Technology and Jesus

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William M. Clements and Lee C. Harrison lived well into their 70’s and passed away during the 1960’s. Both were born in the South during the 1890’s and both were my grandfathers. Neither of them ever flew in an airplane, owned an automobile, drove a car or possessed a driver’s license. By occupation, one was a blacksmith and the other was a farmer and Baptist preacher. Great changes took place in their lifetimes, but for the most part, they were untouched by technology.

No doubt my grandfathers would be speechless if they saw a cell phone. They probably could not imagine a device that could be carried in their pockets that would allow them to communicate with people around the world. The cell phone enables people to speak, text, e-mail, take pictures, see images and share them with others. With a cell phone we can do our banking, pay our bills, do our shopping, find a restaurant, watch weather patterns, get highway directions, read the news, make videos and send them to others, listen to music, check our calendars, take notes, play games, watch TV, record our exercise activities and calories on our diet, read our Bible, set our alarm clock, monitor our security system, check gas prices, calculate our expenses and make a grocery list. And that is only a partial list.

The astronomical growth of Internet technology is mind-boggling. The international use of smart phones and smart pads is on a dramatic rise. During 2010, 73% of total mobile cellular subscriptions were from countries outside the United States, with China and India leading at 30%. Out of 7.7 billion people on earth, 5.1 billion of them own cell phones (67%). Only 4.2 billion people own toothbrushes! There are more mobile phones on earth than TV sets. Now there are 3.4 billion mobile web users worldwide. Of the 5.1 billion cell phones in the world, a little over 2.5 billion are smartphones with web-surfing capability. In America, 9 in 10 people have mobile phones and average over 4 hours per day using them. That is one/fourth of their average waking hours. And 60% of the web searches done are via mobile devices, not computers.

I read George Orwell’s classic book “1984” around 1964, and was awed and a little frightened by his glimpse of the future. However, we zoomed past many of Orwell’s predictions of “1984” long before the year 1984. And today, in one way or another, technology affects our lives from the time we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. As with any advancement, technology has upsides and downsides.

So, How can Christians benefit from technology without falling into the snares of it? How can we make it our servant and not let it become our master? Is God in favor of Christians using technology to further His kingdom? Here are a few ideas to consider.

First, Technology is simply the invention of useful things to solve problems or make life easier. Johannes Gutenberg’s invention of the moveable-type printing press around 1450 impacted the world by making books available and affordable, thus enhancing literacy and increasing learning, worldwide. The printing press was technology. The first book Gutenberg printed was the Bible. Until the invention of printing, common people could not afford to own a copy of the Bible. Even Gutenberg’s Bible cost the equivalent of three years wages for a clerk. At 1,286 pages long and 14 pounds heavy, it was not a pocket edition. But this technology changed the world.

God chose to make Himself known to us through His Word. So, the Bible begins, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). He made the decision to communicate with us in ways anyone could understand. Thankfully, He did not use some mystical, elusive form of communication, but chose languages known to people, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, primarily used to write the Bible. As of October, 2018 the full Bible has been translated into 683 languages, the New Testament into 2,217 languages, and portions of Scripture into 3,350 languages.

Though technology may be used for evil purposes, like the gas chambers during the Holocaust, it can be used for enormous good, like vaccines that stopped polio, medicines, antibiotics and surgical procedures that heal fatal diseases. Good technologies, like the desalination of water, save an estimated 1 million lives per year.

For the Christian, the principle that should guide his use of technology is given in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This means that our Creator wants us to use technology for our good and His glory.

For the church, we should use technology at its best to communicate God’s message about Christ to the world. Amazingly, technology enables us to instantly learn of prayer needs, and intercede to God for others in real time. My wife, Pat, communicates with and prays daily for missionaries and people worldwide, using Facebook. We should always be ready to leverage technological advances to reach people with the gospel and minister to those in need. This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:22-23).

So, what does it all mean? Simply this: If we are to communicate God’s message to the world, as Christ commands, we must take advantage of technology. God has placed us here in this time to serve Him with this technology for His glory. As Prof Howard Hendricks used to say: “Use  things and love people—Don’t love things and use people.” In all this, we must trust in Him…not in technology.

Steps to a Healthy Heart

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About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year—that is 1 in every 4 deaths are from heart related issues. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than ever before, people are interested in heart health. Everyone needs a healthy heart.

But there is another heart that is even more important. What I mean is—you need a healthy spiritual heart. We need to raise awareness about the condition of the core of our innermost being. Solomon wrote, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). In Scripture, the heart is the source of the emotions, intellect and will, or seat of the total personality.

If you want a healthy spiritual heart, you must think seriously about what you watch, hear, and see, as well as to what you devote your mind, thoughts and deeds. You cannot afford to pollute the wellspring of your life. Do not give yourself to the wrong, empty, immoral and vain things that are in this world.

Guarding one’s heart reminds me of roadside signs in various places in the country that read, “Wellhead Protection Area.” That warning means the surface and subsurface land area is regulated to prevent contamination of a well or well-field supplying a public water system. A little contamination or pollution there would have a widespread effect elsewhere. It is the same way with your heart.

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

Treasures are highly prized. People will set their hearts, desires and values on their treasures, so make sure you value the eternal and not just the temporal. See that you have a biblically based value system. How can you have a healthy heart? Elevate what Scripture extolls; strive for the things that please God’s heart; and do the things Jesus would do.

God’s Word has much to say about the danger of ignoring or abusing your heart health. The Bible warns us to avoid a double heart (Psalm 12:2); not to harden our hearts (Proverbs 28:14; Psalm 95:8; Hebrews 3:8); not to sin by having a proud heart (Proverbs 21:4); to avoid an unbelieving heart (Hebrews 3:12); and to confess when we have an unclean heart (Psalm 51:10). We should follow the example of David who cried out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24). We know that “Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts” (Prov. 21:2).

Another reason to guard your heart and feed your eyes, ears and mind the right things, is that whatever is in your heart will eventually be exposed. Jesus said, “For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush” (Luke 6:44). He then explained: “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart” (verse 45).

We live in an evil world. The pollution of sin is all around. Be careful to protect your heart from contamination, which would ruin your life and destroy your testimony. You cannot dabble in sin, follow perversion or partake in evil things without pollution flooding your heart, which then will surface in your life and lips. Guard your heart, “for from it flow the springs of life.”

So, how can you improve your heart health?

ONE: Fortify your heart by faithfully spending time in God’s house, studying God’s Word and singing praise with God’s people. We should “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Christians need to encourage one another DAILY. Everyone needs to hear words that hearten and inspire them to keep on living for Christ. Without encouragement we may become disheartened and quit.

TWO: Another way to strengthen your heart is to control your spiritual diet. Carve out a special time every day to spend with God, reading His Word and praying to Him. The word of God bolsters our faith in Him as we learn how He has helped others. “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

THREE: One other way to a healthy heart is exercise—Paul told Timothy to “have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, exercise yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1Timothy 4:7). Practice doing what you know is good and right. Jesus said, His spiritual family is made of those who “hear the word of God, and do it” (Luke 8:21). Receiving the Word and encouragement while doing nothing with it, results in disobedience. A healthy heart needs exercise! We must be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22).

Let’s focus on gaining and maintaining a healthy heart!

The Silent Unseen

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“Built Strong to Last Long” was the slogan for Maytag appliances for 46 years. The highlight of their TV commercials for decades was the lonely Maytag repairman. His company’s products were supposed to be so dependable that he had nothing to do. According to the advertisement, “The Maytag Repairman is the loneliest guy in town!”

All the hype aside, a lot of positive things are connected with dependability, consistency, and unwavering commitment. Employees who are committed to doing their work—people who silently serve behind the scenes—believers who faithfully serve God by serving others—are the backbone of churches and the blessing of communities.

Most community service is a thankless task. Nobody gives much thought to the people who silently serve on committees that seek to improve our city—or on boards aimed at advancing our educational system—or to the police force that silently patrols our streets while we sleep—or those who work at improving our schools—or picking up our trash—or stocking our grocery shelves—or cleaning our buildings—or maintaining our utilities which enable us to live daily in comfort. Most often, we just take these things for granted.

A perfect illustration of this occurred at my house a few years ago. Our fourth child, Timothy, was still living at home while he attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello. His class schedule allowed him to be home during times he had not been previously. He silently watched his mom clean the house, wash clothes, mop, shop, vacuum, cook and dust. Finally, he asked if we were expecting company. Pat simply said “No” the first two times. The third time he asked the same question, Pat told him we were not expecting company but that she was just doing what she did every day. He acted shocked. Then, she asked him, “How do you think all this work gets done?” She kept house every day so we could have family time in the evenings and on weekends. Tim did not have a clue, nor did I, or most husbands and children. We all were guilty of taking her work for granted.

Many ministries in church are like that working housewife, or dependable Maytag! Uncounted people serve the Lord in silence, behind the scenes, unnoticed and unseen. Cary Marshall, is an audio/video volunteer at Pauline Baptist Church. For over three decades he has served the Lord with expertise and diligence. Once I thanked him for his service, and he told me, “When I do my best work, nobody knows it. But when I mess up, everybody knows what I do!”

Why not recognize and say thanks to those behind-the-scenes workers at your church? How long has it been since you publicly praised the janitors? When was the last time you thanked the sound guys? Have you said “thank you” lately to the chapel workers, the Sunday School teachers, the ushers, the choir or praise team, the camp sponsors, the greeters, the musicians, the cooks, the gardeners or the secretaries? Don’t let them think they are like a Maytag appliance—out of sight—out of mind! Find someone serving Christ in the shadows and thank him, for Jesus’ sake. But be ready, in case he faints dead away!

If you are serving in one of these overlooked ministries, and seem to be unappreciated, take heart! Thankfully, nothing escapes the attention of our great God. The Lord will reward all who honor and serve Him, even in the smallest of ways. Jesus said, “Whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). Think about that! Just a cup of cold water given for Jesus will not go unrewarded!

To be the best servant, be sure your aim is to honor God and not to receive personal glory or man’s praise. Jesus warned about this in Matthew 6 when He said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (verse 1). The Lord applied this principle to giving offerings, praying and fasting, when they are done for man’s approval, instead of for God’s glory (verses 1, 5, and 16).

So, keep up your good work and godly service, whether recognized or not. We are blessed to serve a God who is just in all His ways and doings, and who will always—without fail—honor those who honor Him. “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Hebrews 6:10).

If you seek to honor God with your service from the heart—sometime in the future, God will honor you by revealing your selfless sacrifice, and you will receive praise. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to serve and wait—“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). NOTE: Those honored will “have praise of God!”

As you faithfully serve God unnoticed, below anyone’s radar, remember that the only One who counts will never forget your service! “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Remember: SFSJ! Stay Faithful Serving Jesus! Even if nobody sees it!

Why Go to Church?

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My pastor went to church with a man who faithfully attended every week, though he was completely deaf. When someone asked why he attended church, though he could not hear a word of sermon or song, he signed back: “I want people to know whose side I’m on!”

However, among many, church attendance is not as valuable as it used to be. A 2017 Gallup poll revealed that regular church attendance in America dropped 15% in 25 years. In 1992, 70% of American’s claimed to be regular attenders of a house of worship. In 2017 the number dropped to 55%. Another find was that in 2016, 79% of Americans claimed to have some religious affiliation, but only 55% were members of a church or synagogue—a difference of 24%.

Sharing his thoughts on these statistics, Jayson Bradley wrote “It probably isn’t necessary (or helpful) to continue to pick on the people who don’t see regular church attendance as important to them. The problem here isn’t really an intellectual one; it’s a spiritual one. Instead, the church should continue to focus on reaching those who have not yet made a religious commitment” (October 23, 2017, Relevant Magazine). In other words, churches should keep the main thing—proclaiming the gospel—the main thing.

CNN Religion Editor, Daniel Burke, reported on a Pew Research Center survey of 4,729 Americans. When asked why they do not attend church, they gave these reasons: They practice their faith in “other ways” (37%). They are not believers (28%). They do not think it is very important (26%). They haven’t found a house of worship they like (23%). They don’t like the sermons (18%). They don’t feel welcome in the services (14%). They don’t have the time (12%). They have poor health or lack mobility (9%). They have no house of worship in their area (7%).

Burke pointed out that more than 60% said they have poor health and difficulty getting around, and that 54% said they didn’t attend because they had not felt welcomed by the congregation. So he summarized, this means there is a sizeable group who would attend services if someone helped get them there, and welcomed them when they arrived.

Far more important than statistics and cultural trends, we need to know why God expects us to attend church, and to worship with other believers. Here are five biblical reasons:

ONE: We should attend church and worship so we can, in a corporate way, enjoy the presence of Christ. Jesus said, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). In Scripture, the “church” never refers to a single, individual, lone ranger Christian who does not gather with other believers. By its very nature, the church is the gathering of believers in the name of Christ.

TWO: We should attend church so we can learn God’s Word, fellowship with God’s people, and grow spiritually. On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 new believers in Christ were baptized and added to the original 120-member church (Acts 1:15; 2:41). Those who were saved, baptized and added that day “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). After they were saved, they committed themselves to following Jesus, in the company of and fellowship with, the church Jesus had established. These church members grew spiritually and began to reach thousands in their city with the saving gospel (Acts 4:4; 5:14; 6:7).

THREE: We should attend church to obey God’s command of “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25). Assembling together as a body of born-again, baptized believers, should be of paramount importance to followers of Christ. And “all the more” as the days grow difficult and the coming of Christ draws near.

FOUR: We should attend church for the blessing of other believers. Church is the place where believers can love one another – “if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). It is the place where members get encouragement from one another – “Encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13). Church is where members spur one another on – “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). It is where members assist each other – “through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Church is also the place where members give counsel and advice to each other – “You yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another” (Romans 15:14).

FIVE: We should attend church for the benefit of our community. As a church loves the Lord, each other and people around them, as they live holy lives for Jesus, they flesh out the love of Christ – “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Every church—composed of saved, Christ-following people—will improve the quality of their community and clearly proclaim the gospel to unsaved people both at home and abroad.

There’s a popular saying: “You don’t go to church—you are the church.” While I get the idea, there should be no conflict between “being the church” and “going to church.” In reality we cannot fully “be” the church if we don’t actually “go” to church. If you know Christ, take the next step—get involved and serve with His people in His church—so that He will get the glory—“To Him be the glory in the church” (Ephesians 3:21).

The Unconquerable Gospel

Clements 20190710 Gospel.pngPaul encouraged the church at Colossae to “be not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard” (Col. 1:23). The saving gospel of Jesus Christ can never fail. It is unconquerable in every place, applicable to every heart, and brings hope for every believer.

The saving gospel of Christ is the only thing that can bring hope of heaven—hope for cleansing—hope of forgiveness—hope for wholeness. Trust in the saving gospel can change your life, as well as your eternity. There is no hope like the hope of the gospel.

However, a false gospel of good works instead of God’s grace, brings defeat instead of hope. In the region of Galatia, within 30 years of Christ’s sacrifice for sins and commission to proclaim the gospel, some people had come, preaching “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). It was a gospel of law-keeping instead of grace-receiving. In clear terms, Paul wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed” (Gal. 1:8).

Paul defined the saving gospel of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15. He reminded them that he had proclaimed “the gospel” (verse 1), which was the good news that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (verses 3-4).

The early church preached this good news that God saves, forgives sins, and promises heaven, to everyone who repents and trusts Christ to save them. Whether he is a wicked thief on a cross, a religious Pharisee, or a Gentile jail-keeper, the gospel was the same: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Jesus commissioned His followers to go to the whole world, and proclaim this good news of the gospel to every person (Matt. 24:14: Mark 16:15). The Lord commanded His disciples to “be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The gospel—the good news that Jesus saves—is accompanied by God’s power. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel—this good news that Jesus saves—is God’s power to save all who believe. The gospel itself is the very power of God.

It is for this reason that preaching, sharing and communicating the saving gospel should be the primary purpose of every church and the main message of every life! Paul said, “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 1:17). Because of it’s exalted place of importance, Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:22-23).

The truth is that, if Christians become enamored by other things—if we aim for any other purpose than sharing the gospel—people around us will die without Christ. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord” (2 Cor. 4:3-5).

J. D. Greear, in “Above All,” wrote: “Apart from the gospel, our ingenious life change strategies will lack staying—and saving—power. Apart from the gospel our kindness to the poor will only make people comfortable for a while before they perish eternally. Apart from the gospel, the world we reshape through our politics will be every bit as bad as the one we are trying to reform. Apart from the gospel, self-help strategies will only lead us to pride (if we succeed) or despair (if we fail).”

However, the gospel is unconquerable. Though we may not see people come to faith in Christ as often as we would like, the saving gospel is reaching people everywhere.

Greear also wrote: “Last year more people became Christians than any year to date. More Muslims have converted to Christianity in the last fifteen years than in the entire thirteen hundred years since Islam’s conception. The global South has seen a remarkable increase in evangelical Christianity in the twenty-first century. People are being saved by the thousands in South America, Africa, and Asia. Even in the West, where the numbers of evangelicals are declining, we’re not witnessing the death of true Christianity but of cultural Christianity, which was never gospel Christianity to begin with. And in some of the most difficult places in the Western world, in some of our darkest corners, the church is growing. And thriving.

“We don’t need another Savior.

“We don’t need another focus.

“We don’t need a different power.

“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).

“There is one source to which we turn for God’s power.

“His name is Jesus.”

With God’s blessing, let’s follow Paul’s example: “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:4).

God Bless America!

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HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Every year on July 4, Americans celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on that date in 1776. Our nation is truly blessed of God!

The 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence knew there would be great consequences and loss of life, if America truly gained independence from England. John Hancock stated, “We must be unanimous… we must all hang together…” to which Benjamin Franklin quipped, “Yes, we must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

In his research on the Signers of the Declaration of independence, Michael W. Smith noted that seventeen of the 56 signers saw military service in the Revolutionary War, and 9 were killed. Five were captured and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British Navy. He sold his home and property to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKeam was forced to constantly move his family from British pursuit. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken and he died in poverty. The properties of Ellery, Clymer, Hall, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge and Middleton were vandalized and looted as well.

The home of Thomas Nelson Jr., was seized by British General Cornwallis and used as his headquarters in Yorktown, Virginia. During the Battle of Yorktown, Nelson quietly urged General George Washington to open fire anyway, destroying his home. Nelson died bankrupt.

John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year John lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion. Lewis, Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Smith sums it up like this: “Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These signers were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. Their average age was 45. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: ‘For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor’” (www.michaelwsmith.com).

The United States of America is inseparably linked to the God of the Bible, no matter how much revisionist historians seek to sever it, and political correctness to deny it. The Christian roots of our nation’s founding, and biblical quotations of our country’s forefathers are carved in stone, set in glass, and forged in brass, as well as written on parchment.

Principles of character, justice, and soul freedom that America holds dear, came to the early colonies from the English Common Law, which was based squarely on teachings of the Bible. Early in American history, belief in the Bible resulted in concepts of human liberty, social benevolence, and the system of government and education, becoming part of the fiber of our nation. References to the Bible and to the God of the Bible are inscribed on hundreds of America’s founding memorials in Philadelphia, Boston, Washington D.C., New York City, and elsewhere across our land.

This week we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, which did just that—it firmly declared the American Colonies independent of—the authority and rule of Great Britain. This historical document states that the “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” entitle the American nation of people to a separate and equal station among the powers of the earth.

The Declaration of Independence uniquely contains a theory of rights that depends on God, not man, for its validity. It states that, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With these words the Continental Congress affirmed that the Creator gave people’s rights to them—not a monarch, an aristocracy or a government agency. Most historians agree that this wording—these rights—this statement of legitimacy—has no parallel in human sources. We see in these words a deep affirmation of the religious faith of our founding fathers.

What Thomas Jefferson and the contributors meant in these words were that the liberty God gave to man was not sourced in, or dependent upon, the permission or toleration of any human ruler or sovereign—but flowed directly from God the Creator, Himself. It was for this reason the Declaration stated that governments, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” are established. The result of this truth means that the people have the right, and even more, the obligation, to change or abolish a form of government that becomes autocratic or dictatorial.

In the closing paragraph, the signers appealed to “the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude” of their intentions. They declared unashamed dependence upon God to validate the justice and righteousness of their cause, and without a doubt, He did! The United States of America came into being because of their commitment to principles of liberty and their reliance upon the God of the Bible.

God gives this great promise:Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). As Americans, let’s take God’s promise to heart and bring others to saving faith in Jesus Christ. May God continue His blessing on America! Happy Fourth of July!

Be Your Best for Jesus—As a Partner

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Self-Help Books are written to instruct readers on solving personal problems. This style of book was popular from the 1950’s through the 1990’s. They qualified as a cultural phenomenon in those days. The idea was, if you want to change or improve some aspect of your personal life, simply follow the steps in a self-help book written about your theme of interest.

These books cover subjects from how to win and influence people… to how to develop good habits… to how to make a million dollars… to how to improve your health… to how to get things done… to how to find the right mate… to how to get physically fit… and so on and on and on.

In some ways, God’s Word, the Bible, is the supreme self-help book, but would probably better be described as the God-Help book. His Word tells you how to be born again and how to live a Christian life. Within its pages are instructions, directions and insights about personal, family, vocational, community, private, public, home, and eternal life.

With this in mind, let me ask, as a Christian, are you doing your best for Jesus? Of all the areas we need to do our best, being our best for Jesus should be a top priority. Here are some thoughts from Romans 12 on how to be your best for Jesus.

Paul’s epistle to the Romans falls into two main divisions. The first 11 chapters deal with theological doctrine, while the final 5 chapters present subjects for practical application. The final section in Romans 12 begins this way: “Therefore I urge you brethren…” (verse 1). It starts with Paul’s exhortations for them, and us, to apply doctrinal truth to real life. It is never enough just to know doctrinal truth. To be affective, learning must be translated into living.

Romans chapter 12 falls into three natural divisions that may be applied like this:

  1. How to be your best for Jesus as a Person (Individually), Romans 12:1-8.
  2. How to be your best for Jesus as a Partner (In the Body), Romans 12:9-16.
  3. How to be your best for Jesus as a Pilgrim (In the World), Romans 12:17-21.

God longs for His children, born-again by personal faith in Christ, to become part of a local church body. The Christian life was not meant to be lived in isolation, but in participation with other like-minded believers. To go to heaven, you do not have to be a church member—but as a believer—you need to be a church member, because you need others, and they need you. So, Paul wrote: “I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think… for just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (verses 3-4).

In Romans 12:9, Paul gives specific instructions on how to be your best for Jesus: To be your best for Jesus as a Partner:

 1.  You Must Love Others…”Let love be without hypocrisy.”

Loving others is the first duty in the Christian life, and the greatest virtue. Love is the greatest spiritual gift (1 Cor. 13:13). Love is the first of nine fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Love is the identifying mark of Christ’s disciples (John 13:35). And Love is to be higher than any other duty. “Above all keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Christian love is to be without hypocrisy. The origin of the Greek word “hypocrisy” is rooted in the Greek and Roman theatre. The word described an actor who would hold up different masks during a performance, to show his happiness, anger or sorrow. When applied to life, a hypocrite is one who puts on a face different than the intent of his heart. Paul said Christian love is to be genuine, real and true, without pretense or show.

2.  You Must Hate Evil, “Abhor what is evil.”

Don’t think a Christian should not hate—he should hate—evil! “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13). The psalmist wrote, “Hate evil, you who love the Lord” (Psalm 97:10). The Christian must hate evil in his own life. Evil in the Christian life is like a malignancy that spreads, if allowed to remain. If we do not hate evil, we will tolerate it, then pity it, and finally embrace it. You cannot flirt with sin and expect it not to affect you. “Abhor” means to despise or hate; to have a horror of evil. The correct way to show our revulsion of evil is by withdrawing from it.

3.  You Must Do Good, “Cling to what is good.”

The word “cling” means to glue together, to join, bond or unite firmly together. We need to stick like glue with “what is good.” Goodness and doing good things should be part of our lives every day. Paul gave the best advice you can heed when he wrote the Thessalonian church to: “Examine everything carefully; Hold fast to that which is good; Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21). Notice this command begins with “examine everything carefully”—which calls for spiritual discernment. Evaluate what you do, where you go, how you think, and determine whether to reject or cling to it.

If you are a believer in Christ, and want to be your best for Jesus (and who doesn’t?)—Love Others Sincerely—Hate Evil Aggressively—and Hold to the Good Tenaciously!