Category Archives: encourage

The Foundation of God Standeth Sure

Life is full of uncertainty (Prov. 27:1). At any given moment we may receive news that shakes the very foundation of our lives (e.g., Job 1:13-19). Our doctors may give us devastating news about our health. Our employer may give us unwelcome news about our jobs. Our families may be challenged by loss or suffering. Spouses may prove untrue. Nature’s forces may deal us a blow and deprive us of our substance. So many things to trouble us, so many things about which to worry, so many things to shake us.

And yet as uncertain as life often is, there is a confidence we have as Christians which transcends all the worries, trials and heartaches we face (Rom. 8:18). Just as Paul and Silas could pray and sing praises to God at midnight in a damp and dark Philippian jail, even when all seemed bleak (Acts 16:25), so, too, can we face the anguish and disappointments of life courageously and with great inner joy. From whence is this unearthly confidence and joy derived? Paul wrote:

“Be careful for 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).

Though everything about us seems as uncertain as the shifting sands, as Christians we have a confidence and joy derived not from our own sense of ability or power (Jer. 10:23), but from trusting in the One who holds the world in His hands (Ps. 92:4). Those who build their lives on the uncertain sands of mere mortal merit are sure to ultimately find disappointment and collapse. But those who build upon the solid Rock foundation can rest assured that their labors will not fall (Matt. 7:24-27).

The apostle Paul declared that though the world devolves into ever increasing ungodliness (II Tim. 3:13), and many people’s faith is overthrown, there is one thing we can trust, one verity of life that never changes–the foundation of God (II Tim. 2:16-19). Paul further declared that, as Christians, we are of the household of God and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (Eph. 2:19,20). For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid which is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11).

Throughout the Old Testament, our God is described as a Rock. The Mighty God of Jacob brings forth the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:24). “He is the Rock, His work is perfect” (Deut. 32:4). “The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer” (II Sam. 22:3). “The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation” (II Samuel 22:47). The Rock that was cut out of the mountains without hands was to break in pieces all the kingdoms of the world (Dan. 2:44,45).

The prophet Isaiah declared, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16). Jesus Christ is that “foundation…stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation” (Is. 28:16). In the words of Peter, he that believeth on Him, “shall not be confounded” (I Pet. 2:6,7; cf. Rom. 10:11). If our lives are built on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ and His teaching, there is nothing that can move us, as long as we choose to remain there.

We express our confidence in our Rock when we sing our hymns, which are replete with references to the Rock. “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock, that shadows a dry, thirsty land.” “Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” “O Thou blessed Rock of Ages, trusting now dear Lord in Thee, Keep me till my journey’s ended, Till Thy blessed face I see. Hide me O Blessed Rock of Ages, Till Thy blessed face I see, When the storm around me rages, Rock of Ages hide Thou me.” “The church’s One Foundation, is Jesus Christ her Lord…” “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Do we believe what we sing?

If you would find stability in your life, if you would have confidence that you cannot be moved (Heb. 12:28), then build your life on the solid rock foundation of Jesus Christ. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (II Timothy 2:19).

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

The Day The Lord Wrestled A Man

Jacob was alone and afraid and distressed (Gen. 32:24-32). He had sent his family on before him to safety. All of his possessions he had divided into two camps so that at least one group might survive. The desperate sound of his prayer to God had earlier ascended up before Jehovah’s Throne as he beseeched the Almighty for deliverance from the hand of his brother. Soon, he would face his brother, from whom he had taken birthright and blessing, and offer himself upon his mercy and God’s. But before this, Jacob was left alone. Almost alone.

We are not privy to the circumstances initiating the encounter, but sometime during that night before Jacob would meet his estranged brother, Jacob encountered a mysterious figure, “a man.” This was not a quiet encounter for the Sacred Record tells us that Jacob wrestled with this “man” until the breaking of day. This scuffle was fairly equal until the stranger “touched” Jacob’s thigh and it came out of joint. He demanded to be let go before day break but Jacob, even though he must have been in pain and very much afraid, refused to set the “man” free until he blessed him.

It seems fairly certain that Jacob, by this point, must have recognized that his opponent was more than a mere man, otherwise he would not have sought a blessing from Him (Heb. 7:7). This “man” then lifted the veil from Jacob’s bewildered mind when He told him that his name would be changed from Jacob to Israel, because, “as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (Gen. 32:28). His opponent was no mere man but was, in fact, God in the form of a man. Jacob realized in all this, “I have seen God face to face” (32:30).

This was not the first time the Lord had appeared to man as a man. He had so appeared to Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, in the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18:1,22,23, 33). It would not be the last time He appeared. One like the Son of man appeared to Daniel and the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:25). Of course, God was with us in the flesh (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23). But this was the only time a man literally wrestled the Lord!

This encounter gave Israel new hope. Not only had he seen God face to face, he had wrestled Him all night and his life was preserved (Gen. 32:30). Now he was prepared to face his brother, Esau, who was coming to meet him with four hundred men. But instead of confrontation, Jacob found reconciliation, for Esau “ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Gen. 33:4). Esau had apparently forgiven and forgotten his brother’s affronts and perhaps had seen the hand of God in them all.

He did not leave the night without scars. He halted upon his thigh, the one which had been touched and came out of joint. Who knows if this lameness followed him all the rest of the days of his life, but it is possible. It is certain, however, when we face spiritual battles in this life, we do not come out of them without wounds. Paul stated, “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). After Paul had faced opposition in Athens he came into Corinth “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” (I Corinthians 2:3). But the Lord told Paul, “in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9,10).

There may be times in our lives when we feel alone and afraid and distressed. Sometimes we are seemingly left alone to face great problems in life. We need to know that it is the Lord who will make us stronger and better prepared for the uncertainties of life. The Lord “hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).

Eric L. Padgett
* The following hymn, written by Charles Wesley, describes the encounter of Jacob with God. I offer it for your consideration.
Come, O thou Traveler unknown,
Whom still I hold, but cannot see!
My company before is gone,
And I am left alone with Thee;
With Thee all night I mean to stay,
And wrestle till the break of day.

I need not tell Thee who I am,
My misery and sin declare;
Thyself hast called me by my name,
Look on Thy hands, and read it there;
But who, I ask Thee, who art Thou?
Tell me Thy name, and tell me now.

In vain Thou strugglest to get free,
I never will unloose my hold!
Art Thou the Man that died for me?
The secret of Thy love unfold;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

Wilt Thou not yet to me reveal
Thy new, unutterable Name?
Tell me, I still beseech Thee, tell;
To know it now resolved I am;
Wrestling, I will not let Thee go,
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

’Tis all in vain to hold Thy tongue
Or touch the hollow of my thigh;
Though every sinew be unstrung,
Out of my arms Thou shalt not fly;
Wrestling I will not let Thee go
Till I Thy name, Thy nature know.

What though my shrinking flesh complain,
And murmur to contend so long?
I rise superior to my pain,
When I am weak, then I am strong
And when my all of strength shall fail,
I shall with the God-man prevail.

My strength is gone, my nature dies,
I sink beneath Thy weighty hand,
Faint to revive, and fall to rise;
I fall, and yet by faith I stand;
I stand and will not let Thee go
Till I Thy Name, Thy nature know.

Yield to me now, for I am weak,
But confident in self-despair;
Speak to my heart, in blessings speak,
Be conquered by my instant prayer;
Speak, or Thou never hence shalt move,
And tell me if Thy Name is Love.

’Tis Love! ’tis Love! Thou diedst for me!
I hear Thy whisper in my heart;
The morning breaks, the shadows flee,
Pure, universal love Thou art;
To me, to all, Thy bowels move;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

My prayer hath power with God; the grace
Unspeakable I now receive;
Through faith I see Thee face to face,
I see Thee face to face, and live!
In vain I have not wept and strove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

I know Thee, Savior, who Thou art.
Jesus, the feeble sinner’s friend;
Nor wilt Thou with the night depart.
But stay and love me to the end,
Thy mercies never shall remove;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

The Sun of righteousness on me
Hath rose with healing in His wings,
Withered my nature’s strength; from Thee
My soul its life and succor brings;
My help is all laid up above;
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Contented now upon my thigh
I halt, till life’s short journey end;
All helplessness, all weakness I
On Thee alone for strength depend;
Nor have I power from Thee to move:
Thy nature, and Thy name is Love.

Lame as I am, I take the prey,
Hell, earth, and sin, with ease o’ercome;
I leap for joy, pursue my way,
And as a bounding hart fly home,
Through all eternity to prove
Thy nature and Thy Name is Love.

Marks of the Lord Jesus

I was looking at a step stool the other day, which my brother made in high school a long time ago, and I noticed all the marks on it. There were indentations made by other objects hitting it, there was ground-in dirt, drops of paint, scratches and drops of what looked like glue, and other marks. It caused me to think that there were stories behind all those marks. That got me to thinking about my own body and the scars and marks I bear, each with a story behind them, stories I can’t even fully remember right now.

Then, in the solitude of that moment, my mind turned to the statement Paul made in Galatians 6:17: “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Some had questioned Paul’s authority and apostleship, but Paul could literally point to the sufferings he went through to bring the gospel to the Galatian brethren and others. Paul’s dedication and service to the Lord was evidenced by the physical and the mental marks he bore in his own body.

In ancient times, a man could show his dedication to his master by having a hole bored in his ear (Ex. 21:1-6). The Jews also underwent circumcision to show their covenantal relationship to the law of Moses. The Judaizers who opposed Paul wanted to circumcise the Gentiles so that they could glory in their flesh (Gal, 6:13). But Paul responded to this by saying that he would glory only in the cross of Jesus Christ, by whom the world had been crucified unto him, and he unto the world (Gal. 6:14).

While the judaizers wanted to glory in their adherence to a dead and powerless law, Paul could persuasively argue for his service and dedication to the New Covenant of the living Christ by the very marks he bore in his body.

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep (II Cor. 11:23-25).

What tangible proof can we offer that we are the servants of Jesus Christ? Do we have any scars to show for it? Have we yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Heb. 12:4)? Can we rejoice in our sufferings and fulfill that in which we fall behind in the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24)? Many of those who have defended this country in its wars bear in their bodies the literal proof of their loyalty to the flag by their wounds. How do we measure up in our loyalty to Christ?

Sadly, it is fashionable today among many members of the Lord’s church to be passive, to not bring about any conflict, to not ruffle any feathers, to not rock the boat, to not engage in spiritual battle, to not do anything that might cause the world to dislike them. That certainly was not the Lord’s way, else why were there constant attempts to bring about His demise (Mark 11:18). It was not Paul’s way, else why would he suffer so much persecution? It was not true of Christians in general else why would Paul say, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12)?

Those who want to be loved by the world need to listen to the words of the Lord. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18-19). The world hated Jesus and sent Him to the cross and it will hate us if we follow Him. If the world loves you, it is only because you are of the world and not of Christ.

We have a choice. We can go unscathed by the world and unmolested by satan if we compromise our Christian dignity and the truth or we can maintain our Christian integrity and brave the fiery darts of satan (Eph. 6:10-20). Jesus gave the answer to this question when He said “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8). Some Christians, however, are not willing to endure even the smallest grief for the Lord.

Clearly, faithful Christians will bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. These marks will come as a result of having engaged in battle with this present evil world and its god. One day, those Christians who have compromised their love for the Lord for the love of the world will trade in their peace and placidity for confusion and damnation while those of us who are despised and molested by the world, and by weak brethren, will trade in our scars and wounds for the victors crown of eternal life.

“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).

Eric L. Padgett

Stop With The Excuses

Moses was a reluctant leader. Good leaders usually are. Beware the man who wants to lead you! Many people want power and authority to merely advance their own personal interests. Like Diotrephes, they want to have the preeminence over others. But Moses was not that kind of man. He tried every way he could think of to get out of a position of leadership, but God would not let him. His excuses were the excuses that many of us use even to this day.

First, Moses argued that he was not qualified. “Who am I,” asked Moses, “that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). Though Moses had once lived in the court of Pharaoh, he had since fled for his life as a fugitive and spent the last forty years hiding in the desert as a shepherd. Besides, one might imagine, leading the great multitude of the children of Israel was the job of a young man full of energy, not an 80 year old man cowering in fear! But God immediately invalidated his excuse and said “Certainly I will be with thee” (Ex. 3:12).

How many of us try to get out of doing the Lord’s work by offering up this same old, lame excuse. Who am I to tell others about the Lord? Who am I to teach a Bible class? Who am I to warn others? But the Lord’s clear and immediate response is “Certainly I will be with thee.” In fact, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5,6).

Second, Moses argued that those who heard him would deny his authority to do what he was doing. Who is this God for whom you are speaking? “What is His name?” he believed thy would ask (Ex. 3:13). Again, the Lord dispensed with this excuse by saying “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Ex. 3:14).

If we seek to go about doing the Lord’s will on our own authority, we surely will be inadequate for the task! But we may speak boldly, if we speak as the oracles of God, with the authority of God ( I Pet. 4:11). When we speak, we should give a Thus saith the Lord for everything we say (Col. 3:17). It is His authority by which we speak and not our own.

Third, Moses argued that he shouldn’t be sent because they wouldn’t believe him. “The Lord hath not appeared unto thee,” will be their response, he says, therefore don’t send me (Ex. 4:1). God’s response was to show him His power through miracles which would produce faith in His word (Ex. 4:2-8). But even then, the Lord points out, that may not even be enough to produce faith in their hardened hearts (Ex. 4:9).

Today, of course, we don’t have at our disposal the power to perform miracles, but we do have the written word which was confirmed by “signs, wonders, and divers miracles with gifts of the Holy Ghost” (Heb. 2:-4). Besides, some will not be impressed even with miracles, not even a resurrection from the dead. As Jesus said, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). But that did not stop the Lord from coming to this world, it did not stop the apostles from being ambassadors for the Lord (II Cor. 4:20) and it is no excuse for us. Some will not believe, but some may!

Fourth, Moses appealed to his lack of speaking skills. “O my Lord, I am not eloquent…I am slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Ex. 4:10). But God reminded Moses that it was God that made his mouth (Ex. 4:11). Again, Moses was focusing his attention on the wrong object, himself. It was not about Moses, and it is not about us. It is about the Lord! Might we be embarrassed? Only if we are focused on ourselves and not on the Lord or on the souls of the lost or on the word of God.

Too many people want eloquence instead of truth. I had rather hear a stammering, clumsy, frightened humble man speak the simple truth than hear a silver-tongued, slick, polished self-absorbed orator tickle the ears of the listeners with white-washed error! Saving sincere souls does not depend on eloquence or oratory but on the power of the truth of the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16,17).

Finally, Moses just wanted God to send someone else. Anyone else! “And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send” (Ex. 4:13). But this only served to anger the Lord (Ex. 4:14). He agreed to send Aaron as Moses’ spokesman, but God wanted Moses to do his job. And He wants us to do our jobs without excuses!

We can raise all kinds of excuses not do the Lord’s will, but they are only excuses. God is not pleased with them, He grows weary of them, and one day He will allow no more time for excuses. If you refuse, God will send someone else, because the job must be done. If we refuse to do the will of the Lord, someone else will. God’s purposes will not be frustrated. But God wants us to stop with the excuses and get to work.

Eric L. Padgett

Christian Toolbox

Every now and then, something around the home will need repairing. A door will have to be replaced, a chair leg fixed, or even a wall removed or a room remodeled. Most homes have a toolbox somewhere on the premises for occasions such as these. The toolbox usually contains the basic tools needed for repair on the home or for the use on household projects. Similarly, every Christian should also have a spiritual toolbox that has the basic tools needed for Christian growth. These tools are very similar to the ones found in the toolbox in the home.

For example, on many occasions around the home a ruler is necessary to take measurements. A length may need to be figured, a distance measured or dimensions taken. If you are building something from scratch or repairing something already in existence, somewhere along the process you will need to take a measurement. In order to measure properly, you will have to have a standard ruler or tape measure. This ruler cannot be arbitrary or of your own creation. If you have a different measure than what the plans call for, then what you are building will be different than the plans or the existing structure. Too, if you change your measuring unit in the middle of the work, then your work will turn out very badly and might possibly be unusable.

Too many Christians fail to use the correct spiritual measuring unit when they work on their life. Some will use their feelings, some will use their family traditions, some will use opinions of people they respect, or some other faulty, human measure. We must be careful because if we use the wrong measure we will find ourselves being measured by it again (Matt. 7:2). Those who make up their own measuring unit, Paul says, are not wise (II Cor. 10:12). In fact, “divers measures” are nothing short of an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 20:10). What we need to use is the “measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us” (II Cor. 10:13). The only true measure is the word of God, for it is by His word that we shall be measured in the end (II Tim. 3:16,17; Rev. 20:11-15).

But once we have measured the material we are using around the home we may find that it does not fit as it is. It may be too long or too wide. We may have to cut it. For that we need some kind of saw. And so in our own life we may find that after we have measured ourselves with the word of God there are some things that do not fit and need to be spiritually trimmed. We may have to cut them off to fit. If we lie, we have to cut that off (Eph. 4:25). If we become angry to the point of sin, we have to cut that off (Eph. 4:26). If we steal, we will have to cut that off (Eph. 4:28). If our hand or foot offend us, that is, cause us to sin, we have to spiritually cut them off (Matt. 18:8,9). A spiritual saw is a handy thing to have!

Another basic tool that is needed is a level. If you have ever tried to put in a new door frame in an old house, you know well that the old house is not always exactly square! Sometimes you have to shim the door frame and square it so the door will open and shut properly. Or, if you are putting in a concrete drive or sidewalk, you have to keep the forms level or at a particular angle. In a similar fashion, spiritually, we sometimes get out of kilter, we get our priorities wrong. Jesus gently warned Martha about getting her priorities straight because she considered many things more important than doing God’s will (Luke 10:38-42). She was out of level. Jesus said no man putting his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). If we use the spiritual level of God’s word we can get our life back in order.

Another important tool to have around the house is a good wrench. Sometimes things come loose! If there is a leak in a drain or a water line you might have to tighten a nut. When you assemble an appliance, you might need to use a wrench. Sometimes in our own life we have the right parts and they are the right length and are level but they just need to be tightened a little. As time goes by, we sometimes loose our zeal and our intensity. We sometimes loose our faith. When this happens we need to tighten things up. Paul warns us to examine our self to see whether we are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5). He warned the Galatian brethren who were trying to be justified by the law that they had fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4). We can loose our grip! If you find yourself slipping a little, take out a wrench and study to show thyself approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15).

A clamp is another necessary tool. A clamp holds on to things or holds things together. If you have ever worked with wood, you know how indispensable a clamp really is. As Christians, we also need to hold on to certain things or hold things together. For instance, we need to hold fast that which is good (I Thess. 5:21). We should hold on to sound words (II Tim. 1:13), the profession of our faith (Heb. 10:23) and lay hold on to eternal life (I Tim. 6:19). At the same time, as brethren, we should be perfectly joined together in the same mind and same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). As the church we are framed and builded together for a habitation of God (Eph. 2:21).

Finally, a hammer could be the most versatile tool we have. It is naturally used for pounding things, particularly fasteners like nails, but it can also be used to loosen things, or pry things apart, if you have a claw hammer. A hammer can even test for solid surfaces behind the wall. Jeremiah described God’s word like a hammer. He wrote, “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29). Sometimes we need to use God’s word like a hammer to break hardened hearts with th truth (Acts 2:37).

You can have a toolbox full of tools, but if you do not know which tool to use, the toolbox and it’s tools are useless. If your tools are not kept up, then they also become useless. Let us fill our toolbox full of useful tools that we may be ready for the task (I Cor. 15:58).

Eric L. Padgett

Rejoice in My Sufferings

In truly descriptive language, the prophet Amos warned against complacency and placidity in God’s people: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches…that invent unto themselves instruments of musick…that anoint themselves with the chief ointments…but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:1-6). Just as in the days when Amos uttered this dire warning, we also live in an age and a culture when peace and pleasure are paramount. Even more disheartening is the fact that this attitude has taken hold of a great many in the Lord’s church.

Instead of challenging the denominational world to discuss and debate their false religious views, instead of calling their teachings and practices what they are–damnable error, too many in the Lord’s church now seek to “partner” with those in the denominations in sundry social and community activities. No, the reasoning goes, to expose the error might cause them not to like us and they might say bad things about us and then how could we reach them? Why, we might even suffer rejection or, worse, persecution!

How different this attitude is from that of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

Moses and God’s people could have used a different approach than the one God authorized of separating themselves to the worship of God (Ex. 5:1). Moses might have tried to compromise with Pharaoh by offering to worship Egyptian gods as well as Jehovah. He might have offered to worship in Egypt and not in the wilderness as God had said. They may have gotten together for some kind of social affair so that they could learn to relate to one another’s needs. But Moses chose rather to do what God said and he was willing to suffer for it.

How different the attitude of some is today than that of the Lord’s apostles. When the Sadducees cast the apostles into prison for preaching and teaching the truth, the apostles, being set free from bondage by and at the command of the angel of the Lord (Acts 5:19,20), went out to speak the words of this life to all the people. When they were once again hauled before the Sanhedrin and asked why they were teaching in the name of Christ when they were straightly charged not to, they responded simply: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And then, when they had been beaten for the Cause of Christ, “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

The apostles could have tried some other approach than the one authorized by the Lord. They might have left out the offensive parts of their preaching so as not to offend the Jews. They might have left out the preaching about the resurrection, which the Sadducees did not accept. The apostles could have left out the blood of Christ and His crucifixion to draw the Sadducees into the services, to increase their numbers and ease religious tensions. But instead, they wanted to obey God rather than men and were willing and glad to suffer for it, if that was the result.

The Christians in the first century also had a different attitude than many in the Lord’s church do today. Paul acknowledged that the brethren in Colossae were rejoicing in his sufferings for them. At the time of the writing, Paul was under Roman detention. They rejoiced, not because they wanted to see Paul suffer, but because he was fulfilling the will of God and filling up that which was behind in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). What did first century Christians do when they were reviled, persecuted and spoken against falsely? They followed the Lord’s command and rejoiced exceedingly because they knew they had a reward in heaven (Matt. 5:10,11).

If we suffer as Christians (that is, because we are Christians), let us not be ashamed as so many seem to be today. Rather, let us glorify God on this behalf (I Pet. 4:16). We should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings and reproached for the name of Christ (I Pet. 4:13,14). If someone asks us to go out for a drink, we should be able to say confidently, “No thank you, because I am a Christian, I do not drink alcohol.” If someone asks us to participate in some denominational service, we should be able to say without shame “No thank you, the Lord does not approve of that.” We should not be ashamed or afraid to speak the truth to those in error either doctrinally or morally.

Instead of seeking the path of least resistance, we ought to seek the path that is right (Matt. 7:13,14). We should never, ever intentionally try to offend others, but we must never, ever yield to the false notion that offense is, in itself, a sin. Jesus was, is and ever shall be offensive to many people (John 5:51-64; Matt. 13:57; Mark 14:27; I Cor. 1:18-31). We are not greater than our Lord (John 13:16). If Jesus was offensive, then so shall we be. If Jesus was persecuted, then so shall we be (John 15:20). If we suffer with Him, then we shall also reign with Him (II Tim. 2:11,12). If we are offered and sacrificed, then we ought to rejoice (Phil 2:14-18). Let us then rejoice in our sufferings and never be ashamed to suffer as a Christian!

Eric L. Padgett

We Have Found Him

Two days after Jesus was baptized of John in the Jordan river to fulfill all righteousness, as He was heading into Galilee, He called to Philip: “Follow Me” (John 1:43). We do not know what other words Jesus spoke to him, if any at all, but we are left with the distinct impression that Philip obeyed His Master’s call immediately. What this text reveals about not only the character of Philip but also our own character is quite helpful.

First, note that Philip was apparently looking for the Messiah. You cannot find something for which you are not looking. It is true that Jesus called Philip to follow Him, but I cannot help but think that Jesus would not have approached him if he had not been seeking the Messiah. If Philip had not been useable material for the Lord, there would have been no need to call him. His knowledge of the Law of Moses and his desire to tell others about Jesus strongly indicate that he was looking for the Christ. He had probably heard of Jesus if he had not heard Him speak.

It is truly a blessing to find those who are seeking the Lord, to find men and women who are amenable to the will of God and need only to be shown the way. We need more men and women like this, men like Apollos, who can be shown the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:24-28). It is also a lesson to us to seriously seek the Lord (Psalm 105:4). When the Saviour calls us (through His revealed word), are we willing to follow His will immediately? Do we stubbornly cling to our own will and desires, our own preconceived notions, or do we humbly submit and follow like Philip?

Second, take note of Philip’s acquaintance with the word of God, at that time the Law of Moses. Philip recognized in Jesus’ demeanor, His character, and His teaching, that He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). He was familiar enough with God’s word to be able to identify those qualities in Jesus of Nazareth which proved Him to be the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of a long line of prophecies. How many Christians today lack knowledge enough to be able to know the difference between truth and error when it is being taught? How many can give a “thus saith the Lord” and a “book, chapter, and verse” for their beliefs and practices?

It is characteristic of all faithful children of God to know the Book. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). There was a time when members of the Lord’s church were known to be superior in their knowledge of God’s word over all others. There was a time when members of the Lord’s church engaged their fellow man in discussions of the Bible, and took on their man-made traditions by deftly wielding the sword of the Spirit. We need to rekindle that spirit in the Lord’s people so that the Lord’s church will grow by true conversion and not just mere swelling through associating with those that seek to be a part of some mere social institution.

Finally, note the zeal with which Philip sought out Nathanael. This same spirit was also found in Andrew, whom, the Bible tells us, “first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias” (John 1:41). Then, he brought him to Jesus (John 1:42). These are the same words Philip uttered to Nathanael, “We have found Him!” Do we have that same child-like joy over knowing the Lord that these men had? Do we call our friends and neighbors, and tell the stranger on the street, that we have found the Messiah? Can others sense in us our joy over finding salvation or do we show more joy over our new car or a new bowling ball than over finding the Saivour of the world?

When Philip told Nathanael of His exciting news of finding the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world, Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael scoffed, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:45). If you are like me, you have probably come across the doubters yourself. But Philip’s response was, “Come and see” (John 1:46). Not long after, Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him (John 147). The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes. When people doubt or scoff, we must invite them to come and see for themselves. When we have questions, we need to investigate and reason with the Lord (Is. 1:8).

Shouldn’t we rejoice over finding the Lord? Shouldn’t we be moved to tell others the joy we have found in the knowledge of salvation? We have found Him! So let us go tell others that good news.

Eric L. Padgett


“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

What has happened to kindness in our society? It used to be that men would open a door for a lady. Today, if you do this, you are condemned for being sexist. It used to be that young and old alike would say “Yes Ma’am” and “Yes Sir.” It is unusual to hear these expressions of respect being used today. People at the grocery store park their carts where you cannot pass and do not bother to move them when you try to pass. Everyone is so self-centered. Anymore, very few people say “please” or “thank you.” Even the tone in people’s voices are generally mean and defiant. What has happened to kindness?

The Bible teaches that God is a “gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness” (Jon. 4:2). His merciful kindness is great toward us (Ps. 117:2). His kindness is marvelous (Ps. 31:21). His kindness is everlasting (Is. 54:8). What a contrast to the “kindness” of men!

Jesus, of course, provides the ultimate example of kindness. God showed His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:7). Paul declared that Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins was the ultimate manifestation of the kindness and love of God (Titus.3:4), not to mention all the temporal blessings He bestows upon each of us every day, whether we are faithful to Him or not (Luke 6:35).

And God enjoins upon us that we be kind as He is kind (Eph. 4:32). One way in which Paul proved his service to God was by kindness (II Cor. 4-6). As we put out of our life all those things that displease the Lord we are to put in their place, among other things, kindness (Col. 3:12). As we increase in godliness we are to add kindness to it and then brotherly love (II Pet. 1:7). Thus, we are to be “kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love” (Rom. 12:10). If we truly have love in our hearts, we will be kind (I Cor. 13:4).

Throughout His life, Jesus gave us example after example of His kindness, from the washing of feet to forgiving of sins. But the best teaching He gave on the subject probably came from the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). The Samaritan, even though it was not expected of him, treated his fellow man with great dignity and concern. If even the barbarians know kindness (Acts 28:2), how much more should we who are followers of Christ?

It does not really take much effort to be kind, does it? Just a smile, a simple thank you, a “Yes Ma’am” or “Yes Sir” or a “please” will make a big difference. And, generally, not always but generally, if you are kind, kindness will be returned (II Sam. 10:2; Luke 6:38). However, if we understand and appreciate the kindness of God toward us, then kindness will naturally manifest itself in our lives toward others without a thought of anything in return for it (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:35).

Thank you for reading!

Eric L. Padgett

Honor to Whom Honor

One of the things I am most thankful for in life is the influence of good people with whom I have come into contact over the years. We all understand, in one respect, no man is an island unto himself. We are influenced by the people we meet and the things we experience. At the risk of being too personal and missing some who should be named, I want to use this column over the next couple of weeks to make mention of the people that have influenced me over the years.

Before anyone else, of course, I must mention my family. My Mom and Dad have had the greatest impact on my life in shaping who I have become. It seems too obvious to say that I would not be who I am without them, but it is true. Though they did not obey the gospel until later in life, they were and are decent, moral people. They taught me the values that are found in the Bible because they were brought up that way by their parents, even though they themselves were not New Testament Christians then, in my formative years. My brother and sisters are also decent, moral people because of the influence of my parents. I know the statement is true “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) because the Bible teaches it, but I have also seen it I action.

My siblings were and are also a great source of strength and comfort to me. I have been very blessed, indeed. Our family is close, very close. It saddens me to see families that are not close and homes that are broken. I will never understand these families going on television and airing their sometimes sick and demented feuds and problems before the world. That they are willing to do this betrays an underlying problem in their view of the family and life in general. Not only is it painful to see, but it is detrimental to our culture and society. The lack of recognition and respect for God’s design for the family is a disease eating away at our national health. The family is the second most basic unit of society and when it is undermined the nation will also fall. With the state of the family in our time as it is, it is no wonder that we are seeing an America in decline (Ps. 33:12; Prov. 14:34).

Another good influence on me has been the brethren in the congregation in which I grew up. Charles Hagerman had a profound influence on the direction I took doctrinally. He took me aside and took the time to introduce me to faithful and sound brethren and to explain doctrinal issues to me. He always gave me his periodicals, or books, when he was finished reading them. Vernon Johnson also influenced me greatly. Though he had a meeker approach than Charlie, his guidance was invaluable to me. I remember with great fondness and miss sorely the times when we three would meet at the building early, before anyone else had arrived, to discuss various issues of the day. Lindell Wells was an example to me in dealing with adversity. He had many problems not of his own creation but faced them with Christ-like dignity. When I first obeyed the gospel, Cliff Renner’s classes helped me to grow and brother Lynn’s perspective on life still means a lot to me. Of course, I can’t forget sitting at the feet of brother Larry Albritton, as he preached the gospel. His love of the word and his tireless Christian example are humbling.

These were the men, but there were also many ladies of the congregation who also had a profound impact on me. Sister Pearl Brinker’s knowledge of the Bible would put to shame the knowledge of many preachers that I know. She was an avid student of the God’s word and was always willing to teach the ladies’ class. Sister Hagerman was always willing to attend the nursery, not just to keep the children occupied playing games, but to teach them God’s word. I remember with great fondness visiting the three sisters, Carmen Greer, and Rosa and Annie Ruth Devault. Sister Greer would spend hours telling me of how the Lord’s church used to be and would reminisce of those days long since gone. She also loved to write Christian poetry. Sister Rosa DeVault devoted her life to taking care of her invalid sister. She was a very gentle woman and I loved to hear her sing. We would talk a long time about the Lord’s church and about the state of society. I am saddened that we can no longer talk but I hope one day to resume our discussions again. Edith Wells’ quiet, Christian example and her encouragement are always welcomed and appreciated. And I, of course, admire sister Albritton for her strength of character, love of the truth and children and support of her husband and family. Mike and Cindy have also been an encouragement to me as well as good friends.

There are many others I could mention. Tim and Tod Gilley, Brother Dalp, brother Fowler to name but a few more. These all have had the profoundest impact on me throughout the years. I hope in some small way, at least, that I can be a blessing to others in my example as others have been for me.

This post is personal, I realize, and may not mean much to anyone else. I apologize for this. But I want to honor those who have blessed me with their lives. Next week I want to mention those preachers who have had an influence on me.

Eric L. Padgett