It is election year. So a common theme we hear is “Let’s make America great again,” “Let’s be stronger” and “be a great world power.”
So what makes a nation strong and great? Proverbs 14:34 states, “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.” So, in the words of the inspired writer righteousness makes a nation strong. Notice what does not make a nation great military might, being in a political party, money, or even peace.
Charles Carroll one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence stated, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.”
Sin is an age old problem, which has been with mankind from Gen. 3. 1 John 3:4 reads, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” In its basic meaning sin is a missing of the mark, missing the mark of God’s purpose which is disobedience towards Him, which results ultimately in a week nation.
So, if we want a better nation, then it begins with you and me obeying what the Bible tells us to do to be righteous, to do right things, be moral, be honest, be faithful, loyal, and stop doing evil. 1 Cor. 6:9-10 puts it this way, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Let’s get back to God, let’s get back to doing righteous things and let’s stop sinning. Think about it!
Written by Mark T. Tonkery
Job 12:8-9 states, “…And let the fish of the sea declare to you who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this.” In this passage it states that the fish of the sea declare to people who do not know the Lord, that the Lord made all things, and that the beauty and uniqueness of the fish declare that they are made by God. In reading these verses in Job and seeing the boundless schools of fish in an aquarium, river or sea, how could there be any other explanation?
People have come up with the ideas of evolution, Darwinism and other godless theories of how things just came to be, but how can they explain measureless types, sizes and the abilities of fish and other creatures in our world? I guess if I had a wild imagination I could give the evolutionist one fish that could evolve from slim if I believed there was no God. But how does one explain the countless of talented and different species of fish without there being a Creator? Only with a loving God could you see His finger prints in creating a fish who would keep her babies in a cleft of a rock, protecting them from predators so that they would have a chance to live. Only our Lord could make another fish who could use its fins to walk on dry land and give it the ability to breath in the air or water. Only the Creator could make a different fish who could spit water into the grass and knock bugs into the water so they could then eat them. Only the King of Kings would make another fish whose sex is determine from the temperature of the water. Only the Word that became Flesh could speak these creatures into existence on the fifth day of creation and have them to fill the waters of the sea and multiple after their own kind. I could list many of the other fish and creators of the sea that have a talent to do amazing things, who are shaped like rocks, who have more colors on their scales than the rainbow and who reach a wide range of sizes. Only the Creator, God could do this! No, wonder the Bible and God’s people sing His praises. Not only does God deserve such praise but when one realizes what He has done how could anyone do anything else but praise him?
, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart…”(Ps. 95:1-8 KJV)
If God can make a myriad of fish in different shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities, just image what he can do with people who were not spoken into existences, but formed by the His own hands (Gen. 2:7). Imagine what the Lord could do with the person who acknowledges Him and calls upon His Name. We will be able to do the impossible and live the unimaginable, just because we are His little children. After all it was the Son of God who said, “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believe on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (Jn. 14:11-13 KJV).
May we listen to God’s creation and not harden our hearts, but allow it to open our eyes and our heart to the wonder of our God and Creator. So that we can be called His people and glorify the Father and the Son by whom all things were made.
By Mark T. Tonkery
The story is told of a man who called the preacher about becoming member of the church. The man wanted to explain a few things to the preacher before he placed his membership with the congregation. The man said, “I want you to understand that I will not be at worship service every week, study the Bible much, visit the sick, or try to teach anyone else what I believe.”
The preacher said, “The church that you need to become a member of is in another section of town.”
The man took the directions and when he arrived at the church building; it was abandoned, boarded up and ready for demolition.
Does this man sound like anyone you know? Maybe even yourself?
The church is falling on some hard times when its members will not do anything to help it to grow, mature, and develop it into what God needs it to be. The warning to the church in Laodicea is a warning to the church today. Jesus states in Rev 3:16, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” Notice what being lukewarm means, “Neither acting hostile to Christ, nor zealous for Him…they were apathetic towards Christ. This lukewarmness was most offensive, and hence the Lord declares that they shall be rejected like nauseous food. The figure indicates loathing.” (The People’s New Testament).
A man, during the Civil War, decided to be absolutely neutral. He put on a gray jacket and a pair of blue trousers to indicate he was for both the Confederacy and the Union. One day, he got caught in a battle skirmish between Confederate and Union soldiers. He walked out in the middle of the troops shouting his neutrality. But the Union seeing his Confederate jacket riddled it with bullets and a Confederate sharpshooter plugged him in the seat of his trousers.
You see, you can’t be neutral or “ride the fence” in a war nor can you “ride the fence” in the church. We are either for Christ or we are against Him. Matthew 6:24 reminds us, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
So the choice is ours. Will we be busy about the work of the church, studying our Bibles, coming to worship and Bible study, visiting the sick, and teaching one other? We either will or we won’t; the choice is up to us? Joshua challenged Israel: “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). Will we?
I once read a story of a Union soldier during the Civil War who received a court-martial for "discouraging the troops." It wasn’t that he refused to fight, or committed mutiny against his superior officers—He simply continued to criticize and complain about anything and everything to the point that everyone around him became discouraged.
I’m sure we all understand how important unity is to a group that seeks to work together to accomplish a common goal. The same is certainly true regarding the church. Jesus’ prayer for His disciples is "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they may also be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me." (John 17:21) Anything that destroys this unity violates God’s will and serves only to expedite Satan’s efforts to destroy the church.
In Proverbs 6, the writer makes an astonishing statement. We certainly realize that God hates all sin—but Solomon states that among all sins that men commit, there are "six things the Lords hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him." (Proverbs 6:16) Included on that list is the "one who sows discord among brethren." Jesus stated that "He who is not with Me, is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad." (Matthew 12:30) There is no way to misunderstand! Those who create dissention, division, and disrupt the unity of the church are working against Jesus himself.
There are attitudes and practices, often found in the church, that serve to discourage other Christians. Gossip is discouraging. You know this if you have ever realized that your life, or problems, or private matters, had become the source of conversation and amusement to others. There are some who are determined to tell others anything they believe will cause them to think less of someone. Many times even those who have repented of past mistakes and try to get on with their lives, find that "concerned" brothers or sisters make sure that everyone knows and no one forgets. When God forgives, the sin is removed from His memory. He expects the same of us.
Criticism is discouraging. So many people expect perfection of everyone but themselves. Anyone can find fault. It takes no talent. It contributes nothing that is positive or good. Anyone who "looks at others for the purpose of finding fault" is a hypocrite—because he is overlooking his own faults in the process. Jesus said, "judge not that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1-2) He also tells us to "first remove the plank from your own eye, then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." (Matthew 7:5)
Ignoring others and showing favoritism is discouraging. Some people treat the church as if it is their own personal "social club." Jesus regards the church as His family. I cannot imagine a family experiencing the birth of a child and that child not being immediately accepted. Certainly the same should be true in God’s family. I have heard sad tales, on many occasions, of people who were not made to feel welcome in the church. James refers to such partiality as sin. (James 2:9)
Rather than being a source of discouragement to one another, God expects us to edify, to build up one another. This includes not only what we say, but also what we think. Paul writes "if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things." (Philippians 4:8) "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearer...Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29-30)
Ahhh…. If I only had one more day. How many times have I said that this week? How many times have I said that this year? How many times have I said that during my lifetime? There is a way to cure that problem! I have today! I have had all of my days leading up to today. If I would just start earlier. If I would just be willing to work while it is day, (John 9:4) things may not pile up and get to that (if I just had one more day or moment.) Some things we can put off. Some things are of the utmost priority. But, there are things that we should not put off, must not put off. We can not afford to put off our salvation. If we try to put that off we may close out our lives saying “If I only had one more day!” Don’t let your life end wishing for one more day to obey the Lord. When is the day of salvation? According to 2nd Corinthians chapter 6 “…behold now is the accepted time: behold now is the day of salvation.” Take advantage of today.
“For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away (James 4:14).
“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).