What Does It Take to Be An American Man?

There are so many ways to be an American man. Rich, poor, patriotic, traitorous, caring, uncaring, proud, humble. But there is only one true way to be a Christian. A man who is a Christian is the image of the Master in his speech, attitudes, benevolence and actions of all sorts.

Paul would say that he found contentment in whichever state he was in. The Christian man also finds that he can be faithful to God no matter his surroundings (Philippians 4:11). If one chooses to be a Christian he has no choice but to follow Jesus’ example, in all he does (Matthew 16:24-26). There truly is no better way to live than as a Christian. Why not choose to walk with the Master today?

Don’t Go Too Far

“I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another”

1 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)

Is there a more direct command to obey the Lord’s command carefully. We can’t add to it and be pleasing to Him. Let’s remember what Paul also wrote:

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”

Colossians 3:17

Clearly, we must have God’s authorization for all we do in life especially when it comes to religious thinking and action. Let’s never go beyond what God has authorized or come short of it either.

God can authorize in three ways:

1) Direct Command/statement – “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” Matthew 6:33. If I am going to be pleasing to God then I must seek Him and His righteousness. By the way, the Bible tells us that all of God’s commands are righteousness (Ps 119:172). Another simple command is to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Th 5:21). Prove means to ascertain what you are doing to see if it meets God’s approval.

2) Implication or Necessary Inference – God doesn’t have to spell every command out to the smallest degree. He gave the ability to discern, apply wisdom and knowledge to infer from a statement what He implies. A very simple example of this is when Paul taught that it was okay to pay a preacher (1Co 9:9-10). Note that He goes to the Old Testament command to feed your livestock where he quotes Deuteronomy 35:4. A farmer is bound to feed or not muzzle the ox that is working for him. Paul shows that if God cares for oxen he much more cares for a person who is devoting his time to the Lord’s work for man.

3) Example – One of the ways God helps us learn His will is to show us how to do it. In regards to the Lord’s supper He showed us in Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread” again 1 Corinthians 16:2 “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” Here we have apostolic approval and teaching of when we are to gather to take the Lord’s Supper. Wisdom and common sense must be used to see that God approves of this example.

We also can learn easily what is approved by God for the Lord’s supper emblems; the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread (1Co 11:23-26). Through example and by implication that we must meet each Sunday to observe the Lord’s Supper consisting of grape juice and unleavened bread.

Adding to or taking away from what God commands is a dangerous activity. He tells us that our names will be removed from the “lamb’s book of life” and the “plagues recorded therein will be added to them” (Rev 22:18-19).

Joseph D Chase
North Loop
Church of Christ

Sin Will Take You Farther Than You Want To Go

Some of us never take advice from others. It seems we have to experience things in order to learn from the mistakes. That might be fine in some areas of life but not when it comes to spiritual concerns.

The devil and sin are truly the worst enemies we can face. Just a brief encounter with them can capture us and never let us go. The pleasures of sin are fleeting but their consequences are eternal. Isaiah taught that, “sin separates us from God” (Isaiah 59:1). That was demonstrated for us with Adam and Eve. How many sins did they have to commit to lose their fellowship with God and the joys of Eden? Just one!

Peter tells us that Satan is a hungry lion hunting those who can devour (1 Peter 5:8) He wants to kill and destroy (John 10:10). He will steal your soul and ravage everything about your life, in the end he will take you to hell for an eternity (Luke 16).

God on the other hand sent Jesus to “give us life to the fullest” (John 10:10). He wants to set us free from the bonds of sin and death (Romans 8:2), gifting us with joy and blessings beyond our imagination (Ephesians 1:3). Heaven will be worth every sacrifice we make to avoid living a sinful life.

Please don’t give even one opportunity to the devil to take control of you. Instead give your life to God through obedience to Him.

There is some good advice in this old gospel song.

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go,
Slowly, but wholly, taking control,
Sin will leave you longer than you want to stay,
Sin will cost you far more than you want to pay”

Let’s follow the Lord and stay far from the devil.

Joseph D. Chase
North Loop Church of Christ

Thank God For His Wondrous Grace

God’s blessings for us surpass the imagination. His mercy abounds even when we were sinners and enemies of His (Ja 4:4; Ro 5:6,8). Paul describes our miserable condition in Ephesians chapter two. We were once dead in sin (1), walked with the prince of the power of the air (2), controlled by our lusts (3), children of wrath (3), without God, separated from Christ, without hope (11-12). Quite a miserable condition with no way to fix it by ourselves.

Yet, God in His immeasurable kindness loved us (4), set us free (5), and raised us up to be seated with Him in heavenly places (6).

The old hymn “What Wondrous Love is This” captures the wonderful love of the Lord toward us.

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!”

I don’t know why God loves us this much, but I am so glad that He does! The wonderful grace of God through faith and the blood of Jesus puts us into the “beloved” (Ep 1:6). So blessed are we (1:3), that we are now God’s people (2:19). We are even steady pillars in God’s temple (2:20-22).

Let us loud the grace, mercy and kindness of our God who loved us so much to save us while we were yet sinners (Ro 5:8). Let us tell the world about His love and make disciples and fellow heirs of the Kingdom (Mt 28:19-20).

Have you told someone today?

Joseph D. Chase
North Loop Church of Christ
Gladewater, Texas 75647

Has the devil and your preacher deceived you?

Many people believe that God has chosen certain people to be saved and others to be eternally lost. That doctrine is called “Predestination.” This doctrine teaches that God’s grace is only for certain individuals and they will be saved no matter what they do. It teaches that the opposite of that is true as well, no matter what you do if you are not chosen you can do nothing to obtain God’s mercy and salvation.

The doctrine of Calvinism removes man’s free will from the process of salvation. This runs counter to what the Bible clearly teaches. Notice that Peter proclaims that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). And, Paul said that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). God has not predetermined (i.e., predestined) who will be saved or lost (Ez. 18:19-32; 33:12-20). I must choose to come to the Lord through belief and obedience.

Our Lord came to seek and save those who are lost (Mt 18:11). He even invites ALL men to enter His eternal rest (Re 22:17). He did not limit His love and mercy for a “predestined” group of people that already had God’s grace and salvation forced upon them.

Notice John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Whoever believes means just what it says anyone who believes will be saved. Belief means that we not only accepting that Jesus exists but accepting and obeying the things He commands (Luke 6:46; James 2:14-26). You can’t believe in Jesus without being obedient to His commandments.

Calvinism imputes God as cruel and merciless. Why would God allow a person to be born only to be eternally lost? That is not the God of the Bible. Our God loved us so much that He died for us when we deserve it the least.

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The Good Shepherd

I love the tender relationship a shepherd has for his sheep. Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd in John 10. He makes these wonderful provisions for us as our kind and loving shepherd.

He is our protector from thieves, robbers and strangers. The wicked one is doing everything he can to steal your soul away from God. Jesus tells us that the devil uses evil men to do his work (Matthew 23:15).

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

Yes, there is great danger is this world so we must listen carefully to the Master’s voice. He guides us by the truth (John 8:32).

Jesus protects us from hirelings. These are those who tend the flock only for self gain. They don’t care for the sheep and leave when the sheep need protection and care the most. They are like the shepherds that Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 34:1-6.

He protects them from the wolf who are trying to destroy the flock. Jesus warns about these wolves in sheep clothing (Matthew 7:15; Luke 6:43-45). Paul warned the Ephesian elders of the dangers of these wicked teachers who want to destroy the flock (Acts 20:29).

Jesus gives his protection by blocking the entrance to the safe sheepfold. He made it impossible for evil to harm the sheep by hindering their ability to reach the sheep. He also keeps the sheep from going out and becoming prey to the wolves. There is wisdom in staying where the Lord puts us. We want to abide in Christ by obeying His voice.

Are you safe in the fold of Jesus? If not today is the day to begin following the Good Shepherd. You can start right now by obeying His voice. Jesus spells out in the New Testament exactly how to enter His church which is the sheepfold.

Notice these simple commands given by Jesus: We must hear His gospel (Romans 10:17), We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24). We must turn from our sins to living as Jesus directs (Luke 13:3). We must confess Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10). Then we must be immersed for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). That puts us into the body of Christ where we must remain faithfully until we die (Revelation 2:10).

If we do leave the fold we will lose our saftey in Christ. The devil will destroy us outside of Christ, so we must come back into the fold. Fortunately, Jesus as the Good Shepherd seeks us diligently to bring us back (Matthew 18:12ff). Come home to Jesus now!

Does God View All Sins Equally? Are Some Sins More Grievous Than Others?

Is all sin equal in the mind of God? I’ve heard this taught and even believed it to be true most of my life. I do believe that all kinds of sins will condemn us and separate us from God if we do not repent of it. However, not all sins are equal in their degree of wrongness, effect or severity of God’s justice against it.

Please note these passages that lead me to understand that God views some sins more grievous and harmful than others:

John 19:11 (NKJV)
Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Here, the Lord Himself says that one sin is a “greater sin.” That passage alone could settle the question but the Bible has more to say.

2 Timothy 3:13 (NKJV) But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

Paul is saying that men can become worse sinners and do worse sins. If all sins are equal how could one grow worse?

Psalm 19 addresses 2 Types of sins, secret and presumptuous. Secret Sin is done in ignorance while presumptuous is done with full knowledge that it is evil but one choses to do it any way.

Psalm 19:13 (NKJV)
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

The presumptuous sin is the GREAT transgression. It is as though I am shaking my fist in God’s face and saying “I don’t care what You say or how much you despise what I am doing I’m going to do it anyway.” God sees this as more serious in His sight than sin done in ignorance.

Proverbs 6:16 (NKJV)
These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

What is the point in this passage? If all sins are equal in God’s sight what is the writer saying here? He is saying that here are seven sins that are particularly evil in God’s eyes.

Exodus 32:30 (NKJV)
Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.”

Moses here categorizes the sin of idolatry as a “great” sin.

1 Samuel 2:22–24 (NKJV)
Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 23 So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. 24 No, my sons! For it is not a good report that I hear. You make the Lord’s people transgress.

Here again, the Bible makes a difference between a sin against men and a sin against God showing that one is more serious than the other.

1 John 5:16 (NKJV)
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.

And again the Bible does show there are different types and degrees of sin.

2 Peter 2:20 (NKJV)
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

Notice the latter end of this person is worse than the beginning. This person has sinned worse having known the way of escape and returned to it. Why would God punish one more harshly than the other if all sins are equal?

1 Timothy 5:8 (NKJV)
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Here, Paul points out that an unbeliever is lost but a Christian who does not provide for his own is worse than that unbeliever.

If we think about the Justice of God it would demand that he punish sins that offend Him more greatly would be punished more severely. It doesn’t paint a righteous picture of God to say that a person who horrifically abuses a child be punished the same as one who steals a candy bar at the local grocery store. The Bible has taught us that mistreatment of innocents and widows is particularly offensive to the justice of God.

Joseph D. Chase
Based on an Article by Don Blackwell

Important Things To Decide

Psalm 139:13–16 (ESV)
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Jeremiah 1:4–5 (ESV)
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Luke 1:15 (ESV)
15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.

Luke 1:41 (ESV)
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,

James 2:26 (ESV)
26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Questions for thought

Does the spirit come into a baby “fetus” at conception or is the “fetus” dead?

Why does the Bible use the same word for children in the womb and those who are already born (Lk 1:41; 1Pt 2:1-2)

Is there any indication from the Bible that the spirit is placed in babies before birth or after birth?

Does a mother’s “right over her own body” supersede the “right of a child to be born”?
At what point can we say that a potential human has the right to live?

Here is an online Greek Dictionary of New Testament words for the word BREPHOS used in Luke 1:41 and 1 Peter 2:1-2.  

The Church Is Part Of God’s Eternal Purpose

It is truly impossible to separate the church from Christ. Christ showed us the importance of the church through the following…

  • Jesus came preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand (Matt. 4:17).
  • He foretold that He would build His church (Matt. 16:18).
  • He taught about the church in those parables referred to as “the kingdom” parables.
  • He died and shed His blood to purchase the church (John 19:30; Acts 20:28).
  • He rose and ascended to the right hand of God and was given a kingdom (Dan. 7:13-14).
  • That kingdom came into existence on Pentecost Day following our Lord’s resurrection (Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4). This was the day that obedient men and women were added by the Lord to the church (Acts 2:47).
  • One day, He will return and will receive His bride (Rev. 21:2).

None can say the church is not part of God’s redemption plan for mankind. It is in the church that the manifold wisdom of God is shown (Ephesians 3:10). The church is the bride of Christ and he is coming to take her home to heaven when He returns the next time (2 Corinthians 11:2). I need to be a member of the body which is the church in order to be part of the bride of Christ (Colossians 1:18).

Are you a part of the body of Christ? There is only one way to become a part of the body and that is to be baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27). Before you are a proper candidate for baptism you must believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16), repent of your sins (Acts 2:38). After baptism we must remain faithful unto Jesus until we die (Revelation 2:10).

Prayer Is Important to Jesus It Should Be to Us Too!

Jesus taught us by example how important prayer is. Jesus seems to be constant in prayer. He prayed alone (Mt 14:23; Mk 1:35; Lk 9:18; 22:39-41). He prayed in public (Jn 11:41-42; 12:27-30). He prayed before meals (Mt 26:26; Mk 8:6; Lk 24:30; Jn 6:11). He prayed before making decisions (Lk 6:12-13), before healing (Mk 7:34-35), after healing (Lk 5:16). He prayed to do His Father’ will (Mt 21:22).

Jesus also taught how important prayer is for people (Mt 21:22; Mk 11:24-26; Mt 7:7-11; Lk 11:9-13; Jn 14:13-14; Jn 15:7,16; Jn 16:23-24; Mt 5:44; Lk 6:27-28; Mt 6:5-15. He gave us an example of things to pray for Lk 11:2-4; Mt 18:19-20).

It is interesting that in His parables He spoke of a persistent widow (Lk 18:1-8), who actually pestered an unkind judge regarding an injustice done against her. That unjust judge was moved by the widow’s persistence. Jesus reminds us that we have a just and kind Heavenly Father who wants to grant us our needs. Our prayers should be often and specific. God wants to help us to be successful in our journey through life.

Jesus taught on another occasion about a man who was persistent and ardent in his requests to a friend a midnight (Lk 11:5-13). Jesus was illustrating the need for persistence in our communication with God.

How persistent are we in our prayers? Have we lost heart and stopped praying like we should with fervor and faith? Take a moment and think of all the trials we will face from beginning of day to bedtime. We will face the devil and his dastardly ways over and over. We need to stay close to the Father for strength and comfort. Think of how many blessings you will be receiving through out the day, shouldn’t we be on our knees in gratitude for each one? Think of the many opportunities that God will send our way so we may serve Him. Shouldn’t we ask His help to see them and meet them faithfully? Think of how many people are suffering, health, injustice, hatred, strife, hurts and burdens, we must take them before the Father as well.