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).
The one thing most people want in this world is joy. But, sadly, many will go through life and never experience it. Some have made a habit of ruining joy by always looking on the dark side of life. Others have confused joy with fun, and so always seem to come up short. They think that if they are not having fun they cannot be joyful. Somehow they miss the fact that Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice” from the dark, dampness of a Roman prison. (Phil. 4:4). Surely he wasn’t having much fun, but it didn’t stop his joy in the Lord. Genuine joy comes from understanding four things. When we develop these in our lives, joy naturally follows.
1. REALIZE YOU ARE LOVED BY GOD With God on our side, what else do we need? (Romans 8:31)
2. KNOW YOU ARE FORGIVEN Why carry guilt around like a large boulder weighing us down? Learn that God has forgiven and that will restore the joy of salvation. (Psalm 53:12)
3. TRUST GOD’S CARE The world knows no joy because it is overwhelmed by fear. Some are fearing the effects of “global warming” while others fear a coming ice age. But the Christian knows God is in charge, and he’s on our side.
4. LIVE BY GOD’S STANDARDS The Prodigal Son ruined his joy when he left his father’s home, and insisted on living by his own rules. He chose wrong activities and paid the price. Living by God’s rules does not eliminate joy, it creates it. The word “joy” or “rejoice” is used over 600 times in the Bible, about once every two chapters. Our joy and happiness is important to God, and he tells us how to achieve it. “Rejoice always.” (I Thess. 5:16)
What you share online reveals a lot about your thinking. Whether it is angry, passive-aggressive, political, religious, personal, or news-oriented, you’re probably sharing it because you’re thinking about it. Here are 8 questions we all need to ask before we share or post something online.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:8,
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
If these are the things we should be thinking about, then before hitting the “share” button, we should probably ask ourselves:
1. Is it true?
When we share information that isn’t true, we hurt our credibility. Check it out before you post it. Just because you want it to be true, does not make it true.
2. Is it honorable?
This word can also be translated as “noble” or “dignified.” Anything that has the potential to embarrass you – or embarrass the church – ought not to be posted.
3. Is it just?
This word might also be translated, “righteous” or “right.” Can you post this “by faith” (Romans 14:23), knowing that this is a righteous thing to post? If you’re not sure, don’t post it.
4. Is it pure?
Some of the photos and websites Christians share are absolutely appalling! If it isn’t “G” rated, you probably shouldn’t post it.
5. Is it lovely?
There is far too much “ugliness” going on in the world. Christians certainly don’t need to let their minds dwell on all the ugliness and negativity, much less perpetuate it by sharing words and pictures that are rude and ugly.
6. Is it commendable (admirable)?
Think about the people you’ve admired in your life. Is this something they would share online? More importantly, based on Scripture, can you honestly say the Lord would “commend” you for posting it?
7. Is it excellent?
We live in a busy and distracting world. Many things that pop into our minds or flash across our screens are not helpful, beneficial, or excellent. Don’t waste your time and your energy on these things.
8. Is it praise-worthy?
Is this something you should really be thinking about right now? Is this something for which the Lord would praise you? Would He would say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” as you share this with your friends and followers?
There is certainly a lot of stuff online that is not worthy of your time and energy. Only let your mind dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praise-worthy. If you do, it will be reflected in what you share online. - borrowed