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Archive for June, 2020

The Bible is full of examples, exhortations, commands, and warnings about money. You will find no apology for the things it says about the use of money. Greed is everywhere renounced, and generosity is everywhere extolled. In fact, Jesus Christ had more to say about money than about heaven and hell combined.

I Corinthians 15 highlights the resurrection theme; then immediately in chapter 16 the apostle Paul says, “Now about the collection for God’s people.” Are these two themes discordant? Absolutely not, because it takes resurrection power to get money out of some church members! Finances may be the greatest reflection of resurrection reality at work in a Christian’s life.

The Bible basically says four things about Christian stewardship:

It is total, not partial. Everything you own came from God. What you give is not the only important thing; what you have left is also important. Many Christians feel that when they have given a small percentage of their money to God that they have fulfilled their responsibility, and that they can then do what they want with what they have left. Everything you own came from God, and all of it should be used in ways that honor God.

It is an investment in eternity. II Corinthians 9:6 emphasizes a sowing-reaping analogy. If you sow bountifully, you will reap bountifully; if you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. The choice in both cases is yours. The giving of your money to God is one of the most significant expressions of faith. It helps you build your spiritual stock folio that will reap dividends both here on the earth and in heaven.

It should be regulated by what the New Testament teaches. I Corinthians 16:2 says this: “On the first day of the week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” Two very important things about giving: (1) it is to be very personal, and (2) it is to be systematic. Following this pattern keeps God at the top of your priority list.

Attitude is more important than amount. Mark 12:41 tells of the time when Jesus was in the Temple near the place where worshipers were placing their gifts into the treasury. He called special attention to the widow who only gave her mite (the smallest size coin). He said that in giving her mite, though others would consider it to be very small, she had actually given more than those who gave much larger offerings. It is obvious that Jesus was saying that the attitude in giving is more important than the amount.

Remember this, fellow Christians: When you and I leave this world we will not be able to take any money with us – but by being good stewards we can send it on ahead. You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Your church can fulfil the mission God assigned to it only when it has the participation and support of its members – and that includes financial support. Unfortunately, lots of church members are not good stewards. Let me illustrate this fact by sharing with you one of my brief poems:

I know a lot of Baptists, who have a pious look,
They have been immersed, but not their pocketbook.
They put a few dollars in the plate, and then with might and main,
They sing, “When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain.

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The book Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche sold almost a million copies within a few days of its release. The title, as we approach Father’s Day, raises an interesting question: How should a real man be defined?

First of all, how would God define a real man? One thing is for certain, God’s definition would be a lot different than the world’s definition. The world often defines a real man as having macho – physical strength, boasting, domination, strutting – in other words, the kind of guy who takes charge. Hollywood generally defines a real man as one who chases and conquers one woman after another.

Obviously none of these qualities would be on God’s list. God is looking for men who are authentic and genuine, men who have the strength to resist the tide of public opinion by standing for what is right and against what is wrong. God cannot use men who allow what others believe and do to determine what they believe and do. It takes courage and commitment to stand out above the crowd; it is easy to follow the crowd.

Real men know who they are. Their security doesn’t come from conquests or from drinking alcoholic beverages, but from inner qualities. They are secure because they know the One to whom they belong and seek daily to represent. Their words and actions demonstrate to others that they have chosen to serve God. They do not have to prove themselves to the world. They let their lives speak for who they are.

Real men know the importance of family. They believe that the family is the most important unit in society. They were taught as children to obey and respect their parents. It is within the family that they learned to appreciate the value of every individual. It is why, when they began to be attracted to persons of the opposite gender, they knew how to treat them with respect and dignity. Then, at the proper time, they were prepared to choose a mate and build their own family. The Christian home is the Master’s workshop where the processes of character molding are silently, lovingly, faithfully and successfully developed.

Real men are willing to learn. They know that they do not know all the answers. Those who think they have all the answers just haven’t asked all the questions yet – and in many instances even the right questions. Men who are willing to learn do not stagnate. They keep on growing throughout life.

When real men make mistakes they are able to say, “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” People who are totally unwilling to admit when they are wrong tend to dominate and mistreat people – family members, friends, co-workers, and others. And they wonder why they have difficulty holding onto friends.

Real men always seek to make valuable contributions to the life of the community in which they live. They know that the success of community life depends on each separate member being willing to work in a cooperative effort for the common good of all. They believe that every person, regardless of skin color, economic condition, or political persuasion, was created by God, is therefore important, and has unique contributions to make to the welfare of the whole.

Just as there were not enough real men in the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, there is a shortage of real men in many of our communities today. Real men are not the ones who get most of the attention on television or in newspapers. Still, they are around. God knows who they are – He created them, and is still creating them. If you are a member of the male species, maybe you are a real man. If you aren’t, you can be – with God’s help. Are you willing to let Him?

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June has been a popular month to schedule weddings. When the famous politician and orator William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) was a young man, he went to the home of the father of his prospective bride to ask him for her hand in marriage. Bryan was determined to impress him by quoting from the Bible, and he chose this verse: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). He became more nervous than he already was when the father replied by quoting Paul’s statement: “Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this” (I Corinthians 7:28).

Bryan, who was never at a loss for words, replied: “Sir, Paul had no wife and Solomon had 700. Therefore, I believe Solomon ought to be a better judge as to marriage.” I suspect that both Bryan’s wit and knowledge of Scripture impressed his prospective bride’s father and won his approval. Like every good father, he wanted his daughter to have a Christian marriage and a strong Christian home.

The stability of any nation depends on the stability of its homes. Immorality is attacking every stable institution in our society – especially marriage and the family. Marriages by the millions are unhappy, and many of them are failing. This is the bad news, but the good news is that there are lots of marriages and families that are happy and solid and permanent. So, what makes a marriage – any marriage – Christian?

The Hollywood version portrays marriage primarily as a physical relationship. This is certainly important. When Adam first saw Eve in the Garden of Eden he said, “She is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’” (Genesis 2:23). In today’s terminology what Adam said is: “God, when I look at Eve the only word I can think of to use is, ‘Wow!’ I’m not really excited by the animals You created, but what You have now made by using one of my ribs blows me away.”

I believe the physical aspect of marriage is one of God’s most fantastic ideas. The tragedy is that so many couples see marriage only in terms of the physical. If the physical excitement wanes, they quickly get a divorce. This views marriage as nothing more than a short term option, not as a lifetime contract.

A woman in her seventies in a nursing home said to a man, “You look like my fourth husband.” “I didn’t know you had been married four times,” he replied. To which she said, “I’ve only had three husbands, but you look like my fourth.” A marriage that lasts all the way to the end of life’s highway requires and will be given a daily dose of total commitment by both husband and wife. For example:

  • It will have a commitment to priority. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:31, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” A husband cuts the apron strings from his mother and father in order to become the spiritual leader of his new home.
  • It will have a commitment to fidelity. Many husbands and wives have forgotten that the words in a marriage ceremony say: “As long as we both shall live.” Every marriage will have good times and bad times – and both will surely happen. Many divorces are sought on the so-called grounds of INCOMPATIBILITY. That often means that he doesn’t have enough INCOME and she doesn’t have enough PATABILITY. In order to have a Christian marriage a husband and wife should seek to grow together emotionally and spiritually in such a way that they cannot conceive of life with anyone else.

Strong marriages are made in heaven, but God puts husbands and wives in charge of the daily maintenance. A marriage will last all the way to life’s sunset if Christ is Lord and every day’s agenda is built upon the foundation found in God’s Word. If Christ is Lord and love continues to grow, no mountain will be too high to climb and no valley so deep or dark to walk through all the way to the end of life’s road.

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Pontius Pilate was the Roman procurator in Judea at the time Jesus was brought before Him to be tried. The Jewish leaders had accused Jesus of three crimes. They claimed He was guilty of misleading the nation, that he was opposed to paying Roman taxes, and that he claimed to be a king. All three charges were political charges – the kind that a Roman governor could handle. Pilate was primarily concerned about Jesus claiming to be a king, for this could have been a problem for Rome. He knew that if he dealt with this question properly, he could both please the Jews and impress the Roman Emperor at the same time.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked Jesus. And Jesus replied by saying, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place” (John 18:36). This convinced Pilate that Jesus was not a dangerous revolutionary. Thus, he said, “I find no fault with Him!” And he offered to let Jesus go free.

Since it was the Jewish custom to let one prisoner go free at this Jewish feast Pilate offered to crucify Barabbas rather than Jesus, for he was widely known to be both a robber (John 18:40) and a murderer (Mark 15:7). It was at this point the Jewish rulers said, “If you release this Man, you are not a friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). Pilate could not afford to antagonize Caesar. So, he yielded to the pressure, asked for a pan of water, and washed his hands of the entire affair. He knew what was right, but he refused to do anything about it.

Pilate did not want to see Jesus executed. But he refused to either face the facts or to make an honest decision. By sidestepping the issue he was approving the murder of Jesus. In His teaching Jesus had condemned neutrality in facing life’s issues. He also demonstrated that doing nothing is in itself a decision.

The priest and Levite in the Good Samaritan story illustrate this, and so does the man with one talent who hid it so he didn’t have to decide how to invest it. And in His great judgment parable Jesus condemned the good people who did nothing for the hungry, the naked, the sick, and the prisoners. We who are Christians adopt Pilate’s attitude every time we wash our hands as a way of ignoring what God’s will is for our lives.

We know that it is God’s will for us to attend worship regularly, but we allow other considerations to have greater priority. We know that God has commissioned us to bear witness of our faith to persons around us who need a Savior, but we let it slide. We are aware that the leadership positions in our church must be filled if it is to make a positive impact on our community. But we say things like: “I have too many other things to do to get personally involved” . . . . “Other people have more talent than I do” . . . . “Visiting those who are lost is what we pay our pastor to do.” In other words, we wash our hands and walk away.

Every time we follow the example of Pilate we betray our Lord who came to the earth and took upon Himself our penalty for sin, which is death, so that we might be redeemed. When we fail to let Christ be the Lord of our lives, we betray the One “who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, by being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes we were healed” (I Peter 2:24). Jesus might have washed His hands and walked away from His mission of redeeming mankind. But He was Jesus Christ, and He could not – and would not – do that. He loves each and every single one of us that much.

For those of us who are Christians the point is this: until the worldwide pandemic caused by the coronavirus called Covid-19 is conquered, we should wash our hands regularly. But, when it comes to doing the things our Lord asks us to do in order to serve Him we should not wash our hands and walk away.

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