Know Your Bible

VOL. 6                           January 6, 2008                           NO. 50

Where Will I Be In Another Year?

    With the end of a calendar year there is always a tendency to look back and to look forward. Evaluations are made in regards to our financial status, our career pursuits, and other important matters. Surely it is appropriate to evaluate our spiritual welfare.

    Ask yourself this simple question: If I keep doing what I am presently doing, where will I be in another year? Will I be a stronger Christian because I am doing things that will help me grow in Christ (2 Pet. 3:18)? Or, will I be weaker as a result of continuing to ignore the most important things in life? Will I be a better Bible student? Will my knowledge of the Word have increased through regular and consistent study? Or, will I still be only wishing that I knew my Bible better?

    Will I have brought any lost soul to the Lord through a committed effort to teach others? Will I have invited folks to visit the assemblies, or encouraged them to have a private Bible study? Or, will I only be giving lip-service to the whole notion of personal work?

    Will I improve in my ability to react to life's provocations in a godly and controlled manner? Will I be displaying more of the "divine nature" (2 Pet. 1:4) as I deal with people and problems? Or, will I still be easily provoked and often fail as trials and temptations are placed before me?

    Will I have broken that "bad habit" that has nagged me for so long? Or, will I still be offering lame excuses and trying to convince myself that "I can't"?

    Will my example be stronger? Will others begin to recognize dependability in me? Will I be constantly striving to do all I can as a disciple (1 Cor. 15:58)? Or, will I be counted as only a "lukewarm" Christian (Rev. 3:15-17)?

    If I keep doing what I'm presently doing, where will I be in another year? Or, more to the point, where will I be in eternity? Think!

---Greg Gwin

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WHAT ARE WE EXPECTING

FROM OUR PRAYERS?

    We pray because prayer works! James writes, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much" (5:16). If God never listened, or if God never answered our prayers "Yes," then why pray? There would be no motive to pray. We would say, "It just doesn't do any good." But we know better. All of us can be thankful for the numerous prayers answered in our lives. Prayer works! God is moved by the prayers of His people.

    I wrote in the March issue of Biblical Insights about meeting someone whose business was struggling and they needed to sell some equipment to survive. They asked me to pray that someone would buy their used equipment and thus save their business from impending financial disaster.

    It gives rise to this important question, What are we expecting from our prayers? The simple answer would be, "We are expecting God to answer them." Thus, we pray in faith that He will respond.

    Sometimes, however, I feel that some look at prayer as the "magical fix all" to our problems. We make a mess of our marriage and then in desperation pray about our home and think God will now make it right. We mess up our health by poor eating habits and a lack of exercise and then lay in a hospital bed praying for our health to return. We think the church will grow just because "we have prayed for that."

    It seems that in all of this, we are expecting God to right all the wrongs, fix all the mistakes, and make everything fine simply because we have prayed about it. Now this is not questioning the power of God but it is essential that we understand our roles and responsibilities and our need to work with Him.

    We Find Ourselves In A Mess Financially: -- because we spend instead of saving. It will take more than words to right the wrongs of unwise decisions.

    We Find Ourselves In A Troubled Marriage: -- because of gossiping, nagging, dishonesty, and negativity. A change of hearts and a renewed dedication are essential to turning that relationship around. God will not "fix it" without the cooperation of those "in it."

    We Find Ourselves In A Stagnant Church: -- because of indifference. Such a church cannot grow by the members merely saying a prayer and then waiting with arms folded for something to happen. Obviously, God expects cooperation from us.

    Whether financial or familial, are we to expect that all one has to do to fix the mess is pray and everything will be fine? Absolutely not! There are consequences to our choices and responsibilities that rest upon our shoulders. God will do His part but ... we must do ours!

---Roger Shouse

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"Let Me First . . ."

    On one occasion Christ heard these words, "I will follow thee, but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house" (Luke 9:61). Some say, when confronted with the passionate pleas of the Gospel, "Let me first get my education, a better job, a home, a new automobile, and the other necessary things of life." These folks have a place for Christ in their lives --- second place! They seem convinced that material security will somehow prepare them to follow Christ. Such a perception fails to grasp the meaning of Christ's words: "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth" (Luke 12:15). So many have actually reversed the saying of Christ and are seeking first the wealth of the world thinking the kingdom of God will be added unto them. To gain the entire world and to lose Christ is to lose all.

    There is nothing wrong with having a good education, a better job, a home, a new or better car. The harm is in allowing these things to take precedence over the things of God's kingdom. What is first in your life? Is it money, pleasure, education, or is it Christ Jesus?

---Michael W. McLemore

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