By Johnny O. Trail — He was the most powerful leader in the world at that time. His nation was incredibly wealthy with a powerful standing military that had no rival. The nation he ruled was at the pinnacle of the civilized world. In addition to its art and culture, the architecture of its empire is still studied and marveled at today.
Even though his association with God’s people caused him to prosper, he did not know who God was. Exodus 5:2 says, “And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” In spite of these things, they were destined to be defeated by the slaves they exploited for labor and profit.
Continue reading “Moses, Pharoah and God”
The rich, as a rule, love their riches. Jesus observed how difficult it is for the rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, Matthew 19.23. As well, many saints, whose eyes are impressed by wealth, give preference to the more well-off in life.
Therefore, it is necessary that we all, as brothers and sisters who love each other without prejudice or conditions, hear again the word of God, which discounts completely the possessions that a person has, for “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” Luke 12.15. Continue reading “Christians still prefer the rich. How crazy is that?!”
In the lips of him that hath discernment wisdom is found; But a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding (Proverbs 10:13, ASV).
By Ron Thomas — The words of this proverb are not hard to understand. Wisdom comes from only one of two sources. The source of wisdom is either from God or not-God. There are no other options. Continue reading “Two sources of wisdom: God or not-God”
Theologians make their fine distinctions and hard classifications. They like the old idea of taking one thing at a time. They consider God’s holiness, then move on to his love. Such an approach is probably acceptable, as far as it goes.
The various and wonderful aspects of God’s nature and personality are a single unit. Westerners like to break things down into their component units. The ancient Hebrews, however, liked to pull things together, considering them as a whole. The former group excels in analysis; the latter, in synthesis.
When it comes to the one true God, the Hebrew approach recommends itself. If God is one, his nature partakes of that oneness. Continue reading “God judges because he loves”
Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions (Proverbs 10:12, ASV).
By Ron Thomas — I have come to understand we live in a society that hardly knows the meaning of the word racism, just like they hardly know the meaning of the word hate. Without giving attention to the first word, let us give attention to the second.
The word hate has broad application in Scripture; it can be associated with intense dislike, coupled with animosity to something not so intense. Continue reading “Hate and love”
By Johnny O. Trail — At the close of World War II, there was some concern that Japan would not surrender. Hiroshima and Nagasaki had already been devastated by atomic bombs, and America continued to bomb various regions of Japan as the USA prepared a third nuclear bomb. To further encourage the Japanese to surrender, Americans dropped pamphlets from airplanes.
When the Japanese emperor, Hirohito, came on broadcast radio to announce the surrender, it was the first time that many of his subjects had ever heard his voice. Many of Hirohito’s followers believed he was a “demi-god.”/1 Some who heard him surrender to the Americans were hearing the voice of their “god” for the very first time.
For a moment, one might consider what it means to truly hear the voice of God. Continue reading “The voice of God”
By Ron Thomas — I have always been interested in learning from where church denominations came from. As I was looking through some church history books, I came across a section in the book, Church History in Plain Language (3rd edition, 2008), by Bruce Shelley. In the section “The Idea of Denominations” (pp. 306-308) there is a brief discussion on how the concept of denominations came into being in a religious context. It took root in the 17th century, then grew in the 18th and following centuries. Why did it come into existence in the first place?
“The Reformers [Protestant Reformation leaders, RT] had planted the seeds of the denominational theory of the church when they insisted that the true church can never be identified in any exclusive sense with a particular institution” (p. 307).
Continue reading “Where did church denominations come from?”
By Johnny O. Trail — It seems that most people tend to display those things that they are most convicted about on the back of their cars. As one who reads everything, bumper stickers spark a great curiosity in me. Many bumper stickers contain humorous and witty sayings. Some of their messages are very good in content and design. Other messages leave one scratching their head wondering why any reasonable person could place such garbage on a car that would have otherwise maintained its re-sale value very nicely.
On the way to Nashville last week, this writer noticed a bumper sticker on a car that read, “Tree Lover, Dirt Worshipper.” The other stickers on the back of the vehicle were not much better in the message being conveyed. This bumper sticker reflects a decidedly pagan view of deity as reflected in the false religions of the Old and New Testament. We have come to think more of the creation than the creator. Romans 1.25 says, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” This view is supported by a nation that has “gone green” to protect the environment at all costs. Continue reading “The bumper sticker says it all”
By Johnny O. Trail — Mickey and Linda were married for around 60 years./1 Linda was immersed into Christ from an early age, but Mickey was not a member of the church. For many, many years she and others patiently prayed for him and engaged him in various Bible studies.
When I started at the congregation where Mickey and Linda attended, I was blessed to become friends with them early in the work. Since my grandmother’s maiden name was “Jacobs” and Linda’s was too, I always called her “Cousin” when she came into the building. As I watched them over the 10 years that I was a part of their congregation, their love for one another was very apparent. There was always a twinkle in his eyes and in hers when they were together. Still, she had a persistent fear—”would Mickey obey the gospel before his life was over?” Continue reading “Nine steps and 45 minutes to salvation”
By Johnny O. Trail — The book of Judges offers some interesting history about the Israelites and the relationship they had with the Philistines. Samson had humiliated the Philistines by destroying their standing crops with fire. Since Dagon was a god of grain, this was a direct challenge to their deity. The biblical text says in Judges 15.4-5,
“And Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took firebrands, and turned tail to tail, and put a firebrand in the midst between two tails. And when he had set the brands on fire, he let them go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards and olives.”
This outrage was swiftly answered by the Philistines. They sought out Samson at Etim and asked the Israelites where he might be found: Continue reading “Have we surrendered?”