What Are Idols?

What Are Idols?

You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you.  (Deu 6:14)

Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.  (Deu 8:19)

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.  (1 Joh 5:21)

What is an idol?  An idol can be a statue, a god or deity, a symbol, a hero, or an obsession.  Hollywood and movie industry stars can be idols for people, as can a certain model of a car, or a favorite brand of watch or any number of other things.

The key is, what is the most important thing in life to you?  What do you talk about the most?  What do you think about and dream of daily?  Around what are your goals centered?  Are you determined to achieve riches and fame?  Influence?  Do you dream of becoming a political influencer? 

Any of these things, and more, can become idols in a person’s life.  But God’s Word warns us strongly to stay away from these things.  Therefore, we need to take stock of our thoughts and to acknowledge what we value in our hearts. 

A follower of Jesus would value their relationship with their Savior more highly than any other thing in their lives.  Equally, Jesus’ followers would highly value the Word of God.  And of course, we also choose to honor and to consistently obey the teachings of the Bible. 

We may each joyfully pursue our relationship with our Lord, and endeavor to mature in faith in our Redeemer.  Life is all about Him—not about us.  Our true hero is Jesus Christ, our Savior.  Glory to God!

Look Out for False Teachings

Look Out for False Teachings

Today we’re taking note of Bible verses that warn us of false prophets.  False prophets are judged by their words, and the accuracy of those words. 

Their words must always be measured against and compared to the teachings of Jesus Christ as shown in the Bible, and to the teachings of true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  (Mt 7:15-17)  This passage from Scripture reminds us to be cautious with those who claim to be prophets, and reminds us to judge them by their words and the fruit of their words.  Every good tree–the ones that are connected to the true Savior, Jesus Christ—produces GOOD fruit fit for the kingdom of God.   Observe the fruit and works of those who desire to teach you “new” things.  If they are not operating in the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit, then it’s best to avoid them.

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  (Mt 24:24)  The goal of the false prophet, in spite of performing apparent miracles, is to deceive God’s chosen ones.  Deception is a work of the devil.

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  (2 Thess 2:9-10)  False prophets may receive power and ability to perform lying wonders from satan, so these things cannot be the determining factor in our judgment of a prophet.  We must compare their words and their teachings, to the clear teachings of Jesus Christ, our Savior.  If the so-called prophet’s teachings do not agree with and line up with those of Jesus (shown in the Bible), then we must not follow their words or their teachings.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.  (Mt 10:16)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  (Jam 1:5)

Let us endeavor to have the wisdom that is spoken of in the Bible, and which is given to everyone who asks the Lord for it.  Ask the Lord for wisdom, and He will surely give it to you.  God bless you.

Sweet, Kind Words

Sweet, Kind Words

What do you think about people who always speak kindly, and who treat others with the respect of using kind and gracious words?  Such people are rare, but we must surely admire and respect them. 

Pleasant [gracious] words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.  (Pro 16:24 NKJV, definition in brackets added)

A gentle response diverts anger, but a harsh statement incites fury.  (Pro 15:1 ISV)

A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word!  (Pro 15:23 NASB)

Wholesome speech is a tree of life, but dishonest talk breaks the spirit.  (Pro 15:4 CEB)

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.  (Pro 31:26 ESV, emphasis added)

As we can see from these Bible passages, kind and pleasant words bless all those who hear them as well as those who speak them.  Good-humored, pleasing words and conversation can bring about unexpected benefits.  Here are just some of them:

  • Joy to the soul and good health for body, soul, and spirit (Pro 16:24)
  • Turning anger away (Pro 15:1)
  • Delight (Pro 15:23)
  • Lengthens our lives and enriches them (Pro 15:4)
  • Wisdom and kindness go hand-in-hand (Pro 31:26)

It is always a source of awe-inspired wonder to me that there is such a richness and depth to the teachings of the Word of God when we take time to study them and to understand them in their fullness. 

May your life be enriched, lengthened, and blessed by the kind and pleasant words that you speak to others, and which other people speak to you.  All glory to God!

Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

Why Did Jesus Use Parables?

But without a parable He did not speak to them. And when they were alone, He explained all things to His disciples.  (Mk 4:34)

. . . that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  “I will open My mouth in parables;  will utter things kept secret from the foundation of the world.”  (Mt 13:35)

Why did Jesus speak in parables so regularly?  Jesus used parables frequently as a means to illuminate weighty, divine truth.  He also had other reasons to use parables to communicate in public.

  • And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54 lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him. (Lk 11:53-54)  The scribes and Pharisees were always looking to find fault with Jesus and to discredit Jesus in the eyes of all of the people.  By using parables, Jesus could thwart the plans of His enemies.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. (Mt 5:6)  Through the use of parables, Jesus could spiritually feed those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness.  Those who had a good heart, who were truly seeking God, could find what they needed in His teachings.
  • “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mt 7:13-14)  This story of the two roads (one narrow, one wide) caused people to think about where their lives were headed.  Using parables motivated people to stop and think about such profound topics.
  • Jesus’ parables brought pressure upon people to cause them to choose whether they wanted to be a sheep or a goat. “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left . . .”  (Mt 25:31-33, for full story see Mt 25:31-46)
  • Give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. (Ps 78:1-3)  As we can see by this passage, by speaking in parables, Jesus fulfilled prophecy concerning Himself.  (see also Mt 13:34-35)

Jesus always had very good reasons for His actions.  He listened for and obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit, and followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  He has set us an excellent example, hasn’t He?

Jesus, Loving Friend of Sinners

Jesus, Loving Friend of Sinners

Jesus was called by the Pharisees “A friend of sinners.” 

The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  (Lk 7:34)

 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’  (Mt 11:19)

They were criticizing Jesus for spending time with undesirables such as tax collectors and sinners!  But Jesus spent time with the very people who needed to hear His teachings and His gospel.  His mission on earth was to bring salvation to sinners!

The Scriptures below demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the mission His Father gave to Him, and because He DID, He is truly a Friend of Sinners!  Hallelujah!

Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.”  And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  (Joh 8:5-11)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  (Joh 3:17)

Let us celebrate and lift up the Name of Jesus!  Bless the Lord!

The Armor of Light

The Armor of Light

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.  (Rom 13:12)

What is the armor of light? The armor of light is not made of physical materials but of moral and spiritual teachings and standards.  We are children of light (Eph 5:8; Phil 2:15), and we are encouraged in the Word of God to walk in the light.  (Ps 89:15; Isa 2:5; 1 Joh 1:7)

Fix your mind on the reality that the day of Christ’s second appearing—the sunrise—is quickly approaching because the dawn of Christ’s first appearing has already occurred. The forces of darkness have been defeated.  Soon, they must submit entirely to the Sun of Righteousness. (Mal 4:2)

Practically speaking, how do we put on the armor of light and walk in the light?  There are various facets to this topic, and I am only going to cover a handful.  If this is a topic of interest to you, I encourage you to pursue studying it in more depth.

Walking in the light and wearing the armor of light includes:

  1. Reflecting the image of God to the world by living holy lives (Ro 13:14);
  2. Clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:27)—corroborated by loving others as Christ does;
  3. Recognizing that Christ is the Light of the World (Joh 8:12, 9:5), and that His Spirit lives within each one of us. (Ro 8:10-12) Therefore, we must allow Jesus to instruct and guide our every act and every plan so that we bless others and that we, ourselves, walk in blessings;
  4. Walking in the light means maturing in our faith day by day as we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and obey the Word of God.
  5. Following God’s teachings, living in His power, and growing in His grace.

May you be a blessing as you continue to grow and to mature in faith!