SOME REFLECTIONS (FOR WHAT THEY ARE WORTH) ON THE HOLIDAYS

There have been a lot of discussions lately on the stores opening on Thanksgiving to give shoppers an opportunity to shop and get ready for the Christmas season.  Here is my two cents worth – and something to think about for those of us that are Christians.

Have we become so worldly and materialistic in our society that we can’t allow the stores to close one day and allow its employees to spend times with their families on a holiday?  Stores can’t close on Thanksgiving?  Christmas? (Yes, stores will be open Christmas this year to give everyone the opportunity to trade in the “stuff” they got they did not want or can not wear).  Years ago, when I was growing up, all of the stores would be closed on Sundays, and you know what, we made plans accordingly.  We did not starve.  We did not hurt – we took a day off.  Now all restaurants are opened on Sundays, and retail stores are orchestrating the opportunities for us to get “better deals” and more ”stuff” on days we would spend (and should spend) with our families.  Shame on the corporate world!  Shame on us for supporting such by playing their games!  We talk about video games – the world has us playing their games all of the time.

This denotes again that we have become more materialistic than we care to admit – and may I ask, “What have all these material goods gotten us?”  We want what we want and we want it right now.  We will trample on our fellow human beings to get something that will be worthless in a couple of years (consider technology).  What a sad situation this is – allowing this to control us so we can brag about what a great deal we were able to get.

I have thought a lot about Sundays and how everything used to be closed on that day to give all people an opportunity to worship God.  Please understand that not everyone will go to church, but if they did not have to go to work would they take advantage of the opportunity?  We Christians go to eat at restaurants on Sundays, and, sadly, some of the rudest people in the world are those who claim to be Christians, yet treat waiters/waitresses as the scum of the earth.  Shame on us!  Not every order will be right, not every waiter will be attentive – and we act like it’s the end of the world when they don’t treat us “right”.  Will we starve because it is not right?  We need to remember that Jesus died for these souls as he died for us – let’s treat people with the respect they inherently have because they are created in the image of God.

Just my opinions!  I know that some will be offended by this, but we need to really ask ourselves – when did it become all about us?  When did it become about getting more stuff?  Are our lives determined by stuff, or by our relationships with God and others?  What really matters?

Something to think about!

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THE VALUE OF A GOOD EXAMPLE

This last week was one of intense emotions, as a young man whom I taught at Georgia School of Preaching was injured and later died due to those injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Texas.  He was on his way to preach in a gospel meeting with a friend, and someone in the other lane “over corrected” and hit the car he was in head on.

Events like these happen every day, and they remind us of the frailty of life and the reality that, no matter how old or how young, none of us are promised tomorrow.

The thing I think about is that he was a great example.  Paul told another young preacher, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  (1 Timothy 4:12).  While he only lived a short eighteen years on this earth, he showed that he loved the Lord, loved the gospel and loved the lost.  Truly, he being dead yet speaks.

I am grateful that I knew Tate Williams, and I appreciate his example to me, an older preacher, to preach the Word.  I am grateful that God used him to remind me of what was important, both by his life and by his death.

Lord, I pray that you will use me as you did Tate.  Help me to be a better preacher, to love life, and to love your Word and your gospel.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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GOSSIP — HOW EASY IT IS

James tells us in James 3 that if we can control our tongues, we will be able to keep from stumbling.  He compares the tongue to deadly poison, and unruly evil, and fire that destroys everything in its wake.  And we all know how easy it is to sin with our tongue.  Consider how many wars have been fought, battles have been waged, relationship destroyed because of a slip of the tongue.  During World War 2 there were posters that said, “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”  Will we ever know, this side of eternity, the damage done by our tongues?

I think about this often — as a person who uses his tongue to teach, I know that I will be held accountable for more (James 3:1).  When I make the slips of the tongue; when I share a bit of information that was meant for my ears and head only, when I teach my opinion rather than truth; then I am concerned about my influence and teaching.  If I spread lies, innuendo and others things, does this not reflect on the message of the cross, and cause someone not to consider the message of Christ?  Does this not make me unworthy of the sacrifice Jesus made for me?

So I press on, asking forgiveness, trying to make sure I won’t do it again — then, in a weak moment . . .

It is not enough to know that we are to control our tongues; nor is it enough sometimes to consider that we will be held accountable for what we have said — how do we stop?

Maybe the first thing to do is to stop listening.  And when you think about it, will this not kill most gossip?

Then the second thing is, when we listen, promptly forget it, unless it is something that affects me and mine.  Then I need to spend some time and check it out to see if it is true.  It is like writing a letter when you are angry — write the letter, but never mail it!

Jesus will say to us to go to the brother that sinned against us (Matthew 18:15ff) and work it out.  Or, if we know we have sinned against someone, then go to them and work it out before we worship (Matthew 5:23-26).

If we hear gossip, and it hasn’t been found to be true, we should never repeat it.  But if it is true, we need to then consider if it will do any good to spread it.  Will it ruin someone’s reputation?  Will it hurt them to know that words spoke in confidence have been sown like seed to be reaped later?

The  best thing to do is to keep my mouth shut — will I ever learn?

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Great article that all Christians need!

Preacherpollard's Blog

Neal Pollard

1) I will absorb myself in the practice of prayer

2) I will actively practice kindness

3) I will find someone each day with whom to share Him

4) I will watch what I allow to grow in my heart

5) I will consider carefully how what I do effects my influence

6) I will actively encourage the people I daily encounter

7) I will assume and look for the best in others

8) I will nurture a hatred of sin and a love of sinners

9) I will treat Scripture as daily nourishment for my soul

10) I will keep a spiritual song in my heart

11) I will reflect meaningfully on the price He paid at Calvary

12) I will guard my tongue

13) I will think longingly about heaven

14) I will contemplate ways to be involved in the church’s work

15) I will love…

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DISCIPLINE AND DISCIPLESHIP

Every year I make New Year’s resolutions, and this year was no exception.  I wanted to lose weight (this has been my resolution since 1990’s), read the Bible daily, pray more and do good to one person each day (indeed to look for opportunities to do good daily).  Sunday I weighed in again, and found that I had gained a pound.  I was mad at myself, and I got to thinking what I did to get where I was, and I was angered even more because of my lack of discipline.  The cake was too good; or I thought I was hungry late at night when I should have refrained.

Discipline.  A simple word that means a lot of work and effort.  It means refraining from things you want to do (or eat, or indulge in) for the good of your body (or spirit) later on.  It means a lifestyle change.  It means work, and it means depriving me of what I want that is good now, for the results later.

Discipline is closely related to discipleship.  A disciple must be disciplined enough to look at the bigger (eternal) picture, instead of what is right in front of us now (temporal).  It means that I will build my faith while things are going well and easy, for the trials will come and my faith will then be tested.  What I do now will affect how things are later.  Decisions I make now will make a difference later.

Hence, as a disciple of Jesus I must discipline myself.  I must feed upon the Word of God daily, and not the words and wisdom of the world (Philippians 4:8).  I must pray – pray to the Father that I desire a relationship with, and pray not just for myself but for others as well (Matthew 17:21).  I must have my faith exercised and tested (Hebrews 5:12-14), so I can see my weaknesses and build my strength and dependence on God.  The things we talk about are necessary to lose weight (diet and exercise) are the same things I need to build my spiritual body.  I must take risks, believing, as I have written before, that when I take these “risks” that, as long as they are a part of God’s will, they are not really risks at all.  I must stretch myself and become better as a Christian, a preacher, a husband, father and grandfather.  Discipline = work.

Hence, enough with the easy path of passivity.  I must be actively working to grow closer to God.

Enough with the excuses that keep me from reaching my goals in building that relationship with Jesus.  You know the ones – not enough time, not enough energy (I’m tired), not enough aid and help from others – these are all excuses Satan gives me for not doing what I know I need to be doing.

Enough with the easy path, period.   I need to take the road less traveled, because that is the road, Jesus says, will lead to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14).  Not many are willing to take this road, because we are too fearful of men, or of offending others, or worrying about what others will think about us.

Holy and Beloved brethren, in the church it is time that we become disciplined disciples of Jesus.  We must step out on faith and do what he has been telling us to do, and stop using the excuses Satan will so easily offer.  We need to reach out to the community and help in any and every way we can.  We need to teach the gospel, unflinchingly, yet patiently, teaching those who are in opposition to themselves.  We need to stop worrying about taking care of a building and start using the building for the glory and praise of God – and not just on Sundays, but every day of the week.  We need to pray!  We need to ask for God’s forgiveness for our failures; and for his strength to do what he has told us to do.  We need to be more than keepers of the aquarium; we need to WORK at sharing the gospel with those who don’t want to hear.  The atheists, evolutionists and others are shouting their messages from the housetops while we sit in our buildings and share THE MESSAGE with  . . . ourselves.

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REST!

In our busy world of multitasking and seeing how much we can cram into one day, it was interesting and informative to me to re-read Leviticus 23, where God discusses the need for his people to rest and reflect upon him.  Notice with me, briefly, his points in this passage:

  1. God starts off by mentioning the Sabbath day, which is a “day of solemn rest. . .  You shall do no work on it.”  Lev 23:3
  2. God then mentions the Passover feast and the Feast of Unleavened bread.  These were two separate feasts that were side by side, and notice that as he discusses the Feast of Unleavened Bread he says, “On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it . . . The seventh day shall be a holy convocation, you shall do no customary work on it.” Lev 23:7-8
  3. The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, was to be held 50 days after the Passover, and on the day the priests offered the goat and lambs, they were to “proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you.  You shall do not customary work on it.” Lev 23:21
  4. The Feast of Trumpets was to be held on the first day of the seventh month, and “You shall do no customary work on it . . . “ Lev 23:25
  5. The Day of Atonement was held on the tenth day of the seventh month, and (you guessed it) “you shall do no work on that same day . . . you shall do no manner of work . . . it shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest”  Lev 23:28, 31, 32.
  6. The Feast of tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Booths) was to be held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month (The Jews had numerous celebration in the seventh month) and “On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, You shall do no customary work on it. . . On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation . . . it is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.” Lev 23:36.

I am aware of the fact that we are not under the Old Testament law and that God only made the Old Covenant only with the children of Israel (Exodus 34:27-28 – when God renewed the covenant after they broke it because of the Golden Calf).  Consider, however, that if God wanted his people under an inferior covenant to rest and spend time with him, how much more important is it that we do the same and commune with God.  Perhaps it is time for us to stop trying to do so much in a day – and take the time to feed our spirits and build our relationship with God.

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BELIEVING IS SEEING

BELIEVING IS SEEING

For we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

This is one of the simplest statements found in all Holy Writ, yet one of the most interesting as far as living the Christian life is concerned.  The whole context of the passage begins in chapter 4, where in verse 18 Paul says that Christians “. . . do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The challenge for us as Christians is to live by faith – TRUSTING, CONFIDENT, OBEDIENT faith in GOD and in His word.  When we trust GOD we believe his word is true and that he is saying what he does for our good.  When we believe that GOD exists, and trust GOD, then we can confidently know that GOD will do what he says he will do, if we but respond in confident faith.  And, as is clearly taught in all of God’s word regarding faith – faith manifests itself in obedience to the divine commands of God.  When we obey God’s commands, we show that we love him (John 14:15).  It is not enough to say we love God when we fail to obey His commands.

Walking by faith means that we believe GOD, and thus SEE the eternal.  We think spiritually.  We understand that what we see physically is not enough – with the eyes of faith we see heaven; we know forgiveness; we know that GOD will do what he has promised.  So, for the Christian – it is not “Seeing is believing; “ it is “believing is seeing.”

I struggle with this daily – but what a life could be led if we trusted GOD more and ourselves less!

BELIEVING IS SEEING!

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