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OUR MONDAY MORNING MESSENGER; OUR GUEST WRITER FOR THIS WEEK

 

                                   Help My Unbelief!

By Wayne Jackson

 
It is an episode fraught with mystery; one about which we wish we knew more. A man brought his son, who was possessed of a demon, to the Lord’s disciples. He wanted the Master’s men to cast out the evil spirit, but they could not. Jesus pinpointed the problem; the disciples’ faith was lacking (Mark 9:17-19; cf. Matthew 17:20). Accordingly, the lad was brought directly to the Savior himself. As they came near, the malignant force threw the child into a convulsion, and the boy fell to the ground, foaming at the mouth.
 
The father subsequently informed Christ that this had been going on for a long time, and the lad had suffered much damage. The gentleman then said to Jesus: “If you can do anything, help us.” Note carefully that “if” (Mark 9:22). The Savior then said, with something of a rebuke, “If you can!” The meaning obviously is: “What do you mean, if I can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
 
There are two points to be noticed here. First, the Master was saying this to the father: “The issue is not my power; it is your faith!” The man obviously had some faith in Christ or he would not have approached the Lord. On the other hand, his trust was not at the level it needed to be. He still had some doubts. Perhaps he was growing; but the fact is, he was struggling.
 
Second, the Lord’s affirmation that “all things are possible to him who believes” is limited by the context. The Lord was not asserting that one can do anything he believes he can do. You may be led to believe that you can spread your arms and fly off the Golden Gate Bridge, but regardless of what you believe, you’ll fall straight into the bay. Here is a point that must be understood. The supernatural works that were possible during the ministry of Jesus are not possible today, inasmuch as God himself has removed miraculous phenomena from the church (see Miracles).
 
In response to Jesus’ challenge, the father cried out, with the sort of agony that only a parent could know: “I believe; help my unbelief” (9:24). What a strange statement. Does it not contain what appears to be a contradiction? “I believe; help my unbelief.” Jesus did not so view the matter; rather, he immediately rebuked the unclean spirit and commanded it to leave the boy—never to enter him again (9:25).
 
The spiritual confusion of this father is so typical of the intellectual and emotional turmoil that can plague any of us at a given moment in our lives. No one is characterized by a “red-hot” faith around the clock.
 
We know there is a God who made us. The evidence is so utterly overwhelming that only a foolish person can deny it (Psalm 14:1; cf. Romans 1:20-23). Furthermore, intellectually we know that our Heavenly Father cares for us. The historical fact which demonstrates that he gave his precious Son for us is ample evidence of his boundless love. Nobody can argue that God doesn’t care—in the face of the cross! “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
 
Be that as it may, sometimes, when we are hurting so badly (and pain can generate confusion), our hearts may overpower our heads. By that we mean this: our agony forces clear logic to the side, and we begin to “think” with our feelings. We still believe, but we are angry. We feel neglected; we don’t understand why the Lord doesn’t rush to our beckon call. Sometimes we pout. We refuse to talk to him (i.e., we don’t pray). We think we will punish him by refusing to assemble with other Christians for worship. We may even say harsh and thoughtless things to him, almost literally shaking our fist in his face.
 
At times like these we need to get hold of ourselves and give ourselves a good shaking. We need to cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief!” We need to ask for his patience. We need to weep before him. We ought to analyze our situation and attempt to determine if we have contributed to our own problems; and if so, is there anything we can do to help remedy the circumstance. What we absolutely must not do is give in to our frustration. Once we cease struggling with our faith, and let it slide, we are headed down a slippery slope that may lead to eternal ruin. What a horrible thought to contemplate. Lord, I believe; but help me in my times of unbelief!
 
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Posted by on October 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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THE WONDERFUL GRACE OF JESUS; HIS GRACE MAKES IT POSSIBLE TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON

Transforming ourselves into the Image of God. 

 
 
 
Growing can sometimes painful. Growing spiritually compels us to leave our comfort zone. It causes us to stretch, to set goals for ourselves and to change for the better. The purpose of this lesson is to help us learn how we can live more in the image of God and to set goals to help us achieve this.Here is what I think God wants for us; God loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be “JUST LIKE JESUS”
 
 
 

Paul gives us a goal in 2 Corinthians 3:18

 
 
 
What is the goal? To continue to be transformed into the image of Christ. If we have become comfortable with some of our ways and with some of our thinking and in our attitudes, then changing those to align ourselves with the image of Christ might bring some discomfort.
 
 
 
In this lesson we are going to look at four ways that we can bring ourselves into alignment with the image of Christ.
 
 
 
Goal # 1) Always remember that we are the temple of God. We live in the image of our Lord through our habits and lifestyle.
 
 
 
Read 1 Corinthians 3:16
 
Recall this epistle was written to the collective church in Corinth. The Lord’s church is the temple of God. The warning in this verse is that anyone who defiles the temple will be destroyed. So what does this mean?
 
 
 
2 Corinthians 6:16-18, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters,
 
Says the Lord Almighty.”
 
 
 
2 Corinthians 7:1
 
7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
 
 
 
Christians must cleanse themselves from anything that can harm us either physically or spiritually. We must be continually examining ourselves in search of anything we are doing that can harm us either physically or spiritually and get rid of it. Any type of bad practice or bad habit, any type of immoral action is what falls into this category. And once identified, it must be cleansed from our personal lives.
 
 
 
Why is this so important?
 
1) It effects our destiny
 
2) The world is watching us to see how we live. We must always bear in mind that wherever we go, or whatever we do in the world, we constitute His temple and that whoever does anything to defile His temple will be destroyed. The best lifestyles are lived as examples for others to follow.
 
 
 
Goal # 2) If we want to transform ourselves into the image of God, we must mind our own business and not meddle in the affairs of others.
 
 
 
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. “
 
 
 
2 Thessalonians 3:11-12
 
For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.
 
 
 
Notice the connection in both passages between not working and busybodies. When one is not working, they have much more time to meddle in the affairs of others. Work is good for Christians. Good works keep Christians out of all kinds of trouble and helps keep us from sticking our noses into the affairs of others.
 
 
 
Christ was not a meddler. He did not get into other people’s business, he was not a busybody.
 
 
 
Goal #3) If we want to transform ourselves into the image of God, we must be careful how we dress.
 
 
 
The women of Jerusalem in Isaiah’s time were not acting or dressing like God’s people.
 
 
 
Read Isaiah 3:16 and following. What were these women doing? They were being seductive and flirtatious. They were drawing attention to certain parts of their body by the things they wore and the way they acted.
 
 
 
Because of their behavior and dress God said He was going to strike them down and being them to shame.
 
 
 
Read Matthew 5:27-30. If men can be guilty of adultery of adultery just be having lustful thoughts, then can women be guilty of harlotry by just promoting those thoughts in men? Is a flaunting walk and a seductive outfit a form of harlotry? Since men can be guilty of adultery by having lustful thoughts then women who promote those lustful thoughts are just as guilty.
 
 
 
Proverbs 7:10, “And there a woman met him, With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart”
 
 
 
Notice how she is described. She has the dress, the attire and the adornments of a harlot. Both men and women can fall into condemnation because of how we dress and how we act.
 
 
 
Goal #4 ) If we want to transform ourselves into the image of God, we must cleanse our speech.
 
 
 
Ephesians 5:3-7 “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them. “
 
 
 
We must cleanse ourselves of filthiness. This word carries the meaning of obscenity, something that is deeply offensive to morality and decency.
 
 
 
Foolish jesting and course talking means being crude, vulgar and irreverent, especially in things dealing with sexual matters. These are language habits that are corrupt and debase. It is sometimes called gutter language today. These are things that should not come out of a Christian’s mouth.
 
 
 
Psalms 59:12, 1 Peter 3:10, James 3:5-10
 
 
 

Jesus Christ would never have engaged in this type of language practice, therefore if we are going to transform ourselves into the image of Him, we cannot do it either.

 
 
 
 
 

The image of our Lord:

 
 
 
We could not imagine our Lord abusing His body with smoking, drugs or alcohol.
 
We could not imagine our Lord being lazy and not wanting to work.
 
We could not imagine our Lord meddling or being a busybody in other people’s business.
 
We could not picture Jesus dressing in some type of vulgar, gaudy or expressive attire.
 
We could not imagine Jesus having a vulgar, foolish, gutter language manner of speech.
 
 
 
If our goal from 2 Corinthians 3:18 is to be transformed into His image, then that means we have to work on those things. Our dress, our manners, our speech, what we do physically, where we go, who we are with because the world is always watching.
 
 
 
Someone else is always watching too. Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
 
 
 
What image are we really reflecting. Does the world see us as a people who are really trying our best to transform ourselves into His image, or is the world seeing a bunch of hypocrites?
 
 
 
We talk about Christ and about being religious and things spiritual, but do our lives reflect that? Which of these things does the world see in us? What we teach or how we act?
 
 
 
We need to be constantly scanning and examining ourselves. Our goal is to be more like Him at the end of the year than we were at the beginning; To be more like Him at the end of next week, than we are this evening; to be more like Him tomorrow than we are today. The Christian life is to be one of constant progress. We must strive to be more and more like Him in every way, every day.
 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM SOME LAZY LESSONS

                   WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US ABOUT LAZINESS

 

Intro.

 
1. God has always intended for man to be engaged in meaningful labor, Gen. 2:15; Col. 3:23; 1 Ths. 4:10-11; 2 Ths. 3:10; 1 Tim. 5:8 – Diligence, as unto Lord, honestly, to provide for self & others.
 
2. Lazy: “Not eager or willing to work or exert oneself, slothful…slow & heavy; sluggish.”
 
3. Are we lazy? At our secular jobs? At our spiritual work? (Rom. 12:11)
 
 
 
I. JESUS WAS NOT A LAZY PERSON.
 
A. He Understood the Work Given Him, Jno. 4: 34-35 (Lk. 19:10).
 
1. Understanding it, He urged seizing it!
 
2. cf. Servant, Mk. 10:45.
 
B. He Was Driven To Do His Work, Jno. 9:4.
 
1. Couldn’t meet crowds, instruct apostles, confront many enemies, etc. & be lazy!
 
2. Gospel of Mark (action) – “Straightway.”
 
3. He was compelled to do what had to be done:
 
a. Didn’t wait until He “felt like working.”
 
b. Until “everything was just right.”
 
4. These excuses breed complacency, procrastination & laziness!
 
 
 
II. LAZY LESSONS.
 
A. Prov. 6:6-11: Can Keep from being Lazy by Watching and Learning how Others Work.
 
1. v. 6 – Cf. the industry of the ant.
 
a. v. 7 – Self-starter (No prodding needed).
 
b. v. 8 – Uses time wisely for future needs.
 
2. v. 9-10 – Sluggard stays in bed too long!
 
3. v. 11 – Leads to poverty & want.
 
4. Spiritually: Learn spiritual work by watching those who do it! Phil. 4:9
 
a. Self-starters, using time wisely (Eph. 5:16). 1 Cor. 9:25-27
 
b. Don’t lie down on the job – Deprived of spiritual. blessings! 1 Tim. 4:12
 
B. Prov. 19:15: Idleness Breeds Laziness.
 
1. Many get used to not working – like it!
 
2. Without exertion & labor, hunger comes.
 
3. Spiritually: Can condition ourselves to be satisfied with idleness!
 
a. Exercise yourself, 1 Tim. 4:7.
 
b. Don’t be content….Grow! Heb. 5:12-14
 
c. Develop eagerness! Jno. 9:4 (Rom. 13:11; Eph. 5:14).
 
C. Prov. 12:24: The Lazy Man will Always be Controlled by Others.
 
1. With little effort to provide for himself & his own, he becomes subject to the control of others.
 
2. Spiritually: Laziness makes us susceptible to being controlled spiritually:
 
a. False teachers, Jude 3 (1 Jno. 4:1).
 
b. Other’s convictions – Just following w/o resolve, faith & grounding!
 
c. By sin, 2 Ths. 3:11; 1 Tim. 5:13.
 
d. Be diligent! 2 Tim. 2:15
 
D. Prov. 18:9: Laziness Wastes One’s Life and Opportunities.
 
1. Prov. 24:30-34 (Field, vineyard) Advantages were neglected & squandered!
 
2. How many lives destroyed by laziness!
 
3. Spiritually: We must be good stewards of the blessings we have been given!
 
a. Trustworthiness, 1 Cor. 4:2.
 
b. Lk. 16:1-2, 9-12 – Having been entrusted with the gospel & salvation, we must dispense it in a worthy fashion.
 
E. Prov. 21:25: Laziness Produces Nothing Beneficial, While Industry Brings Results.
 
1. Lazy man sits around dreaming of gold & silver, but gets nothing! (get rich quick schemes, etc.). The industrious person gets busy & does what is needed.
 
2. Spiritually: We must get busy to improve our spiritual condition!
 
a. Personally, 1 Pet. 2:1-2 (2 Tim. 2:15) – Knowledge, teaching, exhorter, etc.
 
b. Church growth, Acts 8:4.
 
F. Prov. 22:13: If You Don’t Want to Work, any Excuse is Good Enough!
 
1. Spiritually: Don’t look for excuses not to work for the Lord! Acts 24:25
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
God has given us meaningful work in the kingdom – must not be lazy toward our work, 1 Cor. 15:58.
 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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QUESTION: ARE YOU GOING TO LEAVE A LASTING LEGACY FOR YOUR CHILDREN?

                       The Legacy We Leave Our Children”

 

Intro.

 
1. We are adept at raising monuments to events, places, people.
 
2. But, time fades memories (Eccl 1:11), and monuments become tarnished (cf. Statue of Liberty).
 
3. What do you want your legacy to be?
 
a. Financial security to your children? cf. Eccl 2:18-19
 
b. Power? Can be abused (Solomon — Rehoboam).
 
c. Prestige / Fame? It is certainly not long-lasting.
 
4. We can leave a memorial which won’t fade nor be tar­nished — Christ living in the hearts and lives of our family and friends!
 
5. Parents: What kind of legacy are we leaving our children? Eph 6:4
 
-“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD… (Psa 127:3)
 
 
 
I. THE LEGACY OF OUR LIFESTYLE, Psa 101:2.
 
A. “An Example is the Best Teacher.” (Actions speak louder than words!)
 
1. Certainly true of family life. (Children will take on the character traits of their parents.)
 
2. Bible insists upon godly example being set for children within the home:
 
a. They will learn by parents’ actions, Exo 12:25-27 (Passover)
 
b. Their actions would provide opportunity to teach their children. (cf. Worship, morals, language, etc.)
 
c. Neglect contributes to sin and ruin, 2 Chrn 30:26.
 
3. Where is there more need for our “lights to shine” than in our homes before our children?! Matt 5:14-16
 
B. “Do as I Say, Not as I Do.”
 
1. Losing battle when parents teach w/o living what they teach.
 
2. If good examples promote good character, then bad examples foster corrupt character, 1 Cor 15:33.
 
3. How do our children see us dealing with:
 
a. Family quarrels (strife), cf. Eph 4:31-32; 5:22, 25.
 
b. Honesty and integrity in work, cf. Eph 4:28; 6:5.
 
c. Conflicts with neighbors, Rom 12:17-18.
 
d. Relationships with brethren (backbiting, etc.), Jas 4:11.
 
e. Priorities of Christianity, cf. Matt 6:33.
 
4. If our children see unrighteousness/hypocrisy in us they can be disillusioned with the gospel and Christianity! Col 3:21
 
C. “Christ in our Hearts – Faith in our Lives” (Eph 3:17).
 
1. Things of God, not worldliness, Col 3:1-2.
 
2. This must be the legacy we leave our children.
 
 
 
II. THE LEGACY OF A WHOLESOME, SPIRITUAL ENVIRONMENT, Eph 6:4 (cf. 1 Sam 1:27-28).
 
A. Put the Word Of God into Our Children’s Hearts, Deut 6:6-9.
 
1. What will achieve this? Daily Bible study and talk.
 
a. Word must first be upon your heart, 6:6.
 
b. Takes diligent, deliberate effort to train our chi1dren, 6:7.
 
c. Consistency: Make Bible study a part of home’s routine, 6:7
 
d. Repetition: God’s word a constant part of life; 6:8-9. (Don’t assume a point once heard is forever learned!)
 
e. Study yourself: You can’t impart what you don’t know! Plus, your example in this is vital.
 
2. Training doesn’t just happen; it takes effort, Prov 22:6.
 
B. Worship Together, cf. Deut 12:12.
 
1. Make going to worship God a pleasant, joyful event — Not a dreaded burden. (By how we prepare, talk about it, etc.)
 
2. Set the pattern of its importance by removing all obstacles that can prevent your presence, Heb 10:25.
 
3. Sing, pray, study together at home – Worship isn’t confined to a church building!
 
C. Insist on Godly, Moral Entertainment (for you and children).
 
1. Phil 4:8: “Garbage in, garbage out.”
 
2. Monitor Internet, TV, movies, music, etc.
 
3. Provide alternatives to school dances, swimming parties, etc. where immoral behavior occurs.
 
 
 
III. THE LEGACY OF RESPECT FOR GOD ABOVE ALL ELSE, Matt 10:37.
 
A. Be on the Lord’s Side When Decision Time Comes, Exo 32:25-26.
 
1. When our children are out by themselves (date, school, work), what will they do?! What we have taught them?
 
2. Joshua influenced his family to fear God above all else, Josh 24:15 (cf. Abraham, Gen 18:19).
 
3. On the other hand, Eli, in fail­ing to stop his sons’ ungodly actions, honored them above God, 1 Sam 2:29; 3:13.
 
4. What a tribute, to know that your children will honor God’s will above all else because you taught them to do so!
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. We must be concerned with the legacy we are leaving our children!
 
2. Epitaphs fade, memories fail and monuments erode, but the works of the righteous have a lasting impact on the world.
 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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A MESSAGE TO ALL OF OUR GRADUATES BOTH PAST AND PRESENT

                              GOD’S ADVICE TO OUR YOUNG GRADUATES
 
Intro.
 
1. The state of our youth (Socrates, c. 400 BC; sermon in AD 1274).
 
2. Young people are facing & making choices that will stay with you for the rest of your life (education, dating/marriage, drugs, alcohol, gangs, etc.). – cf. Deut. 30:15
 
3. Most important decision you can make is to serve God.
 
4. Eccl. 11:9-12:1 – Wise advice to young people (any age).
 
 
 
-[Three R’s for educating young people.]
 
 
 
I. REJOICE IN YOUR YOUTH – 11:9.
 
A. Being Young Is A Blessing From God – cf. 12:3-8.
 
1. Strength – Prov. 20:29. (cf. 1 Sam. 17:35-37; Psa. 27:1)
 
2. Adventure, new things to learn, explore, experience.
 
B. God Wants You to Enjoy Being Young!
 
1. Rejoice – “To be glad, to cheer up, be happy” – Pursue wholesome pleasure – 3:12-13, 22; 5:18; 11:8.
 
2. Remember: Something does not have to be sinful/wrong for it to be fun! (Smoking, drinking, violence, dirty jokes…)
 
C. God Wants You To Know That You Will Answer To Him For Your Conduct While You Are Young.
 
1. Chose your activities knowing they will be judged.
 
2. Cf. Parents fill role of judge for a time (teach the lesson).
 
3. God sees all / judges all [you will answer for all].
 
4. Some grown-ups do not want to put this responsibility upon their children (or themselves) — But God already has!
 
a. Do you understand sin? Is there sin in your life? What will happen to you if you are not saved from your sins? Who Jesus is? What He did for you? What should you do for Him?
 
b. Accountability means you are responsible & that you will answer for your conduct. – 2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14.
 
 
 
II. REMOVE THE CAUSE OF SORROW: SIN – 11:10.
 
A. Being Young Is Not An Excuse To Sin.
 
1. Sin brings spiritual death/present difficulties.
 
2. Find genuine joy in your youth by removing evil which causes pain & sorrow – cf. Lk. 2:52.
 
3. Being young is not completely satisfying (“vanity”).
 
B. Remove Sin From Your Life (The Cause Of Sorrow) – Psa. 119:9. (We all sin — it is what we do about it that makes the difference!)
 
1. Become a Christian (H-B-R-C-B).
 
2. Live for Jesus – Be faithful (Matt. 7:21).
 
3. Run from sin & to good – 2 Tim. 2:22.
 
4. Be careful of the friends you choose – Prov. 1:10-16.
 
-2 Corinthians 7:1-
 
 
 
III. REMEMBER GOD – 12:1.
 
A. Think About God Now…Today And Every Day! – Prov. 3:1-2
 
1. Joseph – (Gen. 39:1) – At 17 (37:2), he remembered God though in a far away land!
 
2. Samuel – (1 Sam. 3:10) – As a child he was ready to hear God speak.
 
3. David (1 Sam. 17:33, 37) – He remembered God’s power to save. (Great faith).
 
4. Josiah (2 Chrn. 34:1-3); At 16 he began to seek God & aggressively combat sin. You can seek God & defend truth, too.
 
5. Daniel & his companions (Dan. 1:8-16) – Remembered it is more important not to defile themselves than to go along with the crowd.
 
6. Timothy (2 Tim. 4:12) – Remembered to set an example of godliness from his youth up.
 
7. Jesus (Lk. 2:49) – Always remembered to obey God.
 
B. Things That Will Help You Remember God:
 
1. Make up your mind…Now! – Josh. 24:15
 
2. Learn the Bible – Rom. 10:17.
 
3. Obey God – Heb. 5:9 (Jesus saves those who obey).
 
4. Pray – 1 Ths. 5:17.
 
5. Praise (worship) God – Psa. 148:12-13.
 
6. Eccl. 12:1 – You are setting a pattern for the rest of your life right now!
 
 
 
Conclusion
 
1. Eccl. 11:9-12:1 – Youth are to rejoice in all good things that give the heart true happiness (v. 9).
 
a. Put aside sin because it interferes with true joy (v. 10).
 
b. Know that only by remembering God while you are young will you find true happiness throughout life (v. 1).
 
2. Eccl. 12:13 – This is your duty, too!
 
 
 
 
 
Citations
 
THE STATE OF YOUTH
 
 
 
“Our youths love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority—they show disrespect for their elders and love to chatter in places of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when their elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up food, and tyrannize teachers.”
 
 
 
(Attributed to Socrates, c. 400 BC)
 
Attributed to SOCRATES by Plato, according to William L. Patty and Louise S. Johnson, Personality and Adjustment, p. 277 (1953)
 
 
 
 
 
 
“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”
 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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TO ALL THE GODLY WOMEN OUT THERE; “THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO FOR THE FAMILY”

                          “HAPPY MOTHERS’ DAY”

 TODAY, LET US CELEBRATE ALL OUR MOMS FOR BEING WHO THEY ARE!!! “MOM, I LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!!”

Both men and women need to be taught how to be good parents (Titus 2:3-5). As Christians we have the wonderful opportunity to help people in the world who are struggling with parenthood, and plenty are, for many young parents did not have a good role model of parenting when they were growing up and thus have no clear path to follow. We can show them.
Mothers Worry
 
Mothers worry about all sorts of things. One writer noted a mother who was “worried sick her little girl is going to end up a brat or die young or be disliked or be too impulsive or have addictive tendencies or never develop self-control” (A Mother’s Worries, Amy Henry, Worldmag.com). We can equally disproportionately fret about everything from food preservatives, white sugar, mean kids, their fingers getting caught in the car door, touching something hot, catching the latest flu bug and inexplicable fevers. I like how God helps us with our fears.
 
He first wants to hear every one of them: 1 Peter 5:7
Secondly, He asks us to trade all lesser fears for what really matters. He wants us to come to Him and refinance or restructure our worry debt. If we trust Him, all our fears can be reduced into one simple “payment”, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
That is, our one overriding concern in parenting is seeking to help our kids make it to heaven. If they make it to heaven, then it does not really matter what else happened or did not happen to them, and if they don’t make it, then all the other stuff that we sought to protect them from – was all for naught.
 
A Mother’s Love
 
Being a mother has never been easy, especially when the mother is dealing not only with Satan, that roaring lion who is after her children (1 Peter 5:8), but also all the human expectations that our society tends to place on mothers. Do we have our children in all the right classes at the right ages, how did our kid’s birthday party measure up to the other parties? All these rules and countless others are all in constant flux. Once again, the Bible is our liberator. There are two basic areas that will demand your focus.
 
Love your husband: Titus 2:4
 
If your kids don’t clearly see this, then everything you are doing isn’t going to make much of a difference. Love that dad, speak respectfully and kindly of him, back him up, and stand together as the team you were designed to be (Genesis 2:18). Ayelet Waldman received flack in 2005 over her New York Times essay, ‘Truly, Madly, Guiltily”. She stated that she loved her husband more than her children. That she loved them, but wasn’t ‘in love’ with them. The people who really got on her case, were other moms. I did not read all the article, but she was right about one thing, there is a difference in the love one has for one’s mate and the love one has for one’s children. Be “in love” with you husband. Kindle your romance. The security of knowing the stability of a warm and solid marriage will benefit your child immensely. It creates a burden for the child when the child realizes that a parent is “in love” with them, that is, has all their hopes and dreams wrapped up only in that child.
 
Love your children: Titus 2:4
 
What wisdom was demonstrated when God created the human family to be composed of a union between a man and a woman – that God selected the female to be the mother and the male to be the father. Women can have an abundance of wisdom about really practical things, such as relationships. I am reminded that it was the mother of King Lemuel who gave the excellent advice about sexual fidelity (Proverbs 31:3), the dangers of alcohol (31:4-7), having the courage of speak up when justice is on the line (31:8-9), and the type of woman and a king (and all other men) needs to marry (31:10ff).
To the young, unmarried Christian woman. Do you want to be able to enjoy mothering your children in a peaceful, joy-filled home? Do you want your children to look back upon their childhood with warm, fond memories? Then don’t even date a man who:
 
Physically abuses you (hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving, etc.)
Making excuses for abuse “I was drunk”, “I Can’t control my temper”, “I was joking”.
Makes you feel unworthy, inadequate, or crazy.
Twists the truth to make you feel guilty for their own actions.
Threatens to harm you or harm themselves if you leave the relationship.
Demands to know where you are at all times.
Falsely accuses you of flirting or looking desirously at others.
Becomes jealous when you want to spend time with friends or family.
Pressures you to have sex, or engage in lascivious acts.
Tells you they would not abuse you if you were change.
Tells you what you do is never good enough – constant criticism.
Their emotion for you runs from hot to cold, and is used to manipulate you.
Makes you nervous so that you have to tiptoe around him to avoid his wrath.
Treats you as a servant rather than the love of his life.
Calls you degrading names.
Insists you drink or do drugs with them.
Does things to scare you as a means of punishing you – hits walls, drives dangerously.
Keeps money from you; keeps you in debt; has money secrets.
Breaks things when he is angry – including your things.
Keeps you from getting ahead, going to school, getting a job; wants to keep you dependent on them for everything.
Uses you as a kind of temporary stop-over as they are waiting for the next relationship.
Acts one way in front of others, and another in front of you.
They spend money on you and then expect sexual favors in return.
 
Healthy Relationships
 
They honor and respect you in both deeds and words: 1 Peter 3:7
They seek to understand your needs, thus they listen carefully.
They are joyful to be with you: Ecclesiastes 9:9
They sacrifice for you and protect you: Ephesians 5:25
They bringing out the best in you and help you move closer to spiritual people and God. Nourishing a relationship in which you can grow and thrive. 5:29
They have your back. Genesis 2:18
They do you good. Proverbs 31:12
You fully trust them. Proverbs 31:11
They value the truth, especially the truth about their own short-comings.
They are not suspicious. 1 Corinthians 13:7
They acknowledge responsibility for themselves, and admit their own mistakes.
Together you search for win-win solutions, and do things that each of you enjoy.
They fairly share the work load.
They disagree with you without threats or name-calling.
They giving genuine compliments, not selfishly expecting something in return.
They help without keeping score.
They encourage your success in those things that are meaningful and important to you. They do not ridicule your goals or dreams.
 
Honoring Your Mother as An Adult at Home
 
Turning 18 does not exempt one from the rules and responsibilities of the family. Mom and Dad are still expected to follow the rules and pitch in, so is everyone else in the house, no matter the age.
Parents should never feel like they are strangers in their own homes and should never feel uncomfortable in their own homes. Add to the joy and peace of your home.
Verbal disrespect is never tolerated, “honor” is an ageless principle.(Eph. 6:1-2).
Submit joyfully to the rule of God in your household (Joshua 24:15), and honor him. Be grateful for all the blessings that spring from being in a Christian home.
Parents always have the right to speak the truth. Listen to your mother Prov. 31:1ff
When possible, help with the rent or other household expenses.
Be grateful when your mother allows you to suffer for your foolish decisions, and does not constantly prevent consequences. Consequences can be a good thing. Thank God that He is allowing life to also parent you.
 
I would like to close this lesson by saying, “After all, don’t worry, things will just work out”, they will turn out okay – and yet we know that this is not always the case. Teach them about God, inform them about the devil, give them everything you have, pray hard, reinforce them everywhere you can – and know that you are the best person qualified for this task. God is with you in this! When you give it your all, God promises a “Well done good and faithful servant”.
 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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MY GREAT EXPECTATION WHEN I OPEN THE WORD OF GOD

                               Psalm 119:1-8

           “WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS WHEN YOU SIT DOWN TO READ YOUR BIBLE?”
 
I. When you open your Bible, what do you expect from it?
 
II. Some Expect a Rule Book
 
A. Just the other day I was asked “Where do I find a list of God’s laws in the Bible?”
 
B. The Bible is not a reference book where you can look up “Cheating” and find everything you need to know on the subject. Nor is it a set of statutes commonly found in lawyer’s offices where you find related items index and provisions listed by topics.
 
C. God’s laws are contained between the covers of the Bible, but the laws are presented in a variety of ways.
 
1. Stories that make the needed information readily memorable
 
2. Letters discussing problems and solutions
 
3. Historical accounts showing how laws fit into the context of events
 
4. Genealogical lists
 
5. Poems
 
6. Collections of wise sayings
 
7. Accounts of dreams and visions in symbolic terms
 
8. And yes, there are occasional lists of things to do or not to do.
 
D. It might strike you as an impractical way to relay information
 
1. But if you look at man’s history, it is the way we have been doing it since the very beginning
 
2. When is the last time you met someone who was memorized Webster’s dictionary? Or who knows the IRS tax code by heart? Better yet, who would want to memorize such boring things?
 
3. Yet millions of people have memorized all or significant portions of the Bible – Psalm 119:97-103
 
E. The Bible contains a wealth of information – II Peter 1:3
 
1. That is a broad subject matter for such a relatively small book.
 
2. I have dictionaries bigger than my Bible.
 
a. Try carrying the Encyclopedia Britannica around sometime.
 
b. I wonder how many rooms I would need to hold all the rules and regulations of the United State’s government.
 
3. Yet, God says He has managed to tell me everything I need to know about life and godly living in one book that I can easily carry with me.
 
F. The Bible’s error correcting abilities
 
1. In computers, we know that it is dangerous to keep only one copy of a piece of information.
 
a. One small change can make a significant loss of information
 
b. We are encouraged to make back-ups.
 
c. But even internally, a computer duplicates information.
 
(1) Memory contains check bits to detect alterations
 
(2) They use error-correcting information so that small changes can be repaired.
 
2. Imagine if God only mentioned every subject just once.
 
a. A copying mistake or a lost of passage would severely alter what God would have us to know.
 
3. People have attempted to alter the Bible in the past, but they always get caught.
 
a. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ Bible alters John 1:1 to say “In the beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” because they refuse to believe that Jesus is God.
 
b. It has been rightly rejected because this is not the only verse mentioning Jesus’ deity.
 
c. The same information is located in the Bible multiple times in a variety of ways – some blatantly obvious, but others subtly hidden amongst other things.
 
d. Because of the interlocking information, we can even used the altered New World translation to show that it is in error because the alterations create internal contradictions.
 
4. I don’t know of any comparable book written by man with this capability.
 
III. Some Expect Immediate Understanding
 
A. Pentecostals believe that the Holy Spirit gifts them perfect understanding.
 
1. Thus they spend little time studying the Bible. Instead, it is used as a proof text.
 
2. Their mind is already made up, after all they understand! So phrases and verses are quoted and referenced to back up their preconceived ideas.
 
B. Some sit down and expect to read through their Bibles like a novel, but when they lose track of the plot, the put it down in disgust.
 
C. The Bible is meant to be understood – Ephesians 5:17
 
1. Psalm 119:25-27 – Much of the design of the Bible lends itself to easy recall
 
2. Stories of events and characters
 
3. Parables
 
4. Even the Psalms with their parallel and contrasting thoughts make them easily recalled.
 
D. But there are hard sections – II Peter 3:15-16
 
E. Even more, the Bible is meant to be studied – II Timothy 2:15
 
IV. Some Expect Total Confusion
 
A. Several denominations, most notably Roman Catholics, teach that the Bible too difficult to understand by the average layman.
 
1. Many, therefore, walk away with really trying
 
B. While portions are difficult, the whole is not
 
C. Christians have the words as a part of them
 
1. Word is to dwell in us – Colossians 3:16
 
2. It is truth that lives in us – II John 1-2
 
3. Hidden in our hearts – Psalm 119:9-11
 
D. Some are assigned the task of helping others gain better understanding
 
1. Under the Old Law – Nehemiah 8:8
 
2. What Paul did – Acts 17:2-3
 
3. What Philip did – Acts 8:30-31
 
E. But these people didn’t tell other to listen to their own words. They taught people how to understand the word for themselves.
 
V. Some Expect it to be Outdated and Irrelevant
 
A. Mankind in its arrogance and ignorance believes that they are different from all past generations.
 
1. They believe that society has changed and evolved so that past understanding cannot be applied to today’s situations.
 
2. Yet, the Bible warns that nothing really changes – Ecclesiastes 1:10-11
 
a. Rather, each succeeding generation forgets what has happened in the past.
 
b. Newness is only an illusion brought about by ignorance
 
B. People have the same flaws as they had in the past. They face the same sins. They need the same solutions to their problems – Luke 17:26-30
 
C. God doesn’t evolve or change – Hebrews 13:8; Psalm 102:25-27
 
D. Morality or ethics taught in the Bible doesn’t evolve or change – I Peter 1:22-23
 
VI. Learning from the Bible
 
A. A reading schedule
 
1. Read the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
 
a. They repeat, but they are eye-witness accounts of Jesus’s life, each written from a different person’s point of view.
 
b. Unlike multiple witnesses among men, they harmonize perfectly
 
2. Read Acts and see how people responded to the gospel message and the impact that message had on the world
 
3. Pick several of the letters in the New Testament written to churches and see how people dealt with applying the laws of Christ to their day-to-day lives.
 
4. Turn back to the Old Testament and learn the history of God’s dealing with man. See how we came to point of the New Testament.
 
a. Read: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, Jeremiah, Daniel, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah.
 
5. Return to the gospels and suddenly you will notice things that you missed the first time you read through them.
 
6. Now read all the letters to the churches.
 
7. Study the books of wisdom: Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Psalms
 
8. Read through Isaiah and then start again
 
B. With each pass through the Bible, expand on what you learn by examining a few more books.
 
1. If something doesn’t make sense, make a note of it, but move on.
 
2. Something you read later will clarify what you didn’t understand earlier.
 
3. The Bible is one of those rare books that becomes more meaningful each time you read it.
 
C. My father in-law always mentions that there wasn’t a day that he took up his Bible that he didn’t learn something new from it, and he’s been preaching the Gospel for nearly close to sixty years.
 
D. Give attention to reading – I Timothy 4:13, 15-16
 
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Posted by on May 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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OUR MONDAY MORNING MESSENGER

“Be Still and Know That I Am God”

By Jason Jackson

“If you were running for your life, would it matter?” That was General Odum’s motto; he learned to put everyday problems into perspective, weighing them against his World War II experiences. Captured by Rommel’s infamous Afrika Korps, Odum later escaped when the German plane transporting him and other prisoners of war was shot down by Allied Forces over France. After a month of hiding and dodging Nazis, the skin-and-bones Odum finally met up with friendly troops. He learned what few things really matter when you’re running for your life.

Where do you run to when you need a safe place to hide? I’ve never had to hide like General (this was his name, not his rank); most of us haven’t. But whether we realize it or not, a greater threat is here. Life in the flesh is a perilous time, because greater than any physical danger is the demoralizing presence of our adversary, the devil. Remember Peter’s warning: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). [All Scripture references are from the ESV unless otherwise noted.]

In addition to the sin-danger with which men flirt to the point of madness, one’s world can fall apart instantly. The English poet Alfred Tennyson felt the common plight when he wrote, “Never morning wore to evening, but some heart did not break.” If your world falls apart, to whom shall you go? As the steady North Star provides orientation in darkness, so the forty-sixth Psalm is higher ground for the worn soul seeking refuge.

The Psalm Introduced

Psalm 46 divides into three sections as indicated by the contemplative selah after each group of verses. In the first section (vv. 1-3), there is an opening declaration that God is our refuge and strength; therefore, the Lord’s people need not fear even in the bleakest of circumstances, illustrated by a crumbling earth and turbulent sea that surrounds and threatens God’s people. In the second part (vv. 4-7), the city of God is the calm in the storm. The nations surge, hostilities rage, but the voice of Jehovah subdues them.

The refrain expresses the rationale for hope when there is none: “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (v. 7). The last part (vv. 8-11) invites the people of God to consider God’s past interventions in the affairs of men as solid evidence of his abiding presence, again concluding with the encouraging affirmation, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (v. 11). He marshals the armies (i.e., “hosts”) of heaven to do his bidding; he is the true God who involved himself in Jacob’s life, providing gracious blessings and protection to the fulfillment of his promises. Thus, he is the God who is willing to use his power on behalf of his people to fulfill the gracious promises that he has made. He is with us!

The Psalm Investigated

If you love Psalm 23, you’ll love Psalm 46. J. Clinton McCann Jr. noted the similarities between these psalms—a soul-stirring thread—when he wrote: “Like Psalm 23, the fundamental affirmation of Psalm 46 is the assurance of God’s presence” (1993, 136). How we cherish the knowledge of his presence; many of our hymns reflect the treasured thought, “God with us” (“A Wonderful Savior,” “A Mighty Fortress,” “Rock of Ages,” etc.).

The reader should understand much of the Old Testament language and background of this psalm, and an extensive line-by-line consideration of such will have to remain unexplored in this present study. Such a neglect here does not reflect a lack of appreciation for the general historical context and rich Hebrew poetry that characterizes this psalm. However, this ancient poem, given and preserved by God, fittingly describes issues that transcend the dispensations and are relevant to men of every age. This study will focus upon such matters. Just as the prophet announced for God, “For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6, ASV), we realize that the God of Jacob is with us—Christians. Rather than alter our view on Psalm 46, the New Testament enhances our appreciation of the vivid truths revealed in this great psalm.

Our Confidence

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (v. 1, ASV). He, and he alone, is the ultimate security. He is exceedingly ready and available for us in trouble—in practice, not in mere theory. Paul motivated Christians to pursue heavenly things: “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). There is no other place like it; nothing comes close. Trouble will find you, so flee to the fortress of souls.

Since God is the one to whom we can flee—who protects us without and strengthens us within—we will not fear. The defiance of faith in uncertainty and peril is justified, because God is with us: “Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth do change, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof” (vv. 2-3, ASV).

Observe the words “change,” “shaken,” “roar,” “troubled,” and “tremble.” The situation is desperate since the earth appears to be on the brink of destruction. The figures describe the worst-case scenario; the most dreaded thing is happening. Even if the world should crumble beneath our feet, we will not wonder: “Has God forsaken us?” In fact, we will not fear; he is with us. The psalm admits that the Lord’s own are not immune from trouble (cf. Hebrews 5:8-9). We live in an unstable world, an environment hazarded by sin’s curse. He sustains us in the midst of trouble, and that is what a person needs to know as he lives with a view toward better days.

Our Calmness

Abruptly, a surreal tranquility is painted by words of calmness and confidence: “There is a river, the streams wherefore make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High” (v. 4, ASV). In contrast to the chaos, there is the calm, pure river, which is the source from which the streams (i.e., canals) irrigate, bring life, and add beauty in the very city of God—the place of his tabernacles (note the plural “dwelling places”). His presence is like the river—life-giving and sustaining. Naturally, since he is the Most High (cf. 97:9).

Those who reside in God’s city (i.e., in a covenant, saved relationship with God) are blessed because he is there: “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God will help her, and that right early” (v. 5). Or to express the thought in another way, “No water can swallow the ship where lies the Master of ocean and earth and skies.”

Unparalleled stability results from the abiding presence of God. Therefore, gladness characterizes God’s city, even though nations topple around her because of foreign aggression. If she trusts in him, if she is faithful to him, she shall not be moved. What can he do? “He uttered his voice, the earth melted” (v. 6).

The psalmist’s confidence may stem from recent manifestations of God’s awesome presence and intervention. A. F. Kirkpatrick was convinced that Psalm 46 celebrates the delivery of Jerusalem when 185,000 Assyrian corpses littered the environs of Jerusalem—thanks to the Angel of Jehovah. He wrote, “The miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the army of Sennacherib in the reign of Hezekiah (B.C. 701) may be assigned as the occasion of these Psalms [i.e., 46, 47, 48], with a probability which approaches certainty” (1906, 253).

Albert Barnes appeared equally convinced, but less emphatic (1950, 40). In actuality, the Bible relates many interventions of the Lord on behalf of his people, including 2 Kings 19. These “intrusions” reveal that the true and living God has made his presence felt for his people; accordingly, the point that he is not far from us has been substantiated on numerous occasions since the beginning of time (cf. Acts 17:27-28; Romans 15:1-5). We may not know with certainty the immediate circumstances behind this psalm, but we do know, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Our Conviction

Psalm 46 not only affirms the reality of God’s presence, it also invites men to behold the evidence: “Come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth” (v. 8). He has broken the weapons of war; he rules in the kingdoms of men. The plagues of Egypt, the walls of Jericho, the victories of Gideon, the defeat of Goliath, the fiery furnace, Daniel’s lions, and scores of other divine manifestations are a testimony to the fact that God, who does not change, has the same concern for us today as he had for his children of former days.

Our most important consideration, however, is not our skin—it’s our soul. More important than our biological life is our spiritual life (cf. Matthew 10:28). This world is not all there is nor all that matters. When sin takes hold of us, or circumstances overwhelm us, it is God to whom we must flee. Run to him in your heart and mind—what you know of God, heaven, eternity, and judgment. Hope will sustain you in the darkest hour.

The Psalm Incorporated

If we adopt the thinking of Psalm 46, should we expect a miraculous deliverance from trouble? No. First, God does not need to work a miracle to help us in trouble. Second, the miracles of the past continue to teach us (cf. John 20:30-31); their repetition is unnecessary for the accomplishment of his will. Trust in him, believe in him, for the Lord has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Do you believe him?

You also must “come, behold the works of the Lord” (v. 8). Come, behold the baby of a virgin; come, behold the daughter of Jairus; come to the tomb of Lazarus; come to Gethsemane; come, behold the crown of thorns; behold the empty tomb. Jesus Christ has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). “So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6).

Isn’t that what we want to know? That if the world falls apart, if the unthinkable happens, in the end we’ll be saved? Paul, in a Psalm 46 frame of mind, says also, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32). Significantly, neither the psalmist nor Paul were students of Campbell, Stone, or McGarvey; but, contrary to the voices of change that necessary inference is a modern invention, both inspired writers invite us to draw necessary inferences about God’s love and presence in our lives based on what God has done in the past.

Thus, calm confidence should adorn God’s people—no matter what. “Be still, and know that I am God” (v. 10, ASV). God’s people are commanded to “be still.” The imperative gives a solemn duty to those in a covenant relationship with God (cf. Galatians 3:26-29). The duty represents a spiritual disposition that ought to characterize those to whom God’s unfailing promises have been given. “Be still” considers that we are finite and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax, and “chill out.” This spiritual calm that God commands does not come from a lack of troubles; it derives from a steady, deep reflection on the ways God has intervened in history on behalf of his people (cf. Romans 15:4).

God’s past provides calm for our future. He is the ruler of kingdoms of this earth and the all-powerful Creator of the universe. We may be pressed, perplexed, and pursued, but not unto despair (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9). If you are the last man or woman standing, be still, stand fast, be strong. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth do change” (vv. 1-2).

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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“LIFE’S JUST TOO SHORT LIST”

“TAKING A SERIOUS BIBLICAL LOOK AT HOW LIFE IS JUST SO SHORT”

One common theme in the Bible is the brevity of human life on this earth.

  • Genesis 47:9 “Few have the days of the years of my life been”
  • 1 Chronicles 29:15 “Our days on the earth are as a shadow”
  • Job 7:6 “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle”
  • Job 9:25-26 “My days are swifter than a post…They are passed away as the swift ships: as the age that hasteth to the prey”
  • Psalm 39:5 “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth”
  • Psalm 89:47 “Remember how short my time is”
  • Psalm 103: 15-16 “As for man, his days are as grass:  as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.  For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more”.

In these passages and many others we are given the imperative directive to make the most of our time here on earth.

  • Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatever you hands finds to do, verily do it with all your might, for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going”
  • Ephesians 5:16 “Making the most of your time, because the days are evil”

Even non-Christians understand the value of “seizing the day”. Even worldly people often change the way they live or their priorities after encountering a serious illness or when they reach mid-life.  In the Oregonian on August 14th, 2007 there was an article entitled, “Want to Change?  Consider a ‘Life’s Too Short’ list.  The story was discussing how a number of people have made a list of things they no longer want to waste time on, or are finally getting around to doing because they realize that their time on earth is very limited.  Among the choices on some people’s lists were:

  • No longer dutifully plodding through a boring book.
  • Spending time with toxic people.
  • Saying no to disagreeable people who are making unreasonable requests.
  • Sending back food if it is cold or substandard
  • Drinking 2% milk instead of skim.
  • Using the good china and silverware frequently instead of keeping family heirlooms hidden and packed away.
  • No longer waiting patiently for guests to leave late at night but instead saying, “Well, it’s getting late”.
  • No longer saving every extra penny for a rainy day but buying things that I like.
  • No longer working at a job that requires a MBA, but rather at a job that I enjoy.
  • Sitting near a door and leaving meetings or concerts that turn out to be boring.
  • No longer listening to music that does not suit one’s personal taste
  • No longer hanging around people that make me feel bad about myself, including relatives.
  • No longer fighting just to prove I’m right.
  • No longer being concerned about what people think, but instead voicing my opinions.

One question that arises after looking at such lists, “Are these answers manifestations of using one’s time wisely or only an indication of an increasing selfishness in one’s life?”   In answering this question, allow me to focus in on a few examples:

Not caring what people think

 

This actually can be a biblical principle if we understand it properly.  From the Scriptures it is clear that we are not to be intimated by men or cater to their whims (Galatians 1:10).  Neither are we to live our lives for the purpose of pleasing human opinion (Matthew 6:1-4).  At the same time, we need to care about other people (Philippians 2:3-4), and carefully listen to what they are saying (James 1:19) before we either accept or reject their point of view (Acts 17:11).   So instead of just rejecting all views that do not mesh with our thinking, we need to reject all views that do not agree with God’s thinking, and adjust our thinking when we are out of sync with God.  Christians need to remember that truth is truth, even if an unbeliever stumbles upon it (Acts 17:28).  We need to care about things that cause brethren to stumble in their thinking.

Avoiding Toxic People

 

“I’m going to stop spending time with toxic people” is equally a worthy goal if we properly define what makes a person toxic or dangerous.  The Bible often warns us about various dangerous individuals, such as:

  • False teachers (2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Timothy 2:17-18).
  • Factious individuals (Titus 3:10).
  • Immoral influences (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Yet we must not make the mistake of labeling people “toxic” who are admonishing us to repent when we are actually in the wrong (Galatians 2:11-13), even if they are very pointed in their rebuke (Matthew 16:21-23).  The Christian who is seeking to bring us back to God or challenging a sin or sinful attitude in our life is a good influence (James 5:19-20).  And we need to reach out to people who are suffering the effects of sin that is toxic to one’s soul. Jesus had equally noted that one is wasting valuable time by continually attempting to reach someone who has made it clear that they are not interested in God’s truth (Matthew 7:6).

People that make me feel bad about Myself

 

The question on this one is, “do we need to feel bad about something we are doing or not doing?”  Spend time with people who will bring out the best in you and exhort you to improve if you are becoming slack or apathetic.  And avoid people who try to make you feel bad over things that do not matter (Matthew 12:1ff).  Thus the Pharisees were to be avoided because they made rules that were mere human opinion, rules that they did not even keep themselves.

The Christian’s List

 

So what might a “Life is too short” list look for Christians?

  • I will no longer waste time by dabbling in sin (1 Peter 4:3).
  • I will no longer waste time by engaging in the harmful habit of worry.  I will redeem the time by quickly taking all worries to God and then moving on (1 Peter 5:8).
  • I will no longer waste time in being angry over things that do not matter, and I will quickly seek to resolve conflicts with brethren and those who I love (Matthew 5:23-24).
  • I will not allow myself to be intimidated by a company, boss or company culture that wants me to think that working for the company is far more important than time I spend serving God or being with my family.  God will come first (Matthew 6:33).
  • I will stop trying to derive all my fulfillment from a career or material objects.
  • I will not require perfection of others, especially seeing that I fail to reach this level myself.
  • I will not waste time by habitually daydreaming about the future, fretting about the past, or wanting to be somewhere else all the time.
  • I will not waste time dwelling on “what might go wrong”.
  • I will not fear the future (Revelation 21:8).
  • I will not dwell on the negative, rather I will look for what is going right, who is succeeding and what I can praise in others.
  • I will spend my time nourishing my mate rather than trying to undermine his or her confidence.
  • I will not accept, “That won’t work” as a reason not to try.
  • I will never assume that a certain person would not be interested in the gospel message (Romans 1:14).
  • I will not waste time envying others.
  • I will not waste time feeling sorry for myself.
  • I will not waste time listening to or reading about gossip.
  • I will not wish away a certain part of my life, such as wishing the children would grow up.
  • I will not volunteer for everything, but I will always make time for those things that really will make a difference and matter in eternity.
  • I will not waste time and money trying to keep up with the Jones’.
  • I won’t spend time feeling bad because I offended someone with the truth (Matthew 15:18).
  • I will spend more time reading books, magazines, listening to music or watching movies that I want to watch and that help me grow personally instead of relying upon to the popular culture to tell me what I should be doing with my leisure time.
  • I will be more zealous in wanting to offer compliments and encouragement rather than waiting to receive it.

·        I will be more generous.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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WHAT A LIBERATING HOPE WE HAVE AS CHRISTIANS

” FRIENDS, THERE IS HOPE THROUGH THE LORD JESUS CHRIST”

If you have stumbled upon this lesson, I want you to know that although you may never read anything else I have ever written, and we may never meet, my encouragement to you is that there is indeed hope for absolutely any situation you might be facing. There is an answer. There is a solution. The Bible claims to contain all the truth (John 16:13), and everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). From 2 Timothy 3:16-17 it is apparent that since the Scriptures are profitable for correction, that whatever corrections one will need to make in their life, the Bible will be useful in each of those areas.

Do you feel lost and groping in the dark not knowing which way to turn?

There is hope! Jesus observed the multitudes and with compassion described them as being sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36). What good news to know that you and I do not have to remain shepherdless. The Bible, without question, provides for His beloved sheep, a well-lit path back to the life-giving, life-sustaining light:

  • “The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
  • “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105).
  • “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).

Thinking you can still fix it all by yourself?

“Therefore, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, but behold, darkness; for brightness, but we walk in gloom. We grope along the wall like blind men, we grope like those who have no eyes; we stumble at midday as in the twilight, among those who are vigorous we are like dead men… For our transgressions are multiplied before Thee, and our sins testify against us” (Isaiah 59:9-10,12).

What do you do when you feel beaten down, overwhelmed, lacking energy or resolve or are otherwise unable to get relief from a problem? Have you tried various things in the past, yet seem to only slip back into the pit (Psalm 69:2)? The first thing you need to know is that trying to fix things on your own terms, all by yourself, or by the wisdom of the world, is never effective in the long term. “Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who encircle yourself with firebrands, walk in the light of your fire and among the brands you have set ablaze. This you will have from My hand; and you will lie down in torment” (Isaiah 50:10-11). Note the two groups of people in this passage: Those who fear the Lord are encouraged to trust God and to rely upon Him. Others, who insist on making their own fires, torches or flashlights, are those who are attempting to find the way out of the darkness without following the Scriptures. What will the end result be? Failure! I remember years ago, someone I knew got lost driving. They told me, “Well, I made a wrong turn and I just kept turning hoping that I would eventually find my way out”. Many people live their lives this way. They just keep making wrong turns and hope that one of them will magically fix everything. “We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp28.)

Think you can never get back?

I have met people who departed from God and who think that once they have departed and lived in sin that they can never become the person they once where, especially that innocent and sweet person they used to be. Yet this is nothing but the devil’s bluff. He wants us to think that what we presently are – is fixed. Jesus argued otherwise:

  • He said when a man “humbles himself as this child…” and is “converted and becomes like children”, in doing so, will enter “the kingdom of heaven”. (Matthew 18:3-4).
  • Jesus also says we can start afresh, and be “born again” in order to see the “kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

Obviously Jesus would have never spoken of becoming like a little child or being “born again” if such were an impossibility. There is hope! One does not have to remain hardened, jaded, cynical, distrustful of people, angry, bitter, lustful, addicted, enslaved, or depressed perpetually. Yet note, one crucial step in this process is found in Matthew 18:4. That step is humility. I have to be willing to trust God on this one. I have to be willing to put aside all the excuses I have used in the past as to why I think this will not work. I also have to scrap the game plan I have been using for His plan.

Thinking you are too set in your ways?

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

These people had changed and become Christians (2:4)! Yet they had indulged in sin to the full, and had given all their being to its practice. They indulged the flesh, they allowed their minds to become cesspools and were so far in that the text says they were “by nature” children of wrath. Now, we know that they were not born this way (1 Corinthians 14:20). Here the word “nature” refers to that which is thought and practiced for so long that it has become second nature. In fact, one can practice and live in sin for so long that one can start thinking that it is “natural” or that this is the way he or she has always been. How many sinners will argue, “but this is the way I am”, when in reality, they have not been that way all their life, and in some cases, they have only been doing that for about a year. Never fall for the devil’s lie that you need to stay in sin because, “This is who you are”, or “This is the way you were born”.

Think that Christianity only works for relatively good people?

There is hope! Spend some time reading the Bible and you will find that many of the people who became Christians were not “good people”, but rather were initially quite worldly and full of sin.

  • The Corinthians had been sexual addicts, idol worshippers, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, alcoholics, drug addicts, and swindlers, and yet they changed (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
  • The Ephesians had been “by nature” children of wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3).
  • The Thessalonians had been idol worshippers (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
  • The Christians on the island of Crete came from a culture of liars and lazy gluttons (Titus 1:12).
  • The Christians, to whom Peter wrote, had lived a life of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousals, drinking parties and idolatry (1 Peter 4:3).

Not only that, Peter describes their former lifestyle as being, excess of dissipation (1 Peter 4:4). The word excess means “overflowing, pouring out” (Thayer, p. 43). “The idea is that these people are unrestrained and therefore engage in a full stream or flood of reprehensible behavior” (Hamilton, p. 217). The word dissipation refers to “an abandoned, dissolute life” (Thayer, p. 82). “It means that lost state in which a man is given up to self-indulgence, and saves neither reputation, earthly position, nor his soul” (P.P. Comm., p. 171). It “refers to uncontrolled indulgence in the seeking of pleasure (the same word is used in Ephesians 5:18, and the related adverb is used of the loose living of the prodigal son in Luke 15:13. It suggests wastefulness, perhaps of both money and of life. The whole picture is one of people rushing headlong toward destruction” (Grudem, p. 169). “Violent wasting of life” (Bas). “Indicating an empty life-style devoid of salvation or wholeness” (Davids, p. 152). “The waster of his goods will be very often a waster of everything besides, will lay waste himself – his time, his faculties, his powers” (Oberst, p. 199).

Thinking that you cannot stop?

There is hope! Another of the devil’s lies is the thought that resistance is futile, yet let us remember that being tempted is not the same as yielding to temptation. Everyone is tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13), yet there is no demand upon me to yield. I still have a choice even when I am tempted.

“Nowadays we have so come to take adultery for granted that we fail to realize how distorted our values have become. When a man steals another’s valuable property, he is severely dealt with by the law. But when a man deliberately seduces and steals another man’s wife and robs his child of their mother, he probably gets off scot-free. Yet in terms of harm done and the destruction of human happiness the first crime is far worse in comparison with the second. Sexual impulses are not so uncontrollable as the novelists would have us to think. In this, as in everything else, we are enormously influenced by the ‘expected pattern of behavior’. If martial infidelity is expected, the temptation will be difficult to resist. If, on the other hand, it is regarded as a heinous crime, few will succumb” (The Goodness of God, Wenham, p. 109). How true. It is amazing how more people will yield to a sinful behavior once it becomes “acceptable” or at least “excusable” in the eyes of society. The temptation has not suddenly increased in intensity; rather, it is simply that the earthly penalty has been removed.

I have always been impressed by what Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:11). Now Jesus was not naïve, rather as Creator, He is the expert on human beings and all the outside and inside stuff that goes into who we are. Here is the Creator and Original Designer saying that sin is not a necessity. What a liberating hope! Why not act upon it?

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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