Caring for your Animals

Caring for your Animals

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” (Proverbs 12:10 KJV) For the Israelite people from every walk of life domesticated animals and livestock were an everyday part of life. In their agrarian society, most Israelites were involved with animal husbandry. Sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, horses, and camels were all depended upon for food, burden bearing and transportation. They kept domesticated cats and dogs to deal with various types of vermin and probably sometimes as pets. The Law of Moses had a number of commandments regarding the proper treatment of their animals. But with so many animals involved in their lives, there could be a tendency toward neglect and mistreatment of animals, even cruelty.animals pets

A righteous person, who has taken responsibility for the life of an animal understands the needs and the proper care of those animals. One of the things that stand out about the American cowboy was the way he would take care of his horses. After a long hard day in the saddle, he would be tired and hungry and would certainly be looking forward to dinner and rest in the bunkhouse, but before he would do anything for himself, he would unsaddle, rub down and groom his horse, and then feed and water it. A good cowboy understood the needs of horses and always carried essential  horse health related gear. He knew how treat it for the most common injuries. He carried extra shoes and could shoe a horse on the range, if the need arose. A cowboy who mistreated his horse would be shunned by most good men and would not last long as a cowboy.

Many people today keep pets or have livestock, not to the same extent that the Israelites did, but we still have those responsibilities. In fact, keeping a pet is often a way we choose to teach our children to be responsible. When a righteous person accepts responsibility the care and needs of an animal, he or she must do everything they can to see to those needs. Does God care about animals? Yes, He does, even as He cares about all of His creation. Does He care how we treat his creatures? Yes. We are to practice good stewardship toward all that God has given us. A righteous person is never cruel to or mistreats any of God’s creations!

Read Psalms 50:10-11; Genesis 1:26; Deuteronomy 25:4; Luke 12:6-7

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A Limited View of the Harvest

A Limited View of the Harvest

When Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35), His disciples really had trouble understanding what was being said. They were in Samaria and the apostles, because of their Jewish background, had never seen that Samaritans had souls. Jews avoided, as much as they could, any contact with this mixed race in Samaria. Jesus’ use of the word “already” shows that He saw Samaria as a field ready to be reaped for God.

These apostles had to be shocked at the words of Jesus, but in just a few months they saw what Jesus saw.  They saw souls, even those in Samaria. Just before His ascension, Jesus gave His plan to evangelize the world using these words: “You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). It appeared that some heard these words this time and understood them.

The church began in Jerusalem and when persecution arose, the Bible shows that they went to Samaria. When the Samaritans believed and obeyed the gospel, these apostles then knew His plan that involved from Jerusalem to Samaria. The apostles were part of the beginning of the church and before them were the white fields of Samaria.  What happened? Luke describes the response using the word “multitudes.” The apostles seemed to have understood His great commission. They sent Peter and John to them that they might lay hands on these new Christians so that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

However, their view of white fields was limited. Some of those early Christians went to Antioch in Syria, and some Greeks, likely proselytes, became Christians (Acts 11:19-20). But most in the church still did not see the white fields. It is true that Peter said on Pentecost that the promise of the Spirit would be given to as many as the Lord called, but he failed to see that it included those who were far off—the Gentiles.

It was the miracle of the Spirit coming on the household of Cornelius that started opening their eyes. God had shown that He accepted any person in every nation who feared God and did His will (Acts 10:34-35). The great commission of Jesus was to preach to every creature. The church was so slow in seeing this.

What is the application of what we have just said? It is for each of us to lift up our eyes. We have no right to pre-judge others before we teach them! We are now focusing on mission work here at Palm Beach Lakes.  Remember that world evangelism begins at your front door and goes around the world. Is it possible that we are not seeing our white fields? As you walk away from the church building, you are in His mission field!

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Seeing Souls, not Just Seeing People

Seeing Souls, not Just Seeing People

I remember as a young missionary the words of another missionary in New Zealand. We were discussing how to better find individuals to teach and how to lead them to Christ. It was hard to find those interested in the Bible in New Zealand as we tried to do our work. He then said something I will never forget. “Dan, are you still seeing souls?”soul people

The world is lost and every person you meet is a soul, but sometimes we fail to see those souls. Christ died for the lost, and our responsibility is to take the gospel to the lost. There is a vast difference between seeing people and seeing souls.

Unlike us, Jesus always saw souls. The classic illustration is Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. She was amazed that a Jew would even speak to her. She asked Jesus why he would even ask her to give him a drink from the well. Her reason? “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans“ (John 4:9).

Jesus was so different from the rabbis of His day. One description of them is found in Robertson’s Daily Bible Study. He says, “A rabbi might not even speak to his own wife or daughter in public. There were even Pharisees who were called ‘the bruised and bleeding Pharisees’ because they shut their eyes when they saw a woman on the street and so walked into walls and houses!” Jesus was not like them. His apostles were so amazed that Jesus was talking to a woman of Samaria but did not ask Him about His actions (John 4:29).

Jesus saw souls, and He saw the soul of the woman of Samaria. The apostles saw her leave to return to the city, not knowing what she did when she came into the city. She told those there to come to the well suggesting that she had found the Messiah. The text then described how those in the city believed her and were coming to the well to investigate for themselves.

Do you know what Jesus said to the apostles as all of this was happening? “Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (John 4:35). The apostles could have seen those coming from the city, and all they saw were Samaritans, a people with whom the apostles had no dealings. Do you know what Jesus saw? He saw souls! When they arrived at the city, they too found the treasures of Jesus. He saw the souls and spent two full days teaching them.

What about us? Do we see the souls of rude servers in a restaurant? Do we see the souls of those around us as we wait in a doctor’s office? Do we see the souls, or do we only think of how bad we are being treated?

The next time it happens, “Life up your eyes to the harvest.” It will change how you deal with others.

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Study to Understand Therefore and Wherefore

Study to Understand Therefore and Wherefore

Sometimes we struggle to find the greatest benefit from reading the Bible and understanding what is being said. It may be because we are reading it too fast and not noticing the impact of individual words being used. An illustration can be found in slowing down and asking why the words “wherefore” and “therefore” are found and why they are there.

The word “therefore” is found 1,355 times in the NKJV of the Bible. The older King James Version often uses the word “wherefore” instead of the word “therefore.” Slow down as you read and after you read the word ask, “What is the word therefore ‘there-for’?” What is its meaning? God has made a statement and then has drawn a conclusion based on what He just said or is about to say. The same is true of the translation of the word “wherefore.” When you see it, ask yourself, “‘What-for’ is this word here? Why is God using this word, and what is He trying to say?”

This way of clearly studying the Bible can be seen in the way Jesus uses the word when discussing the great care God gives to the birds. He then adds, “Therefore do not fear, for you are of more value than sparrows” (Luke 12:7). Jesus used the word “therefore” 92 times in His teachings, and Paul uses the word nearly 150 times in his writings. As you read the Bible and come across these words, take time to look at the context where they are found. Read the verses before these words and the words after them and focus on why God chose to use them. This simple way of reading the Bible will deeply enhance your appreciation for truth.

The fact that these words are used emphasizes the truth that our relationship to God is not based on emotions. There is a Divine reason God chose to use them. For example, God did not just arbitrarily give the Sabbath command as some ritual action for the Jews to do. He told them, “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt…therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deut. 5:15).

Paul used the word five times in reference to the use of tongues in 1 Corinthians 11. Slow down as you read and ask each time, “Why is this word ‘there-for’?” God gives commands for us to obey, but often shows why He wants us to keep them by using the word “therefore.” Paul’s writings show this again and again.

Finally, remember that Christianity, properly understood, is so logical. I understand we walk by faith and sometimes do not fully comprehend why God says what He does, but notice the use of these words. Slow down as you read and appreciate His truths and the basis on which it is given. Remember “there-for” and “what-for.”

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The Plague of Spiritually Weak Parents

The Plague of Spiritually Weak Parents

Let’s get real for a moment: We have raised up a bunch of spiritually weak parents. Yes, they want their children to go to heaven. But they also want their children to fit in with the world. They want them to excel at sports. They want them to have the lead part in the high school play. They want them to enjoy prom–after all it’s a once in a lifetime rite of passage.spiritually weak

They are perfectly fine with them listening to the same songs and watching the same videos their worldly friends listen to and watch. They are perfectly fine with them missing out on lectureships/Gospel meetings because most of their friends won’t be there. They are okay with them dressing in tight and revealing clothes, because everyone in their generation is doing the same. They are okay with them showing up to Bible class with no Bible. They are okay with them using language that is disrespectful and does not honor God.

Why, would parents be okay with all of this? Because their children have their baptism card–so they are good.

And, because the parents themselves are spiritually weak.

I see it every weekend when I hold Gospel Meetings and seminars. The vast majority of those in attendance are over 65 yrs old. The young people–who are on the frontline of the culture war and really need the information–are noticeably absent until Sunday morning worship.

It’s not the young people’s fault. It’s the parents. While they may have gotten their children baptized in the church, they stopped and did not train them up in such a way that they love God more than anything else.

Far too many parents today do not prioritize the spiritual health of their children. Instead, they want their children to be “happy,” and so they surround them with things of the world. Sadly, the next generation will likely not even show up for Sunday morning worship. And their children will not know God.

Church, we aren’t going to fix the problem until we address this real problem and start teaching some tough love sermons from the pulpit. Elders need to be bold enough to teach on this in Bible classes. Youth ministers need to stop providing spiritual welfare and entertainment, and instead, assist families to do what God commanded parents to do.

Until God becomes the #1 priority for church families, families will continue to commit adultery on their first love and wander back out on the broad way. Yes, our numbers are on the decline. But no one is talking about the other issue–and that is the spiritual decline of those physically present.

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