Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Pear Tree is Faithful

            There was a pear tree in my grand-parents’ yard that was usually good for some fruit every year.  Those pears made some good preserves and they were excellent just to eat plain.  We would climb the tree and jump on the branches to shake those pears out (really trying to hit the other brothers) and could fill a dozen five-gallon buckets.  Looking back, we never expected anything from that tree other than pears.  We never wished it to grow apples the next season, or laid a special fertilizer to make it grow peaches because we knew it was a pear tree and would only produce that fruit.  The pear tree was faithful.

            Paul was very clear concerning the Christian lifestyle and how we are to treat each other, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7–8, ESV).  When you treat others poorly, you ought not to expect anything other than poor treatment in return.  When you plant the seed of bitterness, the tree that grows will produce bitterness every season just as the pear tree produces the same fruit. 

            Solomon also has some words of wisdom concerning the treatment of others, “Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord, but the upright are in his confidence. The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous. Toward the scorners he is scornful, but to the humble he gives favor. The wise will inherit honor, but fools get disgrace” (Proverbs 3:31–35).  In other words, if you plant evil, you will be reaped as an abomination to God.  If you plant righteousness though, you will be reaped in God’s favor and honor.  You cannot live a frivolous life and expect God to call you a child of His on the Judgment Day.  Jesus plainly said, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14).  Are you His friend?  Are you planting today what you hope to reap tomorrow?  The pear tree was and is still faithful. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Four Ways to Recognize a Scoundrel

            If you have never met a scoundrel consider yourself blessed.  A scoundrel will back-stab you without thinking twice and for no good reason.  This kind of person will leave you speechless as to the logic of their actions.  They are selfish, hateful, rude, foolish, and shortsighted in life’s race.  Do you know somebody like this?  Hopefully it’s not the guy in the mirror!  Solomon’s wisdom discerns some more in depth characteristics of the scoundrel.  We can certainly use these qualities to know when to avoid someone like this, or maybe work on our own self if need be.

            Solomon wrote, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.   Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it’—when you have it with you.  Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.  Do not contend with a man for no reason, when he has done you no harm” (Proverbs 3:27-30, ESV).  One thing great about the Proverbs in the Bible is they are to the point.  Many of the principles laid out by Solomon are common sense, but everyone needs an extra dose especially coming from the breath of God.  These four simple sentences lay out a quick guide to how we ought to treat one another.  If your Facebook friend list is huge, but your actual friend list is lagging, consider carefully the wise man’s direction.

            Bob Beaudine in his book, The Power of Who, gives a suggestion about the number of friends we ought to have.  He calls it the 12:3:1 principle.  In other words, have 12 friends whom you can trust, 3 friends that you share nearly everything with and where there is mutual understanding of each other, and have 1 best friend whom you can share everything about yourself with.  Jesus even had 12 friends that formed his inner circle of apostles and it seems he was closer to a few of those than the others.  None of this talk of friendship even matters if you are a scoundrel though.  The challenge for you is to step back and honestly survey yourself using the scoundrel test Solomon gives.  If your results look ugly, consider what Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12a).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Church—No Heaven

             Sunday Bible study starts at 9:30 AM with worship following at 10:30 AM.  Wednesday night Bible study begins at 7:00 PM.  There are approximately three hours every week for most Christians to meet as a body.  Some congregations do not meet on Sunday night or mid-week, but the church gathers at least once every week to remember Christ’s sacrifice he made for us, worship God, edify one another, study God’s word, and give of our means of which we have been blessed.  Christians have the opportunity to meet at least one to three hours a week out of the 168 hours that have been given to us.  Is this time something to complain about, or is it something to be thankful for?

            It is very easy to get busy with life.  As different opportunities come, it is often hard to say the dreaded two letter word, “No.”  We take on extra hours at work, sports, television shows, sleep, home improvement projects, etc. and neglect those few hours out of the 168 to meet with the saints.  One thing about time is that everyone is given the same amount every week.  The difference is how each person uses that allotted amount.  Do you use your time to glorify God or to gratify self?  The post-modern culture in which we live tells us to satisfy self at all times and do not consider others in your pursuit of happiness.  This is not the model Jesus had in mind with his children.

            The song Greatest Commands has strong scriptural basis that goes well with the church’s model.  “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7).  Love…“bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). “…love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” (Luke 10:27).  How can we do the very basic things Jesus told us if we do not have the church?  If we do not attend worship services, how can we say we love one another and want God’s love when we cannot show him just a little love?  The answer is: we cannot.  The truth is straight, with no church there will be no heaven.