Tag Archive: living by faith

In Ruth 1, we read that the husband of Naomi died in the land of Moab. Naomi’s two sons, the husbands of Ruth and Orpah, also died. Naomi then chose to return to Israel and encouraged her daughters-in-law to return to their families. In verse 8 she says, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me.”

Initially, both Ruth and Orpah refused, saying, “We will go back with you to your people” (Ruth 1:10). Naomi then argued that she could provide no more husbands for Ruth and Orpah. From Naomi’s perspective, Ruth and Orpah would remain widowed and childless unless they returned to the homes of their parents. After Naomi’s continued encouragement, Orpah agreed and returned to her family (Ruth 1:14).

Naomi then told Ruth, “Look . . . your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her” (Ruth 1:15). Ruth’s response revealed the difference between Orpah and herself. Ruth said, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me” (Ruth 1:16–17).

This response reveals an important detail about Ruth. In the first statement, in which Ruth and Orpah both said they would return to Israel with Naomi, they said they would return to “your people” (Ruth 1:10). But when Ruth answered this second time, she also added that Naomi’s God would be her God. She agreed to live with Naomi’s people and to follow the Lord.

Naomi and Ruth returned to the humblest of circumstances, yet God used this situation to work in a remarkable way. Ruth would not only join Naomi’s people; she would later marry one of Naomi’s relatives and give birth to a son named Obed—who became the grandfather of King David.

Ruth’s response is a powerful example of how we are to give allegiance to God even when we do not know what the future holds. When we surrender to Him, God sometimes works in unexpected ways to show His power and reveal His love.

From: Genesis 1

We have here the first part of the sixth day’s work. The sea was, the day before, replenished with its fish, and the air with its fowl; and this day were made the beasts of the earth, the cattle, and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before,

1. The Lord gave the word; he said, Let the earth bring forth, not as if the earth had any such prolific virtue as to produce these animals, or as if God resigned his creating power to it; but, “Let these creatures now come into being upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds, conformable to the ideas of them in the divine counsels concerning their creation.”

2. He also did the work; he made them all after their kind, not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions—some to be tame about the house, others to be wild in the fields—some living upon grass and herbs, others upon flesh—some harmless, and others ravenous—some bold, and others timorous—some for man’s service, and not his sustenance, as the horse—others for his sustenance, and not his service, as the sheep—others for both, as the ox—and some for neither, as the wild beasts. In all this appears the manifold wisdom of the Creator.

  The origins of Easter are rooted in European traditions. The name Easter comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her. The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility. Originally, there were some very pagan (and sometimes utterly evil) practices that went along with the celebration. Today, Easter is almost a completely commercialized holiday, with all the focus on Easter eggs and the Easter bunny being remnants of the goddess worship.

In the Christian faith, Easter has come to mean the celebration of the resurrection of Christ three days after His crucifixion. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year because of the significance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the events upon which Christianity is based. Easter Sunday is preceded by the season of Lent, a 40-day period of fasting and repentance culminating in Holy Week and followed by a 50-day Easter season that stretches from Easter to Pentecost.

Because of the commercialization and pagan origins of Easter, many churches prefer to refer to it as “Resurrection Sunday.” The rationale is the more we focus on Christ and the less we focus on the pagan holiday, the better. As previously mentioned, the resurrection of Christ is the central theme of Christianity. Paul says that without this, our faith is futile (1 Corinthians 15:17). What more wonderful reason could we have to celebrate! What is important is the true reason behind our celebration, which is that Christ was resurrected from the dead, making it possible for us to have eternal life (Romans 6:4)!

Should we celebrate Easter or allow our children to go on Easter eggs hunts? This is a question both parents and church leaders struggle with. There is nothing essentially evil about painting and hiding eggs and having children search for them. What is important is our focus. If our focus is on Christ and not the eggs, our children will understand that the eggs are just a game. Children can participate in an Easter egg hunt as long as the true meaning of the day is explained and emphasized, but ultimately this must be left up to the discretion of parents.

For centuries, men, women and even children have been imprisoned–not for what they have done, but for what they believe. In the past century, Christians have been persecuted and martyred in greater numbers than at any other time in history. Hear stories and songs inspired by the followers of Christ who gave their lives for what they believe.   Discover Stories of the Persecuted Church.

Worship can be defined as the act of honoring and loving a deity, idol or  person in a “selfless” manner. The act of worship involves the total self in  giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence to that deity, person or material  object. It is not a half-hearted affair, and it is only after we distinguish  between that which is and isn’t worship, with regards to the divine objective,  that we can begin to answer the above question more fully. True, biblical  worship, as defined by the scholar A. W. Pink (1886 – 1952) in his exposition of  the gospel of John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God,  expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer, once  regarded as a prophet of the 20th century, said, “True worship is to be so  personally and hopelessly in love with God, that the idea of a transfer of  affection never even remotely exists.”

So, the true worship of God is  distinguished by the following criteria: first, it comes from the redeemed heart  of a man or woman who has been justified before God by faith and who is trusting  in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. How can one worship the  God of heaven if his sin has not been dealt with? Never can that worship be  acceptable that proceeds from an unregenerate heart where Satan, self and the  world hold sway (2 Timothy  2:26; 1 John  2:15). Any worship, other than that from a “washed” heart, is vain.

Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was  precisely where the Samaritan people erred; they sought to worship both God and  idols (2 Kings  17:28-41), and this is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He  discourses on the subject of true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to  fetch water from the well. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). These people  worshipped God “half-heartedly” because their total affection was not set on  God. It is possible for even true believers to fall into this second error. We  might not assent to having physical idols, like the Samaritans did, but what  absorbs our will, our time, our resources most of all? Is it careers, material  possessions, money, health, even our families? Let us cry out, like King David  in Psalm 63:5,  “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my  mouth will praise you.” Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the  regenerate man, and his response to that divine satisfaction, comparable to the  best food ever, is the fruit of lips that sing God’s praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to build up our knowledge  of God. How we have lost that desire in these days! Apart from the Bible, which  we should be reading daily, we need to supplement our knowledge by reading other  good books, too. We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God;  God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with  reference to Him (Colossians  3:17; 1  Corinthians 10:31). It is interesting that the Greek word for “worship” in  Romans 12:1 can also mean  “service.” So, our daily lives should also be considered as worship. Every day  we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The  church is supposed to be “squeezing” the world into its own mold, the mold of  Jesus Christ, but too often it’s the other way around.

Let us purify our  hearts if we really want to worship the triune God in spirit and in truth. Our  God is holy; He is altogether “Other,” a God who cannot share us with other  objects of our affection. Indeed, a God who WILL not share us, for the sake of  His holiness. We were made to be worshipping creatures, but the Fall has  crippled and ruined us. Worship is the most natural thing for man, but until we  are restored to God through the sacrifice of His dear Son, then all our worship  is but a vain thing. It is as “strange fire” before the altar (Leviticus 10:1).

The Book of Ecclesiastes describes Solomon’s search for the meaning of life, by his own unaided intellect and apart from divine revelation. His conclusion was that life is vanity and as futile as chasing the wind.

We know the book was written by Solomon because he was the only son of David who was king in Jerusalem, 1. 1. We do not know what period of his life he is describing.

The key to the book is the expression ‘under the sun.’ It occurs 29 times. Solomon tries to solve the riddle of life by his own wisdom and by his own observations. His conclusions are the same as you and I might draw if we did not have a Bible.

Two expressions confirm that the book represents man’s wisdom under the sun. In 3. 18, Solomon said in his heart that men are like beasts. He said this in his heart. He is speaking from personal observation and not from divine wisdom. Then in 3. 21, he said, ‘Who knows the spirit of the sons of men, which goes upward, and the spirit of the beast, who goes down to the earth?’ This is not divine revelation but human ignorance. He says that nobody knows. However, we know what happens at the time of death, because we have the Bible.

If this book contains nothing more than human wisdom, why did God allow it to be included in the Scriptures? Its purpose is to save us from walking the same dreary path of frustration, pessimism, and meaninglessness. If the wisest and richest man could not find fulfilment ‘under the sun,’ what chance do we have?

Because the findings are ‘under the sun’, some of them are true, some are half-true, and some are not true at all. Some are true, e.g. ‘A good name is better than ointment’, 7. 1a; ‘For there is not a just man who does good and does not sin’, 7. 20. Some are only half-true, e.g. ‘And the day of death [is better] than the day of one’s birth’, 7. 1b. This is true only if the person is a believer. Some are not true at all, e.g., the earth does not abide forever, 1. 4; man does have an advantage over beasts, 3. 19; the dead do have knowledge, 9. 5; ‘do not be overly righteous’, 7. 16, is not good advice, God would never say that. On the contrary, He does say, ‘My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin’, 1 John 2. 1. In other words, don’t sin at all.

The fact that there are untruths in the book does not affect its inspiration. The inspiration of the sacred word does not guarantee the truthfulness of what the devil says, Gen. 3. 4-5, or of what man says by his own wisdom. God said to Eliphaz, one of Job’s friends, ‘You have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has’, Job 42. 8. Yet, Eliphaz’s words are in the Bible. The Lord gives a faithful record of what is said and done, and that record is inspired even if it records some of man’s mistakes. He wanted those things to be in the word for our instruction and correction.

Solomon uses Elohim for the name of God in these twelve chapters, never the name Jehovah. Anyone can know that there is an Elohim, that is, a Mighty One. But the name Jehovah speaks of God in covenant relation with man. A fool can know that there is an Elohim, but only a believer can know Him as Jehovah.

The king tried to find fulfilment in education, pleasure, materialism, wealth, music, philosophy, status, and sex, 1. 17 – 2. 11, but concluded that life is meaningless and futile. The argument is that if the richest and wisest could not find fulfilment in these things, what chance do we have? ‘For what can the man do who succeeds the king?’ 2. 12.

In chapter 3. 1-8 he listed 28 activities of life, half of which seem to be active and the others counteractive. Usually the second member of each pair cancels the first. Fourteen minus fourteen equals zero.

This would seem to imply that life is a big zero. The king concluded that when it comes to dying, man has no advantage over a beast. They all go to the grave, 3. 18- 22. Accumulating riches is folly; when a man dies, he leaves it all, perhaps to a son who is a fool. The son did not work hard for it, so he goes out and wastes it.

Mingled with some words of wisdom are many other expressions of pessimism. The struggle of life simply is not worth it.

The king covers most of the spectrum of human life. He tackles the main questions that plague mankind, and comes up with his own answers. Because God’s ways and works are inscrutable, the best philosophy of life is to have a good time while you can. Solomon grieves over injustice, wickedness, and inequalities. The competitive spirit is vanity. Religion that is insincere is vanity. The insatiable desire for more is vanity. All is vanity.

Did Solomon ever get above the sun in this book? The jury is still out on that question. There is no agreement among students of the word. I don’t think he did.

His closing advice for young people to remember their Creator is reinforced by a classic description of old age with its multiple infirmities, 12. 1-7. It is a masterpiece of symbolic literature. Jesus summarized the message of Ecclesiastes when He said, ‘Whoever drinks of this water [the world] will thirst again’, John 4. 13. Only God can fill the vacuum of the human heart. The way of fulfilment is to get above the sun where Christ sits at the right hand of God.

When Others Fail Us

2 Timothy 4:9-14

The apostle Paul knew the value of having good friends. Barnabas encouraged him in his ministry. Silas partnered with him in establishing new churches. Timothy became like a son to him. Paul also knew the heartache of co-laborers turning away from him when times got tough (2 Tim. 1:15). We may experience something similar in our life.

People will react differently to our struggles. Some feel inadequate and hold back because they are uncertain about what to say or do. Others are so protective of their time that selfishness causes them to turn away. And sometimes our friends and co-workers do not want to be identified with us in our trials. In my early days as a pastor, this happened to me when the church was going through a period of turmoil. Only two pastors reached out to me and offered support; the others stood back. This experience taught me the importance of reaching out to people in crisis.

Helping others requires an investment of time and energy. We start by praying for them and asking the Lord how we can help. He may have us lend emotional support, provide spiritual guidance, offer assistance in a physical or financial way, or find others who can. Standing with people will encourage them.

When friends abandoned him, Paul asked God not to count their actions against them. He followed the example of Jesus, who prayed for the Father to forgive His persecutors. What’s your response when friends let you down? Forgiveness is the choice that pleases God every time.

What does it mean to be a born again Christian? The classic passage from the Bible that answers this question is John 3:1-21. The Lord Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (a ruler of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night. Nicodemus had questions to ask Jesus.
As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said, “’I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.’ ‘How can a man be born when he is old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again’” (John 3:3-7).
The phrase “born again” literally means “born from above.” Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart—a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). John 1:12,13 indicates that “born again” also carries the idea “to become children of God” through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.
The question logically comes, “Why does a person need to be born again?” The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins…” (NKJV). To the Romans in Romans 3:23, the Apostle wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, a person needs to be born again in order to have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God.
How does that come to be? Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” When one is “saved,” he/she has been born again, spiritually renewed, and is now a child of God by right of new birth. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the penalty of sin when He died on the cross, is what it means to be “born again” spiritually. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
If you have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you consider the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart? You need to be born again. Will you pray the prayer of repentance and become a new creation in Christ today? “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and be born again, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. “God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life! Amen!

Bishop puts his Rolex up for sale

In a country with an average monthly wage of less than £350, it should have been little surprise that there were few takers in an auction for a gold Rolex – particularly when the asking price was over £5,000.

Nikolay, the Metropolitan of Plovdiv

Nikolay, the Metropolitan of Plovdiv Photo: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By Jeevan Vasagar in Berlin

6:16AM GMT 11 Mar 2013

A senior cleric in the Bulgarian orthodox church, who offered up the luxury watch to pay a church electricity bill, failed to attract any bidders on Sunday.

Nikolay, the Metropolitan of Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second largest city, decided to sell the watch last month to pay an electricity bill of over £1,300 at the Saint Marina church. Any money left over from the auction when the utility bill was paid was due to be donated to charity.

“I’d rather go to heaven without a watch than to hell with one,” the cleric told the state news agency.

The orthodox church is the second biggest landowner in Bulgaria after the state and has faced criticism over its wealth.

Kiril, the interim patriarch of the church – at the time, its most senior member – recently appeared in front of worshippers in a Lincoln MKZ hybrid limousine, reaching from inside the luxury car to sprinkle believers with holy water, according to Bulgarian press reports.

Do you know for certain that you have eternal life and that you will go to Heaven when you die? God wants you to be sure! The Bible says: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Suppose you were standing before God right now and He asked you, “Why should I let you into Heaven?” What would you say? You may not know what to reply. What you need to know is that God loves us and has provided a way that we can know for sure where we will spend eternity. The Bible states it this way: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
We have to first understand the problem that is keeping us from Heaven. The problem is this – our sinful nature keeps us from having a relationship with God. We are sinners by nature and by choice. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We cannot save ourselves. “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves – it is the gift of God. Not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We deserve death and hell. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
God is holy and just and must punish sin, yet He loves us and has provided forgiveness for our sin. Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus died for us on the cross: “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Jesus was resurrected from the dead: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).
So, back to the original question – “How can I know for sure that I will go to Heaven when I die?” The answer is this – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31). “To all who received Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). You can receive eternal life as a FREE gift. “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). You can live a full and meaningful life right now. Jesus said: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). You can spend eternity with Jesus in Heaven, for He promised: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am” (John 14:3).
If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and receive forgiveness from God, here is prayer you can pray. Saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Jesus Christ that can provide forgiveness of sins. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your forgiveness. “God, I know that I have sinned against You and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness! Amen!”