attend, it’s something you have? How Do We Strengthen Our Fellowship?
A bond exists between two Christians because they are both Christians, but it may not be a strong bond. That bond – that “fellowship” – must intentionally be strengthened in order for it to be strong. But this is where the discussion gets difficult, because it depends on our mind set, our heart, our spirituality (see Colossians 3:1-4).
While it’s certainly true that we must be together in order to strengthen our fellowship, merely being together does not strengthen our fellowship. When two Christians get together for a round of golf and simply talk about the weather and politics – but never discuss spiritual things – they may have strengthened their friendship, but they have probably not strengthened the bond (the fellowship) they have in Christ. Furthermore, an entire congregation could get together for a meal and not actually strengthen the fellowship they have in Christ.
We Strengthen our Fellowship by:
• Celebrating the fellowship we have in Christ.
• Confessing our sins to one another.
• Praying with one another.
• Singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with one another.
• Sharing in the Lord’s Supper.
• Laboring with one another to spread the gospel and help those in need.
• Getting to know each others’ spiritual strengths and weaknesses.
The leadership of a congregation can – and I believe “should” – facilitate and encourage the strengthening of fellowship, but it seems to me that only those of us who recognize the fellowship we have can be devoted to strengthening it. We must teach each other about the fellowship we have in Christ, how precious it is, and that it must be strengthened intentionally.
This is why we must get together regularly for Bible studies, for worship, and even to simply sit around a meal table and visit about our lives in Christ. Fellowship will not be strengthened without ample time together, but we must be intentional. We must realize we are not getting together to fellowship, we are getting together because we are in fellowship.
I think the words of the Hebrew writer are particularly applicable here: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25
Editor’s Note: Lay Lake Family Retreat is a wonderful way of strengthening our fellowship! The elders want to strongly encourage each member at Lay Lake to participate. The more time that we spend together, the closer we will grow and be better able to help each other with the struggles of life. ICYC is a comfortable facility with bathrooms located throughout the camp. We will enjoy good fellowship, prayer, singing and Bible study. We will also enjoy good food and fun time! Please sign up TODAY!
Why “Fellowship” is so Much More Than Potluck Meals
Personally, I love enjoying a potluck meal with my church family. But unfortunately, many Christians so primarily associate the word “fellowship” with eating a meal that the two concepts have become virtually synonymous. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I went to a church fellowship yesterday.” But did you know, biblically speaking, “fellowship” isn’t something you do or attend, it’s something you have?
What is Fellowship? The Greek word for fellowship is “koinonia” (koi-no-NEE-ah). It was a word used to describe a very close and intimate relationship between two or more people. People were described as having “fellowship” when they had a business partnership, a very close friendship, a marriage, or were members of a community in which everyone shared their belongings with one another.
Many of the times the word “fellowship” is used in Scripture, it is speaking of the close relationship Christians have with the Lord, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9, NASB). The gospel brings us into such a close relationship with the Lord that our relationship with Him can beautifully and properly be called, “fellowship.”
Furthermore, all those who have fellowship with the Lord, have fellowship with one another. The gospel brings us all into communion, into family, into partnership, into association with one another. John said he and the other apostles were preaching the gospel, “So that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed, our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3
So, it’s not entirely accurate to say we get together with our church family “to fellowship.” I think we need to stop thinking of fellowship as something we do and start thinking of it as something we have.
What Are the Indicators of True Fellowship? That being said, the fellowship we have should be more than just theoretical, it should be visible. People should be able to look at the relationship between Christians and say, “Do you see the fellowship they have? Isn’t that a beautiful thing!” That’s the way it was in the earliest days of the church (Acts 2:42-47):
• They spent time learning together.
• They worshiped together.
• They ate meals together.
• They sold their belongings when necessary to share with those in need.
This is what “fellowship” looks like: it looks like togetherness. But many Christians do not experience true fellowship on a regular basis. They are content with a mere theoretical “fellowship.” They show up for a worship assembly and then slip out the back door. They don’t sit with their brethren discussing Scripture and its application in their lives. They don’t share intimate prayer time with their brethren. They don’t know the needs of their brethren, and they certainly don’t share their belongings to help with those needs.
Can people see the fellowship you have with your church family? Jesus said, “By this all people know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). If there are no indicators of the fellowship we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ, how are people supposed to see our love? (To be continued . . .)
We Are All Addicts #2
Our days are evil days. Materialism, immorality, dishonesty, raping, robbing, murdering and molesting all run rampant in our society. John wrote correctly, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) The whole world around us is under the power of the evil one. The troubles of our world are because we are addicted to sin. It is easy for us to talk about the drug addict, the liquor addict or the person addicted to nicotine. But, we all have one or more addictions. All of us need to be in God’s recovery program. Christianity is a lifelong process of being changed from our addictions into the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:18) Christians are in a lifelong battle against the addiction of sin. The problem with addiction is that we can see everybody else’s additions but only with great difficulty do we see our own.
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO PHYSICAL THINGS. These people have a strong love and desire for possessions. The desire for riches leads to all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:9-10) Today’s world still needs the warning of Luke 12:15. “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” The love of money and material things will condemn many souls. Are you addicted to material things?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO PLEASURE. Many today love pleasure, entertainment or those things that excite. Moses chose God rather than the momentary pleasure of sin. (Hebrews 11:25-26) God is choked out of many lives because of the love of pleasure. (Luke 8:14) The pleasure might be the latest places to visit, games, sports of all kind, television, computers or video games. Are you addicted to pleasure?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO LYING OR DISHONESTY. One who chooses to be a liar brings misery to himself and heartache to those hurt by his lies. “What is desired in a man is kindness, and a poor man is better than a liar.” (Proverbs 19:22) One who lies can expect a troubled life because Satan is the father of lies. “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (John 8:44) Dishonesty likewise brings trouble to a person’s life. God will not allow one to prosper for long through dishonest gain. “Behold, therefore, I beat My fists at the dishonest profit which you have made, and at the bloodshed which has been in your midst.” (Ezekiel 22:13) Terrible things are done for dishonest gain. “Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain.” (Ezekiel 22:27) Many lives are filled with misery because of lies and dishonest gain. Are you an addict to lying and dishonesty?
SOME ARE ADDICTED PRAISE AND PREEMINENCE. Those who love the praise of men will never love God as they should. (John 12:42-43) Those who seek to please men will never please God. (Galatians 1:10) Listen to Jesus, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:26) There are also those that love preeminence. The spirit of Diotrephes still lives. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us...” (3 John 9-10) There are still those who love to have the preeminence. Jesus still says, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Galatians 6:3) The love of preeminence destroys the spirit of servanthood and makes them an addict. Are you addicted to power?
SOME ARE ADDICTED TO BEING A BUSYBODY AND TO BACKBITING. Paul spoke of some saying, “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” (1 Timothy 5:13) What is a busybody? A busybody is a person who delights in other people’s business. Instead of being focused on their own home, their own duties, their own family, the busybody is interested in everyone else’s business. A busybody is “busy” gathering and passing on information. “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” (1 Peter 4:15-16) Some people are too involved in “other people’s matters. They ask questions that are really not their business? They pass on information about other people’s business? They delight in being the first to know and the first to tell? They are addicts!
THERE IS, HOWEVER, AN ADDICTION THAT WE ALL SHOULD PURSUE. We should do our best to become addicted to the Lord Jesus and to His work. “I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.” (1 Corinthians 16:15) This family is held up as example because they the both accepted and fulfilled their responsibility to God and to others. They addicted themselves. The church stands very much in need of those that will addict themselves to the service of the Lord. Isaiah was an addict. He said, “Here am I; send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) We must really be converted to Christ. Let us be so addicted that we have a sense of personal responsibility. We must come to see Christ and His work as our reason for existence. You must be so devoted that you become a slave or an addict to Jesus. Are you an addict for God?
I Want A Church That Meets My Needs
The statement made in the title is not only the desire of many in the religious world, but is becoming the philosophy of many Christians, because many of us are seeking a religion that “meets our needs.” The phrase itself has virtually become a new religious term. Many persons praise or blame a particular congregation because it is or is not “meeting my needs.” Let me hasten to say that if the phrase means that we need to satisfy spiritual hunger, then it is a good expression, for surely everyone ought to be in a Christian community where his/her deepest spiritual longings are being addressed. The voice of God needs to be heard through spiritual teaching, and we need opportunities to serve, love and be called to repentance. But being a part of the church to some means reaching for goals of “selfactualization.” So, if the church doesn’t fulfill certain expectations, wants and preferences, they must move on to another emotional department store with different merchandise more appealing to their “tastes.”
Sadly, and probably without realizing it, many congregations have gotten into thinking that “we have to do all these things and plan all the activities to meet people’s needs so they won’t leave.” Consequently, well-meaning leaders have turned God’s church into a merchandising institution. So, we promote this program and that program for this group and that group.
But, in my judgment, the system has become turned upside down from the way God intended it to be. Whatever happened to the attitude in a Christian’s heart of “I’d like to be a part of this congregation because of what I can do to meet its needs?” When are we most fulfilled? When our needs are met, or when we meet the needs of God’s church on this earth? We ought to be a part of a congregation not so our needs can be met, but rather so we may best meet the needs of God’s work.
Christians need to recall the Truth of the scriptures that personal fulfillment is a great spiritual paradox. We are most filled when we empty ourselves and be filled serving others. Jesus taught us, “…whosever will be great among you, let him be your minister (servant)…even as the son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve)” (Matthew 20:26-28).
Paul said of his own heart, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). And again, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). “Reasonable service” is not being served (having your needs met) but serving (meeting the needs of others). We need to relearn the axiom, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Let’s not demand that God’s church be a place where people (leadership or membership) cater to our desires and preferences. Let’s turn it right side up again and be a part of a congregation, not for what it can do for us, but for what we can do for it!
Columbiana, AL 35051
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