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Archive for October, 2017

W.J Jeffers tells us in his book New Horizons, “There are two days in the week about which I never worry – yesterday and tomorrow. Yesterday, with its mistakes and blunders, has passed forever beyond recall. I cannot undo any act that I wrought. I cannot unsay a word that I said. All that it holds of my life is in the hands of God. Tomorrow, with all its possible adversities, burdens, failures, and mistakes is as far beyond my reach as its dead sister – yesterday. There is left for me one day of the week – today.”

Lots of people in today’s world do not know how to wisely use yesterday, today, and tomorrow – and they suffer what is called a nervous breakdown. Realizing this, J.L. Glass a few years ago penned an article titled, “Five Ways to Have a Nervous Breakdown.” His list, with my comments added, is as follows:

  1. Try to figure out the answer before the problem arises. This is like trying to cross a bridge that has never been built because it is unnecessary. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, said, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). Focusing on what may happen tomorrow needlessly doubles the load you are carrying today.
  2. Try to relive the past. If we can learn to trust God with our tomorrows, we can also learn to trust Him to help us move beyond the things that happened in our yesterdays. Focusing constantly upon yesterday’s sins and/or mistakes fails to realize that, when we have confessed them, God has totally forgiven them (I John 1:9). If God has forgiven them, we don’t have to carry them around any longer.
  3. Try to avoid making decisions. Avoiding the necessity for making decisions is like allowing weeds to grow in our garden. While we are not deciding, the weeds are growing. Putting off making decisions does not change the fact that they must be made. Both success and failure in our lives often depends on making the right decision. The capacity to make choices is our most godlike characteristic.
  4. Demand more of yourself than you can produce. Making unrealistic demands of yourself is like beating your head against a stone wall. You don’t change the wall; you only damage your head. God created human beings in such a way that we need one day in seven for rest. Workaholics would work eight days out of seven if that were possible. Making this mistake can lead to a nervous breakdown.
  5. Believe everything Satan tells you. Jesus described Satan as “the father of lies” (John 8:44). The Bible describes him as a master of disguise, masquerading as an angel of light. He will always paint a pretty picture of the things you should do, the goals you should pursue, the habits you should adopt, the places you should go, the groups you should join, the ways you can have fun, etc. But what he doesn’t tell you is the eternal price you have to pay if you are foolish enough to follow his advice.

An anonymous poet offers the following wise counsel:

“Just for today, Lord,

Tomorrow is not mine;

Just for today I ask Thee

For light and health divine;

Tomorrow’s care I must not bear,

The future is all Thine”

 

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“What is so special about Jesus that I should worship Him?” This is the question often asked by those who do not believe in the existence of God. How Christians answer it is extremely important. Merely quoting various creedal statements will not impress those who do not believe. We must share what we personally know about Jesus Christ as the result of having a personal relationship with Him.

Daniel Poling, one of America’s great preachers in the mid-twentieth century went home from church one Sunday night and his twelve-year-old son came up to him and said, “Daddy, I want to make an appointment with you. I’ve got something I want to talk to you about.” His dad responded by saying, “I’ll be glad to talk to you any time. How about talking now?”

The son replied, “No, I want to make an appointment in your office like everybody else does.” So, Poling set the appointment for the following afternoon at three o’clock. The following afternoon when his son arrived in his office at the church, he said, “Daddy, when you preach on Sundays you are always telling the people what different theologians say about God, and what various other people whom you know say about God, but daddy, I want to know what you know about God.” It was a great question!

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, referred to Christians as “those who have turned the world upside down.” It was said of Christians that “they out-thought, out-lived, and out-died all others in their day.” They made that kind of impact upon the first century world because they had a dynamic personal relationship with God. If this had not been true, Christianity would have been only a blip on one page of history.

If you think of yourself as a Christian, what do you personally know about God? Do you have fellowship with Him every day wherever you are? It is not enough to say, “Well, I’m a church member” . . . “I have been baptized” . . . “I read my Bible and pray daily” . . . “I tithe my income” . . . “I attend Sunday School.” These things are commendable, but what do you genuinely and personally know about God?

The Screen Actors Guild in Hollywood several years ago scheduled an acting contest. The contestants were asked to quote the Twenty-Third Psalm. An older, mature, and experienced actor quoted it with all the proper inflections. He was dramatic in all the right places. When he had finished, everyone broke out with applause. A young actor, who was a committed Christian, then stood to quote the psalm. When he finished, there was such a spirit of reverence in the room that no one spoke a word. The experienced actor had quoted the Twenty-Third Psalm from his head, but the younger actor quoted it from his heart. The older actor knew the Shepherd Psalm, but the young actor knew the Shepherd.

The best argument a Christian can use in winning another person to Christ is the argument of personal experience. Several years ago one of our deacons asked me to go with him to witness to his alcoholic neighbor who was not a Christian. The man said to the deacon, “You dare talk to me about changing my life and becoming a Christian – as much liquor as you and I have drunk together?” The deacon replied, “What you say is true, but a change has taken place in my life. I’ve come to tell you how that change happened.”

Millions of people in our world do not yet know the truth found in the four New Testament gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In order that they might know and be transformed by the truth they contain, God has chosen to use a fifth gospel: the gospel according to you. So, what is the gospel according to you?

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If you attend church regularly, what is your motive for doing so? It is a good question! Perhaps it is because your entire family attended church when you were young, and it developed into a habit. But is it more than a habit? Hopefully, it is because you have a strong desire to join your Christian brothers and sisters in the act of corporate worship. As someone once said, “If you expect to answer when the roll is called up yonder, you should be willing to answer more than just on Easter Sunday when the roll is called down here.”

The building we call the church is just the place where the church, which is a body of believers, gathers on a regular basis to worship and sing praise to God. Perhaps you have heard a minister on Sunday pray, “O Lord, as we come into your presence….” Does that mean that God can only be found inside a church building? Absolutely not! He can be found and worshiped anywhere and everywhere. You may try to run from God, but you will never be able to go anywhere that He is not present.

We live in a world where people disappear from one another. Spouses leave a marriage and disappear. Children are kidnapped forever. Some people change their name and start a new life. Our government provides a witness protection program and gives those who testify against powerful crime figures a new life and identity. It is as though the earth swallowed them up. But no one disappears from God.

King David reminds us in Psalm 139:7, “I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God!” God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all of heaven and earth?” (Jeremiah 23:24). It is not easy for humans to understand these concepts. Wherever we go, God will be there. It is easy for people to think of God as being present only in certain places – like churches.

This is illustrated beautifully in a single Bible verse found in II Kings. Naaman, who was the Syrian commander in chief, held a powerful position – but he had leprosy. A small Israelite maid had been captured in a raid inside Israel and made to serve Naaman’s wife in Syria. She told Naaman that Israel had a prophet by the name of Elisha who could heal his leprosy. Naaman traveled to Israel and presented himself to Elisha. He followed Elisha’s advice, was cured of leprosy, and accepted Israel’s God as his own.

This is where the story gets even more interesting. Before Naaman left to go back to Syria he requested that he be given two mule loads of dirt to carry back to Syria on which he could build an altar to worship Israel’s God (II Kings 5:17). It was common in that day to believe that each nation had its own god. To leave one nation and go to another was to leave one god for another. Hence, if Naaman was to worship Jehovah God in Syria, he thought he must take some soil from Israel with him on which to build an altar.

To us this appears extremely naïve. To people of that day, however, it had definite meaning. The request demonstrated Naaman’s sincerity. It tells us that his faith was genuine, even if he did not understand that God could be worshiped anywhere. How like Naaman some Christians are today to believe they must go to the building where the church family is gathered in order to worship God. May we never lose a sense of appreciation for the importance of worship that takes place on Sunday in the church building.

However, let us never forget that when we are at work, or at home, or driving down the highway, or facing a sunrise or sunset, we can erect an altar where we are, lift our eyes toward heaven, and worship God. And we don’t have to have two mule loads of dirt from Jerusalem in order to do that.

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The incident described in Mark 5:25-34 could be called “A study in elbows and fingertips.” Jesus is in a huge crowd of people. Shoulders were bumping Him. Elbows were prodding Him as people pushed their way close enough to see Him, to hear Him, and perhaps even to see Him perform a miracle.

Suddenly, in the midst of all that milling, jostling throng, Jesus felt a soft touch at the hem of His garment. He felt power go out from His body. Turning around to the crowd, He asked, “Who touched my clothes?” His disciples thought He must be joking, for so many had rubbed elbows with him while walking down the street. Jesus kept looking into the faces of the people until He saw a woman standing nearby, embarrassed because the spotlight of attention was falling on her.

She knew she could not remain silent, so she spoke up, admitting that indeed it had been she who had touched His garment. Then, she went on to explain that she had been hemorrhaging and had lost a lot of blood. She had spent all of her money on doctor’s bills, but she was not getting any better. .Thinking, “If Jesus cannot help me, no one can,” she reached out and touched the hem of His garment.

I can imagine that many of the people who were in that crowd went home that day thinking, “I rubbed elbows with Jesus all the way down the street, and nothing happened to me. A very sick woman reached out from behind Him and touched just the hem of the garment, and she was healed. What made the difference in the way those in the crowd touched Jesus and the way she touched Him?” It is an important question:

First of all, the woman touched Jesus out of a sense of her need, while the crowd only rubbed elbows with Him as they walked down the street. She had been hemorrhaging for a long time. The Talmud (the Jewish Commentary on the Law) gives no fewer than eleven cures for the kind of trouble she had. Some of them were sheer superstitions like carrying the ashes of an ostrich egg in a linen rag in summer and in a cotton rag during the winter, or carrying around a grain of barley which had been found in the dung hill of a white female donkey. If she had been trying such absurd remedies, no wonder she was growing weaker and weaker. No wonder she felt that Jesus of Nazareth was her only hope to be healed.

Second, the woman touched Jesus in a spirit of reverence. Surely it was not out of a spirit of fear that she touched Him. If He were the Messiah, one would not rush unthinkingly into His presence. If one touched Him at all, it should be with an attitude of deep reverence. In many of our churches I fear we have lost our sense of reverence. Every time we enter into worship with our fellow Christians we should do so out of a sense of need and with reverence, strongly believing that God will bless us. This is vitally important because He is the One who judges our sins. He is the One whose forgiveness we seek.

Every time God’s people catch a vision of His glory through worship, He will make Himself strongly present. It is when we join others in sincere worship, expecting great things to happen, that God’s presence and power are felt and our lives are made whole. It happens because we, like the woman described in Mark 5:25-34, have reached out to touch the hem of Christ’s garment with the fingertips of faith.

The way to be healed of infirmities is to go to the source of healing — Jesus Christ. How about your life? Is it empty of meaning? If so, why not reach out to touch the hem of the Savior’s garment? It is the only way you can be healed, and forgiven, and cleansed, and transformed.

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