Know Your Bible

VOL. 9                           August 1, 2010                           NO. 31

 The Great Need Of Our Day


            Children are natural born imitators. Parents must recognize this fact; and must use it to help the child to the right kind of life and attitude. Children learn far more from their parent’s examples than they do from their words. Unconsciously they imitate the habits, speech, the very gestures their parents employ. This is at once a glorious opportunity and a dangerous pit-fall for parents. It is an opportunity in that it gives them the chance to mold their children in the right pattern; it is a danger in that they may unthinkingly impress all their own weaknesses and shortcomings on the receptive mind of the child.


            There are many relationships in this life, some of them worthwhile; some are useless; and some are positively evil and dangerous. The oldest and most universal relationship is the home. It furnishes the material and primary preparations for every other relationship in life. The extent to which people make good members of all other organizations in life depends largely upon how they were brought up in the home. As the kind of seed determines the kind of plant, so the kind of home from which people may come determines in a large measure the kind of people they are going to be.


            In a home where the parents are faithful Christians the children are taught respect for proper authority. The spirit of obedience prevails there. With this principle firmly fixed in their minds, they will respect all rightful and proper authority when they come to maturity, whether that authority be of men or of the Lord. It is during the impressionable years of childhood that their attitude toward all authority is developed. It is an attitude either of respect for authority, or of disrespect. If the former, they make good citizens and good Christians; if the latter, they are obedient neither to the state nor to God.


            We hear much talk these days about universal peace. Men and nations are trying desperately to work out some formula which will head off another worldwide war. The principles of pure and undefiled religion, the principles of right and justice are the only panacea for the ills of this world. But these principles cannot suddenly become effective in society and between nations unless they have first been taught and developed in Christ-like homes. It is here, and not in pretentious and important “peace” conferences that the start must be made.


---Rufus R. Clifford

(This article appeared in “The Sword Of Peace” May, 1967)


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Viewpoints & Actions


            There are two basic and very different views that are manifested among God’s people when it comes to serving in His kingdom. These fundamental outlooks have a dramatic effect in how these Christians react to various situations and challenges.


            Some Christians see attending all of the assemblies and Bible studies as a dreaded obligation. As a result they allow almost any other activity to keep them away from the services. School activities, recreational outings, family gatherings, and a host of other things will provide them with the “excuse” they are looking for to “lay out”. Basically, these are the sort of Christians who attend services when there is nothing else that they would really prefer to be doing. Along with these, there are some church members who stay home from services because they fear that they might “catch” a cold or the flu from others in attendance or if the weather is bad. Never mind that the same “bugs” and same weather conditions are at the mall, at the ball game, in the beauty shop, etc. These folks will go to all those places, but they stay home from services “for health reasons”. They don’t realize that their motives are very transparent.


            The counterparts to the aforementioned church members are the Christians who are truly dedicated to the Lord. They love Bible study and cherish the opportunities to join with others in a serious and insightful study. Times of worship are considered as really special to these folks, and they will go to any length to keep their schedules free from conflicts that would force them to miss the assemblies. Their friends, co-workers, and relatives all know this about them, and are not surprised when they refuse to participate in activities, turn down overtime assignments, and even “bow out” of family gatherings that might overlap with the scheduled meetings of the church. Even as they grow older they continue to show their dedication. They may have to discontinue some things that they’ve always done, but attending church services won’t be on that list. They’ll come to Bible class and worship if it’s the only place they are able to go all week, and they’ll do it in bad weather, in the midst of flu season, etc., because they have their priorities in the right order. These good-hearted saints are going to be present -- because they love the Lord -- and it shows!


---Greg Gwin


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            Someone has observed that we live under a "tyranny of oughts." That is, we are continually under pressure to do all the things we "ought" to do. For example, we ought to do our best at work, take time for our husband or wife, take an interest in our children's activities, serve others, and take time for ourselves each day. We ought to eat right, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and brush and floss daily. Then, of course, the preacher tells us that we ought to read our Bible and pray every day, attend worship three times each week (every day during Gospel meetings), teach a Bible class, find non-Christians to teach, encourage the weak, and visit the sick.


            We're told that we ought to do all these things because each one is important. In fact, we're made to feel guilty if we don't do them. But the truth is that there are not enough hours in the day to do all the things we should. How can we cope with living under such tyranny? We must learn to prioritize, to put first things first. We must make sure we accomplish the most important things even if it means putting other things aside for a while. An episode from the life of Christ ought to help us (Lk. 10:38-42).


            When Jesus visited the home of His friends Mary and Martha, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him teach while her sister was busy getting things ready for her guest. We can certainly understand Martha's concern. What conscientious hostess would receive Jesus into her home without making it ready? She though her work was important, and it may have been, but the text says that she was "distracted" and "bothered" about many things.


            The statement that follows contains the crux of the passage. When Martha complained that Mary was neglecting to help with the household duties, Jesus corrected her. In contrast to the "many things" with which Martha was bothered, Jesus said, "one thing is necessary" (vs. 42). That one thing is to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to Him teach. Mary had chosen the good part, and would not be asked to give it up. Perhaps in time Martha's concerns could be addressed, but first things first.


            Mary is one of the great heroines of the Bible. She reminds us that though there are many things we ought to do, only one thing is necessary -- to hear the teaching of Jesus. Anything else may well become a distraction. It is not that these other things are wrong in themselves or even unimportant, but anything that hinders us from learning the Will of God and doing it ought to be set aside. Perhaps there will be time for it later, but we must give priority to Christ.


            Like Martha, many disciples of Jesus are distracted from spiritual things by their work. The work itself may not be immoral, but because we place so much importance on it and because it demands so much of our time, our work draws us away from Christ. More than a few Christians have been lured away from the Lord by the promise of a bigger income, a nicer house, a more luxurious car, a more lucrative portfolio and a more secure retirement. Acquiring these things takes more time, more travel, and more effort.


            When we realize that the things we want (want, not need) are just beyond our capabilities, often both parents go to work to get them, and even less time is left for spiritual things The demands of raising children -- school, homework, ball practice, band practice, music lessons, get-togethers, and the multitude of other activities young folks are involved in -- then encroach on our time even more. Before we realize it we are no longer sitting at the feet of Jesus. We don't have time for worship, study and prayer, to prepare for a class, or many of the other things involved in faithful service. The "worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth" have choked out the Word (Matt. 13:22).


            Though we have applied the principles of the Mary and Martha story to our work, many other applications could be made. In fact, anything -- whether it is an activity or a relationship -- that keeps us from spending enough time with Christ both in public worship and private devotion ought to be relegated to its appropriate place. Perhaps that will mean that some things we "ought" to do won't get done, or that some things will be sacrificed altogether, but we will have chosen the better part. In the long run we will be happy we made the right choice.


                                                                                                                                                                                ---Bob Hutto

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