The Apple Of God's Eye

February 18, 2010

How Does A Christian "Bless" God?

God rules the universe supreme! He owns everything that exists. Yet each of us can bless God and bring Him pleasure, delight and joy. How? If we examine the context of the passages that instruct us to bless God, we find exactly what this term means. Notice Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

To bless God, therefore, means to praise Him. But why do we praise God? Just because He tells us to? No. The true, wholehearted praise God desires is the praise of sincere thankfulness and appreciation for all the blessings He first gives us: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

The awesomeness of God is worthy of continual praise:

“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3).

Psalm 96 shows us that God is also blessed in song and worship, and by declaring His salvation to all the world. Psalm 100:4 shows that we bless God by coming before Him in worship, praise and thanksgiving. This attitude of reverence, fear and respect for God and the laws He has given carries over into our daily lives as we obey Him and become living sacrifices for Him (Romans 12:1). God wants us to be living witnesses to others around us of the true way of abundant Christian living (Matthew 5:16). In this way we set an example and bear fruit, which glorifies God (John 15:8).

Jesus said there is great joy in heaven over every sinner who, being called by God and seeing the good example of true Christians, repents and begins on the way to salvation and membership in God’s own Family (Luke 15:10).

God created humankind to ultimately become His children (Revelation 21:7). The greatest blessing we can give God is to fulfill our purpose in life — yield to God, overcome and qualify for salvation — become a child of
God!

October 19, 2009

Seven Supplements That Comprise Living Faith: Do You Know Them?

The apostle James devoted practically his whole epistle to the subject of faith — living faith, faith that always produces fruit. But he also revealed a much neglected truth that holds the key to living faith. He wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).

While the epistle of James deals primarily with faith, the two epistles Peter wrote put the accent on hope; as for the apostle John, he, in his three letters, expounded on what love is.

These three virtues combined — faith, hope and love — reveal to us the works of faith.

Interestingly enough, the apostle Peter groups these works in three simple verses, as he writes: “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (II Pet. 1:5-7).

Do you actually understand the full meaning of these words? Peter mentions seven supplements — seven important works — that are to be added to faith. These seven works make our faith a living faith, not a dead one.

In any language, words are used to express ideas, but they often have different connotations in people’s minds. God expresses His ideas through the Bible. We must therefore grasp the spiritual intent of His words to fully understand the Bible’s meaning.

Virtue

Peter wrote, under God’s inspiration, that the first supplement to faith — the first of the required works — is virtue.

In the original Greek, this word appears four times in the New Testament, but it is not always translated “virtue” in the various English versions. Some translate it as “excellence,” “strength,” “right conduct” or even “wonderful deeds.”

In essence you must conduct yourself according to God’s way in order to have living faith. You must show courage and strength, and you must excel in your task.

Peter also wrote, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9). Here the same Greek word that is elsewhere translated as “virtue” is rendered “praises.”

Interesting, isn’t it? The words “praise” and “wonderful deeds” (Revised Standard Version) are used as equivalents of the Greek word elsewhere translated “virtue.”

Therefore, to have living faith (remember, “Faith without works is dead” — James 2:26), you must produce “wonderful deeds” or have a “praiseworthy conduct” in God’s sight. That’s what God wants you to do.

Knowledge

Let us now examine the second work that must be added to your faith to make it live. Peter states, “And beside this, giving all diligence. add … to virtue knowledge” (II Pet. 1:5).

Why should knowledge come right after virtue? The answer is obvious: to enable us to rightly determine just what are good and praiseworthy deeds. That knowledge only comes from God.

Consequently, you need to study the Bible and learn what God wants you to do. Your deeds must be evaluated by His standards and not your human standards. Without divine revelation, you cannot have this essential knowledge.

Today humanity as a whole has much knowledge of material things, but is lamentably ignorant of spiritual truths. Men can send highly sophisticated spacecraft into space and take remarkable pictures of the planets. Astronauts can set foot on the moon and return to earth safely.

Nevertheless, that kind of knowledge, however awe-inspiring, does not produce living faith. It cannot save a person. Your faith must be supplemented with the knowledge of God’s will and His ways.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” says your Creator. “Because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hos. 4:6).

The prophet Micah clearly shows what is the true knowledge that needs to be added to your faith: “He [God] hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Mic. 6:8).

Simple and beautiful words, provided you grasp their spiritual intent. To do justly is to live by every word that proceeds out of God’s mouth; to love mercy is to be good to your neighbor — to love him as you love yourself; to walk humbly with God is to do His will, and to have no other gods before Him.

Unfortunately, ever since the beginning, the world has rejected this knowledge.

Temperance

After supplementing your faith with virtue and knowledge, you must exercise temperance or self-control. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add … to knowledge temperance” (II Pet. 1:5-6).

Of what value can knowledge be if you don’t put it to use — or if you lack self-control? More often than not, people know what they are supposed to do, but they lack the character to do it.

Misuse of anything leads to sin. For instance, there’s nothing wrong with eating and drinking. But too much eating and drinking can be sin.

Do you now see why God wants you to add to your faith — as a working part of it — self-control? You must learn to resist temptation, to stop before you come anywhere near breaking God’s law.

The best and surest way to resist temptation is to get closer to God, but you can only get closer to Him by doing His will. That’s having self-control or temperance.

God’s Spirit in you will give you all the help you need, because “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

Patience

To virtue, which is good conduct or praiseworthy deeds, you must add godly knowledge; to knowledge, self-control or temperance in order to resist evil; and to self-control, steadfastness or patience (II Pet. 1:6).

Patience is one of the most important — and one of the hardest — things to practice. Without it you cannot grow in grace and knowledge, practice virtue, acquire knowledge or exercise self-control.

That’s why the apostle James wrote: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas. 1:2).

To one degree or another we all lack patience. We often get upset and irritated when others don’t do what they are supposed to do, but we are very tolerant with ourselves.

How grateful we should all be to God that He does not lose patience as we do!

To have patience is to set your ideas, your goals, your mind on positive things — with faith — all the time. Patience never gives up, no matter what. It enables you to remember that God loves you and that He always knows what’s best for you.

Throughout history, all the people of God and every disciple of Christ had to learn to be patient. true Christians must not forget that God’s timing is always best, and that our faith is strengthened when we patiently wait on Him.

Godliness

Just what is godliness (II Pet. 1:6)? How does the Bible define it?

To be godly is to have a godlike attitude. You must learn to gradually think like God and behave like Him. God commands you to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:2).

Indeed, you have to endeavor to be godly and respectful in every way — to think and act as God does — to be patient and kind as He is. Unfortunately, the much misunderstood words pious or piousness have been substituted for godliness in some English versions of the Bible, and people are confused.

Godliness is synonymous with true Christianity or true religion. In fact, in the Revised Standard Version, this is how the same Greek word has been translated in I Timothy 2:10: “But by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion [godliness].”

As you can see, to practice godliness is to have godlike religion — the true religion. Faith without godliness is dead.

Kindness

The “brotherly kindness” mentioned in this verse is translated from the Greek word philadelphia, which literally means “brotherly love.” This love is one of the works of your living faith. Philia love is the love of friendship—brotherly love—love of parent, or child. Strong’s Concordance says it means “to have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling).”

Though philia and agape are related in many ways, there is a fundamental and distinct difference between the two. Man can express philia love, but not agape. Philia love is prompted by a sense of emotion. God’s love is not an emotion. The simple difference is this: All men can express philia whereas agape love is attained by choice. God made us free moral agents. He gave us minds to direct our actions. For right actions, we must submit to His law of love by choice. Doing so will bring us happiness. But it also requires that we go against what is normal or natural for the carnal man.

All men were created with a natural love toward self. Remember, we are commanded to love neighbor as self. Philia love can be an unselfish, outflowing love, but only when combined with the agape love God gives you.

But for the most part, philia love is something man, without God’s Spirit can express, because it revolves around self. It means “fraternal affection, brotherly love”; in other words, the natural affection you have for those who relate to you in a special way.

Love

The final supplement — the seventh work — to living faith that Peter lists is charity, or the love of God (II Pet. 1:7). God’s love is concerned about that neighbor who is the absolute farthest away from any kind of natural, brotherly affection. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love is much more than just a natural affection you might have for those closely related to you. It is more than philia.

Do you really love everyone, including your enemies? Don’t you sometimes criticize others, see the evil in them, overlook their good deeds? Don’t you judge them instead of being a light to them?

Without question, there is much wrong in the world, and you, as a Christian, should not be a part of it, nor should you judge it. The whole world today desperately needs God’s Kingdom to come. Christ didn’t only die for His true followers. He died for every single human being.

Conclusion

Examine your heart. Is your faith truly supplemented with the seven works the apostle Peter mentions in this section of his second epistle?

In concluding this section, Peter wrote, “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things [if you practice these works of faith], ye shall never fall” (II Pet. 1:10).

What a tremendous promise! If you have living faith — faith supplemented with these seven works — you will never, never fall. You will never give up. “For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (verse 11).

That’s your precious, ultimate reward. Let your faith be truly supplemented with the works of the Holy Spirit!

Research Source: The Good News, February 1982

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 30, 2009

How Do We "Bless" God?

kenk3n.wordpress.com

kenk3n.wordpress.com

God rules the universe supreme! He owns everything that exists. Yet each of us can bless God and bring Him pleasure, delight and joy. How?

If we examine the context of the passages that instruct us to bless God, we find exactly what this term means. Notice Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

To bless God, therefore, means to praise Him.

But why do we praise God? Just because He tells us to? No. The true, wholehearted praise God desires is the praise of sincere thankfulness and appreciation for all the blessings He first gives us: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

The awesomeness of God is worthy of continual praise:

“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:1-3).

Psalm 96 shows us that God is also blessed in song and worship, and by declaring His salvation to all the world. Psalm 100:4 shows that we bless God by coming before Him in worship, praise and thanksgiving.

This attitude of reverence, fear and respect for God and the laws He has given carries over into our daily lives as we obey Him and become living sacrifices for Him (Romans 12:1). God wants us to be living witnesses to others around us of the true way of abundant Christian living (Matthew 5:16). In this way we set an example and bear fruit, which glorifies God (John 15:8).

Jesus said there is great joy in heaven over every sinner who, being called by God and seeing the good example of true Christians, repents and begins on the way to salvation and membership in God’s own Family (Luke 15:10).

God created humankind to ultimately become His children (Revelation 21:7). The greatest blessing we can give God is to fulfill our purpose in life — yield to God, overcome and qualify for salvation — become a child of
God!

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