Tuesday, March 02 2021
"Happy wife, happy life." Most men know this saying and want to believe it. Most husbands want to make their wives happy. However, many wives think their husbands do not care, and many husbands struggle to cherish their wives because they do not know how.
Women have great power in their marriages. The American Sociological Association reports that women initiate 70–90% of divorces, and that increases as one’s level of education increases (Rosenfeld, 2015). Today, women are the most willing to walk away from their marriages. Why? In the book The Empowered Wife (2017), Laura Doyle offers a simple test for wives to think about who has more power in their marriage by asking: "Who loves who more? Do you love him more? Or does he love you more?" (p. 16). Doyle reports that most women answer that he loves her more. Wives often want to improve their marriages but they think it is dependent on their husbands. Doyle finds that women have the power to change their marriages. Is that true? According to the Bible, wives do have God-given power to affect unresponsive husbands with their conduct (1 Peter 3:1–2).
Wives can do at least one thing to improve their marriage greatly. Doyle reports that women often have a list of complaints for not feeling loved by their husbands, yet husbands have one thing they want from their wives that makes them feel loved and that is respect (The Empowered Wife, p. 105–6). Doyle explains that respect will change men almost instantly. She finds that most women do not know how to respect their husbands or know when they are disrespecting their husbands. She noted that wives do not realize they are disrespecting their husbands when they try to control their husbands by setting their responsibilities, telling them what they should be doing, or instructing how things are to be done. Instead, Doyle coaches wives to comment what they need, what they like, what they cannot do, and what problem they would like solved, and watch their husbands meet those needs. Doyle finds that disrespect drives husbands away from their wives until wives give up on the marriage. Furthermore, Doyle observes that disrespect discourages men from becoming better in various ways. Is she right? Doyle has challenged thousands of women to test her by showing respect to their husbands and see if he changes in as little as 2 weeks.
The Bible emphatically teaches wives to respect their husbands (Ephesians 5:33). Why should women respect their husbands? Is not respect for someone of authority like a judge, an employer, or a teacher? The biblical command seems to imply that men need respect from their wives to take the initiative and lead by example.
The apostle Peter gives excellent instruction to wives about how they can win their husbands by “respectful and pure conduct” (1 Peter 3:1–2). This command comes with a promise that wives can affect change in their husbands by their behavior. Peter expanded on respect teaching wives to be clothed with the hidden person of the heart with the beauty of a gentle and peaceful spirit as God values (3:3–4). Peter further observed how Sarah respected her husband, even obeyed him, and recognized him as "lord" (3:5–6). Abraham was "lord" and leader over 318 men and the whole of his camp. One could argue that Abraham merited his wife's respect for his leadership. However, Sarah could have listed reasons not to respect her husband for not standing up to Pharaoh and later to Abimelech and letting her go with another man or agreeing to take Hagar as another wife to raise a son from her. However, the wife who is faithful to God can look past faults and find good reasons to respect her husband again.
Both the husband and the wife are responsible for their marriage. The Bible does not command husbands to demand respect of their wives as wives cannot demand love. The Scriptures command husbands to love sacrificially, cherish, and nourish their wives and instructs wives to respect by being subject to their husbands (Ephesians 5:25–31). Most husbands want to make their wives happy, and they will keep trying as long as their wives respect their efforts. How can Christians improve their marriages? "Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).
Thursday, February 25 2021
Here are 5 useful truths that most people can recognize:
1. Everything began and came from a more powerful cause.
2. People do not perfectly keep their moral codes.
3. Constant moral values exist beyond what people agree and accept.
4. Life can have no ultimate meaning and purpose without God.
5. Humanity needs saving from degrading one another and denying a constant value for every person.
These truths align with what we experience and with what the Bible reveals. The Bible presents this reality and leads us to realize and infer more. One comment that will instantly improve evangelism is "We were made... for this purpose, to enjoy this, to love others, for more." We may follow up by recognizing that "We all need help in life." For this, consider the title and remember that we were "Made for More."
Most people think about their lives and think about whether there is a greater purpose. We might ask, "Why is everything here?" Some have thought of this and they do not like the answers, so they ignore these evidences of God. However, "Why is everything here?" and "Why is there something rather than nothing?" These are questions that we should use to encourage others to keep asking because the answer is that we were made for more.
We also say, "No one is perfect;" in other words, that no one is morally perfect. This is true as the Bible confirms that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Rebellion separates humanity from the Creator of everything. That rebellion from the Creator of life results in a separation of death and the result is suffering. Now, we see that "We need help. We need a savior."
You may add some other basic truths that people admit. The initial list should get us thinking about how we can encourage others to think about the Creator because there is more to life. The universe is intelligible so that intelligent human beings can perceive the intelligible universe. The only explanations for the cause of the universe is that the cause is either intelligent or not. The best explanation is that the cause is the intelligent Creator and not an unintelligent generator. By the way, asserting multiple creators who contradict each other would not constantly agree on one uniform reality and perception of the world. Because people are intelligent like the Creator, then we are evidently made in the Creator's likeness just as the Bible also attests (Genesis 1:26–27).
How can these deep thoughts come up in everyday conservations? We might talk about the weather and why it is the way that it is: "It is a beautiful day that keeps reminding me that this world was made for us." When good things happen, thank God before others because "We were made for more." When someone does you wrong, do not reserve forgiveness when they repent because God has forgiven you. Christians must stand for what is right and wrong upon the basis that there is a constant standard, because "We were made for more." We can make comments in other subtle ways by noting, "We were not created to treat each other this way" and "We are created to be compassionate." Our actions help others to look at the world and perceive reality. That new perspective will help them to seek, find, and trust in God.
Tuesday, February 23 2021
If there were universal attributes of God in the creation, then Christians could use these characteristics to observe and note God's existence and His actions. This would be the strongest evidence for perceiving God via His creative works and identifying who He is. The Bible consents that humanity can see God’s attributes as the cause of everything (Romans 1:19–20).
If you want to skip to how to use this in everyday life, then go to the last paragraph. However, if you want to think about the basis for how we can observe God's characteristics in nature, keep reading until we get to how this helps us share a reasonable faith.
One can clearly perceive and reason that the characteristics of the uncaused cause of the intelligible universe that allows intelligent moral beings to observe it are that the cause must be:
intelligent, creative, all-knowing,
life-preserving, liberating, moral,
loving, gracious, merciful,
and therefore holy (being unique in character unlike any other).
All of this defines the first cause as God and aligns perfectly with the Bible's description of the Creator God, the "I AM THAT I AM," the God of Jesus of Nazareth.
The Bible's description of God aligns with these attributes of the Creator that set the foundation of natural theology — the study of God as displayed and inferred from nature. As the Bible begins, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). From Genesis, God is the Creator of everything and He is the basis of reality. God must be the Creator of all good who is thus morally good and gracious. Those who rebel against God's moral righteousness also reject His grace and do not accept what is evident of God's character.
The Bible's alignment with natural theology is one of the great evidences of the Christian faith. Furthermore, the character of Jesus of Nazareth aligns with the necessary characteristics of the Creator as perceived and inferred from nature. The apostle Paul proclaimed before the thinkers of Athens the attributes of God by negating false assumptions (Acts 17:22–31). His argument was convincing to some and convicting for others who wanted to hear more. The attributes of God led Paul to note God's moral judgment over humanity and a specific man as the standard for judgment. Furthermore, the man died and overcame death demonstrating his own divine nature.
How can Christians use these observations about God from nature in everyday conversations? Bringing up God and Jesus in small talk can often seem abrupt and forced. However, as students of God, we should have a subtle and reasonable recognition of God. Christians can recognize and note the creative power behind the weather and nature's beauty. Believers should openly thank God for what He provides in our lives such as a new job, a new house, or a newborn. Believers should make a moral stand for what is right in the workplace and community because there is a constant standard of right and wrong. Followers of Christ must demonstrate the love, grace, and mercy that is constant because God is and Jesus lives. We want to put a new perspective before the eyes of our family and peers that begs them to see a greater purpose and meaning to everything and so come to seek out and worship God.
Thursday, February 18 2021
These questions are to encourage personal thought and discussions with family and others about how we love others and recognize when we are not very loving (Colossians 4:2–6). Here are 5 discussions to discuss with other believers:
1. How can someone say, "I love everyone, but I can tell by how he presents himself that he will not amount to much in life?"
2. Is the person, who cruelly criticizes you and degrades you behind your back, someone who respects and loves you?
3. How can someone say his moral standard is "Do no harm" when he degrades, slanders, and speaks profanely before others?
4. Can you show someone that you love that person when you are passively hinting at what you dislike about them and how you want the person to change?
5. Is it worth risking one's life for liberty and justice for all people when so many live immoral and unjust lives?
Tuesday, February 16 2021
These questions encourage conversations about acknowledging God among friends, family, and peers (Colossians 4:2–6). Here are 5 discussions to discuss with other believers:
1. Should you confront a friend who keeps sharing his or her beliefs with others?
- Should Christians comply with removing God from the public square? Why?
- Does Isaiah 59:14 display today's world?
2. Why do many institutions discourage any public conversation of Jesus?
- What good can come from believers talking about Jesus openly?
- What is at stake for those who do not confess Christ according to Matthew 10:32–33 (Luke 12:8; cf Philippians 2:11)?
3. Should some Christians keep their faith a secret from other believers because of what friends and family may think of them if they knew?
- Can someone be saved by believing in Jesus while not believing that Jesus resurrected bodily from the dead? Why?
- Why does Romans 10:9–10 teach that believers must confess that Jesus is the Lord and that He resurrected from the dead for the believer to be saved (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12)?
4. Can people believe whatever they want and still live a good life with the expectation of a happy afterlife?
- How can what someone believes affect their behavior?
- What happens to those who refuse to acknowledge God according to Romans 1:28–32?
5. Should all Christians thank God in song even if some are uncomfortable with singing?
- What good can come from confessing and praising God in song?
- How does worshipping God like in Hebrews 13:15 help believers to acknowledge God openly before others (cf. Hebrews 2:12)?
Thursday, February 11 2021
These "table talk" discussions to encourage conversations about God and reality that intersect with your family and friendships. Having begun and concluded with prayer, we can talk to family, friends, peers, and neighbors (Colossians 4:2–6). Here are 5 discussions for 5 days:
1. What would you say to a friend who said that they do not believe unborn infants and the elderly have a right to life?
- Can human rights exist equally and constantly for everyone if there is no Creator? Why?
- Do people commonly do what Isaiah 5:20 says some have done to morality? Why?
2. Would it be good if your peers determined what is right and wrong for others based on their views?
- How does belief and trust in God change a person's beliefs about what is right and wrong?
- How does Romans 2:14–15 convey the reality of a common moral code?
3. How would you respond if a family member justified times when abusing others, murder, stealing, and lying about others are not always wrong?
- Where do right and wrong behaviors come from — self, society, survival, or God?
- Can someone be righteous who does not know God according to 1 John 2:4–10?
4. How would you talk to a friend who spreads gossip but thinks it is wrong for others to slander her?
- Do people's views of what is right and wrong change when their beliefs come from self and society rather than God?
- How would hypocrisy cause problems according to Romans 2:17–24?
5. Should you remain silent when a friend poisons his mind with lies and speaks evil as long as he does not hurt others and himself physically?
- Why would someone choose not to consider God as the constant standard to determine right and wrong, good and evil?
- Do you think your friends and family would agree with the description of rebellion against God in Romans 1:18–21?
Tuesday, February 09 2021
When does a pregnancy become a human life in the womb? At conception, the fertilized egg becomes a living cell with its own human genetic code. In a week after conception, the living fertilized cell, a zygote, forms into a blastocyst, a human life as a group of cells. In the third week from conception, the human life changes from the blastocyst to enter the embryonic stage developing nerve cells, blood cells, kidney cells, and a heart, brain, and gastrointestinal tract that begin to grow. In weeks 4–5, the heart of the human life is beating blood and has eyes, ears, arms, and legs that are beginning to grow (MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia – online 17 September 2020). After this stage, women can confirm pregnancy of this human life as early as 4–8 weeks.
The Bible and science agree that human life begins at conception. In chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel, an angel reported to Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her so that she would conceive a son — the Son of God. Likewise, the angel told Mary that her relative Elizabeth “conceived a son” (Luke 1:35–36). The Scriptures do not describe a mass of tissue or some other substance as conceived within these women but they conceived “sons.” Furthermore, Luke reported, “the baby leaped in the womb” when Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary (Luke 1:41, 44). Elizabeth blessed Mary by the Holy Spirit calling her “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). Mary was already a mother of her unborn Son, and Elizabeth had a baby in her womb as she was 6 months pregnant.
A baby in the womb is a child from conception. Jesus declared via Isaiah, “The LORD called Me from the womb, from the body of My mother He named My name” (Isaiah 49:1). The Scriptures note throughout that children are in the womb of the pregnant woman. Moses described Esau and Jacob as children in the womb (Genesis 25:22). Paul described how Rebekah “conceived children” who were not yet born (Romans 9:10–12). A human life in the womb is a child (Ruth 1:11; 2 Kings 19:3). The Bible revealed, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). The wicked nations do not pity “the fruit of the womb” as Isaiah 13:18 states, “they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.”
When does a human life become worthy of protection? God forms life in the womb as God makes each child in the likeness of His image. The prophet and king, David revealed that God formed him “in my mother’s womb” for this he declared that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13–14; cf. Genesis 1:26–27). God warned and declared, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image” (Genesis 9:6). When God commanded, “You shall not murder,” He clarified that if a man hits a pregnant woman causing a miscarriage, then the payment is “life for a life” referring to the order to execute that guilty man (Exodus 21:22–25). Without God, no one has an objective moral standard to oppose murder. By God, no one has the right to choose to end the life of an unborn child.
Love does not murder (Romans 13:8–10). God condemned murder as God commanded, “Do not kill the innocent,” which is the definition of murder (Exodus 23:7; Proverb 6:16–17). Jesus taught that murder is an evil that comes from the heart (Matthew 15:19–20; Mark 7:20–23). Jesus instructed, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10; cf. Psalm 106:36–39). Christians must receive children in His name to receive Christ (Mark 9:36–37).
Should we trust any civil leader who supports the practice of ending a pregnancy as a right and a choice? Since 1973, the CDC counts ~1.4 million to 700,000 abortions each year in the U.S. totaling about 60 million deaths. Should we trust leaders who support abortion as though they are too incompetent to know that clinicians are dismembering unborn human lives in the womb? Do they not care to uphold the right to life endowed by the Creator? God’s judgment is just and clear. Christians have the wisdom to choose just leaders who respect every human life.
Thursday, February 04 2021
The cost of following Christ has never changed. However, many hesitate at the idea of dying to self and being raised from baptism to a new life. How can Christians help others to overcome the hesitation to give one’s life to Christ?
1. Continue to share the gospel to help others to realize the love of God in Jesus’s sacrifice for them. Jesus paid the debt of death for sins. He ransomed the faithful with His blood (1 Peter 1:18–19). Christ declared, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 ESV). Christ demonstrated His love for all by overcoming death and sin (Romans 5:8).
2. Emphasize that one’s life must be lost to be saved. Many are reserved about giving oneself a living sacrifice, and that lives behind the resistance to baptism (Romans 12:1). Christ declared, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24). By accepting this verse that dying to oneself is essential to salvation, then one will be more willing to accept the teaching of new life from baptism (Romans 6:4–5; Colossians 2:12–13). Furthermore, the apostle Paul taught the truth of Jesus Christ that believers “put off the old self” of the former manner of life and be renewed in the mind “to put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:21–24).
3. Encourage them to count the cost. Counting the cost may cause some to back away, but counting the cost is essential for a complete commitment to avoid falling away. Jesus taught, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:27–30).
4. Focus on the peace of following Christ to overcome anxiety. Jesus revealed, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 10:28–30). Christ lightens the burdens of life so that every fearful possibility and worst-case scenario are no longer threats. For the faithful, God gives us peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:4–7).
5. Teach the hope of eternal life. God blesses the faithful now and in the age to come (Mark 10:29–31). Jesus proclaimed, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). Paul revealed that Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).
6. Warn about the coming judgment as Jesus did (Matthew 7:13–14, 21–23; 13:36–50; John 12:48). Jesus taught, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The apostles revealed, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. Acts 17:31; 1 Peter 4:17).
7. Pray for those whom you encourage. God desires that Christians pray for all people because God desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:1–4; cf. Romans 10:1). Therefore, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2).
Tuesday, February 02 2021
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1–2 ESV). Since the grace of God through Jesus Christ has brought forgiveness of sins, many have sought to take advantage of God’s forgiving grace. Some say, “God understands that I need to let loose. I mean God gave me these desires.” God’s grace saves repentant-baptized believers from sins so that they no longer let sin reign over them. “If I cannot continue to sin, what use is grace to me?”
For the perimeter of God’s forgiveness, the apostle John’s words in 1 John 1 are excellent for understanding the extent of God’s forgiving grace. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light means that Christians no longer continue to sin (1 John 2:1–6; 3:4–6; cf. Hebrews 10:26–27). Walking in the light does not mean that Christians must not ever sin again. John noted after this, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). For Christians, confessing these sins to God is essential to forgiveness as John expanded, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9–10). Therefore, Christians can live with great confidence when we faithfully walk in the light and live apart willfully continuing to sin. The perimeters of God’s grace are that God continues to wash away our sins as the faithful walk in the light and confess our sins to Him.
How do the conditions of God’s grace change the conditions of the Christian’s life? The apostle Paul explained that believers are baptized into the death of Christ to walk in a new life apart from sin (Romans 6:3–4). Baptized believers are crucifying the old person with Christ in order that they may destroy the body of sin to no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6). Because of the deadly nature of sin, the apostle expanded and taught, “Therefore, sin must not reign in your mortal body unto this to obey your desires” (Romans 6:12). Grace trains Christians to deny apathy and worldly desires to live controlled, upright, and devoted lives (Titus 2:12). Further in Romans 6, Paul commanded that Christians must not offer the members of one’s body as instruments of unrighteousness and sin, but offer themselves to God as alive from the dead and offer one’s members as instruments of righteousness to God because Christians are under grace (Romans 6:13–14). However, God’s grace through Jesus Christ does not permit continual sinning (Romans 6:15). Christians must allow God’s grace to train them and change them. A person is a servant to what they obey either to sin unto death or to obedience unto righteousness (6:16). Offering the members of one’s body as an obedient servant of God brings the believer to righteousness and unto holiness (6:19).
By God’s grace, all people have the opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). God’s forgiving grace for the evil that we have done urges repentance. For God’s grace and mercy, Paul declared, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Thank God for His forgiving grace and the conditions of grace in Jesus Christ. Christians can live with great confidence when we walk in the light and live apart from willfully living in sin. God continues to wash away our sins as we walk in the light and confess our sins to Him.
Thursday, January 28 2021
“Could evangelism be easier?” That depends. Evangelism does not need to be overly complex, as many have made it. Throughout the churches of Christ, many teach programs requiring the memorization of hundreds of Bible verses. The trainers use of a number of pamphlets filled with questions and 30 or more scriptures about the church but not so much about the hope of the gospel. When the trainer is finished training the trainee, he is already burned out or frustrated because no one wants to study with him. What can we do about this? Consider the examples of Jesus, the apostles, and the evangelists in the Bible.
Christians should follow the examples of asking discussion questions to hear why people believe what they believe and then teaching a few scriptures ready to share the gospel with others (especially our unchurched friends who are open to faith in God and Christ). Christians should also consider the various ways that we have for sharing these passages such as posting on social media, asking a family member, friend, or coworker what they think of a scripture, mentioning a scripture in passing conversation to a neighbor, and requesting to come by one’s home and talk about God.
Here are my suggested scriptures for your consideration and reference in personal evangelism:
1. Predictions of the Coming Messiah: Isaiah 53
2. The Identity of Jesus: Acts 2:22–24
3. Witnesses of Jesus’s Resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:1–8
4. Hope of the Resurrection: John 6:39–40
5. Warning of God’s Judgment: Matthew 7:13–14
6. Obeying the Gospel: Luke 9:23–24; Romans 6:3–6
This list comes from a number of examples of evangelism in the Bible. Evangelists in the Bible supported their faith in Jesus by referencing preexisting predictions of the coming Christ as Peter did in Acts 2:14–36 and Philip in Acts 8:26–40. They used these scriptures to launch into sharing the life of Jesus (Acts 2:22–24). They further supported the gospel with witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection (Acts 2:32; 13:30–31). Jesus’s resurrection opened the door to teach hope of eternal life (Acts 17:18, 32; 23:6; 24:15; 26:6). They warned of the coming judgment and pleaded that people repent and be baptized (Acts 2:40; 13:38–41; 17:30–31). Christians should proclaim that very biblical presentation today.
The Christian must rely on Jesus and the Bible for persuading others about the truth of the gospel for faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). After studying the gospel according to scriptures like these, then Christians can plead with friends and family members, who share the same faith and hope in the gospel, for the need of churches to repent and restore New Testament Christianity. The effective evangelist starts with the gospel and then the Lord adds to the church. Thank God for these biblical examples of evangelism.
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