Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                          December 30, 2012                                                                                                                            NO. 48



The last day of the year is a day to remind us that everything comes to an end. Each year has a beginning and an end as does each month, each week and each day. The new year is only the beginning of twelve months that end on December 31. Life is expressed in the cycle of time that has a beginning and has an end. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).

As we begin to reflect upon the new horizon of 2013 we should also pause to reflect the sober reminder that we are mortal creatures that have a beginning and at least on this earth – an end. Yet the irony of this message is that we still exist beyond death. Our ending here is a beginning in eternity and upon the frail time of space we share in life eternity depends. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). “This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The last day of the year is a day of reflection. It reminds us that time does not stand still. We grow older with each passing year and draw nearer to our eternal abode. Paul looked at his life near its end and said, “For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day: and not only to me, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). He looked back on his life and forward to the life to come. The apostle had confidence in his life in service to Christ. His last day was fast approaching and he could see the fight coming to an end; the race nearly completed; the maturing of his faith in God as nearly complete. Can we have the same hope as Paul on this last day?

He also looked forward to a new day coming. This hope was built upon faithful service to the Kingdom of God. Paul knew that his last day on earth would propel him to that eternal home with God. What vision to live with faith in this life that will guide us across the final day. The final day for the Christian is the beginning of the eternal day with the Father. The last day of mortality will be the beginning of our immortal joy. “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:51-54).

The last day is a day of victory. It will be a time when all the grace of God is revealed and the joy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be revealed in the resurrection. The last day of this year should be a time of victory to see how we have grown in our faith toward God - looking forward to that final last day of our life; whether in death or in the glorious coming of our Savior. December 31 – the last day! What a great day to reflect and enjoy the blessings of God. The new year gives opportunity to strive with more zeal to live for the last day. It will not be a day of sadness but a day of awakening. The last day is a day that will last in eternity when we are found faithful.

---Kent Heaton

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A few years ago the cover to a 1996 edition of U.S. News caught my attention. It asked, “Can Churches Cure America’s Social Ills”?  Hmm. 

  Now, as a Christian my chief allegiance is to God’s holy nation of which I am a citizen (1 Pet. 2:9; Phil. 3:20); but since America is where I reside for now I want to see it do well for if it has peace, I have peace (Jer. 29:7).

As I pondered the question, “Can Churches Heal America?”, I thought of some things churches are going to have to do if they hope to have an impact.

Churches must call people back to the book (the Bible). (That’s going to be difficult to do because they are first going to have to get back to the book themselves! ERH) It’s what America needs more than anything else. Just this morning, my “check engine” light came on. I didn’t know what to do.  Of course, I knew to check the engine, but where do I start? I immediately reached into the glove compartment for the owner’s manual. It told me what I needed to know. Friend, that’s what your Bible is. It’s  a manual from the Owner who made us all and knows what’s best. No matter how broken down your life is the Bible can fix it. In it, we have all we need (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Why would so many people ignore a book that is so good for us? Too many people just don’t want to be accountable to God. So, they reason Him away and deny the Bible as His word.  Someone has said, “The atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman.” He doesn’t want to. America is not the first nation to try to push God out. Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, took God’s word, cut it up with a knife and through it in the fire (Jer. 36:23). Perhaps he thought he had done away with God’s word but he had not because He couldn’t touch its Author. Try as we may to push God’s word out of our lives, it lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1:22-25). Like an anvil wears its hammers one by one, God’s word has outlasted all its skeptics. Oh, how we need this book!! America’s hope is to come back to the Bible.

Churches must remember the mission of the church. People long before us saw “going to church” very simply. God’s word was highlighted above all. Some have even said that when preachers spoke you could “feel the heat.” How do people see churches now? As people see so many denominations with recreation centers, cafeterias, gymnasiums and the like, are people impressed with the need for the spiritual over the physical? Jesus had to deal with that problem. People came in hoards wanting physical food. When He made it clear that His mission was to provide spiritual food, most of them walked away (Jn. 6:26-27,66-68). A few in the religious world

have been willing to admit that without all the physical attractions their numbers would drastically fall off. Jesus didn’t worry about that.  He sadly let them walk away. In fact, if you’ll notice, every time crowds began to build, Jesus’ teaching became even more challenging (Lk. 14:25-25). He wanted those who wanted Him. That’s it. The mission of the church is to preach the truth, period (1 Tim. 3:15).  Many years ago, a French statesman, Alexis De Toqueville (1805 – 1859) came to America trying to find the secret of its greatness. What he found is interesting. Listen to this!! “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there… in her fertile fields and boundless forests – and it was not there… in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there…in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Local churches must remember their mission.  Preaching is growing weaker in far too many places. Preachers must call sin, sin (Jn. 8:31). Faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17). Without God’s word, America will be faithless.

Churches must encourage members to come home to family.  Too many  homes   hardly  have  anyone  home. Dads must provide (1st Timothy 

5:8) but they can be gone far too much in their pursuit of climbing the ladder of success. Moms need to focus their minds on being keepers at home (Titus 2:4-5). Even kids can be away from home too much. We must spend time together. I’ll never forget brother Connie Adams telling of a yard sale at his parent’s home.  Reluctantly, they decided to sell the family dinner table he had sat around all of his growing up years. There were so many good memories. For most of the day, it had not sold. Inwardly, Connie was sort of glad. Then…a buyer came, loaded it up and drove away.  Connie said as he saw it go away, he cried. I understand. How many families today would have such sentimental thoughts about their table? We just need to come home and build our homes on Christ (Mt. 7:24-27).

Churches must teach members to deny worldliness in their lives (Rom. 2:17-24; Mt. 5:13-16). If we, one-by-one, will let the Lord put our lives together, the world will fall right into place. If you want to heal America, start with you. May God bless the United States of America. 

---Jeff May 

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