Monthly Archives: January 2016

Confidence in God

David is one of the most interesting people you read about in the Bible. He was at first a simple shepherd, then later became a celebrated warrior and notable king. Besides his military and political prowess, he was also an accomplished poet and musician. He wrote at least seventy-four of the one hundred fifty Psalms. A “man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), it was from his lineage that the Christ was to come (II Sam. 7:12,13). Even though he fell mightily, he learned even then to trust in God. Much can be gleaned from his writings and his life, especially about his confidence in God.

Probably while he was still a young man, maybe even while he was yet a shepherd, he wrote the masterful 23rd psalm. This wonderful psalm has comforted countless millions through some of the darkest hours of their lives, as it can ours. In this Psalm, David expresses his complete trust in God for all of his physical and spiritual needs, even in the face of death. David demonstrated that trust in God both in defending his sheep from attack and when fighting the enemies of God’s people. He was heroic in facing the giant Goliath because he faced him in “the name of the Lord of hosts” (I Sam. 17:45).

David wrote Psalms also while he was in Saul’s court. In the 59th psalm, David wrote about those that were his enemies, that rose up against him and who lay in wait for his soul. David was referring to the fact that king Saul tried to kill him because of jealousy. David had been praised more than Saul for his exploits by many and Saul sent messengers in the night to slay David in the morning (I Sam. 19:11). But David trusted in God as his defense in the day of his trouble (Psalm 59:16).

This was not the only incident in which Saul attempted to kill David. On another occassion, David fled from Saul to the cave of Adullam (I Sam. 22:1). Saul later came to rest in this same cave, not knowing David and his men were already further inside the cave. David wrote in the 57th Psalm, “My soul is among the lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire” (Psalm 57:4). David’s men encouraged him to take advantage of the situation, but David would not hurt Saul. The most he would do would be to cut off Saul’s skirt, but even this bothered David (I Sam. 24:5). He proved to Saul by his reticence to hurt the king that he was not out to destroy him. David professed his confidence in God throughout this incident in Psalm 57:1-3:

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”

This is the kind of confidence and trust that God asks of us today. Jesus said, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33). When we are burdened with loads of care, Paul urged us to cast all our care upon God, for he cares for us (I Pet.5:7).

It is only when we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end, that we are made partakers of Christ (Heb. 3:14). If we want the reward that heaven offers, then we must never cast away that confidence (Heb. 10:35). We need to emulate the trust and confidence that David demonstrated in his life.

Eric L. Padgett

A Murder Mystery

How were the members of this group murdered? That was the question detective Spoudadzo, affectionately known as Spouda, had to solve immediately. The members’ dead bodies lie strewn about the room. Each of them showed signs of having been slain with an extremely sharp, double-edged blade. That was all that could be known at this time, except that there was no doubt that it was a precision instrument wielded with great skill. But what precisely was that instrument and who was responsible? Who were the members of this group and what was the motive for these deaths? These were the questions that needed answers fast.

Right away, detective Spouda knew who these victims were. He knew them well. He had run across them before in his past research and they all had well documented criminal pasts. The first victim was a Mrs. Porneia. She was well known around town for her lewdness and was often seen in the most undesirable places. Her picture was seen in many magazines and she was constantly advertising on television and the movies. Many people had been seen with her but she was especially known to keep company with a Mr. Aka Tharsia, who had a reputation for being involved in every unclean activity you could imagine. He could at times put up a good front, but his dealings were as dirty as the ground you walk on.

The third victim was a Mr. Pathos. He was an ugly, overwieght man with an insatiable appetite, an appetite that he was sure to satisfy no matter what the cost. He usually was known to work with two underworld associates. The first was the evil Epi Thumia. Like his mentor, Pathos, he wanted what he couldn’t have. He had been known to choke his vitims to death to get what he wanted. His second associate and the last victim was Pleo Nexia. He was a greedy man and involved in many shady deals, which he made by misleading others. His nickname was “The Idol.” All of these were bad characters and no decent person would miss them now that they were gone.

The lab work came back quickly and it was determined that the fatal wounds had been caused by a double-edged sword. That was an unusual instrument and was easy to trace. Spouda remembered another case similar to this when a double-edged sword was used to dispense with some other pretty unsavory characters, all members of the same outlaw gang. Their names were Orgay, who was always angry, Thumos who acted out his anger on others, and Kakia who was an extremely malicious individual. They hung around the final two victims, Aschro Logia, who was as foul-mouthed as anyone could be and his girlfriend, Blasphemia. They were always involved in various terrible crimes.

This last group had been put to death in the very same way as the first, with a sharp, two-edged sword. The person responsible was found innocent in the Court of Law. That person’s name was Christian. The Jury had determined Orgay and his gang were terrorizing Christian and Christian acted on grounds of self-defense. Spouda wanted to have a talk with him. Maybe he could provide a lead on the current case. He was known to frequent the church of Christ and that’s were Spouda headed.

When Spouda found him, Christian was reading his Bible. Christian was a devout man who attended worship and Bible study regularly. He helped those around him who were in need and he always stood up for the truth. His neighbors said he was a decent man who could be trusted to do the right thing.

Spouda confronted Christian. “Do you know anything about the death of Mrs. Porneia and her associates?”

“I do,” said Christian. “In fact, I am responsible.”

“But why Christian, why would you do such a thing?” Spouda said.

“Detective Spoudadzo,” Christian said, “Mrs. Porneia, Epi Thumia and all the others were choking the life out of me. I acted in defense of my own life. If I had not acted, I would be dead, spiritually dead. But now I am alive. Too many who profess to be followers of God get involved with the wrong crowd and are led into a life of sin. I walked with this crowd at one time, but no more. I will not be influenced by them anymore. Here, detective, read Col. 3:1-10. This will explain.”

“I’ll read it, but your case will have to be tried,” Spouda said.

Years later Christian stood before the Judge of all the earth. The Judge spoke with a thunderous voice, “Well done, My good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord.”

Case closed.

Cast of Characters
Detective Spoudadzo – spoudadzo; to make effort, be prompt or earnest :- do (give) diligence, be diligent (forward), endeavour, labour, study. – II Tim. 2:15 – “Study”
Double edged blade – Sword of the Spirit, the word of God – Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17
Mrs. Porneia – fornication
Aka Tharsia – akatharsia – impurity (the quality), physical or moral :- uncleanness. Fornication and uncleanness are almost always grouped together in scripture.
Mr. Pathos – pathos – lust
Epi Thumia – epithumia – a longing (especially for what is forbidden); concupiscence, desire, lust (after). Jesus said the lusts (epithumia) of this world choke the word (Mark4:19).
Pleo Nexia – pleonexia – avarice, i.e. (by implication) fraudulency, extortion; covetousness, greediness. Covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5).
Orgay – anger
Thumos – wrath
Kakia – badness, depravity, or (active) malignity, or (passive) trouble; evil, malice (-iousness), naughtiness, wickedness.
Aischro Logia – aischrologia – Vile, filthy communication.
Basphemia – Blasphemy
Christian – Represents the faithful child of God
Judge of all the earth – Christ

Summary: This fictional story is an allegory based on Colossians 3:1-10. Faithful Christians will remove from their life all those things that cause them to sin. The word of God is the instrument to use to bring about that end. As we follow the teachings of Christ, we must actively kill all the evil influences in our lives. When we stand in judgement before the Lord, He will welcome us in if we have remained faithful.
Eric L. Padgett

See You At The Finish Line!

I like to win! I don’t like the feeling of losing, do you? Who does? Unfortunately, our society is currently plagued with political correctness regarding this subject. The politically correct thought is that everyone ought to win. But honest competition implies that some will lose and that cannot be tolerated by the philosophical left because it might hurt someone’s feelings. So those in our society who attempt to control thought have tried to remove the concept of losing. Nowadays, every child gets a gold star, every athlete wins, every participant gets a prize, etc. However, that is not reality nor is it scriptural.

The Bible has quite a lot to say about winning and losing. Adam and Eve were accepted of God until they broke His commandments. They lost God’s favor and He expelled them from the idyllic garden paradise He had created for them (Gen. 3:24).

Cain lost when he did not offer the sacrifice God had commanded (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:4). God plainly told him, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen. 4:7). He became a fugitive and a vagabond (4:12).

Even though Abel was murdered by his brother, Abel won. He won because he was righteous and accepted of God. God testified of his gifts and “by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).

Enoch won! He walked with God and was not because God took him (Gen. 5:24). He had this testimony, that pleased God (Heb. 11:5).

The world in Noah’s day lost badly. The world was so wicked and sinful that God saw fit to destroy it utterly (Gen. 6:7). In contrast, Noah won the confidence of God and was allowed to escape the destruction of the world and was even entrusted with the monumental task of repopulating the newly cleansed earth (Gen. 9:1). This list could go on for quite some time but the point is that some win and some lose. That’s life and that’s Bible!

But it should be understood that God really wants all men to win (I Tim. 2:4). He has put into place the means whereby we can be saved and win, but it takes a great deal of effort. Paul wrote, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:8). Notice what Paul had to sacrifice in order to be in the running to win! Like many high level athletes, he suffered the loss of all things in order to win.

Furthermore, he did not count himself as having already won or attained to his goal (Phil. 3:12-14). He was striving for it, reaching for it and pressing toward it. Paul often compared living the Christian life to competing in a game. For example, he wrote, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (II Timothy 2:5). And again, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Cor. 9:24). Scripture tells us the Christian life is a continuous battle for victory and triumph.

When Paul neared the end of his life, he was more confident. “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” (II Timothy 4:8). He could be confident because God wants us all to win, but we must first keep the faith, fight the good fight and finish the course!

God wants all to be saved but He is not going to award a gold star to everyone just for participating. In fact, the majority are going to lose and it is not going to be pretty. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:13,14). The majority will be lost but sadly they do not have to be. There will not just be one winner. As many as want to may win, but the rules have to be followed and we must finish the course.

See you at the finish line!

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

Eric L. Padgett

Friends. With God!

Some people have a lot of friends, others have but a few. On Facebook, you can have thousands of so-called “friends” that you never speak to or even know anything about. The Bible actually has a few things to say about friends and friendship. At least a couple of these define our relationship with God.

First of all, you make friends by being friendly. “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly” (Proverbs 18:24). A person who is angry all the time, complaining, argumentative, hurtful in his comments, rude in his actions, etc., is not going to make a lot of friends. When Job’s friends came to visit, the best thing they did for him was to sit with him quietly (Job 2:11-13). It would have helped if they had had empathy for his condition, but instead, when they presumed to speak, they began to affirm that he must have done something wrong to deserve this distress (e.g., Job 4:9). They are not too far from those who visit you in the hospital and tell you all their troubles. A friend, by definition, is friendly.

Second, a friend is a friend no matter what. “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Fair-weather friends are the worst kind. When you are doing well, when you are respected, when you have money to spend on them, then they will go along for the ride. But as soon as you have difficulties, they disappear. “Wealth maketh many friends,” says the wise man (Proverbs 19:4). On one occasion, my family was going to a family reunion. Several wanted to ride along to the event. But when the car broke down, everyone left and found another way to the reunion. Not one stayed to help. Farewell fair-weather friends!

A third principle of friendship is that a true friend seeks your well-being even though it brings pain. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” says Proverbs 27:6. A friend doesn’t hurt you on purpose unless it is to help. If you are engaging in bad, unhealthy behavior, a real friend will try to intervene and assist you. On one occasion, Jesus’ family and friends went out to protect Him, mistakenly thinking He was neglecting His own health (Mark 3:20,21). While they were wrong in their assessment, they were well-intentioned. It is a truism that “iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17).

While it may be nice to have a large cadre of friends, better than that is to have God as your friend, even if all other friends fail. It was said of Abraham, “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23). “Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever? (II Chronicles 20:7). Again, “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend” (Isaiah 41:8). To be called a friend by God certainly surpasses all human friendships. Abraham was the friend of God because he believed and obeyed Him.

Jesus was friendly with everyone who let Him be their friend. He was even criticized for being the friends “of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). His particular friendship with Mary, Martha and Lazarus was especially noted (John 11:11). Jesus said we, too, can be His friend in the same way. “Ye are my friends,” He said, “if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). Jesus proved His love for us when He was willing to lay down His life for us (John 15:13). Surely, we can obey His commands to prove our love for Him.

Sadly, it was His “own familiar friend” who betrayed Him. During the rebellion of his son Absalom, one of David’s close advisors, Ahithophel, sided with David’s enemies (II Samuel 15:12). It was about Ahithophel that David wrote, “Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9). Jesus, Himself, applied this passage to Judas. “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me” (John 13:18). Zechariah had prophetically described this situation. “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” (Zechariah 13:6). Jesus had considered Judas a close friend, even though He knew what Judas would ultimately do. The wounds of this friend were certainly not faithful.

But the Lord puts some limits on His friendship. We cannot expect to remain friends with God, if we continue to be friends with the world. James wrote, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). God says, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (II Corinthians 6:17). Jesus said we will either “hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

To be blessed with a multitude of friends, real friends, is a wonderful thing. Better yet is to have God as your friend. He shows Himself friendly, is my friend even in the difficult times and always seeks my good. There is no better friend than God.

Eric L. Padgett