Category Archives: GRACE (CHRISTIAN) LIVING

Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?

IS IT PERMISSIBLE FOR US TO BE PROUD OF OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What is the difference between taking pleasure in our work, and being guilty of the sin of pride?

It is not wrong or sinful to be proud of or take pleasure in a job well done—winning an award, following a difficult recipe in the kitchen, running a successful business, passing a challenging exam, negotiating bargains, graduating school, raising a family, and the like. We can scrutinize and be satisfied with the work we did. This attitude is simply opposed to being displeased (which discontentment would motivate us to do it again until we got it right). Also, we can and should be proud of our heritage (ethnicity, nationality). (For more information about patriotism, see our related study linked at the end of this article.)

The problem is excessive satisfaction, a narcissistic or egotistical sentiment. It is an all-consuming attitude of, “I can do it better than everyone else, I know more than everyone else, I am superior to everyone else.” Rather than a healthy sense of reality, it becomes fantasy. It is not what we did, but rather how it compares to what others have done. It is not who we are, but how we relate to who others are. We get an elevated opinion of ourselves and our accomplishments. Soon, we see ourselves as sinless and our work impeccable, perfect, faultless. This “so-sure-of-self” attitude places us on a slippery slope. Since we have adopted an attitude of being above all wrongdoing, that false sense of security causes us to let our guard down. We are not so careful in our activities anymore because we assume we are immune to error. Such sloppiness on our part increasingly introduces the inclination to failure we thought we would never experience!

Christ commented in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Pride is spoken of as originating from our sinful heart. The sinner exalts self, self, self; pride and self are always united.

Undue gratification and extreme satisfaction will eventually lead to pride (and not the good kind as in our opening paragraph). If abundant success comes our way, if we focus too much on our national identity, we will go the way of unreasonableness. Again, in our own eyes, we have become superior to others. We will adopt an attitude of invincibility and infallibility. Brethren, if we are to enjoy successful Christian lives (and steer clear of self-infatuation), we must (!) be armed with these verses before we face the problems. We must (!) familiarize ourselves with the truth so we can fight error when it begins to creep into our life.

The Book of Proverbs says much about pride. Its middle verse is chapter 16, verse 18: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (And, as we pointed out earlier, this is most certainly true in our experience!) Notice some other verses:

  • Proverbs 8:13: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.”
  • Proverbs 11:2: “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [humble] is wisdom.”
  • Proverbs 13:10: “Only by pride cometh contention [fighting, arguing]: but with the well advised is wisdom.”
  • Proverbs 14:3: “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride [self drives the silly]: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.”
  • Proverbs 29:23: “A man’s pride shall bring him low [indeed!!]: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.”

First Timothy 3:6 says the “bishop” is “Not [to be] a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” New Christians should not be leaders within churches or groups, for quickly assuming such important roles will cause them to go the way Lucifer did before he became Satan. Ezekiel 28:17 is Almighty God speaking to Lucifer: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.” Here is Satan’s origin: he became too focused on himself, and he forgot his Creator was God and he was not! Job 41:34 thus says of Satan, “he is a king over all the children of pride.” Satan is no longer interested in worshipping the one true God; he desires all worship for himself (see Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8). Hence, he recruited man to side with him, and prideful Adam willfully joined (that federal head corrupted the whole human race so that it is sinful)!

A brother in Christ, long departed to Heaven, said most aptly many decades ago: “The way ‘up’ with God is ‘down!’” He was, of course, referring to Bible verses such as those found in Philippians chapter 2:

“[3] Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [4] Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. [5] Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: [6] Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: [7] But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: [8] And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

“[9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The Lord Jesus Christ was certainly not a prideful Man. He was sinless, fully God and fully Man. He was the perfect Man. If you study His earthly ministry (Matthew through John), you will see that He made every attempt to draw attention to His Heavenly Father rather than Himself. When people began making Him the focus of their affection, He would withdraw to another location. He knew who He was (God’s beloved Son), and He took a confident stand in His identity, but He preferred to glorify His Heavenly Father as opposed to Himself. He set aside His desires, choosing rather to make His Father’s will become His will. Out of love and honor, He went to the cross of Calvary because His Father wanted Him to go. Since He was obedient to His Father, His Father will glorify Him. All creation will one day bow to Him, and confess Jesus Christ is Lord (thereby glorifying Father God)!

Yes, the way “up” with the God of the Bible is “down,” and may we never forget it!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» How would God have us view veterans? What about patriotism?
» Why is “666” the number of the Beast?

What does the Bible say about motherhood?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God’s Word says plenty about motherhood. (Do we care to listen?)

A CONCERNED MOTHER. Moses’ mother Jochebed (Numbers 26:59) sought the wellbeing of her three-month-old child when he was in danger of execution. Exodus chapter 2 relates: “[1] And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. [2] And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. [3] And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.” Jochebed hide her son from evil Pharaoh who was slaughtering the Hebrew baby boys. She is in stark contrast to mothers today who do not think twice about aborting the fruit of their womb or abandoning their small children in trashcans.

AN IDOLATROUS MOTHER. Athaliah was both a wicked mother and coldblooded grandmother. She influenced her son, King Ahaziah of Judah, to associate with pagan religion. In fact, she was a daughter of Omri, and thus a sister of infamous King Ahab of Israel. “Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Athaliah the daughter of Omri. He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab: for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly” (2 Chronicles 22:2-3). Later, Athaliah slew all her grandchildren but one in order to usurp the throne of her slain son Ahaziah (2 Kings 11:1).

ANOTHER IDOLATROUS MOTHER. Maachah, Queen of Judah, and grandmother of King Jehoshaphat, was also guilty of pagan idolatry. “And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron” (1 Kings 15:13; cf. 2 Chronicles 15:16). She was not a good influence on her children or nation.

YET ANOTHER IDOLATROUS MOTHER. While unnamed in Scripture, this woman was Micah’s mother. She encouraged her son to dedicate silver to make a carved image and a molten image (idols). This false religious system exploded to infect the whole tribe of Dan, eventually corrupting the entire nation Israel! Judges chapter 17: “[1] And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah. [2] And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son. [3] And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. [4] Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.” Considering the extensive damage her actions inflicted on the Jews, this woman was perhaps the worst mother in Scripture!

AN AFFECTIONATE MOTHER. In 1 Kings chapter 3, two prostitutes appear before King Solomon to argue they are both mother to a certain baby. Wise Solomon proposes to cut the baby in half and give a piece to each woman. Read the rest: “[26] Then spake the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her bowels yearned upon her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and in no wise slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor thine, but divide it. Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and in no wise slay it: she is the mother thereof.” This woman, who is unnamed, would rather let her child be given to a stranger than see her baby die. Despite her shameful lifestyle, she was tender with “natural affection” (2 Timothy 3:3).

ANOTHER CARING MOTHER. The Prophet-Priest Samuel was a young boy when he began to serve the LORD God. Scripture says of his mother Hannah, “Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice” (1 Samuel 2:19). She faithfully made and provided clothes for her son as the years passed.

AN UNBELIEVING MOTHER. “And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger…. And his head was brought in a charger, and given to the damsel: and she brought it to her mother” (Matthew 14:8,11; cf. Mark 6:24,28). Herodias influenced her daughter to demand King Herod give her John the Baptist’s head. She did not believe God’s prophet, she did not care about God’s words, and she persuaded her daughter to share her sentiment. Sadly, even now, many such women lead their daughters down this dangerous path.

A WELL-MEANING MOTHER (WHO INADVERTENTLY STARTED TROUBLE!). Matthew 20:20 says, “Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” We never learn her name, but the mother of Apostles James and John wanted something from the Lord Jesus. Verse 21 tells us what it was: “And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” This desire actually started a fight amongst the 12 Apostles! See verse 24: “And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” She meant well, but her desire caused a needless occasion to the flesh. Mothers will go to great lengths to seek the best interest of their children, but they need to be quite careful not to let Satan use those well intentions to his advantage.

A BELIEVING MOTHER, AND A BELIEVING GRANDMOTHER. Timothy, the Apostle Paul’s young companion in ministry, is said to have the following background: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Chapter 1, verse 5, had already said, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Timothy’s mother and grandmother raised him. These two Jewesses taught him the Scriptures (which was just the Old Testament at the time). The greatest lesson they ever taught him, the supreme inheritance they left him, was sound Bible doctrine!

A HUMBLE, DECENT MOTHER. “[9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. [11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Timothy 2:9-15).

A GODLY MOTHER. “[3] The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; [4] That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:3-5).

A DEDICATED MOTHER VERSUS A LAZY MOTHER. “[10] Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. [11] But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; [12] Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. [13] And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. [14] I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. [15] For some are already turned aside after Satan” (1 Timothy 5:10-15).

ANOTHER BELIEVING MOTHER. It is assumed that “Lemuel” (“belonging to God”) is a symbolic name for King Solomon. Whoever the lady was, that mother (Bathsheba, if Lemuel is Solomon) taught her son a prophecy. Proverbs 31:1: “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.” Read the rest of the chapter now, all about the “virtuous woman.”

“[10] Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. [11] The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. [12] She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. [13] She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. [14] She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. [15] She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. [16] She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. [17] She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. [18] She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. [19] She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. [20] She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. [21] She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. [22] She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. [23] Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. [24] She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. [25] Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. [26] She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. [27] She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. [28] Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. [29] Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. [30] Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. [31] Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.”

CONCLUSION

My dear sisters in Christ, if you endeavor to be mothers in and through whom the Holy Spirit will work mightily, you must give heed to and believe these verses. As we saw, the Bible features respectable mothers and depraved mothers. Some were flagrant idolaters; others trusted and loved the God of creation. Some were gentle whereas others were dreadfully brutal. Some taught their children God’s Word; others led their progeny to worship Satan. Some mothers were hardworking, and the rest were slothful.

Having read these passages of Scripture, you know exactly what mistakes not to repeat. You saw precisely what temptations our female ancestors faced long ago. You have already been given counsel in the Holy Bible as to how you are to think and conduct yourselves if the Lord Jesus Christ is to be glorified. It is up to you now to make the choice. You can either take your stand by faith in these verses, or you can just continue “doing your own thing.” Just remember the disasters that resulted when mothers failed to believe God’s Word. Just remember the benefits that came when mothers trusted God’s Word. Choose life… choose the grace life! 🙂

“Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12).

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

“By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee” (Psalm 71:6).

Also see:
» Can you explain the “Corban” tradition?
» What about women in the ministry?
» Is it sinful for women to wear makeup?

What does “concupiscence” mean?

WHAT DOES “CONCUPISCENCE” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

What a strange word!

Romans chapter 7: “[7] What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. [8] But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” Did you see how verse 7 defined concupiscence? There is the connection to lusting and coveting.

Colossians 3:5: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:….” We can thus see that lusting can be good or bad, concupiscence can be good or evil. Here, it is qualified as evil.” (One type of good concupiscence is the attraction between a husband and his wife. Another good lusting is a strong desire to eat physical food.)

First Thessalonians 4:5: “Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God:….” In this case, lust and concupiscence are separate. “Concupiscence” here refers to intense sexual desires with respect to “fornication” (habitual sexual behavior outside of marriage). Read the verse with its context: “[3] For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: [4] That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; [5] Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: [6] That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”

“Concupiscence,” therefore, is lusting, having a strong desire. (It is derived from the Latin word meaning, “beginning to desire.”) It may or may not be sexual. It may or may not be evil. The context sets the tone.

Also see:
» What is “chambering?”
» What is “shamefacedness?”
» What is “wantonness?”

Can you explain, “Give strength to the LORD?”

CAN YOU EXPLAIN, “GIVE STRENGTH TO THE LORD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Bible thrice says “give strength to the LORD.” How do we “give strength” to Him?

  • 1 Chronicles 16:28: “Give unto the LORD, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.” (Parallel is Psalm 96:7—see below.)
  • Psalm 29:1: “Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.”
  • Psalm 96:7: “Give unto the LORD, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the LORD glory and strength.”

The “strength” given to the LORD is in connection with “glory”—give Him “glory and strength.” It is majesty or splendor. The Ark of the Covenant, for example, is called “the ark of [God’s] strength” (Psalm 132:8; cf. 2 Chronicles 6:41). “Strength” refers to His majestic presence above the Mercy Seat (as in the Tabernacle and Temple). When Israel was guilty of sin, the Bible says God let the Philistines take the Ark, “his strength,” into their land (see 1 Samuel chapter 4).

We give to the LORD “glory and strength” in that we worship Him. We read His Word, believe it, let it work in and through us as it transforms our minds and conduct, pray in accordance with it, teach it to others, write songs about it and sing them, and so on. Here is how He manifests His glory and majesty: this is how we express His magnificence, goodness, splendor, all that He is and all that He has done and will do. This is in contradistinction to drawing attention to and praising ourselves and our human viewpoint, worshipping the world’s idols, and the like. “For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens. Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (Psalm 96:4-6).

Also see:
» How can God be “jealous” and not sin?
» Was God “unfair” in striking Uzzah dead?
» Is it truly a good deed if done for selfish reasons?

What advice can be given to Christians coping with the death of another saint?

WHAT ADVICE CAN BE GIVEN TO CHRISTIANS COPING WITH THE DEATH OF ANOTHER SAINT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“Jesus wept” (John 11:35). It is not a sin to mourn the loss of a loved one—even a Christian bewailing a Christian. This is quite natural and not to be discouraged. Expressing such feelings is vital to good mental, physical, and emotional health. Emotions are God-given and not sinful in and of themselves. (Sin creeps in when we use our emotions to make decisions. Emotions are fickle, they change through time, and “feelings” should instead be replaced with logic as touching choices.) If Jesus Christ shed tears as He stood before the tomb of His deceased friend Lazarus, so we can cry concerning the death of loved ones.

Take great comfort in knowing that Jesus Christ was just as human as we are—except without a sin nature. He knows firsthand the sting of death striking the soul as a friend succumbs to physical death. In other words, not only can He be sympathetic toward us, He can be empathetic. He experienced that loss Himself many times while He lived His earthly life. Furthermore, since He designed our emotions, He can relate to us in that regard as well. We are not alone in our grief, displeasure, and pain. He does care, He is concerned, and, above (!) all (!) else (!), He has given us Bible verses of comfort! (We will say more about this a little later.)

Here are some suggestions to bear the loss of a Christian.

Remember the good times had with that dear saint. Gather with mutual friends and family members. Perhaps have a fellowship meal at someone’s house, or assemble at a funeral home, church building, or other convenient place. Mention their quotes, share their testimony, and relate their memorable life stories. Share with others how that departed soul impacted your own life. Above all, celebrate their graduation to glory, their relocation to Heaven! That Christian is no longer suffering any pain. He or she is free from these limited, debilitating, dying bodies of flesh and blood. There is peace and rest. Be sure to give a clear Gospel message for any unsaved people present. First Corinthians 15:3-4, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:23-28, and Romans 4:1-5 are highly recommended as verses to be read aloud. Suffering verses can also be shared—Romans 8:18-25, Romans 5:1-5, and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8, to name a few.

The saints in Heaven are singing and praising the Lord Jesus Christ. They are enjoying His presence! All the deceased believers of the ages thus far are in one gigantic congregation in Heaven, and they do indeed recognize each other. Peter knew Moses and Elijah by face, and yet they had died centuries before Peter was even born (Matthew 17:4)! Paul anticipated knowing the Thessalonians and the Corinthians when they would be in Heaven (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:14). They know where they are, just as Paul realized he was in the third heaven and knew that it was “far better” up there than down here (2 Corinthians 12:1-4; Philippians 1:23).

We will see these dearly-departed saints again! Never forget, most importantly, dear reader, we will be reunited with them in the Lord’s own time! This is the hope of the resurrection, commonly called “the Rapture” (“catching up”). Our separation is temporary.

First Thessalonians chapter 4: “[13] But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. [14] For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. [15] For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. [16] For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [17] Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. [18] Wherefore comfort one another with these words.(First Corinthians 15:50-58 can also be considered here.)

There is no doubt about it, friends. We sorrow, but we have confidence—full assurance—that a magnificent get-together will occur at the resurrection. We are not hopeless. We are not uncertain. We are not ignorant. The verses are clear, simple, and sure. Hold fast to them, repeat them, and let them renew your mind. The indwelling Holy Spirit will use these verses to strengthen your inner man (Ephesians 3:16). Using these passages in prayer will allow God the opportunity to give you His peace, and guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus. “Be careful for [worry about] nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Without question, that Christian would want you all to move on in the ministry in their absence. They would want you to keep fighting the good fight of faith. If anything, may you not take your earthly lives for granted now. Strive together with each other—those of you in the Christian congregation remaining on Earth—to continue as that dear soul would do. Weep, cry indeed, but do not sit around and mope like a lost person. Do not stay cooped up in your house, always sobbing and wailing. We must get the Gospel of Grace out to the masses. We must keep teaching the Scriptures rightly divided to those who want to hear and believe.

Any and all spiritual confusion has been corrected in Heaven, as there are no more denominations and other opinions of men. There are “no hard feelings.” The next time you see that saint, all will be forgiven. No petty argument, envy, or contention will be there to divide or interfere with fellowship. Sin will be gone forever. The next time we see them, they will look, sound, see, and hear the best they ever have! No eyeglasses, canes, baldness, liver spots, hearing aids, crutches, arthritis, tremors, AIDS, tuberculosis, dentures, oxygen masks, missing limbs, wheezing, allergies, blindness, deafness, stooping, prostheses, walkers, limping, deformities, paralyses, wheelchairs, slurred speech, mental illness, scarring, amnesia, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, sinus issues, emphysema, diabetes, or any other disease, disability, or deficiency. Obesity and leanness will no longer be problems. No more vitamins, supplements, blood work, checkups, surgeries, hospital stays, kidney dialyses, physical therapy. It is a magnificent prospect, and we will see it at some point ourselves, but until then we have unfinished business down here to which we must attend.

Until we meet the departed saints again, brethren, we have much work left to do—including ministering to their families in whatever ways we can (visiting, phone calls, preparing meals, and so on). These saints would want us to go on preaching the Gospel, speaking of Jesus Christ to all we meet, sharing with others the Word of His Grace, that they may believe on the Lord and be with us in Heaven as well.

In closing, here are two final passages worth considering and worth reading aloud at the close of any Christian funeral, wake, or similar gathering.

“Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» How can we cope with the death of a pet?
» Will we know if a loved one is not there in heaven with us?
» Why did Jesus weep when Lazarus died?

Must I have a degree in music to sing or play an instrument at a local church?

MUST I HAVE A DEGREE IN MUSIC TO SING OR PLAY AN INSTRUMENT AT A LOCAL CHURCH?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Sadly, some have indeed been turned away from music in a local assembly or singing in its choir because they lacked formal training (a college degree, professional tutoring). This is an example of using human viewpoint to gauge church matters. (It is no different from the self-absorbed declaration, “You cannot preach at our church unless you have graduated from our denomination’s seminary or Bible College!”)

It is quite advantageous to have some familiarity with music if you so choose to become involved with a local church’s music ministry. Someone may say, “I can play the piano, but not that well.” Another may declare, “I sing solo—‘so low’ so others cannot hear.” In fact, this author will be quite bold in writing the following. As with some people who should not be teaching and yet are, there are some people who should not be singing and yet are. (It does not matter how many advanced degrees they have!!) If there is no underlying sound Bible doctrine, they would do themselves and others much good by staying quiet until they learn the truth instead of singing erroneous material. (Please see our “appropriate hymns” study linked at the end of this article.)

Colossians 3:16: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:18-19: “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord….” As long as our heart attitude is right (faith in God’s Word rightly divided, not showing off or seeking worship ourselves), and we are singing or playing music in accordance with grace doctrine, this is really all that our Heavenly Father requires concerning a music ministry. God surely does not mind “amateurs.” As long as we are playing or singing from the heart, that is all that matters. God the Holy Spirit can sense our motives; let Him be the Judge, for He will surely do right!

The author is reminded of a time, many years ago, when one of his former pastors claimed a particular man in the assembly “was not a good singer.” However, the pastor would never insult the man to his face; rather, he would let the man sing at music time but spoke about it behind his back to other church members. The pastor prided himself as a professional, accomplished singer. Recently, this author learned that the pastor is now suffering from dementia. Failing memory caused him to retire from preaching and then from singing. He cannot remember how to sing or preach! As for the brother “who could not sing,” he is a friend of the author. The man is a Christian, and he undoubtedly loves the Lord and His Word. While not formally trained in music, he ultimately sang for the Lord’s pleasure. It made no difference if some condescending, fleshly preacher approved. Keep that in mind, friend!

As for those who seek man’s approval concerning any ministry in the church, we close with two verses. Firstly, “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God(Luke 16:15). Secondly, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ(Galatians 1:10).

Also see:
» What if I was never thanked?
» Which hymns are appropriate for us grace believers to sing?
» What is wrong with “praise and worship?”

Is it normal for me to be too busy for daily Bible reading?

IS IT NORMAL FOR ME TO BE TOO BUSY FOR DAILY BIBLE READING?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“I am a grace Christian. I really do want to read the Bible but I always feel like I don’t have time or I’m too busy. Is that normal? I certainly make time for other things in my life.”

Christian friend, it is “normal” in the sense of being widespread but not “normal” in the sense of being desirable. Most people are simply too busy to read the Bible every day—let alone study it. Sadly, it is true even of a majority of professing Christians. Indeed, they spare time to watch a daily news program or television show, they have time to read their favorite book or magazine, they make time for gossiping or texting on the phone, they have time to browse social media websites, but they do not seem to have even five minutes to spare for God to speak to them in His Word. Honestly, this is why their Christian lives are not functioning properly—if at all. No wonder they make innumerable poor decisions! No surprise they are weak in the faith! No wonder they are easily deceived, hopping from group to group and idea to idea!

Friends, a simple illustration will profit us much here. Imagine a soldier about to enter the battlefield. He simply does not have time to put on his armor. It is too laborious gathering and donning all that gear. In haste, he arrives on the battleground. He did not even bother to waste time taking a sword either. In fact, his only defense is bare hands and everyday clothing! This is most ludicrous, right? And yet, we thus enter the spiritual battlefield every day—and most of us scarcely have a shirt and a pair of pants! There are no helmet, no sword, no breastplate, no shield, no shoes, and no belt. We are sure to be injured spiritually, invisibly (our wounds will not be immediately evident). Satan’s evil world system will indeed taint us that day. We do not know what the God of the Bible, the Creator, said about life’s particular situations. Therefore, when we face those situations, we lean on our own understanding. There will undeniably be trouble, whether near-term or long-term, there will be misfortune!

Let us try another basic illustration. Are you too busy to eat? (It sounds silly, but just follow the logic.) Why do you take time to eat, friend? There are so many other things to do every day! Skip eating entirely. Again, what nonsense! Just as the outward part of us wastes away without physical nourishment, the inward part of us wastes without spiritual nourishment. God’s Word feeds our soul and spirit, lest they starve.

Quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Jesus Christ rightly observed in Matthew 4:4: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Without the inspired Word of God influencing our mind every day, the evil world system will corrupt it! Millions of Christians in history can testify to that—trapped in denominations, spiritual darkness, impotency. Billions of lost people alive right now are proof of that. Their souls are severely malnourished; their lives are either ruined or nearly so. There are misery, heartbreak, and headache. Oh, dear friend, if you could be spared this, this author would make the decision for you! Alas, you have free will, and you will have to make the choice yourself. It is your spiritual health and safety on the line—not his.

Hebrews 5:11-14 says: “[11] Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. [12] For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. [13] For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. [14] But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Israel is so pathetically ignorant of God’s truth here. She was to be God’s teacher of the nations, but she herself has never submitted to being taught herself. Her ignorance, in reality, led to her rejecting and crucifying God’s Son on Calvary’s cruel cross. She was too busy learning error, false religion, and it had devastating effects still affecting her (and the world) today. See Romans chapters 9-11.

We could take it a step further though. Read Genesis chapter 3. A failure to know and understand sound Bible doctrine led Adam and Eve to produce the deplorable world we see today. Do you see the children with horrific birth defects? The elderly stooping for age? Do you notice the carnivorous animals attacking the injured and helpless? The homeless people living on the streets? Broken homes? Divorces? Abuses? Miseries? Tragedies? That was Adam’s deliberate choice to introduce sin—and we are still suffering the effects of his lack of sound Bible doctrine. He was too busy following his wife than following the LORD God! Please, oh please, see the danger you are in by claiming you are “too busy” for daily Bible reading and study. Difficulties are sure to come, deception is sure to come, and debilitation is sure to come! Spare yourself, friend, spare yourself while you still have a chance.

Daily Bible reading and daily Bible study are essential for proper spiritual growth. Take Psalm 1, for instance: “[1] Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. [3] And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. [4] The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. [5] Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. [6] For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

Notice the simile in verse 3. The idea is nourishment. As a tree requires fertilizer, water, and sunlight to develop, so the spiritual aspect of the man will flourish when he knows and understands God’s Word. There is spiritual life, not spiritual death. There is functional life, not functional death. He is the exact opposite of the dismal spiritual condition found in Hebrews 5:11-14. Not weak, he is strong. He is bearing fruit—good works. Dozens of pages could be written here, but these will suffice.

CONCLUSION

It is the challenge we all face at one point—to have some time for daily Bible reading and study. Yes, it is a problem now more than ever because of all the new technology, activities to distract us, and so on. Life is about choices, and what is most important is we make right choices now—because good and bad alike, they will affect us in the short-term and long-term. Whatever we believe underlies our choices. That goes for everyone. However, if we know not the truth, we cannot believe it, so that means we are making decisions based on erroneous information. Let us give special attention to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Be quite familiar with Romans overall.

Remember, friend, daily Bible reading and study do not involve three or four hours every day. That is preference and accommodation to one’s unique schedule (and it varies from person to person). We have jobs, families, and so on that are important. These priorities should not be neglected. However, we must make time—10, 20, or 30 minutes, for instance—for the Bible every day if we are to survive and overcome Satan’s evil world system. The pastor and Bible teacher should absolutely be making more time for God’s Word than others, for he is to be leading. He cannot lead anyone in the Bible if he himself is not first following the Bible!

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Also see:
» Is it not enough that I “believe in God?”
» “O ye of little faith?”
» “But what if they read the Bible at my church?!”