Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           January 2, 2011                           NO. 1

 Everyone's Talking
     Never before in the history of man has the ability to communicate been as integral a part of society than now. Cell phones have opened up the air ways with endless hours of conversation all over the world. Rarely can you find someone that does not have a cell phone to their ear. Young and old, in the automobile, shopping, at the beach, in restaurants, jogging, at dinner tables the nonstop verbiage flow unabated. Texting is a societal norm almost required for relationships. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and a host of methods are employed to keep in contact with updates, news, notes and “hello how are you doing” with unceasing control over our time and relationships.
     Everyone is talking so why are we not a closer people? The lack of communication has always been at the root of relationship problems, lack of knowledge and confusion. Yet with all the talking going on the conversations do not draw us closer but farther apart. Signs are placed in windows and counters telling people to not talk on cell phones while doing business. ‘Reception rage’ happens when we lose our signal or cannot call with our cell phone. All this talking seems to be driving us mad.
     It has been said the reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is so that we can listen more than we talk. James writes, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). A rabbinical adage says, “Talk little and work much.” Albert Barnes noted on James 1:19, “The ancients have some sayings on this subject which are well worthy of our attention. ‘Men have two ears, and but one tongue, that they should hear more than they speak.’ ‘The ears are always open, ever ready to receive instruction; but the tongue is surrounded with a double row of teeth, to hedge it in, and to keep it within proper bounds.”
     Paul described the process of faith as “hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). This involves time to listen, meditate and contemplate the mind of God. If we talked with God through prayer and supplication as much as we spent time on the cell phone and Facebook postings our lives would be filled with the Lord on every hand. We have become people as described by Paul quoting the prophet Isaiah: “Go to this people and say: ‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you will see, and not perceive; for the hearts of this people have grown dull. their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them’” (Acts 28:26-27).
     Everyone is talking but few are listening. Everyone is glued to their cell phones with every app imaginable to fill their days with technological futility and waste. “This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:15-17). Wisdom from above comes from “all scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). “Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine … Meditate on these things” (See 1 Timothy 4:13-16).
---Kent Heaton  
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Examples For Our Learning
       "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come"(1 Cor. 10:11).
       One might write about the extremes in a society which has turned its back on God, but then, the Old Testament is filled with such cases. As they say, folks should not expect to learn every lesson the hard way -- life is just too short -- so, we have to learn from the mistakes of others.
       The folks of Noah's day, had no regard for marriage, engendered violence, and continually entertained ungodly thoughts. God was revolted and regretted creating man. (Gen. 6:1-6). Consider the problems of today -- shallow marriages, winking at violence, outrageous media -- and you would think that Gen. 6, was written for us! (2 Pet. 2:4-9).
       One of the outstanding kings of Judah was the young king Josiah, who restored Jerusalem, the temple, and the nation to what God had in mind for them. He "defiled" the altars, shrines, and priesthoods of those who worshiped everything and anything but the God of heaven. He tore them down, including "the ritual booths of the perverted persons that were in the house of the Lord" (2 Kgs. 23:7). The footnote in the NKJV explains: "Hebrew qedeshim, those practicing sodomy and prostitution in ritious rituals"--this activity in the temple built specifically to worship Jehovah!
       We are not told what manipulators were used to justify such godless activities, but today perversions come when folks cannot distinguish the difference between rights, such as freedom of religion, and religious truths, such as the Bible's teaching about the one true God. Forsake duty to God, and, who knows, you might end up with homosexuals in the churches, even leading in the worship services, shrines of Mohammed at Ground Zero, or some other thing diametrically opposed to reason and Bible teaching.  
       Folks in every age, without God, are like the Ninevites: "Persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left" (Jonah 4:11). That's quite a blind spot in one's life.
       The first murder in the Bible was the result of two different approaches to worship, (Gen. 4). On this occasion, God accepted Abel's offering, but refused Cain's. God tried to reason with Cain: "If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it" (vs. 7). But it was after this admonition that Cain rose up and slew his brother.
       Now, we might say that Abel lived under religious oppression, having to do exactly what God required of him to the letter. But it was Cain that became the murderer and arose and killed his brother, seemingly out of envy. Cain represented about twenty-five percent of the world's population.  Surely, Abel would have been glad to sit down with Cain and reason with him about how he might have an acceptable offering before the Lord (Heb. 11:4). But some folks are simply unreasonable, when called upon to discuss differences in religious practices, (2 Thes. 3:2). Today's  worshipers would do well to remember that fact, and get on with the business of discussing Scriptural worship with anyone and everyone who is sincere about pleasing God. For Christians, the power of salvation is the gospel of Christ (Rom. 1:16,17), and the power of the sword belongs to Caesar (Rom. 13).
       For those who would rather talk politics than religion, the particulars of worship have been an issue ever since Abel offered his "firstlings of the flock, and of the fat thereof." The death of Aaron's sons for their error at the initiation of Moses' law was a lesson for all generations (Lev. 10:1-3). The reforms of Josiah were to turn the hearts of the worshipers to God (2 Kgs. 23:25). Malachi warned the Jews that  God would not have their begrudging worship.  (Mal. chapters 1 and 2). 
       In the New Testament, misuse of the Lord's Supper, confusion in the teaching exercises, sin in the congregation, and lukewarmness were all condemned as that which makes worship a curse rather than a blessing. 
       Jesus talked about those who had beams in their own eyes while trying to remove the specks from the eyes of others. We would not dream of Cain, Noah's contemporaries, the perverts of Josiah's day, or the Jews who put Christ on the cross help us with our worship problems. Neither would we invite atheists or our Muslem friends to help us to grow closer to our God. But there are legitimate concerns for just how to become a Christian, the kind of worship to be offered, and spiritual and moral acceptability.
       Attendance of worship services is necessary (Heb. 10:25). Moral purity is required (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Misguided worship can be, "not for the better, but for the worse" (1 Cor. 11:17). Such discussions are not on the news every night, but they will determine the destiny of souls.
       The Apostle Peter put it this way:  "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?  Now, if the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Pet. 4:17,18).
       Let us not be diverted from the pertinent issues of Scriptural and moral service to our God.
---Adapted form an article by George Hutto
in Tidings, Vol. 24, No. 8, Aug. 2010
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 U.S. Census Bureau data showed that traditional experiences of marriage and family are changing to favor co-habitation and unwedded families. More than half of single adult respondents reported that they lived with, and in some cases are still living with, a partner. Among unmarried parents cohabitating with their partners, 62 percent believed marriage was obsolete . . . a study by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute reveals that 55 percent of America teenagers are living in non-traditional family structures marred by divorce, separation or unmarried parents.

---via The Christian Post, 12/16/10
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