Like a Little Child

Jesus had a special connection with children. He always had time for kids. When He fed the five thousand, He found a little boy and used his lunch to feed the multitude. Jesus traveled to Jairus’ house and called his little girl back from the dead. Jesus didn’t get irritated with children. He was more irritated when people tried to keep the children away. When the disciples shooed them away, Jesus said: “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

Jesus would use the example of a child to show what faith should look like:

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:1-4).

While the disciples were arguing about preeminence in the kingdom, Jesus called a child and put him in their midst to demonstrate true greatness. It is summed up in one word: humility. Children are humble and have a great sense of their need for help. They know when their little legs get tired from walking you will carry them. They know that you will be the one to put them in the car seat and get them out. They know you will feed them when they are hungry. They know that you will get their juice out of the fridge. They know you will help them pull their arms through their shirt. They know you will tuck them in and pray with them at night. They know you will hug and kiss them when they skin their knee. They know you will care for them. They are dependent. They understand that and they are fine with it. For adults, it takes effort to be humble and accept our dependency upon Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if we would understand our need for help? Wouldn’t it be great if we would allow Jesus to feed us when our souls are hungry? Wouldn’t it be great if we would allow Jesus to pick us up when we are tired? Wouldn’t it be great if we depended on Jesus to provide us with our daily needs? Wouldn’t it be great if we would allow Jesus to comfort us when we fall? Wouldn’t it be great if we would allow Jesus to guide our steps? Wouldn’t it be great if we would humble ourselves like a little child?

–Zack Lee

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Don’t Blend In with the World

The Bible teaches in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”   Continue reading Don’t Blend In with the World

Before You Divorce

The institution of marriage goes back to the beginning. The book of Genesis describes its commencement this way:

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24)

God’s ideal regarding holy wedlock is one man for one woman for life. Death dissolves the marriage bond (Romans 7:1-3). In worse case scenarios, marriages may end due to marital infidelity (Matthew 19:9). However, we must remember that the Bible teaches God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). If you know someone who is considering divorce, or if you are, then consider these truths…

Divorce is not a problem-solver. Someone might say, “If I get rid of my spouse, I will get rid of this problem, and then I will be happy.” However, it has been shown that divorce tends to bring more problems than solutions. Some think that if they divorce, they can finally find the companions of their dreams and start over. However, the grass is not always greener on the other side. One study suggested that some sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce.

Divorce is often a creator of problems. First, most divorces fly in the face of Bible teaching and directly contradict the words of our Lord (Matthew 19:1-9). This is a problem. But there are others that one might want to consider.

First, there are money problems, especially among women. The standard of living for divorced women has been known to plummet, on average, some seventy-three percent.

Second, there is the problem of loneliness. Again, women seem to suffer the most. It has been estimated that forty percent of women over thirty who divorce never remarry. Rather than finding Mr. Right, they live the rest of their lives alone. Finally, divorce typically becomes the source of ongoing pain and depression. A number of divorcees report that they continue to experience hurt, even ten years after the breakup of their marriages.

Third, divorce hurts children. Several years ago, Claire Berman wrote a book entitled, A Hole in My Heart: Adult Children of Divorce Speak Out, in which she said:

“The most striking impression one comes away with is that, for children, the divorce of the parents never goes away. It may be welcomed. It may be understood. But even when it is a positive solution to a destructive family situation, divorce is a critical experience for its children. Although there may be relief that a painful situation has been ended, there is also regret that a healthy family could not be created.”

With these thoughts in mind, we must be very careful. We dare not cause any little children to stumble (Mark 9:42).

Are You Tired of Doing the Right Thing?

Doing the right thing takes energy, determination and dedication. The effort can take a toll on a person over time. So much so that we may be tempted to slack up or just give up.

It was that way with the Israelites in Malachi’s day. The offerings they were making to the Lord were not what they should have been because the Israelites were tired of offering them. In Malachi 1:13 the Lord levels this charge against them: “You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ ‘And you sneer at it,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering!’ ‘Should I accept this from your hand?’ says the LORD.”

How much like these Israelites are we? Have we become tired of doing what we know we should do in the work and worship of the church? Do we even attend with the regularity that we should? And when we do attend, do we put our spirits fully into the worship? What about our home lives? Are we tired of striving to be the husband, wife, parent or child that God expects us to be? And what about our personal lives? Are we tired of an ongoing struggle against temptation; a struggle that we too often lose to our own shame and disappointment? The answer to such weariness is not quitting. The answer is finding renewed energy and a reason to keep going.

Here are three ideas from Scripture that might help you to keep going and continue serving the Lord with your best even when you are spiritually tired.

  1. Remember Whom you are serving.The Lord reminded the Israelites that He deserved better than what they were giving Him. “‘I am a great King,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and My name is to be feared among the nations'” (Malachi 1:14).
  2. Remember the reward for which you are working. The farmer who quits farming in the middle of the growing season because it’s hot and he’s tired is not going to produce much of a crop. Even so, “let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
  3. Draw strength from the Lord. God never gets tired. Isaiah asks, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary” (Isaiah 40:28).
    Furthermore, “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).Ask the Lord to renew your strength. Wait on Him and trust Him to do it! “For “those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Yes, living a righteous life takes a lot of tiring effort.  But then, nobody knows that better than Jesus. He showed us that it can be done! “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3).

Aid or Addition–What’s the Difference?

A visitor to the church asks: “Why aren’t there any pianos, guitars, drums or choirs in your worship service?”

A kind gentleman replies: “Because musical instruments are not authorized by the New Testament. Hence, they are additions to the divine pattern which prescribes Christian worship.”

But the intrigued visitor probes further: “Why then do you use song books? Aren’t these also additions?” “No,” the brother replies, “our song books are merely aids; there’s a difference between an addition and an aid.”

Conversations like the above take place on numerous occasions. There is much confusion in discerning the difference between an “addition” and an “aid.” What is the difference? This is a great question, and we will focus briefly on it.

How is an “addition” distinguished from an “aid”? An addition occurs when a particular action has been altered, or the fundamental composition or substance of a thing has been changed. An aid alters nothing; it merely facilitates the implementation of the action or substance, without changing anything.

Perhaps several examples will help us focus on this.

Aids vs. Additions

A cane may aid one in taking a walk, but with or without this device, one is just walking. But if one walks for a while, and then rides a bicycle, he is no longer just walking; something has been added to his mode of travel. Now, he’s both walking and riding.

A mother sends her son to the market to buy a loaf of bread. He brings the bread home in a bag. The bag is merely an aid to carry the bread in. Should he purchase a candy bar as well? He has disregarded the instruction of his mother by an addition.

A man takes his automobile to the service center for an oil change. The attendant may use a wrench and funnel to aid in his replacement of the oil. There is no problem with that. But we all understand that if he changes the spark plugs as well, he has willfully violated the original instructions.

Jesus taught that the communion supper is to consist of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. A table and cup facilitate (aid) the implementation of those commands. But to garnish the bread with peanut butter, and “punch up” the fruit of the vine with ginger ale, is to be guilty of addition.

Christians are obligated to preach the gospel everywhere to the extent of their ability. In order to accomplish this, it is acceptable to use aids (e.g., tracts, television, the world wide web, or a building). But if one combines something with that gospel (as the Judaizers did in the first century when they taught that circumcision, an element of the Mosaic law, is also necessary to receive salvation – Acts 15:1), that is an addition and an offense to God’s prescribed will.

When the church commences the praise portion of its service, the saints may “sing,” for such is enjoined by God (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16). Christians may employ song books, a projection screen or a tuning fork to determine the appropriate pitch. Still, though, in the final analysis, they would be singing only.

On the other hand, if the church sings to the accompaniment of an organ, piano, etc., those thus participating have added something to what the Lord authorized. There now are two types of music – vocal and instrumental. The nature of the original command has been supplemented.

 

Additions are wrong.

And so, the serious Bible student must conclude that the use of a mere aid only accommodates obedience to God’s will. Such expediencies may fluctuate from time-to-time and from place-to-place.

On the other hand, those who respect the authority of the sacred Scriptures will not tamper with the divine prescriptions for worship by the clutterment of additions. They will not add to sacred instruction, for to do so is to invite the wrath of God ultimately.

One needs to remember what happened to those who put God’s Ark of the Covenant on a “new” cart (2 Samuel 6:3), instead of transporting the sacred chest as the law had required (Exodus 25:12-14). David later admitted that this addition was “not according to the [divine] ordinance” (1 Chronicles 15:13). It pays to know the difference between an “aid” and an “addition.”

To many, such matters perhaps seem rather trivial. This is because they have never fathomed the concept of the necessity of absolute obedience to the sovereign Creator.