How Would Your Neighbors Describe You?

By BJ Rudge, Ph.D.

For our family devotions, we have been dealing with the issue of love. One of the Bible passages that we looked at was from John, chapter 13. In this chapter, Jesus washes His disciples’ feet, predicts His betrayal by Judas, then gives His disciples the following command:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35).

As we talked about this verse, I asked my kids to describe for me the people who live in our neighborhood. They talked about some neighbors who were not friendly, other neighbors who always complained or caused problems, and others who would do anything to help you out. In response to their descriptions of our neighbors, I then asked them how they thought our neighbors would describe us. Specifically, would they describe us as a family who showed love?

I explained to my children that we should not be surprised to find differences in how we lived from the way many of our neighbors lived. In fact, we should not be surprised to find some neighbors who may not even like us because of our Christian faith (John 15:18-21). However, despite this reality, I told them that we should never have anyone in our neighborhood describe us as a family who did not live out a love for God and for others (1 Peter 2:11, 12).

So how would your neighbors, coworkers, etc. describe you? Would they describe you as a person (or family) who lives out God’s command to love one another? In a time when our world is full of hatred, violence, and discord, let all of us be reflections of Christ-like love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7-11).

Rooted in Christ through Scripture and Prayer

by Bill Rudge

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Artwork by John Torma

Summer is a great time to devote extra time to prayer and Scripture. Relaxing on the beach, working in the garden or reclining in a hammock are great opportunities to ponder the wonders of God’s creation and His marvelous works or to meditate on His Word and pray. Listen to the Bible while walking or exercising. Fill your home with praise music, watch some family movies or videos on biblical heroes and real life missionaries. Focus study time on a specific book of the Bible or biblical theme such as end time prophecy. Keep yourself and your family rooted in Christ this summer!

“As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…” (Colossians 2:6-7).

How Could Jesus Speak to Large Audiences?

by Bill Rudge

Scripture indicates that Jesus spoke to large audiences (thousands of people) by the Sea of Galilee. Skeptics said it would be impossible for Him to speak to thousands of people without amplification equipment.

However, I was in Israel at the site of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The hill forms a natural amphitheater that slopes to the Sea of Galilee and amplifies the speaker’s voice. The air above the Sea of Galilee is very static so that sound waves travel easily. It’s possible Jesus stood at the bottom of the hill and spoke to the crowd who sat above Him.

Matthew 4:25-5:2 gives the following account:

Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed Him. Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them ….

While standing on the site of the Sermon on the Mount, I was talking in my normal voice to one of the pastors in our group who was almost 100 yards away, and he could hear me plainly. Then, while standing on the shore, we became very quiet and, although several hundred yards away, we could hear two fishermen talking to each other on a small boat.

Once again the Bible is authenticated and skeptics are silenced.

Are You Really A Christian?

Dr. BJ Rudge

Can you answer the question: How do you know you are really saved? Many people base their assurance of salvation on reciting the sinner’s prayer or on an emotional response to an altar call. Others believe they are saved by attempting to be a “good” person and live a “good” life. Still others think salvation is simply an intellectual acknowledgement of beliefs in God, Jesus, and the Bible.

These views of salvation leave many people believing they are on their way to heaven. However, Jesus clearly warns that many will stand before Him claiming to be saved and He will say the following, “I never knew you; depart from Me …” (Matthew 7:23). So in light of this sobering verse, it is crucial that you can answer the question, “Do you know you are really saved?”

The apostle John provides the answer to this question in his first epistle, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Consider the following signs that John sets forth to know you have eternal life.

1.  Admit you are a sinner (1 John 1:8-9).

2.  Acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God (1 John 2:22-23; 4:15).

3.  Live a life of obedience and keep God’s commandments (1 John 1:6-7; 2:3-6, 29; 3:7-10; 5:2).

4.  Display love to others (1 John 2:9-11; 3:10, 15, 17-19; 4:7-9).

5.  Possess the hope and longing for Jesus’ return (1 John 3:2-3).

6.  Love other believers and enjoy having fellowship with them (1 John 5:1).

7.  Persevere in the faith (1 John 2:24).

The apostle Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves to see whether or not they were in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Have you examined your life? Study these and other related scriptures to be certain you have eternal life and will inherit all God has planned for those who love and obey Him.