3 Ways the Lost RID themselves of Christ.

If you haven’t noticed, many of these articles are written for 2 purposes. First, to strengthen the Christian in their hope of salvation. Second, to empower the Christian with information that could be used to reach the lost. The titles are designed to evoke some emotion that makes someone want to see what it’s about.

Today’s article does both because we know the lost world needs Christ, and it’s possible for the Christian to drift away [Heb 2:2-3].

HOW DOES THE LOST RID THEMSELVES OF CHRIST?

Whether a person does it intentionally or by neglect, the results are the same, they’re lost. So, here’s what scripture tells us how a person RIDs himself of Christ.

REJECTING CHRIST:

One of the ways to get Christ out of your life is to reject Him, reject His commands and totally reject His will for your life. This is what the Jews did during His personal ministry. “And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:” [Mark 12:10].

Jesus warned, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

The result of rejecting Christ is found in the example of Esau, “For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:” [Heb 12:17] The same fate awaits those who reject Christ, that is, to be rejected by God.

IGNORING CHRIST:

Probably the most common way to RID yourself of Christ is to IGNORE Him. We see this in most folks as they take zero consideration for their eternity. These may say they believe in God & Christ, may even attend a church service somewhere, but they make no effort to know what His will is about godly living, worship or even His commands about baptism.

Paul faced this attitude when he spoke with Agrippa. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” [Acts 26:28] To ignore Christ is just as fatal as to reject Him.

Our Lord spoke about those who ignored His commands when He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 7:21]

Some say that doctrine is not important. But the Holy Spirit says that there is a ‘sound doctrine’ which means that some would be following unsound doctrine ignoring the Doctrine of Christ. [2Tim 4:3; 2John 1:9]

DELAYING OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST:

The last one will RID Christ from your life just as effectively even though the person in this position may say they want to obey the Gospel. Saying you want to do something has zero effect on one’s salvation. Christ said, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

There is something you must do. Saul (later called Paul) knew this, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Jesus then sent him to a Christian to tell him what to do. Nobody accesses salvation without actively doing what the Lord requires. The Jailor, upon hearing about Jesus, obeyed the gospel “the same hour of the night’ without delay. [Acts 16:33]

Don’t be like Felix; “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” [Acts 24:25] He delayed, and we have no idea if he ever responded to the gospel. How sad.

All 3 of these can be applied to those outside of Christ as well as those who are in Christ. You see, we can lose our salvation when we REJECT, IGNORE or DELAY in doing the commands of the Lord. Please, Salvation has appeared to all men [Titus 2:11], don’t RID yourselves of that Grace.

WHY MEMORIZE VERSES? Part 2

Last week we looked at 4 of 8 reasons to begin a Bible Memorization Plan. To recap here are the first 4

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN.

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED.

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID.

4: EVANGELISM.

Today we will look at 4 more reasons to commit to bible verse memory.

5: TO LIVE SOBERLY & RIGHTEOUSLY. God’s word contains the instruction for Purity, Holiness and Godliness. “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” [Titus 2:12] For us to live the best life we can that glorifies God, we need to know what He expects. Peter reminds us of God’s word when he wrote; “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1Pet 1:16]

6: TO LIVE A JOYFUL LIFE. God’s word reveals so much about human nature and gives us hope that we can do better. In Proverbs we read; “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.” [10:28]. That HOPE exudes from us during times of trial, drawing others to ask; “of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15b] Another proverb says; “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:” [17:22]. Not many of us have faced such a difficult life as Paul, but he could still say; “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” [Phil 4:4]. We can find delight in the study of God’s word; “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” [Psalm 1:2]

7: TO RIGHTLY ENCOURAGE BRETHREN IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. Many times, we don’t have the words when one of our loved ones is facing tragedy & loss, but that doesn’t prevent us from speaking. Oftentimes we say the wrong thing, or worse, say something unscriptural. This should not be. We can encourage others much better with sound words from God’s book. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” [Heb 13:5]. There are words in scripture that, “…comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” [1Thess 5:11] The entirety of scripture can bring comfort; “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Rom 15:4]

I’ve saved the best for last…

8: JESUS DID. I saved this one for last so that it remains foremost in your mind. Jesus quoted nearly 200 verses from the Old Testament. He quoted God’s word when He faced Satan in the wilderness. He quoted scripture as He taught. He quoted scripture as He faced those who tested Him. Over and over He quotes scripture. Having been raised in a Jewish home, memorizing scripture would have been a part of His upbringing, “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” [Deut 6:4-9] Why wouldn’t you follow His example?

WHERE SHOULD YOU BEGIN?

In the last article I suggested you begin with those verses on God’s plan of Salvation. Another helpful set of scriptures to memorize would be those that answer the critics. Paul wrote; “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” [Col 4:6] this can only be accomplished by knowing what some of the challenges are and how to answer them.

  • What about the Thief on the Cross?
    • Luke 23:43; Col 2:14
  • Salvation by Faith Only?
    • James 2:24
  • The bible doesn’t say we can’t have instruments in worship.
    • Col 3:16-17
  • We can have fellowship halls to eat and drink in.
    • Rom 14:17; 1Cor 11:22

Brethren, the scripture is a treasure trove containing the wishes of God for us in how we are to live, how we are to love and how we are to get to heaven. But it must be mined, learned and written on our hearts.

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. [Psalm 37:31]

WHY MEMORIZE BIBLE VERSES? Part 1

 

Years ago, a young Christian was facing a choice. He could either take the lengthy final examination for his theology class or quote Hebrews. Not quote a few verses of Hebrews, no sir, he needed to quote the ENTIRE BOOK of HEBREWS. [13 chapters & 303 verses].

He chose the latter and quoted the entire book from memory. An astounding mental feat to be sure, but is memorization even necessary? We have smart phones apps and google that can return to us any inquiry of the bible we want. That is, if you know what you’re looking for.

Therein lies the rub, to get any benefit out of God’s word, you need to know what’s in it. Here are 8 reasons why we should commit to a bible memorization plan.

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN. An integral part of our defense against sin is the Armor of God [Eph 6:10-20]. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the active piece that serves for both defense & offense. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” [Psalm 119:11]

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED. God gave His children the avenue of prayer to give us help in our time of need [Heb 4:16], but how would you know that without study? Additionally, when a sudden problem arises, we most frequently utter some form of profanity. Wouldn’t it be better to immediately draw into our conscious mind a piece of God’s word to counter the negatives we all face in everyday life? Memorizing Bible passages can give us an inventory of alternative utterances to the worldly expressions. Oh, and stop pretending that a euphemism is a cleaner alternative to the real cuss word, we know what you’re saying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Phil 4:8]

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID. As you begin to read & study your Bible you may find it difficult to understand. However, a person that commits to memorization will find that the Bible will become clearer as you connect the stories, especially the connections between the Old & New Testaments. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Romans 15:4].

Since the Word of God shall also be present at the judgement, a thorough understanding of it would be helpful. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

4: FEAR of EVANGELISM. Let’s admit it, we’ve all experienced fear whenever an opportunity arose to share the Gospel. Bible memorization can alleviate that fear. Inherent in the verse; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15] is the idea of memorization. We know what is right, but could we prove it to them? Memorization is a great way to build your confidence in directing another through the scriptures as you show them the plan of God’s Salvation.

One fellow said to me, “I have John 3:16 and that’s all I need.” The extent of his bible memory plan was one verse! Others have committed to memorize “Jesus Wept” but have no idea where to find it. [John 11:35] Another person half quoted 1Peter 3:21 in an attempt to disqualify baptism. Because he didn’t know what it really said nor where it was located, he had a false belief that will leave him lost. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

Next week we’ll look at 4 more good reasons to commit to a Bible Memorization Plan.

Click Here for a good place to start memorizing Bible Verses.

QUESTIONS YOU SHOULDN’T NEED TO ASK?

Ok, I got it, the only stupid question is the one not asked. However, I did come across a question that shouldn’t have needed to be asked.

At a local eatery, I asked, “can you make sure the egg on my sandwich isn’t burnt?” This is a question no customer should have to ask, but then the clerk asked the cook, “Do we have any GOOD EGGS to serve?” Had I not just written last week about asking questions, I may have never noticed, but this question immediately made me chuckle. THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A STUPID QUESTION. There are questions people shouldn’t need to be asked. It should have been the SOP that there is “GOOD FOOD” to serve.

Disclaimer: When you have a new hire, or beginning a new thing, you may need to ask these questions. However, after you’ve been trained, the answer should be automatic. If you need to ask, then you may not have understood the instructions.

SOME EXAMPLES

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to work today?” Work is a basic function of life, whether you are of working age, retired or a child. Work is good, commanded and profitable. Taking care of your home is work.

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

[2Thess 3:10]

A person should never need to be asked, “are you going to stop at red lights?” (obey the laws of the land?) Most human laws are there for organizational reasons. Not many will make you deny your faith. We follow the laws of the land as much as they don’t interfere with living faithfully. [Acts 5:29]

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [Romans 13:1]

ARE YOU GOING TO WORSHIP GOD OR MAN?

Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah were faced with this dilemma, and they didn’t need to be asked this question, although someone went ahead and asked. You see, they were given the command to worship a golden image set up by the Kings decree. When they would not, they were brought before the king and given the option to worship a gold image or remain faithful to God.

They responded to this question by saying, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.” NKJV [Daniel 3:16-18]. What happened next is astounding, they were thrown into a fiery furnace that was seven times hotter than normal AND LIVED!!! As amazing as that was, what happened next is also truly amazing.

I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.” [Daniel 3:29]. Did you see it? The king that had once decreed that worship only be done to his gold image reversed and commanded that no ill word be said of The One True God of the Bible. Wow! Such a great example of how a few faithful followers of God can influence a nation.

IF WE KNOW WHAT IS RIGHT, WE SHOULD NEVER NEED ASK AGAIN.

  • Did the Apostles need to ask, “Should we keep preaching?” Acts 5:40
  • Did Joshua need to ask, “Who am I supposed to serve?” Josh 24:15
  • Did Noah need to keep asking God, “How many arks am I to build, how many doors?” Gen 6:14

QUESTIONS WE SHOULD HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED.

Are we going to worship on Sunday? Are we going to worship while on vacation? Are we going to give thanks for our meals? Are we going to cancel evening services Super Bowl Sunday?

WE KEEP ASKING.

Naaman asked, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel?” Maybe, but who cares, the instruction from God was to dip 7 times in the Jordan. That was it, no other river, no other way, no other method.

People read the Bible and ask, “Can I not be sprinkled, or skip out on baptism?” Or they might ask it another way, “What about the thief on the cross?” It’s the same thing, asking a question which ought not be asked. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” [Mark 16:16] If you love Him, if you want to be called His friend, just do it. [John 14:15; 15:14]

QUESTIONS WE OUGHT TO ASK.

  • What must I do to be saved? – Acts 16:30
  • What wilt Thou have me do? – Act 9:6
  • What doth hinder me from being baptized? – Acts 8:36
  • What shall we do? – Acts 2:37

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

 

WE LOVE QUESTIONS.

As said before, when a person is learning there are no stupid questions. We love questions. If you have a question, feel free to ask it and we’ll do our best to answer it with scripture.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

Have you ever had a question but were too afraid to ask? You’ve already been told that there are no stupid questions, so ask. If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, ask it (privately or personally) and I’ll do my best to offer a biblical answer. Below is a sampling of questions people should be asking but aren’t…

  • Why is attendance of religious services falling around the world?
  • How do I join the local church of Christ?
    1. Variation: Do I have to identify with a local group of Christians?
  • Are all churches of Christ the same? Does it matter?
  • What is the most important aspect of our Assemblies?
  • How come the churches don’t have crosses in their buildings?
  • Can we eat in the building? How come we don’t eat in the building?
  • How come we don’t have community benevolent programs?
  • What is the work of the church?
  • Why does the evangelist get all bent out of shape when someone calls him ‘pastor?’ Or when I use “church” as an adjective?

Future articles in 2019 will be dedicated to answering, with scripture, many of these questions.

CAN WE EVEN QUESTION THE BIBLE?

Jesus was asked a bunch of questions by folks. He never rebukes us for asking, unless we’re asking to justify ourselves or refuse to be honest with the answers.

In one such encounter, the Pharisees asked Jesus about His authority, “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” [Mat 21”23]

Jesus’ reply was not a rebuke for asking, for He said He would answer them, “if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But they refused to answer, as either possible answer would rebuke themselves. It was then that Jesus refused to answer their question, because they weren’t being honest about the truth.

In another place, the Apostle Paul went about preaching and came to some folks who took what he preached and searched for some verification. The Berean’s, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] You see, they took the preaching of Paul and compared it to the scriptures. Oh, if more people in denominations would do that!

Paul also told the Galatians, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] He was ok with them verifying what he or anyone else preached. The problem was they had stopped following God’s word in favor false teaching.

He also told those in Thessalonica to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” [1Thess 5:21].

In another place, John wrote to the saints and told them to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1John 4:1]

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK and even encouraged to verify whatever anyone teaches or preaches.

There are just a few criteria…

  • Be honest with yourself, even if it means you may be wrong,
  • Be willing to search for the truth and
  • Be willing to accept the truth and to follow it.

We here in this local body of Christ want to know the truth and to obey the truth. We don’t mind it when someone asks questions and we often invite folks to visit with us after services to ask questions. Just be honest and be willing to accept the truth. If you’re unwilling to listen to God’s word for the answer, don’t bother asking us, because that’s the only qualified answer. The Bible is our only Guide. If you don’t want a bible answer, don’t ask any of us.

There are many false places to which people appeal for the answers to their questions….

  • False teachers – 1Tim 4:1
  • Yes men – 2Tim 4:3
  • The book of ‘opinions’ & ‘I think so’ – Mark 7:7
  • “that’s how we’ve always done it” Mark 7:8

None of these are the source of sound doctrine, and there are many more. Jesus warned the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29] We must be careful from where we get the answers to the questions of life and eternal life. God’s word gives us all we need for life & godliness [2Pet 1:3].

Would you like your question answered, and do you want it to be from God’s divine word? Then you’ve come to the right place. Come, let’s reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18]

Another Bible Reading plan 2019

It’s that time of year again when this bulletin is dedicated to helping you find the right bible reading program.

Before I introduce to you the plans for 2019, let’s remind ourselves as to why a regular plan for reading the bible is so valuable.

  • A life without the Bible is an empty life. God has given to us all things pertaining to life & godliness. [2Pet 1:3]
  • We will make mistakes by not knowing it. [Mat 22:29]
  • We’re commanded to study it. [2Tim 2:15]
  • The Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]

Now, let’s look at some plans for 2019.

THE CHRONOLOGICAL daily reading plan. This plan has you reading the entire bible in 1 year in chronological order. You can find these online, or through an app on your smart phone. Some of these apps will even read the bible to you.

THE 30-DAY PLAN FOR NEW CONVERTS. This plan leads the new convert through bible from the fall of man through the redemption of mankind in Christ Jesus.

THE 61-DAY OVERVIEW OF THE WHOLE BIBLE. This plan touches just the highlights of the whole bible. This is a good plan for someone who wants a reminder of major events or is trying to just get an overview before a more complete reading of the bible.

THE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY PLAN. This plan has a focus on the New Testament. Each day of the week has a theme as follows:

  • Mondays – Read from the Gospels [89 chapters]
  • Tuesdays – Read from Acts [28 chapters]
  • Wednesday – Read from Paul’s letters (Romans – Philemon) [87 chapters]
  • Thursday – Read from the Old Testament [929 chapters]
  • Friday – Read from the General letters (Hebrews through Revelation) [56 chapters]

As New Testament Christians, this plan has a focus on the New Covenant and allows you to read through the New Testament several times in a year (just 5-10 chapters per day), with ACTS being read about 10 times in a year depending on your reading speed. You would need to read about 15+ chapters on Thursdays to complete a reading of the Old Testament.

Imagine, by this time next year you will have read about the Lord’s life 4 times, the beginning of the church up to 10 times and the instructions from the Apostles 3,4 or 5 times!

THE PROVERBS A MONTH PLAN

With any of the above plans, a great addition would be to read from one chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 30-31 days in a month, and there are 31 chapters of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is an excellent book for helping with daily living principles.

The breakdown of the book of Proverbs is as follows:

  • 1-9 the value of Wisdom
  • 10-30 are the sayings of Solomon with a mix of topics.
  • 31 is the word of King Lemuel’s Mother about the godly woman.

A FEW TIPS for Reading the Bible Daily.

  • Just Start. You don’t want to be saying, “I wish I read more” this time next year.
  • Set an appointment for yourself to read your bible. Nothing ever gets done until it’s scheduled.
  • Pray before and after each time you read. [Jas 1:5-6]

There is no downside to reading from God’s word, only an upside. Even if you miss a day, you have a plan to stay on track, keep it interesting and help you to grow.

If you live in the Borger, TX area and would like to study with someone, click here.

Hearing Jesus

There was an old TV commercial where an actor in some public place would say, “My broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says…” then everyone would immediately go silent, not a sound could be heard. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Then the narrator would break the silence saying, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

You’ve had that feeling before. That moment when you knew you were in the presence of someone with whom you cherish, or someone who’s words would have a profound effect on the world. It may have been that time when a loved one was taking their final breath and you held yours straining to hear their final words.

That’s what it was like for some who were in the presence of Jesus as they listened to His final public teaching, prior to the cross.

After Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was teaching them daily. Whereas some were seeking a way to destroy Him, others hung on His every word.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were VERY ATTENTIVE TO HEAR HIM.” [Luke 19:48]

According to Luke’s account, He TAUGHT and PREACHED the GOSPEL [Luke 20:1]. Oh, can you imagine hearing the gospel message from the very lips of the one who was about to endure it? The Gospel is “how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1Cor 15:3-4]. They may not have realized the full meaning of what they heard, but Jesus did. In just a few days He would be betrayed, falsely accused & tried, scourged & then death by crucifixion.

Can you hear Him pleading? Can you imagine His passion? If you could sit in on that sermon, in our time, what would you be doing? Would you be playing on your phone? Would you be thinking about lunch? Would you be wondering how much longer He will go on? Would the cares of the world block out the voice of the Savior?

The Gospel Message:

The message of the cross is so important to our lives that it must be heard and understood. Although we can’t go back to that time, it becomes even more important for us to pay attention. We have not His voice, but we have His words.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

It’s so amazing and yet so sad that a message so important is being ignored by our friends and our family. If that weren’t bad enough, there are those who seek to destroy it. Just as there were back then. Earlier in Luke, Jesus warned, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” [Luke 11:23]

The message of the cross is still strange to many ears today, just as it was foolishness to some back then [1Cor 1:23]. The message is too difficult for some today, just as it was to some back then.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … and walked no more with him.” [John 6:60,66]

As the new year approaches, and as we ponder our resolutions, let us take time to silence the noise of the world and take time to listen to the Son of God through His revealed Word. To read it, ponder it and to incorporate His teaching into our lives. Let it continue to convert us and be incorporated into every aspect of our lives so that others may see a light of hope emanating from us. May we hang on His every Word. [2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Peter 3:15; Matt 5:14-16]

Coping with Stress

Life can be very stressful. Everyone faces, at one time or another, something that knocks them down or shakes them up. There seems to be 5 categories of stressors, I call them the 5 D’s…

  • DEATH – when someone close to us dies.
  • DISEASE – when we get sick or hurt and it changes how we live.
  • DIVORCE – when issues in marriage come up (not just a divorce itself).
  • DILEMMA – when non-health related issues arise, like loss of a job.
  • DEPENDENTS – when issues affecting our children.

This is not an exhaustive list, but most difficulties fall within one of these 5 categories. How do we handle it when we get bad news increasing our stress levels?

For a lot of folks, they run away or try to avoid the problem. Here are a few other negative coping mechanisms…

  • Acting out – not coping, but giving in to misbehave
  • Denial – refusing to acknowledge the problem
  • Distancing – moving away from the problem
  • Emotionality – outbursts and extreme emotion
  • Passive Aggression – avoiding refusal by passive avoidance
  • Provocation – getting others to react so you can retaliate
  • Somatization – psychological problems turned into physical symptoms

A clear example of this are those in Acts 7 who had become completely enraged when confronted with the reality they had killed The Messiah.

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” [Acts 7:54-58]

In another place, when Nehemiah learned of the distress of his people, he wept. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted,” [Neh 1:4]

Stress is unavoidable, coping with it in a godly way is a choice and a blessing from God. How can we handle stress in a godly way? One of the ways is prayer.

In the Acts 7 passage, when Stephen was under attack, he prayed… “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60]

What did Nehemiah do in his stressful situation? He prayed. “and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned..” [Neh 2:4-6]

It doesn’t take much time, it can be done in a moment. When asked about his sorrow by the king… “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” [Neh 2:4]

What is your first response to stress? Is it to run away? Is it to lash out at the one you perceive is the cause? Is it denial? None of these will be of any help in your time of need.

God’s people have the avenue of prayer, let that be our first response.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” [James 5:13]

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

Becoming a Butterfly

We may never know what is going on in the mind of a caterpillar. What we do know is that its singular purpose seems to be the devouring of every leaf in its path until such time that it stops eating, hangs himself upside down and spins around itself a silky cocoon. Within about two weeks, the caterpillar breaks out of its self-imposed prison emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

You probably already have an idea of the 2 normal lessons of the caterpillar;

FIRST, it’s about devoting our time to nourishing our minds with the word so that we can go through our own metamorphosis.

Peter said, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” [1Peter 2:2] He uses the metaphor of a newborn babe to express the same idea, that of devouring the word of God to grow and to change.

Jesus also used the idea of eating when He spoke about His word in John 6; I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [48, 51]

THE SECOND typical lesson is about transformation. Romans 12:2a states; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” The Greek word ‘transformed’ is ‘METAMORPHOO’ which means to change. Just as the caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, we also go through a transformation through the ‘renewing’ of our minds. This involves taking what we have devoured of the word and pondering it, thinking on it and learning it so that it causes that renovation of our mind.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” [2Timothy 3:14]

THERE IS ANOTHER LESSON we can learn from the caterpillar, it is the lesson about sharing. You see, the butterfly acts very much like bees in that they are pollinators for plants. Without the likes of these creatures, there would be no plants, no flowers and no food. In addition to this vital role, they are beautiful and share with us the splendor of God’s handiwork.

The lesson on sharing is, for me, the more fantastic of the lessons. The key to incredible and lasting growth is to share what you learn. Sharing has a certain transformative effect on the one doing the teaching.

As scary as it is, talking to people about God, Jesus & the Word has a powerful effect on your own personal growth. When you teach 10 separate people about the Gospel, they only hear it once, whereas you get to HEAR IT 10 TIMES! Every telling of the Wonderful Story of Love strengthens the next.

Another incredible benefit to you is when they oppose you with their denominational views. In your struggles to learn how to answer each one [Col 4:6] you become even stronger and more knowledgeable. These are the keys to lasting knowledge; teaching it and defending it.

It’s been said that a person who never uses what they learn will lose it. This agrees with the Scriptures. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” [Mark 4:25] In children it has been identified as ‘summer learning loss.’

Each time you share the Good News, not only will you continue to be transformed, but the other person may as well. You may have caught them at the right time or because of your own relationship with them your words penetrated their otherwise closed heart.

Why else should we develop the transformative mindset? In the same principle that tells us to use it or lose it, it also teaches that we shall receive even more than what we already have!

“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” [Matt 25:28-29]

The amazing thing about teaching is also found in love. It’s said that to receive even more love you must give it. The more you give, the more you get of love AND SHARING.

The bigger & better you get enables you to give even more, and the more you give, the more you will receive.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” [Luke 6:38]