• Foundational Scriptures

    We talk frequently about being disciples and making disciples. The gospel tells men of the good news of salvation, and yet many do not accept the invitation to be Christians. The following foundational scriptures define the nature of the disciple.

    Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they wor- shiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:16-20).

    Discipleship is not an option like choices in a cafeteria. Jesus, speaking with heavenly authority, says he wants all men to be His followers. Something is lacking in all of us if we do not desire to be his children. Discipleship is open to all, but not all accept. Jesus says being a child of God depends on obedience (including baptism). Furthermore, being a follower of Christ means we obey all His commands as they are given.

    For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Rom 8:29)

    In becoming disciples, we are conformed to His image; we be- come Christ-like. Obedience in baptism allows us entrance into he family of the redeemed and makes us brothers to Christ. Earlier in the chapter (8:12), Paul says we become heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. In Christ we have redemption, forgiveness and the inheritance of a heavenly home (Eph. 1:3-14).

    All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt 11:27- 30).

    Jesus offers to be our guide and instructor. He simultaneously offers us rest. If you’ve ever tried to learn a new language or skill, or tried to change a habit, you know it is hard work. Ironically, Jesus offers us rest while he helps us with the work of transforming our lives! Furthermore, becoming and being a disciple takes no special intelligence, high level of secular education or worldly wisdom. If we come to Him with simple open minds and soft hearts, Christ will reveal the Father to us.

    Considering these passages, it’s puzzling why everyone doesn’t want to be a true disciple!

  • Hearing and Doing

    Therefore, put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (Jas 1:21-25)

    Receiving the word of God is an important step in becoming and being a disciple of His.  One who would be pleasing to God must be willing to receive the word with purity and in humility. But as important as receiving God’s word may be, it is a worthless venture if we do not obey it!  Obedience is the most fundamental requirement of God.  Obedience is doing the word of God.

    God draws an unmistakable line between saints and sinners.  Listen to the apostle John.  “Whoever practices righteousness is righteous...Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil...By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God” (1 Jo 3:7b, 8a, 10a).  Clearly stated, a person simply cannot be a child of God and stand on the sidelines being a spectator.  We must prove our faith with our actions.  Our job is to find our opportunities to serve others and to serve and worship God.  I encourage us to all become more involved this year in doing our work.

  • Kingsridge Reminder

  • Prophets: God's Spokesmen

    Careful study of the Old Testament prophets and their teachings can be a rewarding experience. However, their writings can be simply a source of confusion and frustration to one who uses them to speculate about the future.God used men to speak His words concerning a number of topics. They spoke about such things as the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the heathen nations that posed a threat to God’s chosen people, and the Savior who was to come. Our faith becomes stronger as we see Old Testament prophets’ predictions fulfilled throughout the New Testament history. Conversely, if we look at their words as simply predictions of future events having no eternal consequence, we will experience no lasting impact on our belief and trust in God.

    Today we are concerned about corruption in the realms of religion, politics and human relations. The prophets spoke about these same issues, and we can gain great insight and encouragement by paying careful attention to what they said. Often we struggle to find meaning in present day events reported in newspapers and on television. The prophets’ words help us see that God is working in men’s lives continually and in His time.

    Often we wonder what God wants and expects from us. We have to look no further than Micah to answer that question. He said, “what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (6:8). We would all do well to engage in regular study of the prophets’ writings. God will reward our study of His prophets by giving us enlightenment, correction, instruction and even a bit of enjoyment.

  • Temptations Young People Face At Home

    We understand that teenagers fight a battle with Satan every time they leave the house (I Peter 5:8). However, we do not always appreciate that this battle continues to be waged after they come home. We would like to think that home is a refuge, a place were teenagers can escape from Satan. But, the truth is, his efforts do not end at our front door. With increasing frequency the devil is finding his way into our homes and continuing his war against our kids. God has great purposes for the home, but Satan has an agenda too.

    God wants the home to be a place where children learn about His will for their lives (Ephesians 6:4; Deuteronomy 6:1-9). However, using the television, radio and internet Satan is busy flooding the minds of our teenagers with corrupt images and messages. He wants parents to leave their children unattended with these dangerous weapons so that he can do his work.

    God wants the home to be a place where children listen to their parent’s instruction. It is His desire to help teenagers avoid life’s pitfalls by providing wise counsel from those who are further down life’s road (Proverbs 1:8-9). By using media messages and the influence of peers, Satan seeks to undermine the influence of parents with their children. He wants kids to dismiss their guidance. He wants to create conflict between kids and parents so he can turn our homes into war zones.

    God wants the home to be a place where families spend time together. He wants us to be close, to be involved in each other’s lives, to spend time talking about the things that really matter (Deuteronomy 6:7). But Satan wants to keep us so busy that we have no time for each other, even when we are all at home. He wants to keep teenagers off in their own little world, back in the bedroom with the door shut, listening to music, watching television or surfing the net. He wants families to watch television while they eat their meals, robbing them of one more opportunity to communicate. The devil is content to let families share the same address; he just does not want them to share their lives.

    An honest assessment of many homes will reveal that the devil enjoys the upper hand in this battle. However, families do not have to let him win. Home can be a refuge, but this requires parents and teenagers to join together to run the devil out of the house.

    For many parents this process begins with recognizing there is a battle going on at their house. Some seem unaware of the serious dangers threatening their children at home. For example, many teenagers are able to access the internet and watch cable television in their bedrooms. Parents are often unaware of what their kids see and hear, and do little to hold them accountable. Moms and dads need to set strict guidelines to govern what their kids watch and listen to. When teenagers surf the net, it should be in an open place in the home with lots of traffic. Kids should surf the net when parents are home and able to pay attention.

    We should also fight the devil’s efforts to isolate us from each other. We need to trim back our overloaded schedules and make time for each other. We do too much these days, and this “busyness” hinders God’s purposes for the home. When we are at home, we need to do things together. We need to eat together at the dinner table. We should do this without the television blaring in the background so we can use this time to talk. We need to spend devotional time together. Moms and dads need to read the Bible and pray with their children every day.

    However, parents cannot win this battle on their own. Parents and children must work together to push the devil out of the house. For teenagers, this begins with the right attitude. They must respect their parents and value their counsel (Ephesians 6:1-3). They must listen as mom and dad provide instruction and guidance (Proverbs 6:20-23). They must submit to their parent’s rules, even when they don’t like them. This contribution by teenagers is essential.

    The devil has brought this battle into our homes. It’s up to us to be sure he does not win.

  • The Positive Choice Is Possible!

    “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us,that we may hear it and do it?’But the word is very near you.  It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” (Deut. 30:11-14)

    If we’re still alive, then it’s within our power to make whatever choice God would want us to make. No matter how many wrong choices we’ve made in the past, we have the freedom to make the right choice now. Outwardly, it may take time to reverse the dam- age that our past choices have wrought, but inwardly, we can at this very moment begin being the person that we know God wants us to be. The positive choice is possible!

    Sometimes we feel that we’ve done so badly for so long that there is no hope for us. But this sinking sense of hopelessness comes from hell, not from heaven. It’s only our enemy who wants us to give up. Our Father wants us to live. He wants us to take the sim- ple, honest step that it’s always possible to take: the one immediately before us. If we choose to take that step, there is nothing the devil can do to stop us, although he’d surely like to do so.

    But it does us little good to have the power of choice if we don’t use it. We shouldn’t waste the marvelous dignity and honor that God conferred on us when He gave us our freedom of will. His grace toward us should not be “in vain” (1 Cor. 15:10).

    One encouraging thing to keep in mind is that each positive choice creates strength. If we choose in the present mo- ment to do what is right, we will find the next moment much easier to deal with. Eve- ry good decision leads to an- other. We'll be helped by a favorable momentum that makes our forward progress less difficult.

    Whatever our choices may be, God is not neutral about them. Having gone to great lengths to save us, He wants us to choose life. Deuteronomy 30:19 urged the Israelites to “choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obey- ing His voice and holding fast to Him.” If we fail to choose it, He will have to let justice be carried out, of course. But that will break His heart. “‘For why should you die, O Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’” (Ezek. 18:31- 32). Today, we can turn. This very instant, we can say “Yes!” to life.

  • While He Lingered...

    Our daily bible reading schedule for this week includes a glimpse into the heart of Lot just prior to God’s execution of judgment upon the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  This revealing passage says, “And when the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, ‘Up, take your wife and your two daughters, who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.’ But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city” (Gen, 19:15,16).

    Sadly, too many people make the mistake today that Lot made many years ago.  They linger in sin.  The bible tells us sin separates man from God and its wages are death (Isa. 59:1,2; Rom. 6:23). With one’s soul at risk of eternal loss, why would he linger?  Perhaps he does not consider the following results of lingering in sin:

    His Heart Grows Hardened.  The Spirit explicitly warns that some will fall away from the faith, having a seared conscience (1 Tim. 4:1,2).

    He May Run Out Of Opportunities.  Our lives are but a vapor  and we don’t know what tomorrow brings (James 4:14).  We should realize that now is the acceptable time to repent and obey (2 Cor. 6:2).

    His Condition Remains Hopeless.  Lot’s condition was hopeless if he remained in the city.  Such is the same for the man who remains in his sins (Eph. 2:11,12).

    Let the example of Lot convince us that lingering is folly and will result in eternal loss of our soul.  If you have sin in your life, please heed the advise of the old hymn we sometimes sing.  Your Savior is longing to bless you; There’s danger and death in delay.

  • Worthy Of The Gospel

    Paul’s letter to the saints in Philippi overflows with joy and thanks- giving. Although it appears that the church was sound and doing a good work, Paul does not forget to encourage the Christians to walk along the straight and narrow path. He says, “let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). This is earnest advice that we should heed today.

    Paul was telling the Philippians that the way they conducted their lives should be good enough or adequate enough to be compared favorably with what Christ taught concerning such. Paul goes on to say their worthy lives must be evident. He says he wants to know, whether in their presence or away from them, that their conduct is becoming the name Christian. That leads us to a most important question: What does a worthy life look like?

    Paul describes three characteristics of a life worthy of the gospel. First he tells the Philippians it behooves those who profess the gospel to strive for it. He wanted them to be “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (1:27). Striving involves struggle, and may even involve fighting at times. Christians fight evil when they strive for the gospel. If our religion is worth anything, it is certainly worth everything. There is much opposition in this world and there is a great need for Christians to strive.

    Secondly, Paul says unity of Christians (one spirit and one mind) is a necessity. He directs disciples to strive together and not against one another. A church will suffer and even die if unity is not maintained. The Corinthian church is a good example of a contentious church. Paul told them Christ was not divided and neither should they be. He said they were “of the flesh and behaving only in a human way” (1 Cor. 3:3).

    Finally, Paul says the Christian’s steadfastness becomes the gospel. Back in the Corinthian letter he says, “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Co. 15:58). Those who are on again, off again with the gospel and not fixed in their minds will never abound in God’s work. However, those who are steadfast can be certain their labor is not in vain.

    Let us all heed the instructions of Paul. We should show a manner of life worthy of the gospel of Christ. We must strive together, steadfastly working, being unified in spirit and mind. Our salvation depends on this!