The Apple Of God's Eye

May 17, 2010

Is Smoking A Sin?

The modern denominational churches of this world refuse to take their religious beliefs and doctrines from the Bible. Rather, they attempted to read their ideas and beliefs into the Bible – by twisting and distorting the word of God, and by taking verses out of context. If we are to find the truth on this subject, we have to find the answer in the Bible.

That’s not to say that smoking is specifically mentioned in the Bible. What is mentioned though is the principle of sin, because it says “sin is the transgression of law” – meaning God’s laws. Now the law of God is always based upon the principle of outgoing love, that is, love towards others. There are also physical laws set in motion within our human bodies by God, to control our state of health.

Smoking is a spiritual sin

When looking at God’s spiritual law, we have to understand that it is divided into two great commandments – love toward God (the first four of the ten), and love to fellow man (the last six commandments). (more…)

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September 1, 2009

The Power Of Parental Example

“He’s the spitting image of his father.”  — “He’s a chip off the old block.”   — “Like mother, like daughter.”

Expressions like these reflect that we tend to follow the example set by our parents.  How good or how bad an example do you set as a parent?

Children are richly blessed in life if they have good examples to follow. This leaves you as a parent with a major question to answer: By following your parental example, where will your children end up?

To help answer that question, let’s look at some ways that your children learn from your example. Here are several traits you may occasionally exemplify, and what those examples will produce in your children.

Hostility

A child living with hostility will learn to fight. Have you ever been out somewhere and observed children who punch, scratch, pinch, push, bully, swear at and tattle on other children?

If this is their behavior in public, then what must the example they see at home be like?  Are your children guilty of such conduct? If so, from whom do they learn it?

Parents who stand on the sidelines of sporting events yelling and urging their children to win at all costs — and who get upset and angry when their children lose — are teaching a spirit of competitiveness. They are also teaching that winning is all that matters.

Do you know parents who will only play sports if they can win all of the time and who are extremely irritated at losing? They will not play with people they cannot beat. Ever wonder what attitude their children will adopt toward fair play and being able to lose gracefully?

Why not teach children by example, that winning, though important, is not the supreme goal? Playing the game in sportsmanlike fashion and showing concern for the other players is most important.

Children exposed to bad sporting examples quickly absorb the message that to solve a problem you argue and fight. What a pity they are not rather learning that peace comes from practicing the principles that make for peace (Jas. 3:18).

Criticism

A child who lives with constant criticism will learn to grumble and complain. Is the family dinner table a place for gossip, criticism and cynical remarks? If it is, then children are learning to be complainers.

Do you have gripe sessions in front of them? If you must air grievances, do it privately, away from young, impressionable minds. This may take restraint on your part when you have the urge to be critical. Better still, overcome such negative habits.

Certainly, you should teach your children to accept criticism — it’s a tool for growth — but criticism should always be constructive and be given in a spirit of love.

Disregard for law

It is surprising to see the extent to which some “Christians” flout vehicle speed laws and parking directions. Some apparently feel that traffic regulations are “only man’s laws anyway.”

What is of greater concern about such disregard, beyond that you could wind up hurt physically, is that you are nourishing a belief in your heart that you are above law. This teaches children double standards. Derogatory remarks about authority figures — whether police, teachers, government officials or ministers — also set a bad example.

Paul warns, “Obey those who rule over you” (Heb. 13:17) — even when you consider the rules inadequate or foolish. Your purpose is to learn to submit to authority. If you don’t set the example, how can you expect your children to submit to you? Disregard for law and order encourages rebellion.

Unequal love

Isaac grew up in a family atmosphere that reflected unequal love toward his half brother Ishmael (Gen. 21:8-11). Eventually Ishmael was forced out of the camp and separated from his father, Abraham, because of Sarah’s and Hagar’s feelings against each other.

In time, Isaac had his own family — twin sons — Esau and Jacob. But personality differences took root in the family because Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah gave more of her love to Jacob (Gen. 25:28). This led eventually to Jacob’s taking Esau’s birthright by deceptive means worked out by his mother. Not the best example of family togetherness. But where did Isaac learn to conduct his family this way?

Favoritism

If you practice favoritism, your children will learn to be partial. Continuing with the above story, we read that Jacob had many children from his two wives and their handmaids. But the child Jacob loved most was the youngest, Joseph.

The problem with this was in being so open about it before the others, culminating in the special gift of the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3-4). This produced family jealousy and rivalry.

Of course, Joseph’s dreams and his approach in telling his brothers didn’t help matters either (verses 5-11). The end result of Jacob’s practicing partiality was that Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave.

Joseph, himself, was partial years later in Egypt when he gave a banquet for all his brothers. Guess who got the biggest share of food? Benjamin, the youngest, was openly favored (Gen. 43:34).

This resurrected a family resentment that resurfaced at the death of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became fearful, thinking that with the patriarch out of the way, Joseph would take revenge on them (Gen. 50:15).

Hypocrisy

Children see through hypocrisy, especially in the Christian example you set. Do you say one thing — or even tell your children to do one thing — while you yourself do something else?

Does your child know and see that you pray, study the Bible, fast, get anointed when you are sick and serve others? Or does he see a show at Church services each week and general disinterest the other six days? Whatever you practice, your children see and tend to copy, whether for the good or bad.

But what if you yourself have been the victim of bad parental influences and find yourself struggling to change?

God gives encouragement through the prophet Ezekiel. As long as you are willing to take heed to your ways, to consider right and wrong and seek to change faults, you can avoid being an injurious example to your own children (Ezek. 18:14-17, 27-28). You can, if you are willing to make the effort, teach them God’s way.

Joseph and Mary must have set a fine example for Jesus. God the Father must have been especially mindful that a right kind of family environment would be needed to nurture and admonish Jesus during His boyhood years.

With the help of this fine family example, Jesus grew up to be “in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Could there be a better goal in child training than this, that as a result of the godly family environment you create for your children, they grow up to be “in favor with God and men”? How richly blessed your children will be if this happens. And what a commendation for you as a parent!

If your family environment reflects criticism, hostility, ridicule and competitiveness, your child will learn to fight, to feel shy and guilty, to be spiteful and hateful and perhaps be destined to end up as an ineffective parent himself.

But if your family environment reflects tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, honesty, security and approval, your child will learn acceptance, patience, confidence, justice, faith and to find true and enduring friendships.

The parental example you set has great impact upon your children. Make your example a good one!

Source: The Good News, May 1983

August 2, 2009

The Love Of God Versus Fake Love

www3.uakron.edu

www3.uakron.edu

Love – perhaps no word in the English language is used more often or is more misunderstood. When people in this world talk about love, it usually comes from an emotional standpoint, or a feeling. But God’s love is vastly different. In large part, the people of this world lack love – any love. Think about it. How many today openly exhibit outgoing concern for others? How many are willing to give of themselves — to sacrifice — for the benefit of others around them ? Most human relationships do not exhibit this kind of love. They are damaged by the “get as much for me as I can” philosophy that has prevailed throughout history.

From the beginning we have been subject to these selfish pulls, authored by the fallen archangel Satan the devil. Cain murdered his brother Abel because he lacked brotherly love. His heart was filled with jealousy because he wanted to get rather than give to his brother.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah also reveals a breakdown in human relationships. The angels visiting Lot in the form of men were threatened with homosexual acts by Lot’s neighbors! Why did this situation exist? The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah lacked love. Their problems went much further than homosexuality — the moral, social and spiritual fabric of their society was ripped beyond repair (Ezek. 16:49-50). There were not even 10 men of good character in Sodom (Gen. 18:32).

The end time — the time in which we now live — is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 17:28-30). We see the same breakdown in human relationships. One in three U.S. marriages ends in divorce, and the surviving marriages are often unhappy. Homosexuality is increasing. Child abuse is a serious problem worldwide. Labor unrest abounds. Wars divide the nations of our planet.

All these conditions indicate a lack of love. They show that the world is going the way of the get philosophy rather than the give way of life. All these breakdowns in human relationships produce the same thing — unhappiness! Unhappiness for the person failing to show love, and misery for the person experiencing the lack of love.

Educators, sociologists, psychologists, philosophers and religious leaders vainly attempt to determine the underlying reasons for the present state of man. But only one source strips away human reason and gives us the true answer: God’s Holy Word. The Bible reveals the cause of breakdowns in human relationships: “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (Jas. 4:1). The conditions in the world persist because man has rejected the way of God! People cut off from God are subject to the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 1:18-32).

What about the Church of God?

But can God’s Church lack love? God calls this Church age the Philadelphian era (Rev. 3:7). The word philadelphia means “brotherly love.” However, Christ warned that because of the sinful environment around us, even true Christians may be affected by this world. We as Christians live in a modern Sodom and Gomorrah. This environment weakens our ability to love one another.

The environment of ancient Corinth was extremely corrupt as well. It was notorious for sexual looseness. Christians in that city were adversely affected.

Paul wrote that the Corinthian church was full of envy, strife and division (I Cor. 3:1-3). One man committed incest with his stepmother; this was not a hidden sin but one that was freely accepted by other members (I Cor. 5:1-2). Church members were unable to resolve their problems among themselves, and foolishly went to the judges of the world (I Cor. 6:1).

What love produces

These problems reveal a church lacking proper love. In response, Paul showed them how love should work in the Church — what it should produce among Church members.

The Church is one spiritual Body made up of many members, each of them important — just as a physical body is made up of different but equally important parts. With this established, Paul showed the need for appreciating one another. In fact, those who appear the least deserving of appreciation are to be shown the most! The purpose for this attitude among Christians is to produce unity and empathy for each other (I Cor. 12:13-26). Furthermore, this atmosphere of brotherly love stimulates the love of God.

What, then, is love? Love begins with the keeping of God’s law. Many people today think God’s law is done away. But the Bible reveals that it is only through the knowledge of God’s law that we know what sin is (Rom. 3:20, I John 3:4). We enjoy the fruits of God’s love by putting His law to work in our lives (Rom. 2:13, Jas. 1:22). God’s law doesn’t harm your neighbor — it helps him. Keeping God’s law shows him love (Rom. 13:8-10).

More than that, God’s love is a product of God’s Spirit working in us (Rom. 5:5). By utilizing His Spirit and the tools of prayer, Bible study, meditation and fasting we produce obedience to Him and develop right attitudes and approaches to life. Then those around us are affected by the godly love that flows through us.

These character traits of godly love are beautifully described in I Corinthians 13, where love is broken down into the attributes it produces in Christians and the benefits it offers people around them. Each part is worthy of careful consideration. For our purposes we will substitute the word love for the King James term charity.

  1. Love suffereth long (I Cor. 13:4). Patience is needed when things go wrong, so we will suffer without anger or discouragement. It comes from understanding the other person’s weaknesses, just as God understands our weaknesses and exhibits great patience toward us. How much happier we all are if this trait is practiced, because it produces a more relaxed feeling within ourselves and others. God expects us to have the same mercy for others as He does for us (Rom. 2:1-5).
  2. Is kind (I Cor. 13:4). Kindness is responding to the needs of others. Much of Christ’s life was spent meeting the needs of others through healings and other miraculous events. He performed miracles out of compassion (Matt. 9:36, 14:14, 15:32), which is a combination of sympathy for someone in distress and a desire to alleviate his or her problem. Jesus acted out of deep sympathy and sorrow for the plight of those around Him (Isa. 53:3-4). So ought we.
  3. Envieth not (I Cor. 13:4). Envy prevents us from rejoicing at the successes of others. It cripples personal relationships (Prov. 27:4). It led to Christ’s death at the hands of the Jews (Matt. 27:18). How much better it is to be grateful for the accomplishments of others! It builds much warmer and more secure relationships. It helps others reach their full potential without fear of hurt. Aren’t you happier when your successes are appreciated? When envy is removed, appreciation is possible.
  4. Vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up (I Cor. 13:4). Love eliminates pride, which separates us from others because we feel superior. Feelings of self-superiority should warn us that love is missing in our lives; this separates us from God and men (Prov. 16:18, 29:23). When pride is eliminated, love replaces it and draws us together, because we hold other people in higher esteem than ourselves. We see our own weaknesses more clearly and focus on the strengths of others. We can share our fears and failures with others (Jas. 5:16). Humility is an important ingredient in producing godly love.
  5. Doth not behave itself unseemly (I Cor. 13:5). Good manners are an expression of love. They show our concern for others when we act out of humility. We should question our actions to see if they are done in good taste. God tells us to show honor and follow the rules of custom (Rom. 13:7). Our society has faltered in this trait and discarded etiquette and proper behavior.
  6. Seeketh not her own (I Cor. 13:5). God’s love acting in us will make us more generous; we will have the give attitude that motivates God Himself. We will think as much or more of others as we do of ourselves. The way of selfishness and get has caused all this world’s evils, but a Christian will not demand to have his own way at the expense of others.
  7. Is not easily provoked (same verse). Love eliminates wrong anger. When God gave us His Spirit at baptism, He intended that we conduct ourselves according to His character and that we be of the same mind as Christ (I Tim. 1:7, Phil. 2:5). Christ was compassionate, sympathetic, slow to anger (Neh. 9:17). Should not we be so in dealing with the unconverted and even our brethren? There is a time for righteous indignation (Eph. 4:26). Christ Himself was angry on occasion, but He channeled His aggression perfectly. Wrong anger results from our lack of patience, kindness, generosity, courtesy and unselfishness. One who controls his anger is better than the mighty (Prov. 16:32). Remember that a soft answer eases the tension of an angry confrontation (Prov. 15:1).
  8. Thinketh no evil (I Cor. 13:5). God’s way is one of forgiving and forgetting the evil deeds of others, when repented of. It replaces unnecessary suspicion with trust. This approach builds friendship. Stop and analyze how much this world suffers because of evil thought.
  9. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (verse 6). A person filled with love doesn’t like to see others sin and suffer the consequences. Instead he enjoys the truth that frees a person from sin and unhappiness. As Jesus said, “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
  10. Beareth all things (I Cor: 13:7). Love doesn’t avoid obligations. It is willing to take on responsibilities. Bearing one another’s burdens fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). Jesus gladly took upon Himself the burden of being our Savior (John 10:17-18). It required a tremendous sacrifice, but His love for us made it possible. We need the same love for others.
  11. Believeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Believing all things doesn’t remove us from reality. It makes more real to us that God is about to usher in His perfect government to replace today’s pitiful societies. History has shown that we cannot believe in man’s ways, but we will soon all believe God. We are frequently too negative — we doubt instead of believe.
  12. Consider God’s optimism. He said that, for a rich man, entering the Kingdom of God was harder than a camel passing through the eye of a needle. True, with men this is impossible. But, Christ said, with God all things are possible (Matt. 19:23-26). When you are burdened with trials and troubles ask yourself, “Do I believe God?”
  13. Hopeth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Christian love is filled with hope for the future. There is the hope generated by God’s presence in our lives and in the lives of others. There is the ultimate hope of God’s Kingdom being established and having a part in it. We are to lay hold of this hope (Heb. 6:18) — when we are filled with it we will radiate happiness.
  14. Endureth all things (I Cor. 13:7). Love endures hardship. It helps us have the right attitude when things are difficult. True Christianity causes all things to work for good (Rom. 8:28). Endurance is essential for salvation (Matt. 24:13). We must have it to face the frightening events to precede Christ’s return to earth.

God is love

Relationships work well when love is present in them. When it isn’t, unhappy relationships exist. This is true among marital partners, family members, friends, casual acquaintances, fellow employees and members of God’s Church. We all need love to make our relationships work.

God is love (I John 4:8)! Love literally emanates from Him. Everything God has created for us and is doing through us is done in love. What greater example of love is there than the fantastic plan God has designed to change humans into literal members of the God Family?

By following Christ’s example and obeying God’s laws, we can have the right relationships among ourselves. By submitting ourselves to God we can be prepared to enter His Kingdom. The Kingdom of God will be based on love — and we must grow in God’s love to be there! “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:9).

Source: Good News, 1981

July 8, 2009

Is It Permissible For Christians To Fight In Self-Defence?

thediaperheads-kellyfamily.blogspot.com

thediaperheads-kellyfamily.blogspot.com

Jesus said, “Resist not evil … whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). Does this mean Christians must never defend ourselves?

The Bible makes it clear we are to live by God’s law of love in every aspect of our lives. Therefore it would never be right for a Christian to fight back with the purpose of inflicting bodily injury, even if provoked.

Nonetheless, the use of RESTRAINING FORCE may at times be necessary and advisable. For example, if someone tried to strike you with a club, it would not be wrong to restrain the attacker if you were able.

The best defense is to avoid circumstances which are dangerous or threatening. In case of emergency, we should quickly ask God, in prayer, for protection and deliverance. God hears those who are faithful to Him (see Hebrews 11:6 and I John 3:22).

But, what of “turning the other cheek”? Does that mean Christians are to be pushovers and doormats? Certainly not! Jesus Christ was not. Jesus had the wisdom to know when to avoid confrontations and when to challenge injustice and evil. He forced the money changers out of the temple. Yet, He submitted to the most horrible verbal and physical abuse and finally allowed Himself to be crucified (thereby fulfilling His commission). But, through it all, Jesus set us an example of the type of attitude we ought to have, no matter what the circumstances.

The apostle Paul wrote, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written,
Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). What should a Christian do in the face of evil and injustice? The answer is, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (verse 21).

If we have a godly attitude and a proper personal relationship with God, we can have total confidence that He is
watching over us and will protect us from harm and evil according to His will (see Psalm 91).

April 29, 2009

Does Luke 14:26 Say We Are To Hate Our Family?

Filed under: Hatred,Love Of God — melchia @ 5:53 am
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sovereigngracecincinnati.blogspot.com/

sovereigngracecincinnati.blogspot.com/

Luke 14:26 reads: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Revised Authorized Version). 

At another time, Jesus charged His disciples: “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27). He also said: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:31-32, RAV). In other words, Jesus clearly commands us not only to love those who love us — which should include our relatives — but also to love our enemies who hate us. 

Since the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35), what did Jesus mean when He said “hate” in Luke 14:26? The Greek word for “hate” in this verse is “misei.” Its Greek root can mean “to love less, to postpone in love or esteem, to slight” (“Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament”). 

What Jesus is saying, then, is that anyone who follows Him must love Him MORE than family or relatives or even his own life. In comparison to the greater love we ought to have for Jesus Christ — the One who died for us, our Saviour and Redeemer — the love we have for human relatives must be less. Jesus said that the second great commandment is: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). But what is the first great commandment? It is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37-38). 

One who has such love for God and His way of life will not compromise principle. He will not put any human relationship before God.

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