Life’s Treasure Chests

It’s very true, we have more free time than our forefathers. (except mom’s, moms have no free time). In 2000, France’s government created a 35-hour work week. Adults spend 5.5 hours per day online, and the average teen spends 27 hours per week online.

What are we to do with this free time. If you do not know what use to make of this free time now, the problem will grow worse as the years roll by. I have no immunity to this problem.

We’re in a constant state of needing to be entertained. The scripture warns about too much fun, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man;” [Proverbs 21:17]

There’s no sin in entertainment, just in too much of it. We (I) have no need to be entertained, I need to create and construct. I (We) need to become a part of an activity. There, we (I) shall find real entertainment and true satisfaction.

The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” [Proverbs 13:4]

We need to search out activities that can be both fun and valuable. There are 3 kinds of fun; MEANINGFUL fun, MEANINGLESS fun and HARMFUL fun. Give it some thought and you’ll easily see the difference.

If you and I search out activities and interests that are meaningful we may find others who find them fun as well. Here’s what’s cool about this, it may put us in front of more people. People who may be won when they observe our chaste conduct accompanied by fear.  [1Peter 3:1, 2] Our present lack of interest may only be a symptom of our lack of understanding on the subject.

A fellow once described life as a long tunnel lined on both sides with treasure chests filled with all manner of precious objects (these precious objects could represent people). Some individuals came out of the tunnel with only one precious stone — they had never stopped to dip into the other chests. There were others who came with pockets and hands so loaded they could hardly walk! They had explored many chests, and they described their journey in glowing terms.

Which person are you?

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

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THESE WORDS are in the chorus for David Bowie’s song “Changes”. I was inspired to write this article, not so much about Bowie and his life, nor about the droves of mourning fans of a music icon, rather because of the song “CHANGES”.

As the news of his death rang over the radio, this song was often played. It reminded me of how life is so full of change and also the changes of thought about God. There was a time, especially in our country, that most folks revered the word of God. It was included in our schooling. In not a few social media posts, a photo on the “rules for teachers” from 1872, “after 10 hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.”

Oh how the times have ch-ch-ch-ch-changed. News stories abound about children being sent home, suspended or even expelled for even reading the Scriptures on their recess. A child need never actually read the Bible at school, just wearing a T-shirt can elicit the same response. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. There was a time when certain words could never be spoken on TV. Words like toilet or pregnant, but today these words and worse are continually being spewed into our ears. I’ve been told that many Christians quit going to movies over the words uttered by one Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. There was a time that to show a married couple, fully clothed, in bed with each other was considered pornographic, but now it’s the norm. BTW, the Brady Bunch was the first TV show to break this barrier. The days without even the mention of marital “bliss” has evolved to inference, then to creative cropping of the camera lens to unambiguous scenes of amorous activities. To top it all off, there is no need for the couple to be married or even of the same gender! All of this for public consumption of even the youngest of eyes.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. Back in the day, whatever day that was, an out of wedlock pregnancy was taboo, and perhaps unhealthily, the young girl was hidden from view to ward off any embarrassment it may bring to the family. Today, Hollywood Celebrities are celebrated for their promiscuity and there seems to be no discouragement for bringing a child into a single parent home.

Shall we continue to describe the moral decline of our society? We could speak about the pride of men, hedonism, disrespect of authority and the like. Should we be shocked or surprised of all these ch-ch-ch-ch-changes? No. The very book that so many have now come to reject has warned us about all of these things and so much more.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [2Timothy 3:1-5]

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Judge not, for God loves me

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ARE YOU AWARE of the most commonly used Bible verse? It’s usually quoted this way; Someone takes note that a sin exists in another’s life and to stop the rebuke this one will say, “Judge not, for God so loved the world that He gave His only son.

It’s as if to say, “You can’t judge me, God loves me just as I am.” They quote this verse in defense of sin, assuming the belief that the Bible condemns judging others because we’re saved by God regardless of our behaviors.

In the hybrid verse, “Judge not, for God loves me,” a new meaning emerges which is so very different from the meaning which can be easily understood if one will study the context of these verses.

In actuality, these are two separate verses, not one, which are, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” and “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [Matthew 7:1; John 3:16]

In Matthew 7:1, Jesus is teaching about making false or poor judgements hypocritically. We know this because of verse 2 & 3, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

Making judgements, determinations, is not condemned in scripture. The condemnation comes when we judge according to non-biblical or hypocritical standards. We must first begin with ourselves, looking at God’s standards, then we can look at others. If we were not allowed to make judgments, how then could we ever determine if somebody needed to hear the gospel to be saved?

The second half of this hybrid verse is also abused when it’s removed from its context. Yes, God does love us, all of us. It’s from this love that we even have a savior, [Romans 5:8]. To suggest that God’s love excuses un-repented sin is contrary to so many other verses in scripture. [Rom 6:1; Acts 2:38; 8:22]

Look closely at all of John chapter 3. Verse 5 shows the need to be baptized. Verses 20-21 shows the need to change from doing evil. Speaking about belief, John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the RIGHT to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (emphasis mine)

When we believe in Jesus, the Christ, we have the RIGHT to become children of God. Belief alone never GIVES US salvation, just THE RIGHT to become saved. [James 2:24; Mark 16:26; Matthew 28:18-20] Belief is the reason we will obey the Gospel. Any reason short of believing that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16], is inadequate for our salvation.

You got a minute?

One man asked another, “What are you doing?”

The man replied, “I’m sawing this tree down.”

The first asked, “Isn’t that hard work?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the sawyer, wiping his brow.

“Then why don’t you stop long enough to sharpen your saw?”

“Can’t,” retorted the sawyer. “Don’t have the time!”

THERE ARE A TON of things that take up our time. You’re a busy person, I am too. Kid activities, work, personal care, errands and the list goes on and on. With all of these things demanding your attention, do you ever have time for yourself? As an employee once said to me, “I could get something done if it weren’t for all the customers.”

SHARPEN THE SAW

You all know that I’m an advocate for keeping yourselves busy with the activities of helping others. However, sometimes, you have to help yourselves. You need to prepare yourself for service. You need to sharpen the saw. As the Boy Scouts teach, “Be Prepared.”

One way to prepare yourself for service is by studying God’s word on a regular basis. The Apostle Paul taught Timothy, “give attendance to reading,” [1Timothy 4:13]. He also taught, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God,” [2Timothy 2:15]. And lest we forget, our Savior warned, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” [Matthew 22:29].

At the beginning of this New Year, as we resolve to improve ourselves, I encourage you to include a plan to read your bibles. Private study of God’s word is a way to “sharpen the saw.”

This year, rather than the typical Bible reading programs where you feel you have to take on large chunks of scripture, let’s take a timed approach.

10 MINUTES A DAY

Do you have just 10 minutes every day? I’m sure all of us can squeak out just 10 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but over a year, that 10 minutes adds up to 3,650 minutes! If you have more time, great, but let’s see what can be accomplished in just 10 minutes every day.

Reading at pulpit pace, aloud, not too quickly, it only takes 960 minutes to read the entire New Testament. This means that you can read the NT nearly 4 times this year alone!!!

It only takes 3,360 minutes to read the entire Old Testament, which means it only takes one year to read the OT in one year taking just 10 minutes a day.

If you read for 10 minutes in the morning, or over lunch, and 10 minutes at night before bed, one could read the entire Bible this year, and the New Testament would have been read 4 times!! As NT Christians, what a wonderfully easy way to learn God’s word.

Adults in the US will spend an average of 5 hours, 31 minutes watching videos each day this year, according to new figures from eMarketer. For all of those spreadsheet people, here is a breakdown of how long it takes  to read aloud each book of the Bible. I think we all can find 10 minutes today.

OLD TESTAMENT

Books – # of chapters – Reading Time

1. Genesis- 50           3hrs. 46min.

2. Exodus- 40           2hrs. 40min.

3. Leviticus- 27         2hrs. 16min.

4. Numbers- 36         2hrs. 55min.

5. Deut.- 34              2hrs. 32min.

6. Joshua- 24            01hr. 50min.

7. Judges- 21            01hr. 37min.

8. Ruth- 04               0hrs. 12min.

9. I Samuel- 31         2hrs. 00min.

10. II Samuel- 24      01hr. 59min.

11. I Kings- 22          2hrs. 13min.

12. II Kings- 25         2hrs. 13min.

13. I Chronicles- 29   2hrs. 18min.

14. II Chronicles- 36 2hrs. 20min.

15. Ezra- 10              0hrs. 40min.

16. Nehemiah-13       01hr. 04min.

17. Esther- 10           0hrs. 30min.

18. Job- 42               01hr. 33min.

19. Psalms- 150         4hrs. 02min.

20. Proverbs- 31        01hr. 30min.

21. Eccles.- 12          0hrs. 31min.

22. Song Sol- 08       0hrs. 16min.

23. Isaiah- 66            3hrs. 37min.

24. Jeremiah- 52        3hrs. 54min.

25. Lamentations- 05 0hrs. 18min.

26. Ezekiel- 48          3hrs. 24min.

27. Daniel- 12           1hr. 08min.

28. Hosea- 14           0hrs. 30min.

29. Joel- 03               0hrs. 10min.

30. Amos- 09            0hrs. 23min.

31. Obadiah- 01        0hrs. 02min.

32. Jonah- 04            0hrs. 07min.

33. Micah- 07           0hrs. 15min.

34. Nahum- 03          0hrs. 07min.

35. Habakkuk- 03      0hrs. 09min.

36. Zephaniah-03      0hrs. 09min.

37. Haggai- 02- 0hrs. 06min.

38. Zechariah- 14- 0hrs. 33min.

39. Malachi- 04- 0hrs. 08min.

Total Old Testament 55hrs. 57min.

 

NEW TESTAMENT

Books – # of chapters – Reading Time

1. Matthew- 28          1hr. 56min.

2. Mark- 16              1hr. 16min.

3. Luke- 24               2hrs. 18min.

4. John- 21               01hr. 44min.

5. Acts- 28                2hrs. 10min.

6. Romans- 16           0hrs. 47min.

7. I Corinthians- 16    0hrs. 41min.

8. II Corinthians-13   0hrs. 35min.

9. Galatians- 06         0hrs. 20min.

10. Ephesians- 06      0hrs. 17min.

11. Philippians-04     0hrs. 10min.

12. Colossians-04      0hrs. 10min.

13. I Thessalonians-   05 -0hrs. 09min.

14. II Thessalonians  03- 0hrs. 06min.

15. I Timothy- 06-     0hrs. 14min.

16. II Timothy-04-     0hrs. 11min.

17. Titus- 03- 0hrs.    06min.

18. Philemon- 01-      0hrs. 01min.

19. Hebrews- 13       0hrs. 45min.

20. James- 05           0hrs. 13min.

21. I Peter- 05           0hrs. 17min.

22. II Peter- 03          0hrs. 10min.

23. I John- 05           0hrs. 11min.

24. II John- 01          0hrs. 01min.

25. III John- 01         0hrs. 01min.

26. Jude- 01              0hrs. 04min.

27. Revelation-22      01hr. 03min.

 

Total New Testament 15hrs. 56min.

Total reading time:

almost 72 hours

 

 

How to keep all your New Year Resolutions

More or less..

TODAY, MANY of you are beginning 2016 with a pocket full of resolutions. Your lists are full of things you’d like more of, and less of other things (like weight). Here are the top resolutions that most folks make….

Lose Weight and Get Fit
Quit Smoking
Learn Something New
Eat Healthier and Diet
Get Out of Debt and Save Money
Spend More Time with Family
Travel to New Places
Be Less Stressed
Volunteer

If these are your resolutions, you have stumbled upon the surest way to keep every one of your resolutions if you will just follow this one simple step; just keep it for one day. Just one day. If you keep your resolutions, as listed above, you are a success. (as defined by your resolutions, more or less)

Let me show you how this works. If you have a resolution to “save more money”, just save a penny. Put it in a piggy bank, never spend it and you’ve just saved “MORE” money. One penny is more. Was your resolution to “eat less”? Then eat one meal and eat one less fry. You’ve now eaten less!! (sarcasm is difficult to write)

Can I be honest with you? If these are your resolutions, you’re going to fail. Simply because you’ve given yourself goals without meaning. Let me show you, If I asked you to think of “someone”, who comes to your mind? Probably no one, or you vacillated among many. Now, if I ask you to think of your mom, what picture immediately came to your mind?

Specific is terrific

Many of you are setting yourselves up for failure by failing to be specific. There’s no detail, it has no real meaning and therefore, your subconscious mind will never compel you to act upon them, simply because you don’t really know what you want.

You can fix it quickly and easily, add some detail. Build a picture of your resolution / goal with as much detail as possible. As a matter of fact, there’s a very popular acronym to help you build the details around your goal.

S.M.A.R.T.

Your goals should be S.M.A.R.T. Let’s see how this works with the resolution to “save more” or to “lose weight”.

SPECIFIC – You need to change your resolution from “save more” to “I will save 10% of each paycheck and place it into a separate account.” “Lose weight” becomes “I will lose 1 pound every week.” This type of goal is far more likely to be completed than the non-specific, “save more.”

MEASURABLE – You should set up a way to measure your progress. How do you measure “more”? You can, however, measure 10%. You can also measure pounds, whereas it’s impossible to determine what less means. If you overeat by a lot, then eating less means that you overeat by a little.

ACKNOWLEDGED – Your New Year Resolution must be yours. You’ve got to acknowledge to yourself that you WANT to do this. We never, ever follow through with things we hate. You ALWAYS find time and money for the things that you want. Do you doubt me? Look at your wallet or your waist and tell me otherwise.

REALISTIC – Every goal has to be doable. You can set a goal to lose 120 lbs, but it’s not REALISTIC to do it by tomorrow. Neither can you save 100% of your income. Set reasonable, doable goals for you. Some have suggested that to make a major change in your life you’ll be more successful if you change your habits by just 10% and add incrementally until you’ve reached your goal. For example, to save $1,000, begin first by saving $100. This gives you many small wins on your way to your ultimate goal of $1,000.

TIME BOUND – Set a date to do it. Nothing ever gets done until there is a date for it to be finished. Look at people that get ready for vacation, they are some of the most active and productive folks in the office. To lose 50lbs, set a realistic date of July 1st. That’s about 2lbs per week. Then focus on that 2lbs every single week. It’s far easier to think about losing just 2lbs than it is to lose 50!

I love the New Year. It’s a trigger for many of us to make improvements in our lives. Isn’t that the only real contribution you can make to your world, to improve yourself? Good luck, God Speed and may you keep every one of your New Year Resolutions.

I would be remiss if I failed to tell you about the most important resolution; To follow Christ. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;” [Ephesians 5:1]. Being true to this article, one way you can state this goal in a S.M.A.R.T. way; Study your bible for 30 minutes, every day, until you’ve read the entire Bible this year.

There are many aspects to becoming a follower of Christ, Jesus Himself said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15] Very specific wouldn’t you say?

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