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.

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.

PHARISAICAL

PHARISAICAL is defined as; practicing or advocating strict observance of external forms and ceremonies of religion or conduct without regard to the spirit; self-righteous; hypocritical. The term comes from the group called “Pharisees.”

The way it is most commonly used is when one person suggests a close adherence to the word of God in the Plan of Salvation, Worship and Godliness that others will claim that person is being PHARISAICAL. It’s a rebuke by someone who ISN’T closely following the Bible against the one who does.

Is that a fair use of the word? Does this usage follow with how the Pharisees were practicing Judaism? Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if this is so.

JESUS REBUKES THE PHARISEES

Matthew 23 is a great place to learn what Jesus felt about the Pharisees. The first 12 verses He describes their practices to the multitudes. He says:

  • Do what they say, not what they do. v3
  • They bind heavy burdens on others that they won’t do. v4
  • They do what they do to be seen by men. v5
  • They love the best seats & greetings. v6-7

After this, He then addresses them directly with a series of “WOE UNTO YOU” statements some of which are:

  • You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men and you don’t enter either. v13
  • For a pretense make long prayers. v14
  • Neglected the weightier matters of justice, mercy & faith. v23
  • You appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. v28

Upon examination of these verses and others, the conclusion you MUST come to is that the Pharisees were:

  • Ignoring the commands of God for their traditions.
  • Saying one thing correctly but not doing it. This is called hypocrisy.
  • When they did keep the commands of God, their heart wasn’t in it. Mat 23:23
  • They bound EXTRA commands on people that God never commanded.
  • Mat 7:21-23

“For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” [Mark 7:8-9]

SO, WHAT IS PHARISAICAL REALLY?

To be ‘PHARISAICAL’ is to:

  • Not follow the commands of God
  • To create new commands not from God
  • To say that you’re following God but aren’t.
  • To hold to traditions rather than the commands of God.
  • To appear to be righteous but are actually disobedient.

If anyone in our modern times is ‘PHARISAICAL’ it’s most likely to be the denominational churches and not the Lord’s church. Can we be guilty of hypocrisy? Certainly, but to call someone who is keeping the commands of God with his whole heart, ‘PHARISAICAL,’ is to make a false accusation. It’s usually the one who ISN’T KEEPING GOD’S COMMANDS that calls another ‘PHARISAICAL.’ If you’re not following the commands of Christ, YOU ARE THE PHARISEE! It is NOT PHARISAICAL to want to keep the commands of God. [Col 3:17]

Rather than call each other names, let’s try this:

  • Let’s Keep the commands of Jesus – John 14:15
  • Let’s Do what Jesus says – Luke 6:46; Mat 7:21-29
  • Let’s Love God with our whole heart – Mat 22:37
  • Let’s Obey the Gospel – 2Thess 1:8; Mark 16:16

God wants us to be saved and to go to heaven. Let’s do that.

IT’S HOW MUCH?!

Surely, you’ve uttered those words after asking a vendor for their price. I’m often shocked at the price of certain items. With that in view, I thought it a good time to look at the prices of some of the finer things.

If you’re in the market for a new ring, here is the most expensive diamond in the world. The WINSTON BLUE DIAMOND weighs in at a hefty 13.22 carats and can be snapped up for a paltry $23.8 million.

Perhaps you’re in the market for a new production vehicle, then the ROLLS-ROYCE SWEPTAIL may be for you. You can lose 20% of it’s value when you drive this $13 million baby off the lot. If that’s out of your budget then you can grab one of the cheaper most expensive cars, the MCLAREN SPEEDTAIL for just $2.2 million.

If you’re like me, you’re saying, “I’ll never spend more for a car than I would my house.” So, you’re looking for a house? If BUCKINGHAM PALACE were on the market, you could grab it for $1.5 Billion. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale; however, you can pick up the VILLA LEOPOLDA, VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER in France for just under $800 Million.

All of these are likely out of your price range, so let’s look at a few ‘cheaper’ things. At $11,000 per night you could take a vacation at NORTH ISLAND IN SEYCHELLES. If you’re a bit more adventurous you could spend just one night at WHITE DESERT “GREATEST TRIP” TO ANTARCTICA. This trip of a lifetime will only set you back $195,000 for the 24-hour trip. That’s just $8125 per hour…or perhaps you could visit for a few minutes at just $135.42 per minute.

These things are just luxury items anyway, how about we look at some more practical items? The most expensive suit of clothing will only set you back $895,000, THE STUART HUGHES DIAMOND EDITION. Each one of the three suits ever made takes over 800 man hours to design & stitch the finest wool, cashmere & silk into this magnificent work of art. We all need clothing, right?

Moving onto food, how about THE FORTRESS STILT FISHERMAN INDULGENCE? You’ve gotta eat, and this fine dining experience is a mere $14,000. To wash it down, there are beverages ranging in price from $225,000 up to $3.5 million.

That’s some shopping list, but we don’t come here to give recommendations like Yelp. No, we need to talk spiritual matters.

For most, if not all of us, these pricey things are way out of our league. We’ll never experience such worldly pleasures. However, what would we do for much less, much less?

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matt 16:26].

By the way, you can pick up everything that could be bought for just $241 trillion (based on the combined world GDP).

You see, when we reject God’s plan for us, His plan of salvation through Christ Jesus, we place a higher value on things that will one day burn up over the great cost paid for your soul. [2Peter 3:11].

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” [1Peter 1:18-19]

Jesus told us not to fret over things we shall eat, drink or wear. Rather, we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. [Mat 6:30-33]. While on this planet we may never take a luxurious vacation, nor live in a magnificent mansion, but there is a far greater place that awaits those who are in Christ. Lay up your treasure there [Mat 6:20; John 14:2; 1Thess 4:16-17]. (BTW, you can get a RTW ‘Round the World’ flight for just under $2k)

This Website contains the instructions for God’s plan of Salvation. Let’s go to heaven together, shall we?

REASONS for a REAL Day

One of my earliest theological questions after becoming a Christian was, “how long were the days in Genesis One?” I suppose that many of you continue to wonder about this question. There are really only two arguments:

  • A Literal 24-hour day
  • Each day could be figurative and include eons of time between the days.

Over the years I’ve come to believe that the days of Genesis one (and all the events of Genesis 1-11) are literal. Here is a list of reasons why I believe in a literal 6-day creation.

MOSES; the Holy Spirit inspired author of Genesis, was told by God at Mt. Sinai; “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,” [Ex 20:11] The context is the giving of the weekly Sabbath keeping. Therefore, God is the creation days with the 6 literal days of work in a week.

YOWM; which is the Hebrew word for day, when preceded by a number, is always used as a literal, single revolution of the Earth, day. This word is used in Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 14, 16,18, 19, 23, 31; Exodus 20:11 as well as the passages related to the keeping of the many feast days.

EVENING & MORNING: Whenever ‘evening’ and ‘morning’ are used in the Old Testament, it always has the meaning of one 24-hour day. If God wanted to tell us that He created everything in 6 24-hour days, what words would He use? The answer – THE SAME words used in Genesis 1.

A WEB OF LIFE PROBLEM: If each ‘day’ represents eons of time, how did plant life survive for millions of years between day 3 & day 5 when insects were created?

JESUS’ TEACHING: He taught that men and women were here from “the beginning of the creation” [Mark 10:6]. If the days are eons, then Jesus was wrong about when man was made, for Genesis has them showing up on day 6, millions or billions of years after the beginning.

DEATH PRECEDED SIN: If the day / age theory is right, then death preceded the fall of man. It was the sin of Adam that brought death into the world. If evolution is true, then death was already a well-established concept. “For since by man came death,” [1Cor 15:21].

GENEALOGIES: Rejecting a literal 24-hour day causes another problem for the Christian. The genealogies in Gen 5 & Luke 11 have a literal man named Adam. If the eon theory is right, which includes the theory of evolution, then you don’t have a literal man named Adam. The Adam of Genesis 1-3 is the same man named in Genesis 5 & Luke 11, an ancestor to our Lord Jesus the Christ.

APPEARANCE OF AGE: Regardless of the theory, both camps believe in an Almighty God. The question then becomes, why does God even need a 24-hour day? Couldn’t all of it have been done in an instant? Another question is, how old did Adam appear when he was formed? Even the atheist Stephen Hawking suggested that if an Almighty God were real, then He could just as easily have created the light between distant stars and the Earth. This would give the appearance of age. We even have a modern-day example of rock & canyon formation within days & months, Lake Shasta near Mt. St. Helens.

These are just a few reasons why I believe in a literal 24-hour 6-day creation. There is even more evidence beyond these. Since none of us were there, we are completely dependent upon the evidence, and for the believer in God, we are totally dependent upon His revealed word as the only eyewitness to these events.

This leaves us with FAITH. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” [Hebrews 11:1]. Nobody can ‘PROVE’ what happened. Even the atheist must have faith in his theory, for he wasn’t there.

Acceptance of an evolutionary viewpoint is contrary to scripture and is the beginning of a host of other errors when this viewpoint is accepted.

What Did Jesus Do For You?

Jesus Endured so much for us.

Our Lord and Savior put up with a lot. I mean, A LOT. Below is a list of things done to our Lord.

  • Mat 27:30 And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and SMOTE him on the head.
  • Mat 26:67 Then did they SPIT in his face, and BUFFETED him; and others SMOTE him with the palms of their hands,
  • Mat 27:2 And when they had BOUND him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
  • Mat 27:26 and when he had SCOURGED Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
  • Mat 27:28 And they STRIPPED him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
  • Mat 27:29-30 And when they had platted A CROWN OF THORNS, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and MOCKED him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and SMOTE him on the head.
  • Isa 50:6 I gave my back to the SMITERS, and my cheeks to them that PLUCKED OFF THE HAIR: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
  • Mat 26:60 But found none: yea, though MANY FALSE WITNESSES came, yet found they none. At the last came TWO FALSE WITNESSES,
  • Luke 23:40-41 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same CONDEMNATION? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but THIS MAN HATH DONE NOTHING AMISS.
  • Mark 15:31 Likewise also the CHIEF PRIESTS MOCKING said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
  • Psalm 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET.
  • Mat 27:35 And they CRUCIFIED him,
  • John 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear PIERCED HIS SIDE, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

This list is hard to read when you remember why He came to earth. To free us from the bondage of sin, to redeem us to God and all because He loved us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Rom 5:8].

SELF CONTROL

Another thing that comes to mind when reading this list is how much self-control Christ demonstrated. Just before all these things took place Jesus said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” [Mat 26:53] He said this BEFORE all the abuse, yet during the abuse, He remained silent.

Reading this list, may we come to the same conclusion as the Centurion at the crucifixion, “they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” [Mat 27:54]

A FINAL THOUGHT

When we, those who have put on Christ in faithful baptism, return to sin, it’s as if we’re doing it all over again.

“…seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. [Heb 6:6b]

My hope is that this serves as a reminder of how much Jesus loves you and what He was willing to do for you.

Since He went that far for you, how far will you go for Him?

The Last Day

When is the Last Day, the rapture or the Judgment day? Many ‘scholars’ have attempted to figure it out. They’ve combed the scriptures looking for clues. They’ve taken dates and times, done the math and have come up with what they believe is the last day.

I recall a fellow who claimed May 21, 2011 would be the end of the earth, the final call, the return of Christ. Either I missed it, or he was wrong. The bible says we’re not going to miss it, it will be the loudest day on earth.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” [1Thess 4:16]

Based on this verse alone, I’d say we didn’t miss it, it hasn’t occurred. There have been others who thought they had predicted the end.

Jehovah’s Witnesses – Charles Taze Russell preached the Second Coming of Jesus was 1874, and the start of the 1000 year earthly reign was 1914, as it was to end in 2914 A.D. When it didn’t happen, they just altered their teaching and set new dates saying something like, “”The light is getting brighter, and we are understanding Bible prophecy better now.”

John Hagee – He has been predicting the end for several years now. Looking at blood moons & eclipses as possible signs. Rather than set a date, he says, “the fuse is lit.”

There’s nothing new about this. The first century Christians wondered about this as well. Paul wrote to the brethren in Thessalonica, “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” [2Thess 2:2] He instructed them how they ought to behave as they awaited, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.” [2Thess 2:15]

None of us can know when the judgment will occur, only God, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [Mat 24:36].

Putting this all together we come to some very simple conclusions that will guide us…

  • Don’t believe the predictions. (and don’t follow those who are making such predictions. They’re false teachers. [Matt 24:11; 1John 4:1]
  • Live every day as if Christ is coming today.

Since we know that when He comes, destruction of the world will follow, we ought to “make our calling and election sure” today and every day. [2Pet 1:10]

Peter, writing through the Holy Spirit said; “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” [2Pet 3:11-12]

Don’t take my word for it, just do what Jesus said, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” [Matt 24:42]

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]

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]