Sunday, August 30, 2009

Perverting the straight ways of the Lord

In the beginning, Satan twisted the meaning of one of God’s commandments by adding one word (Gen. 3:4). When Eve fell for this perversion, mankind was exposed to sin and death. Satan had an effective technique, and continued to use it as a means of perverting God’s standards for truth and righteousness. The prophet Isaiah pronounced a woe upon those who helped Satan accomplish this purpose: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

Satan continues to pervert God’s truth so that evil is celebrated as that which is good, desirous and acceptable, while that which is good is deemed unsuitable for the benefit of man and society. A modern day example of such is the change in our country’s attitude towards homosexuality. There was a time, not long ago, when homosexuality was commonly viewed as a sin against God. Even non-religious people had a “zero tolerance policy” for the lifestyle. Homosexuality was wrong, it was unacceptable, and those who chose to engage in homosexuality felt the pressure to keep it “in the closet.”

Those in the television industry who were sympathetic to homosexuals began using their influence to bring about a change in the way society viewed homosexuals. I remember one program in particular. We all laughed every Tuesday evening as Jack Tripper pretended to be “gay” so he could room with Janet and Chrissy. He wasn’t really a homosexual, but we laughed at him for pretending to be one. We accepted it. This led the way to introducing characters on other programs who were homosexuals. Such characters may have been uncomfortable for some viewers at first, but soon they were acceptable because, after all, it was just a TV show. It was just make-believe. However, something was happening during this time. We, as a society, were being conditioned to accept homosexuality, and it worked. Today, homosexuals are encouraged to come out of the closet and take their places in society, and a good many people appear to be ready to welcome them. In recent years, our courts have changed the way that they rule on matters pertaining to homosexuality. Our society now views homosexuals as good, loving people who deserve the right to be accepted. What was once called “evil” is now called “good.”

What about calling good “evil?” We see that this change has occurred as well with regards to homosexuality. Those who have no tolerance for homosexuality are now pressured to keep their views “in the closet.” What about the Christians who continue to insist that homosexuality is a sin? Such individuals have seen the tables turned against them. They are now the ones who are condemned as unloving, unsympathetic and unwilling to change with the times. Sermons that condemn homosexuality as a sin are now viewed as hate speech. In some places in the world, it is against the law to publicly proclaim what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. One can not help but wonder how long it will be until such becomes the case in the United States. The extreme measures to which some are going in opposing all that was once accepted as good is seen in the fact that a homosexual in Michigan recently filed a law suit against Zondervan Publishing and Thomas Nelson Publishing because they publish a version of the Bible that condemns homosexuality as a sin.

The change of views on homosexuality is just one example of the devil’s modern efforts to pervert the straight ways of the Lord (Acts 13:10). God’s Word has established the standard of good and evil. “Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever… The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:152, 160). Woe to those of us who pervert the established ways of the Lord, calling evil “good” and good “evil.”

Adapted from Heath Rogers

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What will they see in you?

A healthy marriage can help children to see God and Jesus. When children are young, what they know about God and Jesus will be seen in their parents. What can they see?

First, they need to see the our love for Jesus. Jesus gave His life so that they may live (Romans 6:16-18; 1 John 5:2-3). Second, they need to see our love for each other. Maybe children act badly because they don’t see righteousness in their parents (John 13:35; Titus 2:7-8). Third, they need to see us talk about hard subjects. Sex, drug abuse, and other moral issues have to be discussed by parents so that children can have happy lives (Proverbs 3:13; Galatians 5:19-21).

So what will they see in you? Will what they see help them to become Christians? Will what they see build their faith? Will what they see help them to be better husbands and wives? We should constantly teach our children, but they can learn a lot from just watching us. “What have they seen in thine house” (2 Kings 20:15)?

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, August 20, 2009

"I Pray …"

Paul had many wonderful prayers recorded in his letters. From them, you can tell that he had the utmost concern for the church and for God’s people living in a holy way. Our prayers should show a similar pattern of thought. With this in mind, let’s discuss three areas our prayers need to address.

First, there is our relationship to God. We should want the name of the Lord glorified in us (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). Children of God are to be the salt of the earth and the lights of the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Simply put, we are to “walk worthy of the Lord” (Colossians 1:9-10).

Second, there is our responsibility to others. We should pray for love among all the saints (Ephesians 1:15). We also need to be of one mind and live peacefully with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11). When we do so, we will continue in fellowship (Acts 16:15; Philippians 1:3-5).

Third, there is our responsibility to ourselves. Do you increase in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Ephesians 1:17-18)? Every child of God should determine to “approve the things that are excellent” and be “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (Philippians 1:10-11; Galatians 5:22-25). In this way we will be guarded from Satan (2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 5:8-9).

Paul finished his first letter to the Corinthians by saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1 Corinthians 16:23-24). When you pray, think of these three areas and petition your Father in heaven for what is good instead of “asking amiss” (James 4:3).

Kyle Campbell

Monday, August 17, 2009

The suffering servant

God exhibited His power through weakness. Paul wrote, “For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you” (2 Corinthians 13:4). The picture of Jesus in Isaiah 53 is not flashy, eloquent, or flamboyant -- it is weak according to man’s standards. However, it shows why He is the perfect sacrifice for your sins.

The world acted negatively to Jesus. Religious experts abhorred Him. But Christ did not want to see you punished for your sins, so He laid down His life: “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).

When the Ethiopian eunuch heard Isaiah’s great message of salvation, he promptly obeyed (Acts 8:26-39). You need to swallow your pride and obey. The cross represented a tremendous humiliation, and you have to show similar humility to be obedient. You also need to be thankful for what Christ has done for you. You need to show Christ in you and display it to others. Most of the world is in love with the baby Jesus, but the Christian is in love with the Jesus who was mocked and rejected, beaten and afflicted (1 Peter 2:22-24).

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What the gospel demands

In John 4, Jesus spoke with the woman at the well. This was an awkward situation because in Jewish society, women were viewed as second class citizens. One would not have normally thought that the Lord would have spoken to her. But that’s not all. She was also a sinner -- guilty of the sin of adultery. John 4:18 says, “For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”

Jesus told this sinful woman that “the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14). The “living water” the Lord offered could not compare to anything this woman had ever experienced, but in order to enjoy it she had to get her life right. God requires more than just belief. After we believe in the gospel, we have to repent (Acts 17:30), confess (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). At this point we enjoy “living water,” and if we are faithful, the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

Kyle Campbell

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Archaeology: The house of Yahweh ostracon

This find appears to be a receipt for a donation of three shekels of silver to the House of Yahweh (Solomon’s temple).

This ostracon (writing on a piece of pottery) is 4 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches tall. It is not known where it was found. Some scholars date it between 835 and 796 B.C., some 130 years after the Temple was built.

This extremely important find is the oldest mention of Solomon’s Temple that has been found outside the Bible.

Kyle Campbell