Gracious Heavenly Father, Creator and Ruler of all things, we ask for Your protection for the people being affected by Hurricane Matthew. Give them strength through the storm and character to endure the aftermath. Guide all emergency workers and officials to make wise decisions and keep them safe. As in all things, let Your will be done. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Gracious Heavenly Father, we ask your blessings on all who labor in every vocation You have provided. Remind us all of the blessings of our work, and for the ability to work to provide for ourselves and our families. Be with all who are unemployed or unable to work any longer. Give us thankful hearts that You provide all things for our good. Above all, we thank You for the saving work of Your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen.
Recently in the presidential campaign both candidates have accused the other of being a bigot. This is one of the worst slurs that can be cast at a person in our society. Christians have been accused of being bigots for a long time. What is a bigot? Merriam-Webster.com defines a bigot as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions or prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.” What we see, then, is that bigotry, when applied to the Christian context, involves two things: the first is how one regards different beliefs and the second is how one treats people who hold those beliefs.
The first thing we need to keep in mind when it comes to the teachings of the Christian faith is that they are not human ideas or opinions. They come from God No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)
God tells us that His Word is the truth. Your word is truth. (John 17:17). We are to believe what God tells us in His word and not deviate from it. Be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. (Joshua 1:7).
In regard to the matter of salvation, the Bible reveals that we are all sinners who deserve God’s wrath and punishment. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23). The only way a person is saved is through the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Scripture says, Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name un-der heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).
The fact that God declares His word to be the truth means that all other belief systems are false. They are human opinion and do not lead to God. Ultimately, they lead people to eternal death. Holding fast to the truths of God’s word is not bigotry. We must do so if we are to have any confidence in our relationship with God and have the certain hope of eternal life.
How are we to treat people that do not believe the way we do? The Bible tells us that we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Matthew 22:39). The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us that our neighbor is everyone, not just those who live next to us. To love our neighbor means that we seek what is best for them. The best thing we can do for our neighbor is share the Gospel with them, so they believe in Christ and are saved.
The Bible forbids us to hate others. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (1 John 2:9). This means we are not to speak evil of others or mistreat them in any way. Sadly, because of our sinful nature we find ourselves falling short of the glory of God. Individual Christians may be guilty of bigotry. When such sin is identified the Christian should immediately repent of it, and seek forgiveness from God and the one he has offended.
The Christian church does not teach or endorse bigotry of any kind. May the Spirit guide us to love others according to God’s will, while holding fast to the truths of His Word.
Rev. Matthew Luttman
There is no unity in disunity. People who hold opposing views are not in agreement and cannot truly be in agreement unless all minds are changed to accept and believe the same thing. Tomorrow, July 16, 2016, a large gathering of famous contemporary Christians will take place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. This gathering, dubbed “Together 2016,” will attempt to set aside the important differences in beliefs these people have in the name of unity.
But, there is no true unity in this type of gathering. It may appear, from smiling faces, emotional speeches and heartwarming songs, that a wonderful peace is being established. Far from it. A false peace, based on the shifting sands of emotion will be on display, instead of a true unity “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.” (Ephesians 2:20)
True unity is found only in agreement based on God’s Word. Jesus did not say that we should unite because it seems like the right thing to do. He says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” (John 8:31-32) Holding onto the teachings of the Bible, in faith, is the only way to define true Christian unity. The Bible gives us more instruction about not coming together under false pretenses: “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)
Unity gatherings are also scheduled in other places. Before you consider attending or even watching one of these gatherings, be sure you first understand what God says in His Word. Only then will you be able to separate truth from false teachings. When the Apostle Paul and Silas went to Berea, the Bereans listened to them “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) We, too, must examine God’s Word and learn what He says to protect the precious gift of faith given to us.
-Rev. Paul Fries
Heavenly Father, watch over the people of France during this time of trial. Give compassion and strength to all whose task it is to help the injured and mourning. Bring to an end the destructive violence which plagues our world and bring true peace through Your Son, Jesus Christ. In His name we pray. Amen. “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)