Monthly Archives: July 2013


The world around us is changing before our very eyes. Atheists often bitterly oppose any public expression of faith in Jesus Christ. Gays vehemently attack any organization supporting God’s design for marriage and family. Political and legal pressures are exerted against Bibles in schools, prayers in public, the Ten Commandments in government buildings, historical reminders about the Judeo-Christian roots of our nation, and other practices that reflect Christian truth and values.

More and more it seems as if we are living in Babylon, a place of rebellion against God. Ancient Babylon made its debut early in the Bible as a city where people decided to build a tower that would reach to heaven itself. They wanted to make a great name for themselves, without any regard for God’s agenda. The builders of that tower were so far out of step with God that he disrupted their ability to understand one another, effectively putting a stop to their selfish project (Genesis 11:1-9).

Later in Scripture, Babylon emerged as a world power that attacked and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, the spiritual center for God’s people Israel. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies leveled the holy city and destroyed its great Temple, built by Solomon as the premier place of worship for Israel. Those who survived the brutal attack were carried off to Babylon. They found themselves living in a godless country that did not share their beliefs or values (2 Kings 25). Daniel was one of the young Israelites carried away, never to see his homeland again.

Daniel and his friends were hard-pressed to live according to God’s revealed truth in a land full of idols and idol-worshipers. Nevertheless, he and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, courageously refused to go along with the wicked flow of Babylonian society. Daniel’s friends found themselves facing death in a fiery furnace, but refused to disobey God no matter what the cost (Daniel 3). Daniel himself was thrown into a lion’s den because he insisted on praying to God even though the government had outlawed his prayer (Daniel 6).

Centuries later the Apostle Peter, the fisherman-turned-follower of Jesus, wrote to God’s people during the early days of Christianity. In his letter he referred to the Church as “she who is in Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13). His reference was not to a geographic location on any map of the Middle East. Peter was referring symbolically to the godless Roman culture in which followers of Jesus found themselves. Like ancient Babylon, the first-century Roman Empire was out-of-step with the ways of the Lord and intolerant toward the people of God.

Peter opened his letter by referring to first-century followers of Jesus as strangers in the world, scattered, yet chosen by God (1 Peter 1:1-2). God-fearing disciples of Jesus Christ found it very difficult to live righteous lives in such an unrighteous environment. The prevailing cultural values made their lives difficult and it made them unpopular, at times the recipients of brutal and merciless persecution.

God’s people have often found themselves at odds with the societies and cultures of this unrighteous age. Social groups which are guided by and obedient to the values and truths revealed in the Bible have been few and far in between. Political groups that try to govern by the principles of Christianity eventually resort to compromising their core beliefs and values in order to protect their power and privilege in a world full of persistent sin and rebellion.

Babylon appears not only near the beginning of the Bible, but also toward the end. In the Book of Revelation we read that Babylon will be the dominant religious, political, and economic force in the last days. At the very end of this age Babylon, the ultimate representation of the spiritually corrupt power structures in this fallen world, will be persecuting God’s people and promoting godless practices. In other words, this deadly intense wrestling match between culture and the Church will persist until Jesus’ Second Coming.

What are God’s people to do? Perhaps we should take a cue from Daniel in Babylon. Daniel refused to embrace the sinful lifestyle of the society around him. God chose to give him great political influence for a time and gave Daniel great favor with the Babylonians. As a leader in godless culture, Daniel lived and governed according to his faith. He refused to compromise in order to stay in power. He even risked his life to remain faithful to the Lord. And when political fortunes changed, he accepted a role of diminished influence.

God has not called us to overthrow or redeem Babylon. He will deal with Babylon when the time comes (see Revelation 18). Meanwhile, whether we have political influence or suffer political defeat, our mission is to remain faithful to the Word of God by proclaiming the truth and to remain faithful the ways of God by living in obedience to his commands. A great cloud of witnesses has gone before us. Now is our time to serve; and our labor in the Lord will not be in vain.

May the Lord enable us to be faithful in all circumstances,

Brother Richard

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Building a Firm Foundation in Children

Broken foundations are costly and heartbreaking. No matter how beautiful or impressive a house is, the future can bring only trouble for a structure when its foundation is unsound. It is always better in the long-run to invest the necessary time and effort in getting the foundation sound and true.

This principle holds for growing lives just as surely as it does for constructing buildings. Without the proper spiritual basics a life is doomed to trouble in this life and destruction in eternity. Living without the knowledge of God’s truth is like putting up walls on sand or clay. Great efforts will be necessary to constantly patch and repair damage, and in the end, the walls will fall despite all effort.

The fundamentals of faith should be prayerfully and carefully laid in the life of a person before reaching the teenage years. Once we become adults, we begin building our lives. If we discover that the foundation we received is unsound, then we must decide whether we will start all over and rebuild, or keep trying to make due with what we have.

If we build a life on anything but God’s Truth then the struggles and temptations of this age will eventually find the weaknesses. Stubborn pride, frustration, or despair can easily persuade us not to do the difficult work of starting over from the ground up. Since anything is possible with God, lives can be remade successfully at any time. Better to get it right the first time, however, because we do not know when our life in this world will come to an end.

When we teach our children God’s Truth, then we are giving them the chance to build their lives on the Rock. We cannot save them or force them to be saved, but we can remove as many obstacles as possible. We can make sure that they know about God’s love and about his plan of salvation and blessing.

We advance God’s Kingdom when we labor to build firm spiritual foundations in the lives of children. Such labor is not in vain.

May God’s Spirit empower us to keep the faith alive in our own hearts and in the hearts of our children,

Brother Richard Foster

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Difficult Times? Comforting Words

Jesus had a half-brother named James. James did not believe that Jesus was the Savior sent from God, not at first. After Jesus’ resurrection, however, James became a believer. He also became an important leader of the young Christian church in Jerusalem. As a recognized leader in the church, James wrote a letter that was inspired by God’s Spirit. That letter is part of the Bible.

James’ letter is known to us as the Book of James in our New Testament. In his letter, James writes about the struggles and challenges that Christians often experience in this life. He points out that struggles can be trials used by God to make his people grow into strong and mature Christians. In God’s hands, a trial leads to endurance and endurance leads to maturity.

James is also careful to warn God’s people that struggles can be dangerous. Struggles have the potential to become temptations. Temptation leads to disobedience and disobedience leads to death. So the struggles and challenges in our lives can either be trials that lead to triumph or they can be temptations that lead to tragedy. What makes the difference?

When faced with a struggle, a believer has a choice between two courses of action. One choice is to get discouraged and disappointed. When we are discouraged and disappointed we tend to focus on ourselves and to question God’s goodness. Selfish desires tempt us to disobey God. If we give in to those desires then temptation becomes sin and sin leads to disaster.

The other course of action is to humbly ask God for wisdom. James promises that when we ask God for wisdom and do not doubt, then God will give generously without finding fault. God’s wisdom enables us to see beyond ourselves and to trust that our Lord will turn our trials into triumphs because we love him and because his plan for us is to receive the crown of life.

Even when we are pushed and pulled by the relentless pressures of life, we can be certain that God is preparing us for a marvelous victory. James assures us that all good gift-giving, every perfect gift, is from above, from the Father of the heavenly lights. The greatest riches of this life will pass away like a wildflower, but the crown of life that God has prepared for us is glorious beyond description and forever indestructible.

So if you are struggling, ask God for his wisdom and rejoice because your trial will lead you to victory. And if you are between trials, rejoice and enjoy your success so far. Whatever your circumstance, rejoice and give thanks, because God is faithful. He is worthy of our thanksgiving!

May God’s Holy Spirit fill us with unending gratitude for his great blessings which he has prepared for us,

Brother Richard


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