If anyone does not love the Lord

If anyone does not love the Lord, a curse be on him. Our Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16.22 CSB.

In the last chapter of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul mentions love three times. The sentence above is the second of the three. The curse on the one who does not love the Lord leaves us perplexed. Why end a letter this way?

First, the sentence is a part of the letter’s end written by Paul’s own hand, v. 21. Somebody (Sosthenes?) served him by writing the letter and at the end he signs it, as was his custom. So here, the force of the sentence is even greater. Continue reading “If anyone does not love the Lord”

The last day of your life

Today is the last day of 2018. The year has been spent. The Lord has been good to give us another year. Already, most people are thinking of the new year and making plans for life and work.

Such plans are good. As long as we include the Lord in our plans, he blesses them, James 4.13-17. Or we might better say, as long as we include our plans in the Lord, for he is sovereign.

For just a moment, however, think of today not as the last day of the year, but the last day of your life. December 31st often gets a bum deal. As the last day, it often gets squeezed out. Everybody is anxious for the new year to arrive. Continue reading “The last day of your life”

The battle for contentment

One of the great battles in the human heart is for contentment. The desire for more or for something different never lurks far away. Satan wants us to feel that what we have now, where we are at present, who we’re with today, is not enough. There are things we ought to possess, experiences we should surely enjoy, knowledge we must have.

The desire for more or for something different is not wrong. It has its proper goal. God himself provides its satisfaction. Heaven fills the heart with truest longing.

But such a desire must be accompanied by patience. The requirement to have it, know it, change it up now, forces the desire into wrong channels. Like Israel that cannot wait for the promised land, it looks back to Egypt, to what was lost, or casts about for that Something that is missing and immediately required. Continue reading “The battle for contentment”

5 gifts parents can give their children

1. LOVE. Because of love parents have compassion for their children, Psalm 103.13. They know how to give good gifts to their children: “Is there anyone among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7.9-11. The apostle Paul speaks of a father’s love for his children. “As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children” 1 Thessalonians 2.11. Parents must learn to die to themselves, to extinguish their own selfishness, so that they might love their children with true love. Continue reading “5 gifts parents can give their children”

Salvation comes by knowledge

It is impossible to do the will of God without knowing the will of God. Salvation comes by knowledge of how to be forgiven of sin. “You will make his people know that they will be saved. They will be saved by having their sins forgiven” Luke 1.77 ICB. God’s grace and peace come to us and are multiplied for us “through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” 2 Peter 1.2.

Salvation does not happen automatically, like the sun rising and setting. So we must put ourselves to the task of learning what salvation is all about. The gospel must be learned, Colossians 1.7. We must “be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is” Ephesians 5.17.

We ought to ask such questions as these: Continue reading “Salvation comes by knowledge”

One minute late

Last Sunday, our time changed here in Brazil on the same date as in the US. That’s unusual. Usually, it occurs before, but was put off a few weeks because of the runoff presidential election last month. The US went off Daylight Savings Time, and Brazil, or much of it anyway, went on. So our time difference from Central Time, where most of our family members are, went, overnight, from two to fours hours.

They say that Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea of DST. Whatever caused this normally practical and good-ideas man to come up with this, we’ll never know. Must have been the same day he dreamed up the post office.

On Sunday Brazil held its country-wide National Exam, which also functions as a college-entrance exam. Some people missed getting in for the exam because we lost an hour. One girl was one minute late, after the gates had been closed, and missed her chance. When the gates close, no pleading will open them. Continue reading “One minute late”

What we need

A person cannot grow in faith and works while distancing himself from the family of God. Christians need each other, 1 Corinthians 12. We belong to one another, Romans 12.5.

Neither can one be saved while neglecting the word of salvation, Ephesians 1.13; James 1.21. God’s power is in the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, Romans 1.16; 1 Thessalonians 1.5. Without the word there is no hope, Psalm 119.74, 81, 114, 147; Romans 15.4.

Whoever has no time for prayer has no time for God. To receive, we must ask, Matthew 7.7-12. “You do not have because you do not ask” James 4.2. Continue reading “What we need”

Serious thoughts on the Faith

Concern for the direction of some churches in some places calls for a stronger feeling of gratitude for those in many locations who hold fast to the true gospel.

Even rational people in religion think it normal to speak of denominations and fail to see themselves in the Bible’s condemnation of divisiveness. They’ve been led to a total disconnect between spiritual truth and their practice.

The one hope of Ephesians 4.4 is summed up by Paul in Romans 5.2: “we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.” For mankind who distanced himself from his glory, Romans 3.23, this is wonderful news. Continue reading “Serious thoughts on the Faith”

God’s action and man’s response

Newton’s third law of physics states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no similar spiritual law at work in God’s plan, since we can never equal his actions. But there is a divine principle that applies about action and reaction: Every action of God deserves a positive and receptive reaction on man’s part.

In the plan of salvation, people have sometimes ridiculed the emphasis on God’s part and man’s part. The two are decidedly unequal. God’s part deals with the procuring or accomplishment of salvation. Man’s part is described by receiving or accepting salvation.

For all that God has done for us, then, something must be done on our part. Salvation is not automatic, nor universal. There are conditions to be met. Something must be done by an individual in order to receive it. Continue reading “God’s action and man’s response”