In James 1:1-12, we read that if we persevere under trials that we will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. And Hebrews 1:1 tell us that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It takes a special person to remain faithful under all the circumstances of this life. It requires an absolute faith and trust in God. James 1:2 tells us to “consider it all joy, my brothers, when you face various trials.” Why would a trial be considered a source of joy?
Because when our faith is tested, it produces endurance. When we remain strong and faithful in the trial, we find that the Lord is indeed true to His word and that we can overcome. Our faith is strengthened for the next trial – and the next one will come. 2 Timothy 3:12 states “ In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”. Satan will not give up, but by the grace of God strengthening our resolve to remain faithful, we can and must overcome if we are to gain the crown of life in heaven.
One key difference between the Church of Christ and the Christian church is the use of instrumental music in the worship. The following are two true stories from J.W. McGarvey about his experiences in this matter.
In the 1870’s, J.W. McGarvey was one of the elders of the Lexington Church, and he with the other elders approved a small instrument to be placed in the church building basement for the young people to use to help improve their singing. No one, especially McGarvey, would ever have thought of moving it upstairs to be used in the worship service. They had used only acapella singing as the Bible instructed and had no intention of violating the scriptures.
Years went by and the youngsters grew up and took their places in the worship upstairs. Then in November 1902, a move was made to introduce instrumental music into the worship service. A vote was taken and the result was 370 for, 202 against. What was unthinkable a few years before was now voted in by men, and McGarvey’s conscience would not allow him to remain with that church and he went elsewhere.
While one may admire McGarvey’s stand on principle in 1902, the elders small compromise in allowing that small instrument to be put in the basement in the first place led to the introduction of the organ into the worship service by those who were likely trained by its use in that basement.
In January 1903, at the Pearl and Bryan Street Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, brother McGarvey was asked to speak and was sitting on the front row next to brother Jesse P. Sewell. He leaned over and said to brother Sewell, “You are on the right road, and whatever you do, do not let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it.
I have tried, I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I have never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted the invitation to preach without distinction between churches that use it and those that do not. I have gone along with their papers and magazines and things of the sort. During those years, I taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who has passed through the College of the Bible. Yet I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today. Compromise, even a little, will not work.”
You see, what may seem to be a harmless compromise can lead to things that we never envisioned would occur. We must remain true to the word of God and never compromise in large or small ways. Our actions as Christians will influence others toward the truth or put things in their way that will make likely to stray from the word of God. May we make up our minds never to compromise.
One of the unchanging laws of God is that we will reap what we sow
Gal 6:7-8 “Do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
Our own sowing actions will determine the harvest that we reap. If our minds are on material things and fleshly desires, then we have determined the harvest ourselves and we can blame no one else. Those who choose to ignore God and live according to their own dictates can anticipate a harvest of eternal separation from the God they chose to ignore. The Lord said in Prov 1:24-31 “But since you rejected me when I called and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand, since you ignored all my advice and would not accept my rebuke, I will in turn laugh at your disaster; I will mock when calamity overtakes you – when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind, when disaster and trouble overwhelm you. Then they will call to me but I will not answer; they will look for me but will not find me. Since they hated knowledge and did not choose to fear the Lord, since they would not accept my advice and spurned my rebuke, they will eat the fruit of their ways and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.”
Those today who live lives following the immoral practices of the day will be the disappointed and disillusioned men and women of tomorrow. Many expect young people to ‘sow their wild oats’, and those same people expect to somehow avoid the consequences of those actions. But no one can sow wild oats and expect to harvest salvation. Unless a person turns to God in repentance and change their behavior, we will have to reap the harvest of every sin that we commit. God will not be mocked – 2Cor 5:10 We cannot expect to live in sin and somehow hide it from God – Num 32:23.
If we want the spiritual fruit of peace, happiness, security, and salvation, then we must sow good spiritual seed. Many waste years when they should have been sowing God’s seed, and then act surprised when they do not receive the desired rewards at harvest time. The prophet Hosea said in Hosea 8:7 “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.” This is what many will find at judgment day- we will reap at the harvest what we sow now. Paul told those in Thessalonica – 2Thess 1:7-9 .. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with His powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power.”
I know that worship is important, but I think a fellow has the right to miss now and then. The following is a list of reasons for which I think I should be excused:
• 1 Christmas – It’s only once a
• 1 New Years – I need to start off rested.
• 1 July Fourth – National Holiday.
• 1 Labor Day – the Bible commands a day of rest.
• 1 Memorial Day – State holiday.
• 1 school closing – heading to the beach
• 1 school starting – last chance for summer.
• 2 family reunions – one for me, one for the wife.
• 5 out of town games – we support our local team.
• 4 tournaments – one for each sport.
• 1 Anniversary – second honeymoon.
• 5 sickness – one for each family member.
• 3 business trips – have to make a living.
• 3 vacation – 2 week, three weekends.
• 5 bad weather – too hot, cold, ice, snow rain, fog.
• 4 Dallas Cowboys games.
• 2 unexpected company – can’t leave them alone.
• 2 alarm clock failures – not my fault.
• 2 time changes – never can keep them straight.
• 3 house and car repairs – have to do it when I’m off.
• 1 TV special – continuing education.
So I have two Sunday’s free per year. I’ll see you Easter and the third Sunday in September unless I am providentially hindered.
A man once asked the Lord to know to what heaven and hell might be compared. The Lord showed him two doors. He opened one of them and found a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water. But the people sitting around the table appeared thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. Each of them had a long spoon strapped to their arm and each found that while they could easily reach the pot of stew and take a spoonful, they could not get the spoon back to their mouth because the handle was too long. There was misery, suffering, cursing, and anger – the man shuddered at the sight. The Lord said – “You have seen something like hell.”
When the second door was opened, the man saw a large table like the first one, with another delicious pot of stew that made his mouth water. The people there had the same long handled spoons attached to their arms, but they were well fed. There was joy, laughter, talking, and praising God here. The man was amazed – “What made the difference, I don’t understand.” “It is simple”, said the Lord. “It requires only one skill – that they learn to feed each other. The greedy think only of themselves, but those who would please the Lord have learned to think of their neighbor.”
It has been said a friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. Others say that ‘true friends’ can be recognized because they always hold hands – but true friends don’t need to always hold hands because they know that the others hand will be there when they need it. Read Matt 25:31-46 and Rom 12:9-21.
John 15:12-14 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”