Thoughts from a Railroad Crossing

Fulfilling Our Purpose

train-at-crossing-tagged

Years ago I was waiting at a railroad crossing on Wellington Street in Greenville. How long the train was I couldn’t tell, but it would go east for a while, then west. Back and forth. Back and forth. Over and over. Over and over.

Finally three Kansas City Southern locomotives came into view. They were pushing the train, and it looked like my wait was about to end.

Nope. They stopped, then back and forth some more. I strongly suspect a switchman somewhere was making up a train. I could have turned around anytime I wanted but decided to stay awhile and observe. (It’s a good thing I did, because it provided the thoughts for this post!)

From where I sat all I could see were a few cars at a time. If I could have had a bird’s-eye view of the entire string of cars, it would be clearer…

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Applying Biblical Principles to Marriage

Mutual interaction

Have you seen husbands and wives take digs at each other in public? On the other hand, have you observed couples who treat each other with utmost courtesy, respect, and mutual affection?

Of course, how they treat each other when no one else is around counts for a whole lot too!

Marriage enhancers

A concept that would revolutionize many a marriage is this: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . . husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies.

“He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church . . .” (Ephesians 5:25, 28-29).

Another marriage-enhancing principle is the Golden Rule: “. . . however you want people to treat you, so treat them . . .” (Matthew 7:12). Why shouldn’t this apply as well to marriage as anywhere else?

The Second Commandment says much the same thing: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). My wife is my closest neighbor. Shouldn’t I love her as myself?

Behavior that boomerangs

The paradox is that selfishness not only hurts one’s mate, but oneself as well. Why would a right-thinking husband want to hurt his wife—physically or emotionally? What could he possibly gain by that?

We must work at our marriages if our marriages are to work.

The more consistently we practice these principles, the happier our marriages will be. It just makes sense.

The same God who gave us marriage also teaches us how to treat one another.

Has what we’ve done so far not worked? Then how about giving His way a try?

happy couple-tagged

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

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Disparaging the Divine

Blasphemers

The Assyrian king sent his men to frighten the people of Jerusalem. The king’s agents spoke of the nations they had already conquered, whose gods were powerless to deliver them. In other words: Your God will be like all those other gods we defeated.

“They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands” (2 Chronicles 32:19).

God answered their arrogance by slaying the entire Assyian army of 185,000 men!

Mockers

Enabled by God, Nehemiah led his people in rebuilding the fallen walls of Jerusalem. Their critics taunted, “What are these feeble Jews doing?” “. . . if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!” (Nehemiah 4:2-3).

But Nehemiah later wrote, “So the wall was completed . . . in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it . . . they lost their confidence, for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:15-16).

Deniers

During Jesus’ ministry His enemies accused Him of being demon-possessed, insane, a blasphemer, glutton, drunkard, deceiver, etc. (John 9:24; John 10:20, 33; Matthew 11:19; 27:63).

They even said He cast out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24-28).

But it wasn’t long until the risen Christ, fully vindicated, was enthroned in glory at God’s right hand—where He reigns still.

Hecklers

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to speak in languages understood by the people who heard them. Some in the audience mocked, “They are full of sweet wine” (Acts 2:13).

But before the day was over, some 3,000 were convicted by Peter’s forceful sermon, and the mighty church of God was born.

The final verdict

Today we still have those who scorn the Scriptures and deride the bride of Christ, the church. But God will have the last word.

He always does.

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

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The Exclusive/Inclusive Christ

Christ is inclusive.

His salvation is offered to all without distinction. Christ invites the poor, the oppressed, and people of all nations to receive freely the blessings that are in Him (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 14:21-23).

Jews and Gentiles are saved on exactly the same basis (Acts 10:1-11:18; Ephesians 2:11-22). Slave and master stand as equals in His sight (Galatians 3:28). Though He has assigned men and women their respective roles, He treats them both as fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

“. . . He died for all . . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Christ is exclusive.

He Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He made it abundantly clear in His teachings that there are but two alternatives: either Christ or destruction (Matthew 7:24-27; Mark 16:16; John 8:24; 12:48).

Peter said of Him, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul describes it this way: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Offensive?

Those who find repugnant His claim to be the only way to God are invited to consider a few points:

  • We all deserve hell because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
  • God owes us nothing, but because of His mercy He extends the opportunity to everyone alike to find salvation in His Son. That’s true love!
  • The gospel of Christ is a tremendous offer. But it can be rejected. God does not force His grace on anyone. He respects our freedom of the will.

Yes, there is only one way to God, but there is a way.

What if there were no way?

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

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Satan

How much do we know about Satan? Second Corinthians has quite a bit to say about him. What does Paul say in this letter about our enemy, the devil?

Knowing how Satan works is essential.

“. . . that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2:11).

Just as an army is vulnerable if it doesn’t learn the enemy’s tactics, we too must know Satan’s strategies if we are to defeat him.

Satan tries to keep people from believing.

“. . . the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ . . .” (4:4; cf. Luke 8:12).

How Satan hates the gospel! He knows it is for our salvation. He succeeds whenever he keeps people where he wants them—in the dark, unbelieving, and lost.

Satan is subtle.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (11:3).

Satan led Eve to think it was to her advantage to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan tries to fool us in the same way—if we let him.

Satan is a master of disguises.

“. . . even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness . . .” (11:14-15).

Satan uses certain religious leaders to promote his lies. They may pose as spokesmen for God but are actually working for the devil himself. Millions are tragically deceived!

These passages not only alert us to the dangers but can motivate us to learn more about the one who wants us to be with him forever in hell. Equipped with this knowledge and with the help of our God, we can and must defeat him!

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

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Comfy?

air conditioner-tagged

Reducing discomfort

Technology enables us to enjoy an increasingly comfortable existence.

Who’d want to go back to the days before indoor plumbing, A/C, and automatic washers? We can be thankful for these things.

But there’s a subtle danger in all this: What happens when doing right isn’t comfortable, convenient—or safe?

Getting out of our comfort zone

Nothing is more incompatible with comfort than the cross. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

Without this Christ-like toughness in our commitment, we’ll bail out when faithfulness has a sharp edge to it.

Let’s share Paul’s perspective, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

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

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Aimless Living

My dilemma

As I approached graduation from high school, anxiety possessed me. I had to make a choice: What would I do with my life? I recognized that saying “yes” to one thing meant saying “no” to everything else, and that felt like a burden too great to bear.

But the most important decision was much easier than that. It was not what would I do with my life, but who would I serve?

My decision

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

That one decision has made all of the others in my life.

Don’t live aimlessly. Aim to please God.

man facing choices-tagged

By guest writer: Randy Daw (Johnson Street Church of Christ, Greenville, TX)

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

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