HONESTY AND INTEGRETY

It has always been difficult to find those who are truly honest. Some six hundred years before Christ, God commissioned Jeremiah saying, “Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; See now and know; And seek in her open places If you can find a man, If there is anyone who executes judgment, Who seeks the truth, And I will pardon her” (Jer. 5: 1). God was looking for just one honest man so that he might pardon His people and avert the onslaught of Babylonia. None was found. About three hundred years later, Diogenes, the cynic of ancient Greece (c. 320 B.C.) was said to have gone about Athens with a lantern in the daytime, claiming to be looking for an honest man – but never finding one.
     Honesty and integrity are again in short supply. The popular view point, sometimes called “conventional wisdom” says that total honesty is not only naive but stupid. For many, lying is justified if it is for the right reason. For some, it seems stupid not to lie in certain situations. The Humanist doctrine of “situation ethics” has taken hold in our country to the point that many are willing to compromise integrity and justify lying if the situation demands it.
     Oh, how important are honesty and integrity! It is said that when Grover Cleveland was a boy, he insisted upon returning the egg that a neighbor's hen daily laid on the Cleveland side of the fence. Thus he early in life began to give proof of the honesty that marked him as a man and as a future President of the United States. Faithfulness to high principles in such little things leads to honesty in matters of greater importance. Likewise, to compromise with truth in seemingly small matters will pave the way for still more crooked dealings in the future.

     The wise man Solomon said, “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool” (Prov. 19: 1). Peter admonishes Christians to conduct themselves honorably before an unbelieving world in order to glorify the name of Christ (1 Peter 2:12). May we learn the lesson expressed in the words of an unknown poet: “Dare to be honest, good, and sincere; Dare to be upright, and you'll ne'er need fear; God will sustain you, supply every need, as you live justly in word and in deed.”

                                                                                --Dan Flournoy 

“YOU AIN'T FOOLIN' NOBODY BUT YOURSELF!”

A fellow passing through a cemetery paused before a tombstone and read these words: “I am not dead. . .1 sleep.” As he hurried off, he said, “You can think that if you want to, but you ain't foolin' nobody but yourself!” Some church members are fooling themselves in thinking that they can willfully forsake the worship of God and yet be pleasing to Him.
Those who willfully forsake the worship of God need to wake up and consider their actions in view of Hebrews 10:24-31. Friends, worship is an expression of our love to God. When we count other things more important than worship, what can we say of our love for the Lord?
       How determined some folks are to deceive themselves! If the doctor's diagnosis is not what they want to hear, they change doctors. Let the preacher step on their toes and they change churches. Should a friend point out some fault, they find a new friend. For some, it is easier to fool self than to face the truth. What can be said of the chronic absentee?
There are some things that the absentee cannot do.
1.      He can't pray for the success of the church without being a hypocrite.
2.      He can't say that Christ is first in his life.
3.      He can't say that he was made stronger by his absence.
4.      He can't say his absence encouraged others.
5.      He can't have any assurance that God was pleased by his actions.
There are some things that the absentee does.
1.      He disobeys the command to assemble (Hebrews 10:24-25).
2.      He disobeys the command to observe the Lord's Supper (Luke 22:19, Acts 20:7).
3.      He disobeys the command to give as prospered (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

The path that leads to unfaithfulness begins with self-deception. The shores of time are strewn with the wreckage of souls who started out to live the Christian life and failed because they thought it couldn't happen to them. Writing to Timothy, he spoke of some who “concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck,” (1 Timothy 1:19). Paul warned, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Any Christian who says, “It can't happen to me,” is just fooling himself. Therefore, we urge every Christian to faithfully attend every service of the church and to remember the words of Paul: “Let no man deceive himself” (1 Corinthians 3: 18).

                                                                                                            --Dan Flournoy 

THE CHALLENGE OF FAITHFULNESS

There are many challenges facing the Christian but none is greater than the challenge to remain faithful to Christ. In reality, this is what Christianity is all about. Jesus summed it up this way: “Be faithful until death, and 1 will give you the crown of life “(Rev. 2:10). Of course, we understand that Jesus addressed this to Christians who were being tortured and killed for their faith. He challenged them to be faithful and not deny Him even if it meant death. The reward of heaven would far outweigh the pain of torture.

 Most Christians today do not face death for their faith, yet the challenge to be faithful is still very real. The Christian's faith is being challenged daily by distractions that take the focus from the priorities of life.

 How can one remain faithful? The Word is full of admonition and encouragement to be faithful. Here are some things that will help to this end:

                      1.     Daily Bible Study. "Your word 1 have hidden in my heart, That 1 might not sin                               against You" (Psalm 119:11). Jesus used the Scripture to overcome the                                                   temptation of Satan and so must we (Matt. 4:1-11).

  2.      Daily Prayer. Jesus both taught and demonstrated the necessity of daily              prayer in remaining faithful (Matt. 6:9-15).

  3.      Encourage One Another. The Hebrew writer warned against the sin of                    unbelief and admonished "exhort one another daily" (Heb. 3:13). Christians                need to help one another to bear the burdens of daily living (Gal. 6: 1-2).

  4.      Add the Christian Graces. Peter admonishes Christians to grow spiritually            badding to their faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness          brotherly kindness and love. By growing in these things, Peter says: "you will be        neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ"                    (2 Peter 1:5- 7). Accordingly, Peter says "for so an entrance will be supplied to            you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus                Christ" (2 Peter 1: 11).
      In other words, to remain faithful we must do our best each day to do God's will. We must never lose sight of the heavenly goal. Paul put it this way: "Brethren, 1 do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14). May we never let the distractions of the world cause us to take our eyes from the cross.
The Hebrew writer admonished: “... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”(Heb. 12:1-2). Let us ever strive to remain faithful to the Lord. 
                                                                                                                           Dan Flourno