HOGS & CHRISTIANS

Image result for HOGS

 

An Evangelist once visited a farmer to talk to him about Christ. “I wouldn’t come to church up there,” the farmer said. “I know old So and So (insert a name) church goer who claims to be a Christian and So and So (insert another name) church goer who claims to be a Christian, and they don’t live any differently from me. I’m as good as they are.” Everywhere the farmer went, he told about the hypocrites in that Church.

A few weeks go by and the Christian went to see the farmer again. “I want to buy a hog,” said the Christian. The farmer showed all his best hogs to him. “I believe I will take that one,” the Christian said. “BUT you don’t want that one. He’s the worst runt in the litter.” “I sure do,” said the Christian. So, they loaded the runt in the truck. The farmer then asks, “What are you going to do with this runt hog?”

The Christian replied, “I plan to take this pig here from your farm and ride all over this area telling folks that this is the kind of hogs you raise?”

“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the farmer exclaimed. “I have some nice hogs and you want to show people that runt?”…to which the Christian replied, “If it’s fair for the church, it’s fair for your operation!”

It’s a real problem. We face this situation, not with hog farmers, but with our friends, family & co-workers. We fear inviting because they may call us hypocrites. They’d be right because we’re flawed, we’re often broken, but that’s why we’ve come to the Lord. They’d also be wrong because what they don’t see is our desire to repent and grow into the mature Christian that our Lord & Savior wants us to become.

Unfairly, our flaws become obstacles to many. They don’t see that we’re learning and changing. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Romans 2:21; cf. 2Sam 12:14]

There will be occasions when a member of the Lord’s Body sins and should be rebuked or withdrawn from [cf. 1Corinthians 5:5], but their sinful behavior is not representative of the congregation as a whole, and it’s certainly not representative of the doctrine of Christ! As the farmer said, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

Fortunately, the Lord will not judge us as a church, we will face him as individuals [2Corinthians 5:10]. He addressed this issue in the church at Sardis; “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. Read the letters to the church at Corinth. If we measure every person in the congregation by the actions of a few, then no one can be saved.

Since others will judge the church as a whole based on the actions of a few, it’s vital that we all strive to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those in the church at Rome; “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” [Romans 2:24].

Don’t let folks get away with judging the Lord’s body for the actions of a few. Rather, let them see our Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, & Temperance. Each of which are present in this beautiful congregation. A congregation that exists to serve the Lord as He commands. A congregation that seeks to remain pure from the influence of the world. A congregation that fights the compromises of denominational division. A congregation that desires to keep the commands of Christ out of the great LOVE that He showed them and that we have for Him.

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Peter 2:12].

“WHAT ABOUT HIM?” That’s what a child says when they’ve been caught in their bad behavior. Moms & Dads never accept this as an excuse for bad behavior. Neither does the Lord and neither should we.

A sound congregation of the Lord will have decent, but flawed, folks striving to serve the Lord. It will also have some not striving so much. A sound congregation will have mature Christians and some that are young in the faith. It will have a mix of individuals (cf. 1Cor 12:12-26].

Don’t make a decision about the Lord’s body based on those who are working on their flaws. Decide based on the truth of God’s word and your own need for repair. Besides, you would never refuse a gym because of all the overweight people, would you?

Declaration of an ATHEIST

When you meet an Atheist, you’ve met a person with a serious problem. Atheism is declaring that there is no God. For this to be an honest statement, one must first have complete knowledge of LIFE, the UNIVERSE & EVERYTHING. If you don’t know everything, perhaps God is in that missing knowledge.

Here are a few questions for the Atheist…

  • What happened at the beginning of everything? Were you there?
  • Do you know everything about the bottom of the ocean?
  • Do you know everything about what happens to the soul at death?
  • Do you know everything about deep space?
  • Can you explain how we have consciousness?

These are only a few of the 72 questions God asks in Job 38-41. Several of the questions have multiple parts. Man is still searching for the answers to these questions and more. Yet, the atheist declares with certainty, “THERE IS NO GOD!” That’s arrogance.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

Psalm 53:1

Pride is at the center of atheism. I’m not impugning anyone’s motives, God is, for He knows the motives of us all. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” [Psalm 10:4; cr Heb 4:12]

Atheism searches for answers without a Divine source, but it’s an exercise in futility. Every time they introduce a theory stating a natural beginning, the question remains, “who / what created that?” Ad infinitum. Whereas the Christian doesn’t have this dilemma. We believe in a self-existent God who has always been and will always be. It’s the more logical conclusion.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

[Rev 1:8]

Above is a ‘DECLARATION of an ATHEIST’ for the next time you meet someone claiming to be one. The intent is not to mock, rather to help them see the futility of atheism and to encourage looking at the possibility there is a God.

 

–spencer

I don’t know

One of the biggest obstacles to personal evangelism is this question, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer?” The feeling of terror, the strong impulse to say something so as not to appear stupid. What do you do?

Before we proceed, we need to be reminded that none of us are expert at every question that may arise, but take heart, God is, and He has given us everything we need for faith, doctrine, and instruction for how we ought to act. [cf. John 20:30-31; 2Tim 3:16-17]. The following are some suggestions on how to handle a question for which you don’t know the answer.

FIRST; Never let what you don’t know stop you from telling what is certain. If we did that, there’d be no personal evangelism whatsoever. Our efforts will become more productive as we mature, but we’ll never mature if we don’t put what we know into practice.

One way to look at a hard question is as an opportunity to learn and to grow. You may not be able to answer it this time, but you’ll be ready the next. [Heb 5:12].

SECOND: When asked a question for which you don’t know, resist the temptation to make one up. That’s much more dangerous for it may pass along error. Silence is a much better answer than giving a bad one. Look at Job’s friends, they were in a much better position when they said nothing at all. If you are asked and you don’t know just say, “I don’t know.” What’s better, not giving any answer or giving a bad one and needing to go back to the person for correction? Here are 3 things you can say instead of making up a wrong answer:

  • Compliment them: Say, “That’s a great question, I don’t know.” This will make the person feel like you’re really listening and respect them. Admitting that you’re human demonstrates humility, a most valuable attitude as we go about teaching others.
  • Ask for more information: By asking them to clarify the question you may discover that you do know the answer, or it will give you clarity as some people ask a question seeking direction for a different underlying issue.
  • Ask if you & they could look up the answer together: By doing this, you show them how much you value the truth and that you’re willing to learn. This also affords you an opportunity for another study. Here’s a tip from my experience, SET A DATE & TIME for when you will come back together to discuss the answer. Otherwise, you may never have the chance again.
Here’s how this might sound;

“That’s a great question, you may be the first person to ever ask me that question. I have no idea what the answer might be, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. I don’t know the answer, but I know who does, God and He’s written so many answers to our questions in the bible [2Pet 1:1-4]. Why don’t we write this question down and study it? Then we can meet again, same time next week over coffee, to see what we can learn?”

Following are some helpful ideas about this situation;

Not knowing the answer is not a problem, it’s awareness and an opportunity. None of us knows everything and people dig deep to try to stump us. See it as an opportunity for more personal study and a way to set up a regular home bible study with this person. Here are 2 more considerations:

  • This may be a topic you’ve never considered and now see why others are struggling with coming to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Hard questions sometimes show us how folks are thinking about things that other underlying issues, ie Authority, how God communicates, defining words biblically etc.

The ramifications of faking an answer can be devastating. You may be wrong and teach a lie. Your friend may see through it and not trust you for any spiritual advice. Lastly, they may see it as an attempt at hiding something which never helps at developing trust.

May all our connections lead to more finding & obeying the truth, just like God wants [2Pet 3:9].

Spencer

REPLACING THE GOSPEL

If you were to ask 100 secular people what the gospel is, you would likely get 100 answers. If you asked 100 religious people you may get 1,000. The reason I say this is because over the last 2,000 years (and particularly the last 100) mankind have been coming up with all sorts of gospels. Which are not other gospels, but a perversion of the one Gospel.

But 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].

The recent past is nothing new, we can read about men replacing God’s word in the Bible and it was going on long before the 1st century. Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 12:26-33 and you’ll see a story of one man changing the worship of God for his own purposes.

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me,” [v27]

In this story we can identify 5 steps in which Jeroboam was able to pervert the truth of God’s word so that he could have control over the population…

FIRST, he found counselors who would tell him what he wanted to hear [v28a, cr. 2Tim 4:3].

NEXT, they used a well known biblical story and altered it for their own purposes [v28b]. It was true that Aaron made some golden calves and said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” But this too was a perversion of the truth to control the people. This perversion would be easy if you kept people from reading the word for themselves and proving all things [1Thess 5:21].

THEN, he placed the two calves at biblically significant places, Bethel and Dan [v29. cf. Ge 28:19; Jg 18:29;].

AFTER THIS, he perverted the teachers of the people by replacing the authorized priests with teachers of his own choosing whom he could control, not being guided by God’s word. [cf. 3John 1:9]

LASTLY, he set up special days, again, like the feasts authorized by God with just a subtle change. “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” [v32 cf. Lev 23:33-34; Rom 14:5-6].

It didn’t take much to convince the people especially if they didn’t take the perversions of Jeroboam and compare it to God’s word. Sound familiar? We must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in allowing the subtle trickery of error to creep into the church that Jesus Himself built. Paul warned the church;

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” [Eph 4:14].

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? We find the answer in God’s word [1Cor 15:1-4], “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, 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:” (emph. seb)

The Gospel is to be obeyed [2Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9] and is obeyed when a person HEARS, BELIEVES, REPENTS, CONFESSES and is BAPTIZED [Rom 6:3-4].

The record of history is clear, men have and continue to pervert the Good News of God drawing men away from obeying the truth [Gal 5:7; cr. 2Tim 3:1-7]. Don’t be one of them.

— Spencer

How Can You Tell if God is Talking to you?

 

 

 

 

If it’s in the Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES:

  • John 20:30-31 But these are WRITTEN, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
  • Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the SCRIPTURES daily, whether those things were so.
  • Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were WRITTEN aforetime were written for our learning,
  • 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are WRITTEN for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
  • Ephesians 3:3-4 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I WROTE afore in few words, Whereby, when ye READ, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)
  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…
  • 2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath WRITTEN unto you;
  • 1 John 1:4 And these things WRITE we unto you, that your joy may be full.
  • 1 John 2:1  My little children, these things WRITE I unto you, that ye sin not.
  • 1 John 5:13 These things have I WRITTEN unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
  • Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to WRITE unto you of the common salvation,

But I’m Not Legalistic About it

Yes, another bulletin on the meaning of ‘LEGALISM’ because it’s the standard argument used by those who refuse to repent.

The discussion goes like this;

  • Believer: Jesus commands us to keep His commandments [Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29].
  • Non-Believer: Yeah, but I’m not LEGALISTIC about it.

End of discussion.

To understand their argument as to why they believe that God is giving them license to sin (if not fully, at least partially) let’s look at how the reasoning goes.

THE RATIONALE GOES LIKE THIS:

  • Since nobody’s perfect [1John 1:10],
  • And since God is full of grace & mercy [Heb 4:16],
  • Then God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, So, we don’t have to try. “I’m not going to be LEGALISTIC about it.”

That’s not very good bible study. Paul addressed a similar question in his time. In Romans 6:1 he answers a rhetorical question, “shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” His answer, “certainly not!” This may be why we have thousands of denominations with a nearly equal number of doctrines about how to live. It’s like they’re saying that since there’s a little room to sin regarding salvation, then we can intentionally be mediocre. That’s fine for unimportant things like dieting or quilting, but not a very good way to handle salvation.

Is GRACE & MERCY license to sin willfully? That’s just another way of saying “I’m not legalistic about it.” God is full of GRACE & He is MERCIFUL, but that’s no license to sin. The accurate way to look at it is that He has provided GRACE & MERCY to an imperfect people. This is the right way to understand Ephesians 2:8-9 and 1John 1:7-10. God sent His Son as a sacrifice for a sinful people that didn’t deserve it [Rom 5:8-10]. We obey the Gospel upon recognition of our need for the atoning blood of Jesus [2Thess 1:8-9; Acts 2:38; Heb 5:9]. Obeying the gospel & keeping His commandments [Mat 28:18-20] is not being legalistic, it’s being faithful.

WHEN NOT TO BE LEGALISTIC

There are 2 chapters in the New Testament that are telling folks not to be legalistic. They are, Romans 14 & 1Cor 8. These are dealing with issues that are NOT MATTERS OF DOCTRINE but matters of OPINION. If that’s what you mean by ‘I’m not going to be legalistic about it’ then we both agree with God and His word. If, however, you aren’t going to be legalistic with the doctrine of Christ, then you’re going to find yourself fighting against God.

“But I’m Not Legalistic About it”

People who say they’re not legalistic about the doctrine of Christ would never say the same thing in other areas of their lives. Below are just a few examples of how ridiculous this sounds.

  • I’m a VEGAN, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I love my wife, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I always do my job at work, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I want a great brain surgeon, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I take insulin to keep from dying, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I stop at red lights, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I watch over my kids when they swim, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I’m a bank teller, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I’m a judge, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I practice food safety at the restaurant I work, but I’m not legalistic about it.
  • I work with the nuclear warheads at Pantex, but I’m not legalistic about it.

So you see, we all can understand that in matters of importance we must stand firm. “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” [1Cor 16:13] Regarding the matters of style or opinion, don’t be legalistic about it, but with matters of the doctrine of Christ, be LEGALISTIC.

Remembering Who & Whose you are

This is advice given by many a parent to their child as they send them out into the world. It’s good advice which every Christian ought to practice for themselves.

Reminding ourselves of our past is a good exercise, and often painful, that can aid us in our current walk in the Lord. In his letter to the church at Corinth, Paul did it for the saints. He said, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1Cor 6:9-11] This reminder was meant to admonish the brethren that their current attitudes could be changed for the better by a reminder of who they used to be and who & whose they are now. He went on to say, “know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [v19-20] Remembering who & whose we are can continue to help modern day Christians in 3 ways…

REMEMBERING OUR PAST: By reminding ourselves of what manner of person we once were, that we’ve been freed from the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ, can help us to refocus ourselves to the hope of heaven. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” [Eph 2:5; cr. 1Co 7:23; Ga 3:13]

REMEMBERING OUR HELPERS: No one is an island unto ourselves [Rom 14:7]. We’ve all been aided in some way. The Holy Spirit tells us that none of us heard the gospel without a preacher; “…and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14b]. It is a very good exercise to make a list of those helpers in your life. I keep a running list of folks who have taught me lessons by their example or through their time. Those who have lifted me up when I was down, both emotionally & financially. Those who have motivated & inspired me to be more than I was. Who taught you the gospel? Who helped you to become a better Christian? Whose example do you wish to emulate? [cr. Phil 3:17] By making this list you will become more grateful and much more aware of influencers currently in your life. More importantly, it will make you more aware of those you can help.

REMEMBER HOW FAR YOU’VE COME: The third way remembering our past can help is by showing us how much we’ve grown. Paul reminded Timothy of this, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” [2Tim 1:5-7]. This reminder was to inspire Timothy to use all his gifts for the furtherance of the gospel. We can do this. Service to our King increases by using our growth.

Some might argue that Paul also told us to forget those things that are behind [Phil 3:13]. This is not a contradiction, because in the context of his statement he listed some of the things he had done, including persecuting the church [v6]. What he means by this is that as we remind ourselves of our past that we ought not to let it paralyze us from pushing forward or to think we’ve already achieved something.

We all need to remember that success in this life is not the end of things. For the Christian, success is serving God His way so that all may come to the knowledge of His dear Son and be able to go to heaven when He returns. [Eph 4:13; cr. 2Pet 3:9]

One final reminder. We need the reminder that we can become disqualified. Jude wrote, “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” [Jude 1:5]. Why do WE need this reminder? Because it’s possible to fall away today.

spencer

GONE WITH THE WIND

I’ve never heard of a ‘BOMB CYCLONE’ until last week. In case you missed it, the panhandle of Texas (along with other areas) experienced winds gusting over 75 mph. That kind of wind tosses a lot of things around and not a few people. Videos show roofs being blown off and semi-trucks toppling.

Let’s use this occasion of high winds to talk about the high winds of denominational doctrine. The Holy Spirit warns about this through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” [Eph 4:14]

This is brilliant imagery, especially considering last week’s winds and the damage it caused. Upon examination of this verse we come to a few conclusions

  • There is a true doctrine. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” [Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10; Heb 6:1; 2John 1:9]
  • The negative doctrines are from men. [cr doctrines of men; Rom 16:17; Col 2:22; 1Tim 1:3, 10; Heb 13:9; 2John 1:10; Rev 2:14, 15,24 and doctrines of devils 1Tim 4:1]
  • These men use sleight (tactic used in gambling)
  • These men use cunning craftiness (trickery). The same word describing Satan; “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” [2Cor 11:3]
  • These men use deceit (lies). It’s called error in 1John 4:6 “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
  • These men are lying in wait, which is also said of thieves who hide in dark places to attack an innocent. [Proverbs 1:11]
  • The persons unable to distinguish between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men are children, immature.
  • The doctrines of men are varied and often opposite of one another.
  • The child caught up in the wind is tossed and carried away by the false teaching. We’re expected to mature in spiritual understanding. “Brethren, be not children in understanding:” [1Cor 14:20a]

Paul continues this thought in chapter 5: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” [Eph 5:6]. Just as the winds that tore through the panhandle, so too the winds of doctrine can tear through the church doing terrible damage. Unlike the physical damage of a wind, this is spiritual damage that tosses people into disobedience.

There is another way that wind is used for a SPIRITUAL WARNING, it’s our faith.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:6]

James continues in this context and says that the one wavering in faith should not expect anything from God. Additionally, he calls the one with a wavering faith an unstable person. This smacks in the face of the admonition of the Christian to…

  • Stand Fast: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” [1Thess 3:8]
  • Stand perfect & complete: “…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” [Col 4:12]

It is my firm belief that the most damaging wind of doctrine is the utterly contemptible doctrine of ecumenism (the promoting of unity among denominations without unity of doctrine). An idea our Lord never promoted. He demands unity in His teaching. [1Cor 1:10]

5 Times People Think about God

There’s a song in our hymnal called, “You never mentioned Him to me.” It’s a very sobering song that asks you to think about the judgment day when you and everyone you know are present before the Lord [Mat 25:32]. Imagine on that day that you catch a glimpse of a loved one who is hearing, “depart from me…” [Mat 7:21-23] and they look over at you mouthing the words, “why didn’t you warn me?” I don’t know if we’ll be looking at one another or if when we all bow [Rom 14:11] our eyes will be averted. All I know is that there’s great pain to hear of a loved one who passes from this life outside of Christ.

It seems these days that very few folks are thinking about God. This makes it very difficult to mention Him to them. I have noticed, however, that there are a few moments in a person’s life that they are more open to hearing things about Christ. Moments of change in their life. While anytime is a good time to mention Jesus, I’ve discovered 5 times when folks may be more open to hearing of the Love of Christ.

DEATH: Long ago I met an aged lady who began her journey to Christ upon the death of her firstborn child. She sought the counsel of her denomination for answers, but none were found. She pressed on, seeking the truth, until she met a gospel preacher who showed her in scripture the safe condition of her child. In that search she learned about Bible authority verses the false words of men.

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” [Ecc 7:2].

MARRIAGE ISSUES: Whether it’s getting married or trying to stay married, couples will be open to godly strategies for their marriage. Many times, it will be the wife that will seek God’s advice first. Peter offers her this advice: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1-6] He continues with advice for the husband, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” [v7a]

ILLNESS or INJURY: God expended a lot of ink about the sick. We’re to visit the sick [Mat 25:36; Jas 5:14]. When it’s a particularly nasty illness, some treat it as a near death experience and begin to ponder their eternity. We can be their for them with a meal or a comforting voice.

CHILDREN: Kids can be a challenge in these times. (I suppose every generation of parents said something similar) As Christians, we can be an example to our friends & neighbors as we raise our children and especially when we’re practicing godly discipline. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:” [Heb 12:9] You would be amazed by the positive responses from folks as they watch you train your wild child.

MAJOR CHANGES: This last category of life events involve non-health related but dramatic changes in a person’s life. It could be moving, a new job, or some other occasion that draws folks together. This is a great time to be the neighbor that Jesus described when asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” [Luke 10:29-37]. One of the most powerfully connecting things one family can do for another is to help them move or to help in picking up the pieces after a storm.

This only touches the tip of the iceberg of the ways you can be ready to preach Christ. One final way is in how you manage your own rough patch. This is the context of 1Pet 3:15;

“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:”

The way in which we react to the struggles in our lives has a very powerful impact on others. Our hope on display is what draws our friends & neighbors to ask why. A perfect time to tell them about Christ.

We must prepare ourselves to have mercy, compassion & grace for these moments.

Never Growing Weary

Years ago, four of us hiked the Brooks-Range in search of Dall Sheep in Alaska. For 3 days under the midnight sun, we hiked the mountain sides with full packs loaded with supplies nearly has heavy as my 130# self. It was excruciating yet exhilarating all at the same time. I had little experience with that level of exhaustion that came partly from the exertion and partly from the altitude. Each night as we bedded down from our 16-18-hour exercise, we looked forward to what we might find on the next. It’s a memory that remains vivid some 34 years later.

Have you ever noticed that there are different kinds of tired? There’s the kind of tired that comes when you hate what you’re doing, and the kind of tired that fulfills you when you’re doing something you love. There’s some sort of psychological cause behind the fact that a person will take himself to the breaking point when he is engaged in the activities he loves (hiking the mountains of Alaska) and is exhausted with much less effort in the thing he despises (splitting logs for the wood stove at home, a chore I wish to forget). We need no more illustrations for every person can see this upon examination of his own life.

The Holy Spirit knows this about us, that we can endure great hardships where faith, hope and love abide. He inspired Paul to write in Galatians 6:9:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

When we are directing our physical bodies toward the hope that we love, the joy of this gives the body energy to make the work seem light. In our love for Jesus we can experience the feeling He described in Matthew 11:30;

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Think hard about this principle, for it will be profitable to you. Every activity with which we engage our physical bodies that is out of force, fear or necessity and does not arise out of love and service is immediately met with resistance from within and produces loss of energy resulting in a tired body and mind.

Seldom do we complain of fatigue about long nights spent in play but be asked to work night shift and suddenly the head can’t wait to hit the pillow. What do we learn from this? That one will endure any hardship if he loves the reason that he does the work. Money doesn’t give endurance, the real pay comes out of the love to serve our Savior, Christ Jesus. Force can win for a while, but love will give us the strength to endure. And love Him we must, for without it we shall miss the peace and joy that comes from above.

God gives us plenty of reminders, in His word, that we can endure hardships, face persecutions and afflictions that come from living an obedient life in Christ. For He is with us and has provided us a hope, a reward in Heaven. [cr Heb 11:6]

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” [Mt 24:13]

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” [1Cor 15:58]

Christ doesn’t expect us to endure anything He Himself hasn’t already done. He led the way through the example of His own suffering for our sake; “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” [Heb 12:3]

We can do it, endure this life with unlimited energy, when we continually remind ourselves of our primary love and service to our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Rewarder Christ Jesus.

be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Rev 2:10b]