Mark 16:15

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature"

Whom Shall I Fear?

“Whom shall I fear?” This is the question asked by David in Psalm 27:1. It was asked following the pronouncement that, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” He next reasons that, “the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” In this time labeled by some as a “pandemic,” David’s question is quite pertinent to us today.
Due to my present weakened condition, I am well aware of the concern that many have concerning the COVID-19 virus that is affecting our world. But as Christians, what should be our attitude? Do we still believe that “we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28)? Jesus gave similar instruction in Romans 10:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The ASV margin has “stronghold” for the word “strength”; thus God is here recognized as the Light, the Salvation, and the Stronghold (or fortress) of the believer. "A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” (written by Martin Luther) is based upon this passage. In Romans 8:31, we have the New Testament elaboration of what is taught here. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Jesus instructs us, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).
Paul is not saying that if God is for us no one can be against us; neither is Jesus forbidding us to fear those who can kill our body. Rather there is an emphasis in both passages. Our chief concern in this life is to “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecc. 12:13). Paul’s statement just simply means that if God is for us, then it doesn’t matter who is against us.
When I was at Double Springs, I often sang with our VBS students, “He’s my Rock, my Sword, my Shield; He’s my Hub in the middle of the wheel; He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.” David’s version of this song would state that “He’s my light, my salvation, my fortress.”
Two other passages come to mind that should encourage us as Christians during this time. One is David’s most well-known and loved 23rd Psalm. After declaring, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” in verse one, he elaborates by showing that one thing this means is, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (v. 4).
The other is found in Peter’s writings. By inspiration he wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Pet. 5:6-7).
If anyone has a reason to be fearful of this virus, I must be included. But I have determined to put my trust in my Redeemer, use common sense, and go on with my life. May God help us, for this too shall pass!

Paul M. Wilmoth

Boast Not Thyself of Tomorrow

“Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). The events of the past few months have caused me to regard this proverb of Solomon, written hundreds of years ago, in a completely new light.
First, this disease that has invaded my body has confronted me with the grim reality that I have known but, perhaps, not felt as I have in the past eight months. Life is brief, life is transient; it was never meant to exist forever in the physical sense. It causes you to appreciate each day, and take life one short day at a time.
Then our state, and especially Putnam County, was hit with one of the worse disasters ever. The F4 tornado that ripped through Putnam County left many of my dear friends homeless, as their houses were destroyed. Some very close friends from Double Springs Church of Christ (where I preached for ten-plus years) were among those who lost most everything they had in physical possessions. Thanks be to God that they did not lose their lives. I am reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 12:15: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Next, our whole nation, as well as the whole world, is now facing another crisis with the Coronavirus epidemic. None of us have ever seen anything like this before. Most of us are accustomed to everything rolling along pretty quietly and regularly. When will this end? Only God knows. One thing is for sure, God still rules. As God said to Nebuchadnezzar, “Seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4:25b). If one thing is clear in Daniel’s account of God’s holy dealings with Nebuchadnezzar, it is that ultimately, and in the final analysis, it is God who rules the affairs of nations. As it is written: “This decision is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the holy ones, in order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
I have long learned to love II Corinthians 4:16-18, but in the past few months I have often read this passage as the last thing I do before turning out the lights for the night. Listen carefully to what the Holy Spirit had Paul to write: “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
So, what should we do? When Job faced all of the calamities in his life, his friends gave him good advice: “I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my cause” (Job 5:8). I can only add, “Amen!”

Paul M. Wilmoth

Abounding

There are a number of Greek words in the New Testament that are translated into English by the word “abound.” Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible gives their meaning as “to be, become, make more, to be multiplied, or to be over and above.” The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word to mean “very plentiful, abundant.”
Solomon said, “A faithful man shall abound with blessings” (Prov. 28:20a). This reminds me of what David said: “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation” (Psalm 68:19). In the New Testament, we are told that God's saints are blessed with “all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3). Do you enjoy this abundance of blessing or benefits from the Lord? Let's look at some of the things we as Christians are to “abound” in.
Paul told the Romans, “Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 15:13). Thus, our hope is “to become multiplied”; it is to be “over and above.” This is the “one hope” of Ephesians 4:5; it is the hope that serves as an “anchor for the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Heb. 6:19). Do you abound in hope?
To the “saints in Christ Jesus” at Philippi, Paul prayed, “that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil. 1:1, 9). If our love is “over and above,” then we will “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” We will also “Love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matt. 22:37-39). Love that abounds will be love that is not “love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (I John 3:18). In fact, this abundant love will both cause us to “Love the brotherhood” and “Love your enemies” (I Peter 2:17; Matt. 5:44). Again, in I Thessalonians 3:12 Paul writes, “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men.” Do you abound in love?
The Christian characteristics, sometimes called “Christian graces,” are listed by Peter in II Peter 1:5-7. After listing these and showing that we are to “add” or “supply” these things in our lives as Christians, he then states, “For if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:8). It is not enough to just have “enough to get by” of virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity; we are to “abound” in them. We are to have them in our lives “over and above.” An abundance of these traits will make the requirements of the Christian life much easier to obey. “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (II Pet. 2:9). Peter urges us to “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (II Pet. 1:10). Do you abound in these Christian traits?
It seems clear from just a brief survey of this word's usage in the Bible, that Christians are never to be satisfied with the “status quo.” We should never try to “just get by.” This seems to indicate that one can never have “enough” of these things so that we can just rest or cease working to improve. Let each of us determine and dedicate ourselves to “abounding” in everything and never be satisfied until we do all that we can for the Lord. May God bless each of you as you strive toward this goal in 2020!

Awesome

The word “awesome” is probably one of the most misused words in the English language today. We hear the word used in connection to everything from a piece of apple pie or the family pet, to immoral performers and worldly activity. The word does not appear in the King James Version of the Bible, but the ESV translates Exodus 15:11, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? Truly our God is an awesome God.”
He was awesome in creation. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). His awesome power is seen in Gen. 1:3: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Don’t forget His creation of man: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Gen. 2:7). Now that’s awesome!
His being awesome is seen in His love for mankind: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
He is awesome because of His grace. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12).
His timetable for redeeming man is awesome. “Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Gal. 4:3-5).
He is shown to be awesome in providing us His word through inspiration (God breathed) of the Holy Scriptures. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17).
He is awesome in His longsuffering. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).
We have not even touched “the hem of His garment” in this short article. Our God truly is an awesome God! Have you obeyed His Gospel?

Paul M. Wilmoth

The Seven Things that are an Abomination to the Lord

We have spent the last six weeks looking at Proverbs 6:16-19. Here is Young’s Literal Translation of these verses: “These six hath Jehovah hated, Yea, seven [are] abominations to His soul. Eyes high—tongues false—And hands shedding innocent blood—A heart devising thoughts of vanity—Feet hasting to run to evil—A false witness [who] doth breathe out lies—And one sending forth contentions between brethren” (Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible).
As a review, I want to share with you what another commentator has written on these verses.
“Here again we encounter a popular memory verse. Both Harris and Delitzsch consider these seven sins as climactic, the seventh, "sowing discord among brethren" being considered as the most serious of the seven. It appears to this writer, as Driver expressed it that, "All these things belong together,” giving a number of characteristics of the same person, a person revealed here as totally evil. Note that his eyes have a proud look; his tongue tells lies; his hands murder the innocent; his heart is full of wicked purposes; his feet run quickly on evil errands—all of these are parts of one man! The last two abominable things are the composite product of all this, namely, that person who by lying speeches sows discord among brethren. In that sense, of course, we may view these as presenting a climax in the seventh. However, "It is the heart that underlies the seven vices which are an abomination to God; and it occupies the central position here,” because it is the fountain from which all evil flows” (James Burton Coffman,
Commentary on Proverbs).
Another significant thing here is the fact that this passage reflects an acquaintance with the Old Testament, especially the Pentateuch. The Law of Moses gave specific prohibitions against all of the things mentioned here.
It has also been noted that there is an amazing resemblance in the thought of these verses as compared with the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. This can especially be noted in the first and last of the two lists. “The Lord hates a proud look” is spoken in the positive sense in the Beatitudes when Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” And “He that soweth discord among brethren” is the exact opposite of “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
I would suggest that we read and study this list given by Solomon often and that we put forth a dedicated effort to delete these things from our lives. When you read and analyze these seven abominable things, it is easy to see why they are labeled as such. No one enjoys being around a proud person who looks down on others; no one likes a liar, or hands shedding innocent blood. Who wants to be with those who have hearts that devise wicked imaginations, or who are always going in haste to do mischief? I know of no one who loves a troublemaker in—or out—of the church.

Paul M. Wilmoth