Love for self is selfishness

If any age of man is the era of selfishness, ours is it. The selfie is our symbol. If Narcissus had his pool of water, we have that ubiquitous extension of our personalities, the smartphone.

In the last letter that has remained from his hand, the apostle Paul warned his son in the faith, Timothy, away from false teachers and manipulators of souls. The entire passage deserves reading, but start with these six verses: Continue reading “Love for self is selfishness”

Money wins — or does it?

Money wins elections, they say. Whoever spends the most takes the seat.

Some men say money wins women, too. The English language has names for women who attach themselves to rich guys.

Even Proverbs recognizes that money wins influence. “A person’s gift makes room for him, and leads him before important people” Proverbs 18.16.

It would almost seem that money wins in religion as well. Continue reading “Money wins — or does it?”

The good authority of Jesus Christ

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Men abuse authority. They enrich themselves with it and oppress others with it. Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, and Castro were infamous in the 20th Century.  Maduro in Venezuela is but one more in the long list of tyrants. Jesus warned his followers, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors’” Luke 22.25. He showed by example how to be different from despots.

Jesus was given all authority on earth and in heaven by the Father, Matthew 28.18. We in the churches of God have long taught on the importance of recognizing Jesus’ authority. We are right to do so. We ought to continue to do it. Continue reading “The good authority of Jesus Christ”

Light from beginning to end

The Bible begins with the creation of light by a word from God, Genesis 1.3. It ends with a mention of the light of God, tying it with the privilege of his people reigning forever: “Night will be no more, and they will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, because the Lord God will shine on them, and they will reign forever and ever” Revelation 22.5.

Light is important as a Bible theme because:

1. God is light, 1 John 1.5

Light comes into being as a result of God’s power. The creation started with light. God spoke and it existed. Its creation before the heavenly bodies speaks to its nature as emanating from God. We speak, rightly so, of the moon not having its own light but only reflecting the light of the sun. Similarly, no heavenly body — sun or stars — has, in one true sense, any light of its own. God put them there. He caused them to exist and to shine. He is the only real source of light. Continue reading “Light from beginning to end”

What it takes to start a new congregation

Note: I published this article almost 15 years ago, on a third-party site, in the early days of Forthright Magazine. We republish it today, with a few tweaks, to give thanks for the Taubaté congregation, to encourage others to preach the gospel in every place, and to remind ourselves as we prepare for yet another church plant in the city of Jacareí.

Next Sunday, we’re beginning a new work in a major city near us, called Taubaté. This city has 250,00 population, with no church there yet.

Three couples of us met there yesterday, in a home, to worship together and plan ahead. I preached on what it takes to start a congregation from Acts 2. Let me encourage you to read this chapter before continuing. Continue reading “What it takes to start a new congregation”

If you are a worker in God’s kingdom

If you are a worker in God’s kingdom, take the long view. Present afflictions, without the perspective of eternity, can be depressing. But knowing the sovereignty of God, we can be sure that he works all things for the accomplishment of his will and the good of his people, Romans 8.28.

As planters and waterers, we may not always see the growth. Sometimes we will, sometimes not. Sometimes the growth may come quickly, at others times slowly or, in our limited sight, not at all. But if God gives the growth, 1 Corinthians 3.7, we may be sure that growth there will be. Patience is key. Continue reading “If you are a worker in God’s kingdom”

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”