Interference and Choices

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This week I was listening—or trying to listen—to one of my favorites, the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Evidently, however, the power lines nearby created enough interference that another station began to override what I wanted to hear. It was so annoying that I turned it off.

Life can be like that. The mundane so often pre-empts the sublime. The mediocre, if we let it, prevails over the excellent.

While there wasn’t much I could do about the radio interference, what can we do to keep our focus on what matters most?

Life: a series of choices

Once we make up our minds to obey Christ, then we must subject even our thinking to His Lordship. “Finally then, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8).

This implies that whatever is not true, honorable, right, pure, etc. is off-limits for us.

God made our wonderful minds. The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love the Lord with all our heart/soul/mind” (Matthew 22:37).

So what will we choose?

Since so much of what we think about is affected for good or bad by what we see and hear, then how will this affect our choices regarding entertainment, computer use, reading, friendships, etc.?

It is both naïve and foolish to think we can watch and listen to garbage and not be affected by it (1 Corinthians 10:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).

“Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

How Satan works to persuade us that good and evil are the opposite of what God says (Genesis 3:1-6; Isaiah 5:20).

Satan is the ultimate source of interference. With God, the signal is clear.

Hallelujah!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Countering the Culture

Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has written, “There is a coarseness, a callousness and a cynicism to our era. The worst of it has to do with our children.  Our culture seems almost dedicated to the corruption of the young” (Reader’s Digest, August 1995, 37).

Examples could be multiplied to illustrate Bennett’s premise. The media is one of the worst offenders.

Passing it on

Can we parents afford to abdicate our responsibility to teach our children the ways of God? The Bible has much to say about parents’ training their children to know God and obey Him (Genesis 18:19; Exodus 10:2; 12:24-27; 13:7-8, 14-15; Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:4-7, 20-23; Joshua 4:1-3, 6-7, 21-22; Psalm 78:6-7; Ephesians 6:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17).

As James Burton Coffman has written, “The silliest and most satanic attitude we have ever encountered in Christian parents is this, ‘Oh, well, we are going to let Johnny make up his own mind.’

“Indeed, indeed, that is exactly what the devil would have Christian parents do. If only Satan would be so neutral! The Evil One will exert every pressure possible to persuade children to forsake the Faith and wallow in licentiousness” (Commentary on Psalms 73-150, ACU Press, 48).

Making a difference

My dad used to tell me Bible stories on the way to school. It’s amazing how much teaching we can do by using a few minutes here, a few moments there. But for my dad to be able to drive and tell Bible stories he had to know those stories well. Can we do that?

What can we as individuals do to save this great nation of ours? We can pray. We can be the best citizens we can be. We can be faithful Christians and win souls for Christ—especially the souls of our own children!

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When Blood Runs in the Streets

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Murder is satanic.

God warned Cain not to do it, but Cain went ahead and killed his own brother (Gen. 4).

Although Cain was the first human to commit murder, he was not the first murderer. Jesus said of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).

“For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother” (1 John 3:11-12).

Murder is against everything God stands for.

Proverbs 6:16-19 lists seven things God hates, including “hands that shed innocent blood.”

Murder, Paul says, violates the great second commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:8-10).

God told Noah that murder is a capital offense because “in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Human life is sacred to God and should therefore be sacred to us. Why? Of all God’s creatures, only people are created in His image. Murder is sacrilege.

“Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).

Unrepentant murderers “will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8; 22:14-15).

Murder in perspective

Abraham explained to the Philistine king why he had said that his beutiful wife Sarah was his sister: “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife” (Genesis 21:11).

As it turned out, there was some fear of God in that place, but though Abraham was wrong to lie, it is still true that a place where people don’t fear God is a dangerous place indeed!

How much fear of God is there in our nation?

Whether a mass shooting or a single homicide, Satan rejoices, but God grieves.

And God, by the way, knows what it feels like to lose a Son to murder.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Wouldn’t It Make Sense?

Either baptism is essential to salvation, or it is not. Either we are forgiven the moment we are baptized or at some other point.

Why then?

If baptism is not essential, why then were the people at Pentecost told to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-38)?

If baptism is not essential, why was Saul of Tarsus told, “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16)—although he had already believed in Christ for three days and had been fasting and praying (Acts 9:4-11)?

If baptism is not essential, why would Paul say, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27)? Are we saved when we believe, and later we put on Christ?

If baptism is not essential, why did Paul say, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness [or as he said elsewhere, “not of works, lest any man should boast”—Ephesians 2:8], but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit . . .” (Titus 3:5—emphasis added)?

 Who would want us to think differently?

But if baptism really is the actual moment we receive forgiveness, wouldn’t it make sense for Satan to do all he could to persuade us otherwise?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Does it really matter?

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Lives at risk

Would you submit to the scalpel if you knew your surgeon was not overly concerned about a sterile operating environment?

Would you want nurses attending you who were known to switch one patient’s medications with another’s—accidentally, of course?

Would you book a flight on an airline with a reputation for careless pre-flight maintenance?

Souls at stake

Many today think doctrinal differences are matters of indifference.

The word “doctrine” means “teaching.” Biblical doctrine is what God wants us to know, believe, practice, and teach.

He does not intend for us to deviate from the standard of teaching He has revealed (Galatians 1:6-9).

Satan also has his doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Peter 2:1-3).

Who says doctrine doesn’t matter? God or Satan?

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Seeing Clearly

Before and after

I complimented my 95-year-old friend on her coat. She said it was like new to her.

Earlier, she had thought it was brown with tan trim. She wouldn’t believe it when people called it purple.

Cataract surgery made her a believer. She could then see it was a purple coat with lavender trim.

From darkness to light

Is it possible to have spiritual “cataracts”? Yes, and far worse!

Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ . . .” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

One who turns to Christ is “called . . . out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9; see Acts 26:18).

What a blessing to see as we’ve never seen before!

Got cataracts?

eye chart-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Devil: What’s He Up To?

His dirty tricks

The Bible has much to say about God’s will.

But Satan too has a will (2 Timothy 2:26). What is it? The polar opposite of God’s.

God desires to save; Satan to destroy. God cannot lie; Satan is the great deceiver.

Satan robs children of their innocence.

He seeks to hinder people from becoming Christians (Luke 8:12; Acts 13:6-12; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

He aims to lure Christians back into the world (2 Peter 2:18-22).

He employs persecution, distraction, temptation, false teaching—whatever works.

His downfall

Good news! Satan cannot defeat us unless we let him.

He can be successfully resisted (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

He is destined for hell (Matthew 25:41).

Let’s make sure he doesn’t take us down with him!

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