A message about keeping your light shining brightly, being an influence in leadership and encouragement, and what we should keep doing even in times of trial.
Are You Fair Minded
Acts 17:11 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
My question is based in the fact that many people trust what they have been taught concerning the scriptures. Parents, friends, preachers and teachers have taught us many things concerning God’s word. How many times have you searched the scriptures to see if what you had been taught was true?
Is it really reasonable for you to take a person at their word just because they are someone you love and respect? Is it fair-minded to take a preacher or “pastors” word for what the scriptures mean just because they are supposed to be the educated authority on them? You are not being disrespectful of the one doing the teaching when you verify their subject matter. You are not impugning the sincerity of a loved one when you investigate what is being taught. The Berean brethren had the inspired apostle Paul teaching them, yet they did not feel it was unreasonable to search the scriptures on their own to verify “whether these things were so.”
There is so much misinformation concerning the scriptures floating around in the world today. How can one know that what they believe is correct? Why do so many people blindly follow what they have been taught? Are you really being fair minded when you just sit there and not investigate the scriptures for yourself? No, you endanger yourself of becoming one of the blind that is led by the blind into a pit (Lk 6:39). You only become fair-minded when you are willing to spend the time in the scriptures to test what you have been taught.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to challenge what is taught when you discover it is was in error. The apostle Paul commanded the Thessalonian brethren to “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thess 5:21). Make sure that what is taught fits the whole context of the passage sighted. Make sure that what is taught does not contradict the greater context of all scripture. Verify it and verify it again. Your soul is worth the effort of being fair-minded!
The challenge for you is to become a genuine truth seeker (Jn 4:23-24) because God is seeking such people to worship Him. Don’t take any man’s word when he talks to you about being saved because he might contradict what is taught in God’s word. Ask for book chapter and verse in God’s holy script to verify it. It is not unreasonable to want a bible subject to be verified by scripture. An honest teacher will also not object to your need for verification. They will gladly open their bible with you and show you what is stated in the text.
Mt 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” As harsh as this text sounds there will those who have thought they were serving the Lord properly but have in actuality been living in sin. Don’t be one who thought they were saved. Don’t be one who thought they were doing the right thing in His name. Test what you believe. If it can withstand the test of the scriptures then keep moving onward and upward. If what you believe and practice fails the test of scripture change today. The last thing you want to hear is “depart from Me…”
Your soul is too valuable to not be fair-minded!
God Is Still In Public View
Judges 2:10 “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
Deut.6:6-9 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Question: What should we be most concerned about, God, prayer, and the Ten Commandments being removed from schools and government facilities? Or should we be more concerned that God is being removed from the home?
Answer: The root cause for a generation to grow up not knowing God is that He was not remembered and spoken of in the home. When God is no longer in the home He will disappear from the public view!
Looking at Judges 2:10 you may get the first impression that the people of Israel were completely ignorant of who God is. That may be true to some extent, however, I believe it goes much deeper than that. I believe that this was a conscious decision to not keep God in their lives. Verses 11 and 12 of that chapter reveal this to us in the words “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger.” It’s not that they were ignorant or did not understand, but that they chose to forsake Him.
This is happening in the era in which we live. You see it every day, open denial of God. This denial is a choice not to retain Him in their knowledge in spite of the overwhelming evidence for Him. Man is chasing after the Baals of the world, human wisdom, philosophy, covetousness, lasciviousness etc. and have turned their backs on God.
The real imperative is to restore God’s residence in our hearts and homes. When He lives there He lives within us (1 Jn 3:24). When God is alive in us, He cannot disappear or be removed from public view! – BL
My Children, Follow the Path of the Wise
Prov 4:26-27 “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”
Solomon spends a great deal of time in the early chapters of the book of Proverbs instructing his children about the benefits of wisdom. He is trying to equip them for life. A life that will be spent living away from mom and dad and the safety of their childhood home. It is the responsibility of parents, especially fathers, to provide wise instruction to their children. It is our responsibility to train then in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph 6:4). By providing them with the knowledge and fear of God we are trusting that they will apply this knowledge wisely in the decisions they make in their life as they grow older.
In these verses the wise man encourages his children to carefully contemplate the path which they choose to traverse in their lifetime. We even spend a great deal of our time teaching our children the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. Quite often our kids will attempt to choose multiple paths, some of which we warned them about and wish they would have avoided. Careers often change and lead us down different roads. Friends we once ran around with change, from those in high school and college, to those friendships we establish as adults. Life has a way of throwing roadblocks in our path but the one who has established his ways in the Lord will know how to adjust or correct his course of travel so that he keeps himself on the straight and narrow road.
For those who still have young children, keep teaching them. For example we have all said to our toddlers, “Don’t touch the stove it’s hot!” and many did not learn the lesson until they touched the stove and experienced it for themselves. However, they later understood that you only had their safety and best interest at heart. The same is true of providing biblical instruction to our offspring from their youth up. Don’t give up on providing your children with proper spiritual instruction even though you may feel it has gone unheeded. With the instruction you will provide them with the knowledge of God. You will teach them to revere and respect God’s way. Though they may ere from time to time if they have been given a proper foundation for their faith they will return to the path that will save their lives (Prov 22:16).
I want to be able to say to my children as Solomon did his, “I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths” (Prov 4:11). I want my two sons to follow the path of the wise and I know you want your children to do the same. Therefore, no matter how old they are encourage them to make wise choices founded upon the wisdom of God. Continue to advise them to turn away from the path that leads them away from God and exhort them to establish themselves in the ways of God, walking the road that leads to eternal life.
Tests Are Meant To Bring Out The Best In God’s Children
1 Pet 1:7 “…the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” The testing of your faith comes at different stages in your life. Sometimes the test seems easy at other times they seem to difficult to overcome.
Testing by fire is for a purpose. It is meant to purify, cleanse and temper your faith not destroy it. When you overcome the test of your faith you will be stronger and your faith will show forth as more genuine than before.
The key is to not run away from the tests but to overcome them. This requires you as a soldier of the cross to be prepared with the knowledge that test will come. Prepared by adorning yourself with the full armor of God that will help you withstand these tests. Prepared to wield the sword of God, His holy word which is able to discern the hearts of men and cast down all human arguments.
The genuineness of your faith is seen when you stand firm, not allowing difficult tests to cause your faith to wane. That is when you really learn about yourself and know in full assurance of faith that your labor in God’s kingdom is not in vain.
God does not want you to be a quitter but a survivor. He wants your life and your faith, to praise, honor and glorify His name. He wants you to keep fighting the good fight until His Son returns in the clouds.
How are the difficult moments in your life testing your faith? Tests are meant to bring out the best in God’s children. I pray that you pass the test you are facing this day and that your light will shine brighter than it ever has before.
What Kind of Friend Are You?
Mark 2:1-12 are a few of my favorite verses in the New Testament. They just happened to be part of the daily Bible reading schedule recently.
They give an account of a miracle that involves four different groups/individuals:
1. A paralytic man in need of a miracle.
2. Friends of the paralytic who provide necessary transportation of a friend in need.
3. Skeptics/Doubters who reject the obvious implications of the event they are witnessing.
4. Jesus, the miracle worker and forgiver of sin.
The paralytic was unable to come to the Lord on his own. However, his friends overcame obstacles and made sure that he would see Jesus. The Lord would first forgive his sins. The skeptics doubted Jesus’ authority to do that because only God had the power to forgive sins. This is followed by the miracle that not only healed the paralytic but also was evidence that Jesus had the power to forgive sins.
There is more to this than just observing a miracle. There is one fact that really stands out to me, it is the paralytic’s friends would not be stopped in bringing him to Jesus. No obstacle could stand in their way. They went out of their way, going the extra mile, putting in the extra effort when most people would have given up. They broke through the roof and lowered him down. There was an urgency in getting him to Jesus. Their friend needed to come to the only one who could save him from his physical ailments.
Do you demonstrate this type of friendship when you know that a friend has an urgent spiritual need that only Jesus can meet? How far will you go to make sure your friend(s) will come to Jesus? Will you give up because you meet with resistance or hindrances? Or, Will you be the one to break through and help remove the obstacles in their way and make sure they come to the One who died for their sins? Will you be the one who introduces a friend or loved one to Jesus? It can start with a simple invitation. It may involve more serious conversation and Bible study. Are you willing to put in the extra effort?
So, What kind of friend are you?
Attitudes Toward the Scriptures
How do people today view the bible? Some see it as a workbook of sorts, where writing reference notes in it and creasing it for quicker and easier access to certain passages is the norm. Others view it as a book that is too sacred or beautiful to be defaced by writing notes or creasing pages. The former may have worn and frayed bibles but they are worn due to use, not due to dust. Of course there are many who have multiple bibles. Some that are kept away due to loving memory of someone or something [say your baptism] and yet others out for daily use and study.
Those are some of the approaches people have toward the bible, but for this article, let’s examine a negative one.
“The bible? Yeah, I know of it. It’s just a book that’s sometimes opened at church when we don’t have anything special planned.”
This is basically an attitude we are seeing more and more these days- one of ignorance. That simply means many folks are not familiar enough with the bible to know what it teaches, other than just “good works”. One reason for that is because many don’t read it for themselves and the preachers are not quoting enough of it for them to understand it! The end result of not reading the bible can be quite easily seen. The most noticeable result is a lack of scriptural wisdom.
Back in the 1940’s, and even before then, up into the early 1960’s most church-going people knew the bible! They not only had ready answers to the questions people asked, but they got EXCITED when talking about it; especially when others had a different view than theirs. They asked questions, studied more, and dug deeper into the bible until they gained that better understanding.
Today, however, even in churches, the bible is opened as little as possible. Preachers are telling more “warm and fuzzy stories involving situation ethics” and preaching “feel-good” sermons that don’t challenge our minds. Those types of sermons are nothing more than “fluff”! Some of them do not include a single passage read from the scriptures and certainly, they do not incite us to read our bibles, nor do they promote further study at home. If we, as adult parents aren’t studying and trying to better our lives spiritually, what can we say about our kids? What can we expect if our kids are forced to face a difficult situation in life? How will they know how to handle it?
The result of not reading our bibles can cause serious consequences! And those consequences may directly affect us sooner than we may think.
I’ve personally seen, heard, and read accounts of those who are younger leaving the church. Not just the Lord’s church, but all churches. Why are they doing this? I am one to believe that parents just aren’t studying with their children as they should. Again, this is referring to all churches, mind you, but some churches separate the young from their parents/family to entertain them with groups of their peers who they can associate with better.
Those younger groups begin to believe that fun and social atmospheres are just as important as worship, and how they feel is just as much a part of church as the boring preaching part. They lose the respect and reverence due to the worship, which eventually if not before, leads to a loss of respect and reverence to God’s word! They drift away.
There could be other reasons too. College teaches that an open mind [to everything!] is equal to an enlightened mind because both are taught in tandem. With an open mind to religion, what one was taught gets muddled up with the teachings of others into an amalgamation of many teachings and doctrines.
This could very well be the future of religion. The seeds have been sown where those who are enlightened either don’t have any regard for God’s word- those who still worship do so with a potpourri of ideas and doctrines that included everyone, and even in the church there are those who are leaving due to reasons entirely unrelated.
This is all really scary, so how do we combat this? By doing as the Jesus commands and bear fruit. We may rest well knowing that we’re good people, that we worship regularly, and we study our bibles as we should, but we must do more.
By reaching out to others and teaching them about Jesus and clearing up misconceptions they may have, we are saving them! We may feel frustrated that we can do so little against Satan and his tactics, but those we can save, we’ve done a LOT for them! How much more love can we show than that?
I’ll be the first to admit that we can not always lead them to Christ. As in the parable of the sower, there may be many reasons they do not turn to the Lord. However as Jeremiah knew Israel wouldn’t listen he didn’t give up. Neither should we!
Maybe the reason so much has changed in religion is because we Christians aren’t fighting as hard as those before us fought. They had a lot to go through while we are at peace. Perhaps said peace lulled some into a false sense of security.
The main point of this article is that we need to continue our study of the bible. Those who do so daily do well. I understand we have very busy schedules and sometimes circumstances arise that may prevent us from doing what we know we ought. I’m not condemning anyone in this article, least of all my brethren. But if maybe this lit even a little fire under you, then I consider this a success.
The 40’s, 50’s and 60’s were a simpler time. They didn’t have all of those fancy gizmos like the Nintendo Playstation or the Xbox Gameboys. No computers in their rooms nor cell phones. It was a dark time… technologically!
However the family was a very tightly knit one. They worked together, ate together, and even studied together. The end result? A powerful foundation of faith to build upon. They had a regular time set out in their day to learn more of God’s word [something I’ll be the first to admit I need to work on] and worshiped every chance they had.
The church then encouraged further study to make sure the things being taught were so. Today, not every church does this. And I’m sad to say that those who do not make sure what is taught is correct may believe those things that are untrue as spoken by those in leadership [or the preacher.]
I close this article with a quote from Psalms 119: 100-105 “I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Reactive or Proactive?
1 Thess. 5:15 “See that noone renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.”
The apostle Paul presents the Thessalonian brethren with two courses of action in this verse. First, a course of equal retribution. Second, the course of equitable resolution. I see a significant difference in the two approaches. Each are individual choices. It boils down to a simple choice of being reactive or proactive.
The reactive individual has the mentality of “an eye for and eye” and sets out on a course of getting even for what has been done to him. This is what most people would suggest is a “normal” response.
On the other hand, the proactive person seeks for a peaceful resolution that is beneficial for all involved. This type of response comes from a heart that has been transformed by the gospel. It is a response that will seek not only an individual’s physical well-being but also his/her spiritual safety.
One is negative the other positive. Which one do you think Paul is commanding us to “pursue”?
A Time Of Change
This is an exciting new time for us! With the website remodel we have undertaken we have the chance to bring many new people to Christ. This period of change could also be a period of regrowth or renewal in our service toward God. Many may come to this website with questions and I honestly hope that we use this chance to help them [and even ourselves!] come to a more complete understanding of God’s word.
But we must be wise and tactful in our answer as well. As 2 Timothy 4: 2 says we are to correct, rebuke, and exhort with ALL longsuffering and teaching.
However, we must also remember Ecclesiastes 1: 9-11.
The world never really changes, SIN never changes, the bible never changes. With all of our new technology, discoveries, and even secular wisdom the very same things we are warned of in the bible are still running rampant today. However in a more accessible way. Television, while many of us are younger than its modern version, the television is still a rather “new” invention. In all of the technological discoveries and advancements that are made, it’s easier than ever for someone with a message to be heard. Unfortunately we can’t be sure what they’re hearing biblically is accurate. Or more than just what people want to hear.
The internet, the very thing we are using right now can be both a blessing and a curse. It allows us to learn just about anything we could ever imagine, but it also opens the door for a myriad of poisons and dangers! We could be reading God’s word one minute and then gambling online another, and we may think that no one will catch us, but God already did. Piracy is nothing more than glorified stealing [seeming justification or not, sin is sin, stealing is stealing. “Even if the company went under and the only one making money from sales are those inflating the price”] among other sins very easily found on the web.
I guess it’s true then. The more things [seemingly] change, the more they stay the same. While the avenue we use to spread God’s word has expanded to the internet in this way, our mission to spread the gospel [as Christ told the Apostles in Matthew 28:18] has never changed, our savior will never change [Hebrews 13:8] and how God expects to be worshipped by us also will not change.
So consider this a rallying call to all of our potential writers. Shall we take advantage of this oppertunity to lead others to a more complete understanding of God’s word? Will we share in the spirit and enthusiasm that this new endeavor will bring? Are we going to begin well, but be unable to continue in our efforts [Luke 14: 28-30] because we don’t have enough money [time] to complete our tower [this work in spreading God’s word to people in a more national level]. Or do we, as the one talent man did and hide his talent [our oppertunity in this case] in the dirt while the others make the profit?
I sincerely hope that not only does this begin to expand, but exponentially with new articles added all the time! I hope that this also brings us as writers closer as a family, and as readers closer as friends striving to obey God’s commandments to the best of our abilities. I close with Philippians 4: 8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
I’m pretty sure most of you know that Jo Anne & I travel a lot, and that we are wearing out our third motor home. Jo Anne has always served as the “Navigator” — I was just the driver. We often found ourselves heading in the wrong direction, for which I blamed her since she was the one giving me the directions. When we bought our current motor home, Jo Anne also bought a GPS system “to keep me heading in the right direction.”
Apparently, Jo Anne was not to blame for my driving errors because the most common thing the GPS system says to me is, “Make a U-Turn when possible!”
Directions to a specific location only work when you follow them correctly! You can have the best directions possible and still get lost!
The Bible contains directions to Heaven. They are not just the “best” directions… they are the ONLY directions. Unfortunately, many of us will get lost because we do not carefully follow the directions.
That is something to think about…