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Whom

Whom

2 Timothy 1:12 For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.

Paul makes an important distinction in this verse every Christian must understand. He says “I know whom I have believed…” We cannot overlook the importance of that simple, yet profound statement. Paul didn’t say, “I know WHAT I believe.” He said, “I know WHOM I believe.”

Our faith is not based on “what” we know. Our faith is in “whom” we know. Christianity is not a religious system based on dead works, ancient rituals, and faded traditions. To be a Christian is to believe in Christ. Our faith is based on a very personal relationship with a very real person—Jesus. Any knowledge we have regarding “what” we believe must hinge upon our relationship with “whom” we believe.

We must know whom we believe. We must know Him as Christ. We must know Him as Lord. We must know Him as Counselor, and Comforter, and Friend. Most importantly, we must know Him as Savior.

Do you truly know whom you believe? Or is your faith only based on knowledge that supports “what” you believe. There’s a big difference. I encourage you to get to know whom you believe, and the only way to do that is through God’s Word. So, open your Bible and let God reveal His Son, the Risen Savior to you.

Have a God Filled Week,
Brother Donnie

Washed

Washed

John 13:8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

Most Christians are familiar with the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. As Jesus went down the line cleaning each foot no one complained until He came to Peter. Peter questioned Jesus, “Are you going to wash my feet too?” And Jesus’answer to Peter is of unlimited importance to all of us. “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” If Jesus does not wash you, you have no part with Him.

Scripture has a lot to say about clean and unclean things. Whatever is unclean is unacceptable to God, but whatever God has cleansed we should not call unclean. (Acts 10:15) Peter’s problem was that he felt it would disgrace Jesus if Peter allowed Him to clean his feet. But Peter’s false humility was just a form of pride. We cannot be so prideful that we refuse to allow Jesus to wash us. We cannot cleanse ourselves of sin. If we do not humble ourselves and allow Jesus to wash our sins away, we have no part with Him.

When Peter finally understood that he responded well. “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:9) Wash all of me, Lord. But Jesus told Peter he was already clean. That happened when Peter first believed. Peter, however, still needed his feet washed. The same is true of us. Our sins were washed away when we first believed in Christ. But like Peter, we are all going to step in some sin as we walk through this life, and when that happens Jesus is
continually washing us. Jesus said to Peter (just as He says to us), “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean…” (John 13:10) If you have been washed clean of your sin by your faith in Jesus, don’t be so prideful that you refuse to allow Him to wash your feet. Even clean believers get their feet dirty now and again. We still need our feet washed.

Have a God Filled Week,
Brother Donnie

First

First

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…

As Christians we must learn to get our priorities in order, to put first things first. It’s easy for us to get distracted by secondary issues, even in the Church. But our greatest priority, the first thing for Christians, has been and always will be, the spread of the Gospel. As Christians we must be careful that we aren’t distracted from the Lord’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations and teach them all the Lord commanded. It’s easy for us to let other things climb to the top of our list, but the mission of bringing salvation to the lost must have priority above all others.

We cannot let other ministries and services become our primary focus. Serving the needy, Bible studies, Sunday School, worship music, youth programs, Church growth… are all wonderful works for the Kingdom of God, but they cannot take priority above the first thing—evangelizing and discipling the lost. We cannot let our secondary missions become a stumbling block for the primary mission.

We see that in Paul’s first letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul had a lot to say to the Corinthians, but he reminded them that first and foremost was telling them that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and raised from the dead. Telling people the Gospel—the Good News of salvation that comes through faith in Jesus Christ—was first for Paul, and that must be our priority as well.

Secondary missions can be wonderful, God honoring, people serving ministries. But we cannot let them distract us from what must be first, the proclaiming of the Gospel to the lost. We must put first things first.

Have a God Filled Week,
Brother Donnie

Fruit

Fruit

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise.

In this season I always find joy. Recently I harvested pears from my orchard, and Beverly, my wife, has been working hard to convert them into pear preserves. I also bought some peaches from a grower just down the road that will get the same treatment. I’ve noticed the fruit trees in our area seem to have done particularly well this year as they are hanging low with an abundance of fruit, and now is the time to take advantage of that abundance. If the fruit isn’t harvested and preserved soon, it will be too late. I’m truly looking forward to fresh preserves on a big ol’ homemade “cat head” biscuit.

I’m also reminded of a different kind of fruit, the fruit that comes from the Tree of Life. The writer of Proverbs tells us righteousness is a tree of life. Righteousness leads to eternal life, but the problem with that is we have no righteousness of our own. To partake of that fruit, we need a source of righteousness that isn’t ours. To reap fruit from the tree of life we must have the righteousness of Christ, and the only way we can have His righteousness is to place our faith in Him as Lord and Savior. Only then will His righteousness be imputed to us. Blessed are those who have partaken of the fruit from the Tree of Life by their faith in Jesus.

But there are many who haven’t eaten from that tree, many who haven’t tasted the fruit of salvation. As Jesus once told His disciples, the fields are white with the harvest. And this Proverb says wise people will win souls. Now is the time of harvest. If we don’t act soon, it will be too late for many souls to be preserved. We must lead souls to partake of the abundance of fruit from the tree of life. There are many lost souls who need to be won, and if we are wise, we will be about the Lord’s work and win them. Let’s go pick some fruit.

Have a God Filled Week,

Brother Donnie

Love and Commandments

Love and the Commandments

Revelation 22:14 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may enter through the gates into the city.

Many Christians think that if they believe in Jesus that alone is enough, but Scripture is clear that those who believe will also obey the Lord’s commands, and those who obey will be blessed. Faith and obedience cannot be separated. They walk hand in hand.

Near the end of John’s Revelation we hear how those who obey the Lord’s commands have the right to eternal life and entrance into Heaven. John goes on to tell us that outside the Holy City will be the disobedient; “…dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.” (v. 15) We cannot profess to love Jesus and disobey His commandments. (John 14:15) If you keep Jesus’ commandments then that proves you love Him, and both the Father and the Son will love you. (John 14:21) If you keep the Lord’s commandments you will live in His love. (John 15:10)

How does the Bible define “love?” “This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.” (2 John 1:6) What are the commandments? “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39) How do you love God and your neighbor? Keep the commandments. Which ones? “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13:9-10)

Do His commandments and you will be blessed.

Have a God Filled Week,

Brother Donnie

Godly Sorrow

Godly Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Many people express sorrow for the wrongs they’ve committed and think that’s enough, but they never express godly sorrow leading to repentance. The sorrow they express is the sorrow of the world, and that isn’t enough. In fact, it leads to death—eternal death in hell. Godly sorrow produces repentance, and repentance leads to salvation.

That leads to a central question. What’s the difference between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world? Paul explains that clearly. Godly sorrow leads to repentance and the sorrow of the world doesn’t. That means repentance is extremely important because it leads to salvation. John the Baptist preached repentance. Jesus said He came to lead sinners to repentance, and Peter tells us the reason Jesus hasn’t returned yet is because He’s patiently waiting for people to come to repentance.

So, what is repentance? Isaiah says it’s turning to God and forsaking wickedness and unrighteous thoughts (Isaiah 55:6-7). When you express godly sorrow it will lead you to turn to God and seek forgiveness that can only be achieved through faith in His Son; then you’ll forsake your sin. Worldly sorrow might produce a feeling of guilt, maybe even grief, but it won’t lead you to turn to God, and it won’t lead you to give up the sins that made you sorry in the first place. The difference is massive because one kind of sorrow leads to salvation and the other doesn’t.

So, the next time you say, “I’m sorry,” examine your sorrow. Is it godly sorrow that produces repentance, or is it worldly sorrow that doesn’t?

Have a God Filled Week,

Brother Donnie

Diversity

Diversity

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…

One of the catch words we hear in our post-modern culture is the word “diversity.” Unfortunately, that word has also crept unawares into the Church. Recently I saw where one prominent pastor said, “The more diverse the Church becomes the more holy it will be,” but as popular as diversity is in the world today Scripture has very little to say about it. There are a few occasions in which the book of Revelation mentions people of every nation, tribe, and tongue standing before the throne of God, but in each case that diversity of people is standing before the throne despite their diversity, not because of it. Yes, people of all nations, races, and languages will stand before the throne of God, but they will be standing there because of their agreement not their differences.

You see, the word “diversity” is a negative word, not a positive one. Its origins come from a Latin word meaning to separate, to split, even to divorce. It is our diversity that separates us from one another. We are divided by nationality, skin color, and even our varied languages. Diversity has no power to unify people, and it certainly doesn’t make us more holy. When people of every nation, tribe, and tongue stand before the throne of God and before the Lamb it will be their sameness that brings them there not their differences.

What is it that all the people in Heaven will have in common? They will all have a like faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Nobody in Heaven will be thinking about their nationality, race, or language. They will be united in their praise of the Lamb. It’s time for the church to stop celebrating diversity and start celebrating unity. We are to be of one mind, one spirit, and one faith. We are to be of one accord, to be in Christ. There is no room for division in the Lord’s house. Instead of boasting about diversity the Lord would much rather hear us boasting about unity. Diversity divides us, but faith in Jesus Christ brings a diversity of people together into one unified body called the Church.

Have a God Filled Week,
Brother Donnie

Christian

Christian

Acts 11:26 And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

The word Christian only appears in scripture three times, but it’s a very important word. Believers in Jesus were first called Christians at a church in a city named Antioch. Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire and it was a center for worship of pagan gods. When they first called believers Christians in Antioch it wasn’t meant as a compliment. They meant it as a put-down, an insult.

But to be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Risen Savior, King of kings and Lord of lords. It’s easy for believers to take the name Christian for granted, but in the days of Peter and Paul the name Christian came with a degree of danger. Peter tells us, “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter (1 Peter 4:16). When you bear the name of Christian suffering comes with that. Why? Jesus said: “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19). We Christians aren’t like the world—we aren’t like unbelievers—so they hate us.

There came a day when the Apostle Paul had to stand trial before King Agrippa. Agrippa was the son of the man who killed James with a sword and imprisoned Peter, so he was a long way from being a believer in Jesus. But when Paul was given permission to speak at his trial he defended himself by telling Agrippa all about Jesus. As the hearing came to an end Agrippa said, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:28) Agrippa was almost persuaded to be a follower of Jesus.

If you claim the name of Christian you claim to be a follower of Christ. If you’re persuaded to put your faith in Jesus the world isn’t going to like you very much, but there’s nothing the Lord loves better than a Christian.

Have a God Filled Week,

Brother Donnie

Church and State

Church and State

Psalm 2:1-3 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”

Many people like to use the phrase “Separation of Church and State.” They claim the U.S. Constitution demands there be a wall between government and the Church. But the words “Separation of Church and State” do not appear in our Constitution anywhere. Those words were first written in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to a minister. Jefferson was assuring the minister that the U.S. government would not interfere in the work of the Church, but it was never Jefferson’s intent that the Church should not influence the work of government.

In fact, God demands that national governments have discernment concerning Him and His Anointed. The Psalmist writes that rulers of nations will vainly try to tear themselves away from God and attempt to cast away the cords that tie us to Him. How does God respond to nations that plan those vain acts?

Psalm 2:4-5 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure…

The concept of “Separation of Church and State” is laughable to God. He mocks nations that try to separate from Him. He’s angry at them and He judges them because He isn’t happy with their choices. God has given all the nations to His Anointed, to His Son Jesus, and Jesus will break those nations with a rod of iron. He will dash them to pieces like a clay pot (Psalm 2:9).

So how should government work? Government should be wise and instructed in the ways of God. Government should serve the Lord with fear and “kiss the Son.” If government does not do that the Son will be angry and those nations will perish. But blessed are those nations who put their trust in Him (Psalm 2:10-12).

Have a God Filled Week,
Brother Donnie

Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan

Luke 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.

One of the most beloved parables in all Scripture is the story of the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37), but recently I read two articles by two fairly prominent Baptist pastors who totally destroyed the point of the parable. One of them retold the parable by replacing the Good Samaritan with someone from the LGBTQ community. His attempted point was to shine a light of acceptance on LGBTQ people. The other changed the focus of the story to the robbers on the Jericho Road. His attempted point was to show how the church needs to be diligent in promoting a Social Gospel that aims to remove violence and prejudice from the world. Both of them completely maligned Jesus’ teaching.

What’s the point of the parable? Well, Jesus was asked a very clear question, “Who is my neighbor?” If we are, as Jesus commanded, to love our neighbor as our self, then it’s very important that we understand who our neighbor is. But by the end of the parable Jesus does something amazing. He reverses the question. By answering with this parable Jesus goes beyond showing us who our neighbor is and instead shows us how to be a good neighbor. In the parable a Priest and a Levite ignore a man who has been robbed, severely beaten, and left lying in a ditch, but a Samaritan comes along and takes care of him. At the end of the story Jesus asked, “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” and the man who had originally asked the question answered, “The one who showed mercy to him.” How did Jesus respond to that? He said, “Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37).

Jesus basically told the man he had been asking the wrong question. It’s just as important to be a good neighbor as it is to know who your neighbor is. Who is a neighbor? The one who shows mercy. Now that you understand that, “Go and do the same.”

Have a God Filled Week,

Brother Donnie