Hundreds of years before Christ would be born, the prophet Isaiah gave a glimpse of who and what He would be. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Christ was deity and humanity together. John 1:14 tells us, “The Word [Jesus] was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” We call this the incarnation. Jesus was born King of the Jews and Savior of the world.
Isaiah said that He is called wonderful. Jesus was wonderful in His birth (miraculous), wonderful in His life (never sinned), wonderful in His miracles, wonderful in His death, wonderful in His resurrection, wonderful in His ascension, and He will be wonderful in His return.
Isaiah also called Him Counselor. There is no one else who is more able to advise and guide us through this life. He guides us through His Word, His Spirit, and His people.
He is the Mighty God. He is the chief one, the one of strength and power. I think Psalm 46 depicts Him perfectly. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (vs. 1). Just look at His creation, and you see His awesome power.
He is the Everlasting Father—the one who originates and the Father of eternity. He provides everlasting life to those who believe and trust in His beloved Son.
He is the Prince of Peace. Remember what the angels said to the shepherds before they saw Baby Jesus? “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). There have been many cries for peace over the centuries. We do not have peace because man has rejected God’s plan. When Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, there will finally be peace on earth. As individuals, we can have peace in our hearts even in a troublesome world. He promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). When we embrace Jesus as our Savior, He will provide that peace.
Luke 17:11-19 gives us an account of Jesus healing ten lepers. Leprosy was a dreaded disease that not only ravaged the body but placed people in isolation as well. It is considered by some to be a picture of sin. Those who had the disease had to keep their distance from others. When approached, they had to say, “Unclean.”
Jesus told the lepers to go to the priests, which was part of a process of examination. As they went, they were healed. Of the ten, only one returned to thank Jesus. He then asked, “Where are the nine?” (vs. 17).
God has provided so much for us. It is regrettable that many times we do not take time to thank Him. This month we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time we set aside to be thankful. But let’s make sure we are thankful always, not just this month.
Romans 1:21 says, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” It appears that we, as a society, have forgotten to be thankful. People demand their rights and expect to be served rather than serve others.
Scripture mentions thanksgiving in some form or other over 130 times. Here are just a few.
We should be thankful for victory over death (I Cor. 15:55-57).
We should be thankful for God’s provisions (I Tim. 4:3-5).
We should be thankful in everything (I Thess. 5:18).
We should be thankful for everything (Eph. 5:20).
We should be thankful whenever we pray (Phil. 4:6-7).
We should be thankful in the morning and the evening (I Chr. 23:30).
We should be thankful for eternal life, God’s unspeakable gift (II Cor. 9:15).
When we give thanks, we are directing it to someone. It is an acknowledgement of gratitude. Let’s make it a goal to be thankful people.
We live in perilous times. In II Timothy 3:1-5, Paul wrote, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” That is quite a description of our world right now.
What do we do in light of this passage? We are to let our light shine before men so that they see our good works and glorify God in heaven. We are to devote ourselves to prayer and ministering the Word of God. We are called to be salt and light in this dark world.
Here are some things that will hinder our prayers:
1. hiding sin in our hearts – Psalm 66:18
2. mistreating a spouse – I Peter 3:7
3. ignoring the poor – Proverbs 21:13
4. not listening to God’s Word – Proverbs 28:9
5. having an unforgiving spirit – Mark 11:25-26
6. doubting God – James 1:5-7
7. asking with wrong motives – James 4:3
In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we are told to watch and pray. In Ephesians 6, we are instructed to put on the whole armor of God. Part of the armor is “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (vs. 18).
My friends, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think, but He wants us to be part of that by connecting to Him in prayer. We can see how desperately everyone and everything needs prayer. Let’s focus on that this month.
As we see turmoil in our world, we may hear the question “Where is God?” How will you answer that?
We know from Scripture that God is omnipresent. He is everywhere, present at once. He is totally aware of what is going on. Nothing surprises Him. The turmoil in our world is because of the sinfulness of man. We are sinners by nature and choice.
After Adam and Eve had sinned, they attempted to hide from the presence of the Lord. That, my friend, cannot be done. Psalm 139:7 says, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” The psalmist goes on to say that God is everywhere.
At various times, God manifested His presence in special ways, such at the pillar of fire at night and the pillar of cloud by day over the tabernacle. Back in Exodus 33, God promised Moses that His presence would go with him and give him rest. Moses replied, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence” (vs. 15). Moses understood the importance of having God’s presence in his life. We too should have that understanding. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
Being in God’s presence can produce fullness of joy according to Psalm 16:11. Being in God’s presence should also produce a reverence for Him. Psalm 114:7 says, “Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob.” Zephaniah 1:7 states, “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand: for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.”
We have a choice. We can spend time in His presence through prayer and by being in His Word. If we do not develop a relationship with Him now, we can be assured that when His presence is manifested at the time of His return, we will be in trouble.
Take time to develop an intimate relationship with the Father who loves you. Thank Him for being your Creator, Redeemer, Saviour, Intercessor, and Friend.
The Gospels tell us that Peter denied the Lord three times. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and invited them to eat with Him. He then addressed Peter individually. He asked Peter whether he loved Him. That was a very penetrating question. How would we respond if Jesus asked us that same thing?
In the Old Testament, there were 613 commands. Some had to do with moral conduct, some dealt with ceremonial issues, and some with social issues. When Jesus was questioned about what was the greatest commandment, He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). He meant that for all His followers. I wonder how many of us really love God those ways. What does that look like in everyday life?
The word “heart” is mentioned 830 times in Scripture. It often refers to the seat of our feelings, or affection. Do we love God with our emotions? The word “soul” is mentioned over 450 times. It can refer to the intersection of intellect, emotion, and will. Do we choose to love God? The word “mind” is found 95 times and refers to our thinking process. What do we think about God? How often do we think about God? Are our thoughts based on God’s revelation in His Word? Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. The word “strength” is found 242 times. It means our power, might, or ability. It involves our energy. How much energy do we put into our relationship with God? Those are the kinds of questions we should be asking ourselves on a daily basis.
How do you know whether a person loves God? Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). A person who loves God lives in obedience to His holy Word. He enjoys spending time with God and in His Word. He also bears fruit and ministers to others.
Let’s make loving God our most important priority.
Summer is fast approaching. That means warm weather, vacations, outside activities, and, of course, many fond memories.
Years ago for several summers, I worked for a friend, baling hay in northern Georgia. The heat and humidity were very high. It made for some long, hard days. Hay stuck to all parts of my body. It was refreshing to get home, take a shower, eat supper, and sit down with a large glass of ice water.
The word “refresh” means to restore strength, to replenish or revive, and to be agreeably stimulated. The Bible gives us some examples of people who refreshed others.
In Romans 15:32, Paul said that he and the believers in Rome had been refreshed. It appears that this refreshment was a result of answered prayer and a fruitful ministry. As Christians, we should always make it a goal to refresh our fellow servants in the Lord by praying for them and their ministries.
First Corinthians 16:18 tells us that some men arrived in Corinth and ministered to Paul. As a result, people were refreshed in their spirits. Maybe we can help refresh some people by stepping in and helping them with ministry. Sometimes just our physical presence can make a positive difference!
In II Corinthians 7:13, Paul mentioned that Titus was refreshed by the believers in Corinth because they accepted him (even though they seemed to have been apprehensive). We can refresh some believers simply by receiving them into our fellowship. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted, not judged, criticized, or excluded.
In II Timothy 1:16, Paul talked about Onesiphorus. He refreshed Paul often when he sought him out in prison and ministered to him. We can refresh others especially by helping them when they are in difficult situations.
Philemon was a friend of Paul’s and had labored together with him. He had refreshed many believers through his life of faith and love (Phm. 1:7). The word “bowels” in the King James Bible is a reference to the internal organs, which is a metaphor for tenderness and compassion. Some versions translate the word as “heart.” In verse 20, Paul wanted Philemon to refresh him by accepting back his runaway slave. We can refresh others by forgiving those who have wronged us and having an understanding of things they believe are important.
Let me encourage you to look for opportunities to refresh others throughout this month!
At the end of April this year, I contracted Covid. I am blessed compared to many who have battled the virus. Sadly, I know people who passed away because of it and several who spent months in the ICU. For two weeks, I had no strength, and I experienced what people call brain fog. My doctor sent me in for an infusion and assured me that that would keep me out of the hospital. I did not lose taste or smell, but I really had no appetite. I think I lost about fifteen pounds.
During this time, I slept a lot and rested as much as possible. It brought to mind II Corinthians 12:9-10: “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
All the employees at Union Gospel Press prayed for me, but they had to carry on without me. All of us can be replaced. I am thankful that I have the privilege of serving the Lord at an awesome Christian company, but I realize that someday I will be replaced. It makes me see the reality that people come and go, but the work of God continues.
First, let me encourage you to learn to rely on the Lord alone in every situation you face. He does not want you to stand on your own strength. Second, be faithful serving wherever you are until the Lord determines that it is time for you to step down.
Union Gospel Press is beginning a new month at a new location! Moving a business is quite a task, and many hands helped to make it happen in a short period of time. Because of the move, I was involved in many different tasks and did not have this month’s post as a high priority item. Please accept my apologies.
April brings springlike weather and also the glorious celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the most important event in the history of mankind.
Paul talks about the importance of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15. He begins by telling us that the gospel involves the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He mentions that over five hundred people saw Jesus after the resurrection, including the apostles. Paul goes on to make a series of statements about what would happen if Jesus did not rise from the dead.
1. If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christ is not risen (vs. 13).
2. If Christ is not risen, our preaching is vain, as well as our faith (vs. 14).
3. If Christ is not risen, we are false witnesses (vs. 15).
4. If Christ is not risen, our faith is vain, and we are still in our sins (vs. 17).
5. If Christ is not risen, those who died have perished (vs. 18).
6. Without the resurrection, we have no hope and are miserable (vs. 19).
Thank God that Jesus did rise from the dead!
Springtime speaks of resurrection. We have life in Christ! Let us rejoice, not just at Easter time but all year long. Every Sunday should be a reminder of the resurrection and what Jesus has done for us.
The Bible speaks about the mouth, the tongue, and speech many times. In fact, combining all the related words equals more than 845 times. Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that life and death are in the power of the tongue.
Words communicate. Through them we express anger, love, truth, lies, and many more emotions.
As believers, our words should glorify God and edify others. I saw a sign that pointed out some questions about what we choose to say. Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Those are great questions to ask ourselves before we speak.
Proper words are words of value and beauty. Here are some quality verses from Proverbs to ponder before we begin each day:
“The words of the pure are pleasant words” (15:26).
“Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right” (16:13).
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (vs. 24).
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (25:11).
As we interact with people, speak about ourselves, or even talk about things around us, it would be wise to pray the prayer the psalmist did in Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Is God pleased with my words? Let’s ask ourselves that question each day.
February is often noted for Valentine’s Day—a day to celebrate love and romance. People buy flowers and candy for their loved ones. Couples go out for a nice meal.
We hear much about loving with all our heart. Well, the Scriptures admonish us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I don’t know about you, but I fall short on that command.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Proverbs 28:26 tells us that he who trusts “in his own heart is a fool.” How do we solve this problem?
We must recognize that we are sinners by nature and choice. The Bible talks about evil hearts of unbelief, hardened hearts, prideful hearts, and several other kinds of hearts. Once we realize our lost condition, we acknowledge our sins and repent and trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Romans 10:9-10 tells us, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
The heart of man is his inner being. Some say it is the intersection of the emotions, intellect, and will.
Proverbs 4:23 warns us to guard our hearts, for “out of [them] are the issues of life.” We can guard our hearts by staying in God’s Word, praying daily, being active in our churches, and being accountable to others in the body of Christ.
Let’s work on loving God throughout this month.
Christmas brings up different images in our hearts and minds. To some it is about Santa Claus, reindeer, and presents. To others it is about friends, family, and giving. There are also folks who do not have good memories about the holiday season because of abuse and a bad home life.
Matthew and Luke give the accounts of the birth of Christ. His birth was prophesied in Micah 5:2, and we are told that He would be born in Bethlehem. Isaiah 7:14 tells us that He would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel. Matthew 1:23 quotes this verse and adds that His name means “God with us.”
Luke gives details about Mary being chosen by God to bear the Christ Child. He shares the announcement to the shepherds and how they went to see the Saviour. The angel told the shepherds that his tidings were good and of great joy to all the people.
As we contemplate the birth of Jesus, we should be lost in wonder. God became man. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. The sad thing is that when He came to His own, they did not receive Him. That is still true today. There are millions of people in our world who ignore Him or flat out reject Him.
Jesus lived a sinless life, worked miracles, and demonstrated compassion on the multitudes. In spite of that, He was despised and rejected by men.
This Christmas, please take some time to reflect on Jesus, the precious gift of God. He was born to die. He died to satisfy the righteous demands of the Holy God. As He hung on the cross, He said, “It is finished.” Sin was paid for, and God was satisfied. Now He offers us eternal life when we acknowledge our sin, turn from it, and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour.
If you do not know Him, today is a great time to trust in Him. If you do know Him, please share Him with others during this Christmas season.
When November rolls around each year, we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving. In 2020 many around the world will be uncertain whether they can celebrate with friends and family. Sadly, we are in a pandemic.
Scripture has much to say about being thankful. What does it actually mean to be thankful? It is an expression of gratitude or joyfulness to someone. The Word of God tells us multiple times to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. As believers, we should always be expressing our gratitude to God. He is our Creator, Provider, Redeemer, Saviour, Lord, Shepherd, Friend, and so much more. He deserves our thanks.
Jesus gave thanks to the Father before He distributed the loaves and fish to the disciples to give to the crowd. He expressed thanks to God when initiating communion with the disciples.
In the New Testament, Paul was thankful for the saints in the local churches (Phil. 1:3; Eph. 1:16). Colossians 3:15 tells us to “let the peace of God rule in [our] hearts, . . . and be thankful.” First Thessalonians 5:18 says we should be thankful in all things. Why should we be thankful in all things? Because God has allowed things in our lives (good and bad) to conform us to the image of His Son.
Let’s make a special effort to be thankful this month, even in the midst of trying times. He wants us to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him, and bless His name” (Ps. 100:4).
Trials, troubles, and tragedy—if we live long enough, we will most likely encounter one or more of these situations in our life. How will we respond?
Thankfully, we have God’s Word to turn to. Let’s take a few minutes and see what God has to say about peace when we experience difficulties.
- THE SOURCE OF PEACE – The source is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In Romans 5:1, Paul tells us that when we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God. That is the starting point. When we acknowledge our sin, repent, and trust Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are declared righteous before God. The result is peace. Ephesians 2:14 says that “he [Christ] is our peace.” In John 14:27 and 16:33, Jesus tells us that He gives us His peace. The apostle Paul lists peace as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22.
- THE BEGINNING OF PEACE – It begins at salvation (Rom. 5:1). Thirty-six times in the New Testament grace and peace are mentioned together. How do we receive grace? God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (I Pet. 5:5). When we acknowledge our sin, we are humbled.
- THE LEVELS OF PEACE –It is a gift. God blesses us with peace (Ps. 29:11).
- It is a gift. God blesses us with peace (Ps. 29:11).
- It involves personal responsibility. We are to seek it (I Pet. 3:11).
- It is perfect or complete when we fix our mind on the Lord and trust Him (Isa. 26:3).
- It should call the shots, or rule, our life. To rule means to umpire or decide (Col. 3:15).
- It is experienced if we love God’s Word (Ps. 119:165).
- It is based on being spiritually minded (Rom. 8:6).
- It surpasses understanding and involves prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. Paul wrote these inspiring words from a prison cell (Phil. 4:6-7).
May the Lord help us all to experience this kind of peace.
We often hear people expressing that they are offended about certain things happening in our world today. Everyone is offended by someone or something. That is part of our human nature. In all of these discussions it is amazing that many people don’t seem to care whether God is offended by anything.
We find the word “abomination” in Scripture quite often. There are a few Hebrew and Greek words translated “abomination.” Sometimes it means something that stinks or is loathsome. It can also mean something that brings resentment or indignation. Often the word is tied to anything having to do with idolatry. There are a number of things that God detests or that offend His holy character.
The writer of Proverbs says that dishonesty is an abomination to God. See Proverbs 11:1 and 20:10, 23.
As believers, we should understand that we serve a merciful and forgiving God, but He is also holy and will not tolerate sin. Look at Proverbs 6:16-19. God detests pride, lying, shedding innocent blood, devising wicked imaginations, running to mischief (talking about evil), being a false witness, and sowing discord among brethren.
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 both describe that sexual intimacy must be between a man and a woman. God says, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” Check out Genesis 19.
In Deuteronomy 22:5, God says that if men are trying to look like women and women are trying to look like men, it is an abomination.
May we be more concerned about offending the holy God than about offending merely people.
July 8, 2020
In recent months it seems like our world is falling apart. It is important as God’s children that we remember what we are told in God’s Word. We are instructed to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Why is that important?
Because that is how the world will know we are truly His disciples. Thirteen times we are instructed to love one another. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
When we love each other with self-sacrificial love (agape love), we should be unified. In Psalm 133:1 it says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
Unity is oneness. It is not uniformity. There are various opinions about church government, end times, modes of baptism and various themes in scripture. We need to focus on what we agree about is scripture, not what we disagree about. We agree on the inspiration of scripture, the virgin birth and deity of Christ, salvation, and the basic fundamentals of the faith.
“Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:3-6
Let’s work on these truths together and show the world that Jesus is real.
June 10, 2020
Last week we had a meeting with our employees. The shutdown of businesses for weeks impacted our sales. Churches were closed and, as a result, Sunday school also was not available unless churches had online capabilities. These truly are unprecedented times. How should we respond as believers in Christ? We must not lose our focus. I shared with our working family several verses.
“For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the SCRIPTURES might have HOPE” (Romans 15:4). Hope in the scriptures is not wishful thinking, but a confident expectation. The word “hope” is used 129 times in the Bible.
“Now the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in HOPE, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13. That is my prayer for each employee, each customer, and each person in our world. This cannot happen if people do not know Jesus Christ. That is part of our purpose here at Union Gospel Press. We want people to know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him.
During these troublesome times, make sure you stay close to Him and spend some extra time in His Word and grow in your HOPE.