Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           February 13, 2011                           NO. 7

 Is It God We Desire, Or A Particular Path To Him?
       "Uphold my steps in Your paths, That my footsteps may not slip" (Psa. 17:5).
     If We Seek God Sincerely, We'll Be Willing To Get To Heaven By Any Path That He Deems Best For Us. But this willingness is not always easy. When the way home begins to look uncomfortably different from the path that we've pictured in our minds, the result may be resentment, if not outright rebellion. At times like these, we must learn to love God for His Own sake and not insist on any particular set of conditions as we journey toward Him.
       The Psalmist prayed: "Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me" (Psa. 119:133). Such a prayer must be our own. And in our higher moments, we know that this is indeed what we desire: we want God to uphold our steps in His Paths. We want His wisdom to supersede our own plans and preferences so that the greatest possible good is accomplished, not only for ourselves but for the world in which we live.
       Certainly we must avoid any sort of demanding attitude toward God. If we have envisioned ourselves living and serving God within a particular set of circumstances, that my be well and good. But if life unfolds according to a different pattern, we must still maintain our reverence. Before we start acting as if our "rights" have been infringed, we need to do a reality check.
       Long-term service to God requires flexibility, and most of us need to be more flexible in defining what our possibilities are. The good that God put us here to accomplish can be accomplished in more ways than we might think. We need to accept that there are numerous scenarios through which God could be glorified in our lives, and we must not be so wedded to one or two of these that we can't see the value of others. Is it not obvious from God's created world that He delights in variety? Let us not be so short-sighted or attached to "the way we always thought it would be" that we can't accept something else for the sake of His glory.  --  “My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace. Nor even blessing, but Himself, my God; Tis His to lead me there, not mine, but His -- At any cost, dear Lord, by any road!" -- F. Brook.  
---Gary Henry
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Entertainment at Church
     When Jesus was on earth, He felt it necessary to rebuke the Jews who were misusing the Lord’s Temple. It was intended to be a place of worship and sacrifice, but by the time of Christ many were using it as a place of business and corruption. Jesus’ response was simple. He pulled out a whip, overturned their money tables, and drove them out with the charge, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise!” (John 2:16).
     The Jewish Temple has long since been removed from God’s will. The closest representation of it today is the Lord’s church (1 Cor. 3:16-17; Eph. 2:21). Christians are to be priests who offer spiritual sacrifices in worship (1 Pet. 2:5). Unfortunately, like the Jews, many are using the church for things Jesus never intended: entertainment, business, politics, and corruption. Churches not only engage in entertainment and social programs, they depend on them to survive. Thus, the continual circus-like atmosphere in many outreach programs centered on carnivals, concerts, and candy. If we think Jesus would be silent to this if He were on earth today, we are of all men most foolish. That whip of His would be used so much it’d be worn down to a shoestring!
     My good friends, where is our faith? The power to save man from sin is the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The work of the church is spiritual (Eph. 4:11-16). When Christians tried to make the church a place for social meals, Paul rebuked them saying, “Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” (1 Cor. 11:22, 34). There’s nothing wrong with social meals and activities; it’s just not the purpose of the church to provide them. The Lord’s work is much too important to reduce it down to food and entertainment.
     When we stand before God in judgment, to give account for our life (2 Cor. 5:10), what will have mattered most from our time on earth: entertainment or salvation from sin? Then that’s the kind of work the church should be doing. Anything less than that will be overturned by Jesus.                                                   
---Mike Thomas
Beaver Dam, KY
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The Psalmist's Soul-Winnng Formula
"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You." -- Psalms 51:12,13 (NKJV).
     The Psalmist may be saying that if the Lord restores the joy of his salvation then he promises to teach transgressors. Or he may be saying when the joy of salvation is restored teaching transgressors will naturally follow. In either case, sinners will be converted.
     Answers to why we are not converting more to Christ are offered by the dozens. "How to" instructions abound. Several preachers specialize in "soul-winning techniques". "Specials" are held from time to time to consider the matter. Book stores stock books and kits that are supposed to tell us how to make virtually every Christian an effective soul-winner. Yet, all the above combined produce meager results. Even what appears to be spectacular results often turn out to be nothing more than a mirage -- a flash in the pan.
     All this somewhat reminds me of a story that I heard several years ago about a company trying to increase its sales. They hired an expensive sales expert to lecture their salesmen on sales organization and technique. Their experienced salesmen and new recruits were required to attend so they, too, could become experts. The expert unveiled his plan. He demonstrated his sure-fire technique. He organized the territories complete with a wall map with pins placed at strategic points to illustrate the salesmen, customers and potential customers. He had refined his program to a fine art. During his lecture he spotted an old salesmen sitting over in the corner who was reputed to have been the top salesman for the company over several years. After, proudly and with fan fare, presenting his technique he asked the old salesman if he had any words of encouragement or advice that he might add to what had been said. The old salesmen replied, "Yes, take all those pins out of that map and stick them into the salesmen!"
     Could it be that our problem in teaching transgressors the Lord's way and thus converting them to Lord is not so much poor methods, materials, and facilities as it is poor motivation with no proper foundation? It may be that the joy of our own salvation is the missing element. Pep rallies and motivational hype on the subject of soul-winning may stir brethren into spurts of action, even producing some results. A sustained effort and lasting results will likely come from one who really knows both the plan and joy of salvation. Such a one understands what it means to be lost. He knows what it means to be saved. His knowledge is not based on fleeting feelings but on a knowledge of what God's word teaches on damnation and salvation. His joy is not the superficial cart wheel turning, hand clapping, "praise the Lord" shouting variety, but a far deeper joy of thankfulness, knowing that he has been delivered from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son. One with such joy understands what it means to no longer be a sinner alienated from God. He understands God's plan of salvation. He understands what the Bible teaches about being a Christian. His joy is produced by that understanding and his knowing that his life is now in harmony with that understanding. Thus, he wants others to know what he knows and do what he has done to be saved -- and is doing to stay saved. His genuine faith in the promises and blessings in Christ produces the joy of salvation that leads him to teach transgressors the Lord's ways so that they can enjoy what he enjoys.
     Brethren filled with the knowledge and joy of salvation will find ways (or techniques) to teach others consistent with their own temperaments and abilities and of those they are trying to reach. Their methods may vary widely but their message and results will be the same - the gospel will be taught and sinners will be converted.
     It may well be that the best personal work program that a church can develop is to set about to restore that genuine joy of salvation to its membership by building them up in the faith through teaching.                                                   
---Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
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