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Archive for February, 2021

BLESSED is the young person who is friendly, considerate, and loving toward persons with whom he or she comes into contact – whether or not these attitudes are reciprocated.

BLESSED is the young person who has a healthy sense of humor, for this attitude has the capacity to not only put joy in the heart and a smile upon the face of the persons he or she meets, but will also serve as a shock absorber for themselves later on when they encounter life’s pressures and problems as adults.

BLESSED is the young person who respects and follows the advice given by his or her Christian parents and obeys them “in the Lord”, realizing how many young people there are in today’s world who do not have Christian parents to teach them or to set a good example for them to follow.

BLESSED is the young person who is dedicated to the goal of serving others, for he or she knows: (1) That service is primarily love in work clothes; (2) That the roots of happiness grow deepest in the soil of service; and (3) That selfishness tarnishes everything it touches.

BLESSED is the young person who knows the difference between love and lust, for he or she knows that life should be about far more than the gratification of the immediate moment, and that it will be easier to look back later upon happy and wholesome relationships than upon the bad results of a one night stand.

BLESSED is the young person who seeks and works hard to be mentally sharp, morally clean, and strongly committed to the goal of having a positive influence on others, for it is better to be leaven that impacts others in a positive way than to allow the world to squeeze you into its counterproductive mold.

BLESSED is the young person who is wise enough to set worthy goals in life, knowing that this may involve many years of patient preparation and study, and that the greatest danger in life is not to aim too high and miss it, but to aim too low and reach it.

BLESSED is the young person who in his or her daily life is committed to live by the Golden Rule rather than choose to be ruled by the lure of gold.

BLESSED is the young person who loves and is genuinely grateful for life’s blessings, one of which is the teachers who have tried to prepare him or her for the challenges that will be faced in the years ahead.

BLESSED is the young person who loves and serves God rather than other gods, people rather than possessions, and principles rather than pleasure – for the world desperately needs and cannot get too many individuals who fit this description.

BLESSED is the young person who chooses a worthy vocation in life and recognizes the importance of honoring God and serving others through that vocation.

BLESSED is the young person who accepts Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord, falls in love with the right person, gets married, and establishes a dedicated Christian home.

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Several years ago a member of the church I was serving as pastor had not been present for worship in several months. Following work each week he would drive to the coast to fish from an ocean pier. When I tried to emphasize the importance of worship, he said, “I don’t have to be in church to worship. I can worship God when I am fishing on a pier.”

I replied, “You are right. You don’t have to be in church with fellow Christians on Sunday morning to worship. You can worship God anywhere – even while fishing on a pier – by the way, do you?” He didn’t answer. Actually, his lack of answer was an answer in itself.

So, what is worship? The word worship comes from the Saxon word worthscype, which later became worthship. To worship God is to ascribe proper worth to Him, to magnify His worthiness through praise, or better, to approach and address God as One who is worthy. As the Holy and Almighty God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe, the Sovereign Judge to whom we must all give an account, He is worthy of all the worth and honor we can give Him.

In Revelation 4:11 those around the throne of God address Him as being “worthy” of many things. In Revelation 4:8 we are told that the four creatures around the throne worship God day and night without ceasing with “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Then in verse 11 the twenty-four elders around the throne of God in heaven are said to worship Him by casting their crowns at His feet, falling down before Him, and saying, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

In the next chapter, thousands and thousands of angels, elders, and living creatures around the heavenly throne of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, cry out with a loud voice in worship, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise” (5:12). Immediately following comes worship from every created thing saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (5:13).

The more a person focuses on God, the more he or she will understand and appreciate how worthy God is. As we understand and appreciate worthiness, we cannot help but respond to Him. Just as sitting before an indescribable sunset or a breathtaking mountaintop vista evokes a spontaneous response, so we cannot encounter the worthiness of God without the response of genuine worship.

One might ask, “How does God reveal Himself to us that we might worship Him?” First of all, through creation, (see Romans 1:20). When I ran on the undefeated cross country team for Mercer University in 1950 I would often go out at night to a secluded spot on our cross country route for private worship that was far from the noise of traffic. There I would lift my eyes and look up at the billions of stars in the heavens, letting my soul soak up the beauty and majesty of God’s vast creation. You may have had or currently have such a treasured private place for personal worship.

Second, God flawlessly reveals Himself through His Holy Word, the Bible. Through the pages of the written Word we are led into the presence of the Living Word, Jesus Christ. If you know Him you already have in your heart the Holy Spirit, referred to in John 14:17 as “the Spirit of truth.” Without Him true worship will not and cannot happen.

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Greg Laurie tells the story of a pastor who was teaching a Sunday School class dealing with marriage who asked this question, “Can anyone think of a Bible verse about being married?” 

A little boy raised his hand, and when the pastor called for his answer he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Sadly, this verse describes a lot of families today. A marriage begins to have problems when the husband and wife buy into the old adage that says, “Marriage is like a three-ring circus: engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering.” This unhappy description does not have to be true of any marriage. Every household can be a place where happiness lives – if those who live there do things God’s way.

Ephesians 5 lists five principles for marriage which, if applied, not only will strengthen any marriage, but also can help it flourish:

Principle one: turn on the light (verse 13). If we need to find something on the floor in a dark room, we turn on the light. The light helps us to easily find it. It was there the entire time, but we couldn’t see it. Psalm 119:05 says, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path.” When you bring your marriage into the light of Scripture, you see how important it is to conform to what God says. Guidance is given. Strength is provided to face the difficult problems that inevitably must be faced in any marriage.

Principle two: wake up (verse 14). This verse reminds us that we cannot sleepwalk through life or through marriage. It opens our eyes to the fact that the culture in which we live is not a friend of marriage and the family. In fact, it seeks to redefine those terms. Satan will do everything he can to destroy your family.

Principle three: walk circumspectly (verse 15). The word “circumspectly” refers to that which is accurate and exact. It is the idea of examining or investigating something with great care. Walking circumspectly in marriage doesn’t happen as the result of mere chance or luck. It is the result of hard work, commitment, and attention to detail. The end result is worth the effort expended.

Principle four: use time wisely (verse 16). One of the easiest things to do is to waste time, to not use it wisely and profitably. The wise use of time requires prioritizing. Time lost can never be regained.

Principle five: Be filled with the Spirit (verse 18). Anyone who looks at these five principles will see that they require conscious effort. But they also make it very clear we cannot be what God wants us to be without the help of His Spirit. To be filled with the Spirit is to have the mind of Christ. It carries the idea of wind filling a sail. Rowing the boat in marriage is work. It is easier when it is aided by God’s Spirit.

In the Yosemite National Park there is a giant redwood tree approximately 40 feet in diameter that has a sign at its base which reads: “The Faithful Couple.” It looks like a single tree, not two. Fifteen hundred years ago, two trees sprouted as seedlings on the forest floor about 15 feet apart. For several hundred years the two trees grew larger and larger until their trunks touched and began fusing together into a single tree. Through the centuries these two trees have become one tree until today they are known as “the Faithful Couple.”

What a perfect symbol of a godly marriage that knows the oneness of Christ! As two people sink their roots deep into mutually following Christ, studying His Word, responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and bearing faithful witness through their family to others, they grow together to become one – a faithful couple.

Is this a picture of your marriage? If not, it can be. The ball is in your court.

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Troubles and difficulties are a necessary part of life. It is human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives. Worrying about them is not abnormal, but it is a lot like sitting in a rocking chair – it will keep you in constant motion, but it will never get you anywhere. Even so, there are a lot of valuable things we can learn from the times we worry. I like the way the poet Robert Hamilton expressed this thought:

“I walked a mile with sorrow
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.”

Worry has been described as the great American disease. It causes much unhappiness and is one of the least productive ways to spend time. It can impair your appetite, disturb your sleep, irritate your disposition, and put a frown on your face. There is a huge difference between thinking about your problems and worrying about them.

To worry about genuinely difficult things is bad enough, but worrying about those that are non-existent is a needless waste of time and energy. Mark Twain once said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” To worry about things that may never occur is to lose faith in life.

It has been mathematically calculated that 40% of things we worry about will never materialize, 30% deal with old decisions which cannot be changed, 12% focus on criticism that is mostly untrue, 10% deal with our health which only worsens when we worry, and only 8% of them are legitimate. This does not mean that life has no real problems that need to be met head-on with wisdom and determination.

It is God’s plan for us to learn and progress. Troubles are a part of our earthly schooling. The anticipation of trouble is often the cause of what we consider to be our greatest difficulties. As stated earlier, troubles and difficulties are a normal part of life, but worrying about them is what paralyzes our thought and action. So, what should we do?

The place to begin is to cast our care on the One who cares for us. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Not to accept Christ’s offer simply means that we are either not ready to stop being miserable or that we do not trust Him to do what He says He will do.

Faith is a powerful force that cannot be conquered. Another powerful force is prayer. We don’t have to explain our problems to God. We can turn them over to Him and trust Him to help us. Charles F. Deems expresses it this way:

“The world is wide
In time and tide,
Then do not hurry.
That man is blest
Who does his best
And leaves the rest.
Then – do not worry.”

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