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What event produced the greatest stress in your life today? Was it this past week? Have there been times when you felt overloaded with responsibilities at home, work, school, church or all of the above? Trying to make your money last until payday? Running late for an appointment? Are you facing unexpected car repair or medical expenses?

Each of these stress producers have to do with either time or money – or both. Think of how many day-to-day issues involve the use of one of these two. The clock and the dollar are such substantial factors in so many parts of life that their role must be considered in any serious discussion of anyone who would live a dedicated Christian life.

At the end of His earthly life Jesus was able to pray to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). As with Jesus, God gives to every person the gifts of time and work. The more we are like Jesus, the more we will understand why the disciplined use of the time that God gives us is so important. The following are good biblical reasons why every Christian should seek to use time wisely:

The days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). Our thoughts must be disciplined; otherwise, like water, they tend to flow downhill or stand stagnant. Our bodies are inclined to pleasure, gluttony and sloth. Unless we practice self-control, our bodies will tend to serve evil more than to serve God.

Wise use of time is preparation for eternity. The decisions we make and the actions they foster depend on our use of time. Just as a small rudder determines the direction of a great ocean liner, even so that which we do in the context of time prepares us for eternity. When we kill time, we should remember that it has no resurrection.

Time is short. The scarcer something is, the more valuable it is. Gold and diamonds would be worthless if you could pick them up like grains of sand along the seashore. Since we are never more than one breath away from eternity, the way we use our time has eternal significance. Even the longest life is brief in comparison to eternity.

Time is passing. We speak of saving time, buying time, making up time, and so on, but those are illusions, for time is always passing. It is difficult to live in the present, ridiculous to try to live in the future and impossible to live in the past. Nothing is farther away than one minute ago. That is why lost time can never be found again.

The time we have left is uncertain. Not only is time short and uncertain, but we have no idea how much of it we have left or how quickly it will pass. We read in Proverbs 27:1 these words: Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth. Multiplied thousands of people have entered eternity in the last 24 hours who had absolutely no idea yesterday that they were living their last day on earth. One of them could have been you.

We are accountable to God for our use of time. There is hardly a more sobering thought than is found in Romans 14:12 – “So, then, each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” Notice that it says “each of us,” not “some of us.” Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:26). That is a sobering thought.

Time’s greatest value is in terms of eternity. If we are to face any regrets in heaven, they will probably be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for personal growth in His grace. The English pastor-theologian Richard Baxter asked, “Doth it not tear their very hearts forever, to think themselves wise who are idling or playing away their time on earth.”

Remember this: “Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; only today is negotiable. Spend it wisely.”

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My mother was a good cook, and my wife was a good cook. Why should I learn to cook if good food is always prepared and available to me? For more than 80 years all I had to do to be fed like a king was to put my knees under the table and say, “Bring it on!” That is a pretty good arrangement, wouldn’t you say?

When my wife died on April 5, 2016, I knew that I had to make a different arrangement in order to eat well. I no longer had a cook in the house. Could I learn to cook? I decided that I would give it a first-class effort. My problem was that I knew how to cook absolutely nothing more complicated than a scrambled egg.

My next decision was to go to the grocery to purchase five or six meals that are fully prepared, bring them home, cook them in the microwave or oven and rotate them. Cooking food from scratch is above my pay grade. All I have to do is to put each recipe in the microwave or oven for the required amount of time and wait for it to be ready. Then I sit down at the table, say the blessing, and tell myself, “Man, I’m a good cook!”

In addition to putting fully cooked meals in the microwave and oven I have one other blessing. My daughter, who lives only four miles away, is a gourmet cook. Every Sunday night, and occasionally on other occasions, I am invited to put my knees under her table. She even sends me home with delicacies that are adequate for at least two or three additional meals. That is what I call a recipe for happiness.

There are lots of things called recipes, however, that don’t involve food. Since we are at the beginning of a New Year, there was a “Happy New Year Recipe” printed in the May 1964 issue of the Christian Herald. I saved it so that I could share it with others, and this is a good time. I recommend it to you as we enter 2022:

“Take 12 fine, full-grown months. See that they are completely free from all memory of bitterness, rancor, hate and jealousy. Cleanse them of every clinging spite. Kick off all specks of pettiness and littleness. Once they are fresh and clean as when they first came into the storehouse of time, cut into 30 or 31 equal parts. This batch will keep for just one month. Do not attempt to make up the whole batch at one time; for it may spoil. Prepare one day at a time, as follows:

“Into each day put 12 parts of faith, 11 parts of patience, 10 parts of courage, and 9 parts of work (some people omit this ingredient and spoil the rest).

“Add 8 parts of hope, 7 of fidelity, 6 of liberty, 5 of kindness and 4 of rest (Leaving this part out is like leaving oil out of salad – don’t do it).

“Put in three parts of prayer, 2 of meditation, and 1 well-chosen resolution.

“Finish off with about a tablespoon of good spirits, a dash of fun, a sprinkling of play and a heaping cupful of good humor.

“Pour over the whole a liberal amount of love and mix with vim.

“Cook thoroughly in fervent heat, garnish with a few smiles and add a sprig of joy. Then serve with quietness, unselfishness and cheerfulness, and a happy new year is a certainty.”

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During the 1818 Christmas season in Oberndorf, a tiny town in the beautiful Austrian Alps, Reverend Josef Mohr, the 26-year-old assistant pastor of St. Nicholas Church, wrote a poem celebrating the glory of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Mohr brought the poem to Franz Gruber, the church organist, and requested that the musician set the words to music. That Christmas Eve, Gruber and Mohr sang their melody accompanied by guitar, little dreaming that this song would become very likely the greatest Christmas carol of them all: “Silent Night! Holy Night!” It would be difficult to go through the Christmas season without singing and/or hearing this carol.

It is tragic, but also true, that many of the nights in much of the world today are neither silent nor holy. Nations are divided by racial, political, economic, religious and social turmoil. A very dark cloud currently looms on the world’s horizon that has the potential to threaten catastrophic damage or the end to civilization. Terrorist organizations are growing in size and number. Newspaper headlines and television newscasts regularly scream of new dangers somewhere in the world. Newscasts have even mentioned the fact that some believe we could be on the front doorsteps of World War III.

Jesus spoke of a time in the future when men would “faint from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world” (Luke 22:26). We could be living in the time that Jesus described as “the last days.” There can be little doubt that the world today is more dangerous than it has ever been. Silent Night! Holy Night! seems to many only a false hope in the face of today’s reality.

Make an imaginary journey back to that first Christmas when the little band of weary shepherds had settled down to sleep on the cold, rocky ground outside Bethlehem. They likely thought it would be a night no different than thousands of others they had experienced. But God had other plans for them and for the world. This was the night when God Himself would physically enter our world as the child of a young virgin.

Luke expresses it this way: “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them: and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord‘” (Luke 2:9-11 NEB).

Imagine that you were one of those shepherds on that historic night. Can you not feel the fear that gripped their hearts? One translation says, “They were terror-stricken” (Luke 2:9, Phillips). Not knowing initially what was happening, fear was an understandable emotion.

Four times the shepherds were told by the angels not to be afraid. Zacharias, an elderly man and Joseph, betrothed to Mary, were told by the angels not to fear. Mary was also told not to be afraid.

Fear not” is still one of the messages that God gives to those who accept His Son as Savior and Lord. We humans are often gripped and enslaved by fears of different kinds: those caused by loneliness, those when told we or a loved one is facing a terminal illness and those that present us with challenges we are not prepared to meet. Multitudes of people are especially afraid to die. Christ is the answer to all these fears.

That first Christmas was only the beginning for the Christ child. On the distant horizon was a Roman cross. And beyond that cross was the empty tomb. Christ came into our world to take away not only our sin, but also our fears. When we realize that God’s Son has taken the penalty for our sins upon Himself, making it possible for us to be reconciled to God, we do not need to be paralyzed any longer by the fear of dying.

Even in a world where turmoil and strife are commonplace, and where countless dangers lurk around almost every corner, we can know what it means to experience the meaning of “Silent Night, Holy Night” in our heart. We can experience what God’s Word calls “the peace of God which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7 NEB).

It happens the moment you accept Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord. If you have not yet done that, there is no better time than today.

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What troubles you the most? And how do you handle trouble when it knocks on your front door?

Murphy’s Law says, “If anything can go wrong, it will.” And O’Toole’s Law says that Murphy was an optimist. Obviously both Murphy and O’Toole were pessimists. When you see only the dark side of life you are not likely to handle trouble very well.

The Bible teaches that Christians live in a fallen world and among a fallen race. We should, therefore, expect that life will not always be smooth. The only trouble-free world in which we will ever live will be our home in heaven (Revelation 21:3-5).

As the book of Job expressed life on planet earth, “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). More pointedly Christ warned His disciples, “In the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33).

No one is immune to the possibility of facing trouble – certainly not Christians. We, like everyone else, have difficulty with health, careers, children, parents, friends, neighbors, enemies, finances, automobiles, houses, plans, dreams and an endless number of other things that find their way onto the landscape of our lives.

Trouble comes from the fact that people lie, cheat, steal, gossip, covet and sow discord. People are also envious, jealous, angry and encounter expectations up to which no one can live. Rare is the person who has not been wounded in one way or another as a result of facing problems caused by one or more of these human frailties.

We not only live in an imperfect world, but we also are imperfect. If you could kick the person who causes most of your problems, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week! As the comic strip character Pogo said, “We have seen the enemy and it is us!” An old Black spiritual echoes this same thought, “It’s not my brother, nor my sister, but it’s me, O Lord; standing in the need of prayer.”

Jesus knew that those who live by the principles He taught would encounter opposition. That is why He said to His disciples, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-20).

What we should remember, however, is that when Jesus warned us of the trouble we would face in a world where Satan is prince, He also said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace . . . take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). An anonymous poet expresses this thought extremely well:

            “I want to let go, but I won’t let go

                        There are battles to fight,

                        By day and by night

                        For God and the right,

                        And I’ll never let go.

            I want to let go, but I won’t let go,

                        May this be my song,

                        ‘Mid legions of wrong:

                        O, God, keep me strong,

                        That I may never let go.”

In the face of the tensions and difficulties we face, Jesus Christ calls us to peace and a confidence that overcomes the pressures and pains that this world often causes us. Know this: If Christ’s peace and confidence are ours, we have absolutely nothing to fear and no reason to be discouraged – especially since we have an eternal home reserved for us where there will be no tension or trouble.

The triumph of peace available to every believer is the proof of eternity in our lives. With triumph already accomplished through Calvary’s cross and the empty tomb, we can live with a sense of peace and act with a conquering confidence in Christ.

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I attended the funeral at Temple Baptist Church in Wilmington recently for a dedicated Christian lady who had been a member of our church choir for more than 50 years. Shirley’s last few days on earth were spent in the local Hospice unit. She was, of course, not able to communicate with her family during those last two or three days as she finished her journey on the way to “that city, eternal, in the heavens, not made by hands.”

During the visitation hour prior to the worship service celebrating Shirley’s life, one of her sons said to me, “I was standing by mother’s’ bedside when she died. Suddenly, she said, ‘I see Jessie Parkerson. She is wearing a white robe. And she is sitting by a fountain.’ Shirley breathed only two or three more times after that – and she was gone.”

What a tremendous emotional moment that was for me! Jessie and I labored together serving churches as pastor and wife for nearly 65 years. God called her home on April 5, 2016. The fact that she was the first person at heaven’s gate to welcome Shirley to her eternal home is a powerful confirmation of the truth found in John 14:2-3 (NIV): “In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am.

People have often asked me, “What will heaven be like? The Bible tells us that it will be a place of beauty, peace, constant health and happiness, filled with people from all the earthly ages, who have one thing in common: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who took away the sins of the world on Calvary’s cross. No one has gone or will ever go to heaven because he or she is a church member, or because of anything he or she does. There is only one way to go to heaven: you must go to Calvary, confess your sins, lay them down, accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, turn to the right and keep straight ahead. If you have already done this, at the time of God’s choosing He will call your name, and you will head in the direction of your heavenly home.

I can think of the dedicated Christians I have known across the years who will be in heaven one day when I arrive – my precious wife Jessie whom I have already mentioned, my parents, other members of my family, and countless others whom I have known across my 90 years. I want to serve the Lord on planet earth as long as I live, but I look forward to the reunion that I will have with them when Christ calls my name. What a great reunion that will be!

Keep your Bible open and you will never find the door of heaven shut. A poem written by an anonymous author that I have often used in graveside funeral services to celebrate the life of individuals superbly emphasizes this fact:

“Think of stepping on shore

                        and finding it heaven!

            Of taking hold of a hand

                        and finding it God’s!

            Of breathing new air

                        and finding it celestial air!

            Of feeling invigorated

                        and finding it immortality!

            Of passing from storm and stress

                        to a perfect calm

            Of waking and finding it home!”

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W. H. Auden, the British-American poet, once labeled the day in which we live “The Age of Anxiety.” The word anxiety literally means “to be pulled apart.” It would be difficult to find a more accurate description of what worry and anxiety does to a person – it pulls us apart.

Dr. Charles Mayo, one of the founders of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., said: “Worry affects circulation, the heart, the glands, and the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but I have known many who died from worry.” According to Joe Graedon, author of The Aspirin Handbook, “Americans pop 80 million aspirin tablets every single day – 29 billion per year – a figure that works out to 117 aspirin tablets annually for every man, woman, and child in the country.”

What do we worry about? You name it, and we worry about it. Big things, middle-sized things, little things, even non-existent things. We worry about things that happened yesterday. We worry about things that may never happen. You cannot improve the quality of your life by worrying, but you can foul it up big time. Worry will not change your grade in school or make you more beautiful or handsome. You cannot change what is already an established fact.

Anxiety is a universal problem, but some people seem to enjoy the experience. They are miserable and want everyone around them to be miserable also. The end result of worrying is that we can guarantee the end result that we fear may happen – insomnia, fatigue, neurosis, and eventually an emotional breakdown. Earl Riney, in Church Management, expressed the same thoughts in a humorous way: “Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime, and too sleepy to worry at night.” It is not wise to take tomorrow to bed with you when you retire at night.

It has been said that two out of every three persons have emotional problems. Any time you are with two other people, evaluate them. If they seem totally normal to you, guess which one of the three has emotional problems.

We should never worry about the past, for it cannot be changed. Nor should we borrow trouble from our tomorrows. Thomas Carlyle was right when he said, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly in the future, but to do what lies clearly at hand.” An old idiom expresses it this way: “Life is hard by the yard, but by the inch, it’s a cinch.”

The right way to deal with worry and anxiety is to have a deep, vibrant, and growing faith in God. Jesus said that we should start by setting productive priorities. Decide what is important, what is most important, and what is unimportant. Meaningful living does not have to consist of an overabundance of things. Live one day at a time.

You may ask, “But how can I do that?” Just follow the recommendations found in I Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” Charles F. Deems, in Epigram, beautifully expresses the truth found in these two verses:

            “The world is wide

            In time and tide,

            And God is guide.

            Then do not hurry.

            That man is blest

            Who does his best

            And leaves the rest,

            Then do not worry.”

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One of the most important and useful items of furniture in any office or home is the wastepaper basket – better known as “the circular file.” Advertisements take up a sizable percentage of what arrives in mailboxes today. Many of them are trying to sell things for which you have little or no need and in which you have no interest. It doesn’t take long for most of them to land in the circular file.

Imagine how junk-filled offices and homes would be if you did not have a circular file. We could not do our work in home, school, factory or office without constantly selecting what we think we should keep and rejecting what we are certain should be thrown away.

Circular files are necessary and needful, but they can also be dangerous – not because we could trip over them, but because we might discard something that is valuable. Did you know that the little gem of music, “To A Wild Rose,” was found in manuscript form at the bottom of a wastepaper basket? The composer thought it was worthless! So also was Rudyard Kippling’s famous poem entitled “Recessional” with its recurring refrain:

            “Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,

            Lest we forget, lest we forget.”

Kippling sent it to the editor of the London Times. The editor was busy. He glanced at the poem and threw it in the wastepaper basket. Fortunately, he did a double take, went back to his circular file and fished it out. The things we do not need we usually thrown away. But there are many worthy things that have great value which our nation to a large degree has thoughtlessly and foolishly discarded and need to be taken out of the circular file.

Take, for example, the habit of a significant percentage of Christians who do not find their way to the church of which they are a member each Sunday to worship God. Church attendance in recent years compared with three or four decades ago has declined. Churches that boldly proclaim the truth found in God’s Word are still alive and well. However, there is an increasing tendency in our culture for families to involve themselves in personal concerns on the weekend and forget the importance of worship.

Another discard we might rescue from the circular file is respect for law and order and for that which underlies law and order – justice impartially administered. Organized violence in some of our nation’s largest cities has included the burning of important buildings and the robbing of stores. These occasions were even described as “peaceful protests.” The effort to defund those involved with enforcing law and order is being given strong support. This gives absolutely no thought to what would happen if this goal was achieved.

Another discard in America’s circular file is having respect for the opinion of others. Americans have never agreed on all things, but we have since 1776 been able to respect one another. By working together and respecting those who have a different opinion we have been able to find solutions to move forward. Both the desire and the ability to respect one another should be rescued from the wastebasket and put into motion again. It must happen if our nation is to continue to be the greatest nation in the world.

Heavenly Father, guide both our leaders and our citizens to realize the truth found in Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” And, while You are at it, keep us humble enough to stoop down to recover from the circular file the ideas and actions we have lost which made our nation great. Amen.

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Thomas Gattis’ book The Birdman of Alcatraz is a biography of the convicted murderer, Robert Stroud, who spent most of his 70 years behind bars in solitary confinement. For the first 20 years of his confinement, Stroud became increasingly withdrawn, bitter and harder to handle. In prison parlance, he was a maximum risk.

But a sparrow, fallen from its nest in a storm, changed all that. Stroud found the sparrow in the prison courtyard during his exercise period. His first impulse was to snuff out its life just as he had snuffed out human life. But he didn’t. Instead, he carried it to his cell and nursed it back to health. His interest was aroused, and he read everything he could find on the subject of birds. Other prisoners began sending their ill canaries to him. When encountering diseases that had no known cure, he would experiment and often find a cure.

Before long, Robert Stroud, the incorrigible convict became a quiet, serious, respected authority on birds. He asked his guard, a man with whom he previously had refused to speak, for the orange crate on which he sat so that he might make a cage for the sparrow. The guard answered in words that amounted to, “Why should I give you this crate, Stroud? For twenty years I’ve tried to get through to you and be nice to you, but you have never even given me the time of day.”

After a few minutes of silence, however, the guard had a change of heart and slipped the orange crate into the cell. When Stroud noticed it, he mumbled, for the first time in 20 years, the words, “Thank you.” Only then did he begin to understand himself. He realized that he wasn’t the isolated, self-sufficient, independent, incorrigible character that he had for so long pretended to be.

In the same way today, it is only when you and I can say “Thank you” – and mean it – that we begin to understand ourselves for who and what we are: creatures rather than creators, receivers rather than givers.  Paul Tillich said it well: “A man who is able to give thanks seriously accepts that he is a creature and acknowledges his finitude. Only those who truly know themselves are aware of the fact that they are dependent upon others in countless ways.”

When we forget to say, “Thank you,” or refuse to, we forget who we are – creatures of the living God and dependent upon Him for our very being. And this is why we need Thanksgiving Day on the calendar – to remind ourselves who we are and to whom we belong. I believe this is demonstrated by the story found in Luke’s gospel of the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed. Only one of the 10 came back to Jesus to say, “Thank you.” He recognized that he had received something he had not merited, and for which he had not worked.

Consider, in terms of our personal experience, how many things we receive for which we never asked, and for which we cannot pay. They are part of what the New Testament calls “grace” – blessings we receive, but neither earned nor deserved. Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others. The worst possible moment for an atheist is when he or she feels grateful and has no one to thank.

Robert Stroud’s life was totally transformed when he learned how to say, “Thank you!” The difficulty that many people have in learning how to live with joy is that they have never learned how to use those two words. If they were to sit down to write out a list of the things they daily receive from God, they would be surprised.

One of our most favorite attitudes should be gratitude. There is a sense in which no gift is ours until we have learned how to thank the giver. That is especially true of the countless blessings we receive from God.

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The moment a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord he or she is guaranteed to have eternal life (Romans 9:1). But that is just the beginning of the story. It is God’s will that spiritual growth begin to take place at that point and continue throughout life. Spiritual growth can only happen in our lives if we regularly study and appropriate the truth found in the Bible.

Reading and studying God’s Word is important because it generates life, provides spiritual nourishment, creates faith, produces change, opposes Satan, causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character, transforms circumstances, delivers joy, overcomes adversity, conquers temptation, infuses hope, releases power, cleanses our mind, makes positive things happen and guarantees our future forever.

There are more Bibles in print today than at any time in history, but a Bible on the shelf is useless. Millions of self-described Christians are plagued by spiritual anorexia and are starving to death by spiritual malnutrition. Spiritual growth can only take place if the study of God’s Word is given priority. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples” (John 8:31). Spiritual growth involves three things:

The Bible’s authority must be accepted. It must be the authoritative standard for your life, the compass on which you rely for direction, the counsel which influences your decisions and the benchmark you use for evaluating everything. We get into difficulty when we base our choices and actions on unreliable authorities: culture (“everyone is doing it”), tradition, reason (“It seemed logical”) or emotion (“It just felt right”).

No one will ever make a mistake who bases what he or she thinks, says and does on the truth found in God’s Word. It is always wise to first ask, “What does the Bible say?” The most desirable time to read God’s Word is as often as possible. If you keep your Bible open you will never find the door of heaven shut.

The Bible’s truth must be assimilated. That is, you must accept its truth with an open, receptive attitude. Daily Bible reading will keep you in range of God’s voice and direction. This is why He instructed the kings of Israel to always keep a copy of His Word nearby (Deuteronomy 17:19a). Spiritual growth cannot take place in your life if you do not regularly read, absorb and apply the truth found in God’s Word. The reason some people don’t read and study the Bible is that it cramps their style.

The difference between just reading and genuinely studying the Bible involves two additional activities: asking questions of the text and writing down your insights. Also, there are enormous benefits to memorizing Bible verses. This will help you to resist temptation, make wise decisions, reduce stress, build confidence, offer good advice and share your faith with others.

The Bible’s principles must be applied. Receiving, reading, researching, remembering and reflecting on truths taught by God’s Word are all useless if we fail to put them into practice. Putting the principles taught in the Bible into action is the hardest step of all, because Satan doesn’t want you to either focus upon them or to apply them to your life. He doesn’t mind for you to attend Bible studies as long as you don’t put into practice what is taught. The value of attending Bible study groups and applying what you learn cannot be overestimated. We would also benefit from the fellowship with other Christians who attend.

One Bible known is worth more than a dozen Bibles owned. That could possibly be why a bumper sticker on a car in Tyler, Texas, several years ago said: “Read your Bible – it will scare the hell out of you.”

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Don’t blame Adam!

Don McCullough, in Discipleship Journal, tells the story of the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself. The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball which he lost in the glare of the sun – until it bounced off his forehead. The third one was a hard, line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye.

The manager ran furiously back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by his uniform, and shouted, “You idiot! You’ve got the center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!”

Blaming others is a game that has been played by humans since the dawn of creation when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. It is a game we still play. Blaming others for our faults and failures is a feeble attempt to take the focus off ourselves, to absolve ourselves of responsibility.

It is much easier to point our finger at someone else for our shortcomings than it is to say, “I have failed,” or “It is my fault.”  If we say, “I am an alcoholic because my father was or is an alcoholic,” we do not have to say, “I alone am responsible for the decisions I have made and how they have affected my life.”  Politicians seldom ever admit responsibility or failure for the things that go wrong in their administrations if they can blame everything that has gone wrong on a previous administration.

While it is true that “sin came into the world through one man” (Romans 5:12-15), the old “blame Adam” gimmick to explain away some fault or failure in our makeup is sheer nonsense. Even though God’s Word teaches that we inherited our sin nature from history’s first parents, we also choose to be disobedient.

Pride is at the root of all sin – Adam and Eve’s sin, or our own. It is, in essence, casting our God-Creator off the throne in our hearts and enthroning and enshrining self-will as god and master. It is this rebellious act that separated the first humans from God, and also separates us from God. We were created to do God’s will, but we said, “No thanks, God, we want to do everything our way.”

We should never attempt to blame Adam for our tendency to sin against God and others. We are sinners with or without the contributions of our ancestors, for “there is no one righteous, not even one . . . there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away” (Romans 3:9, 12 NIV).

Even though this is true, we still find ways to avoid saying, “I made a mistake! I am at fault! I have sinned!” It is much easier to make excuses by blaming someone else for our wrong decisions and actions.  Saying things like, “I was raised in a dysfunctional home,” or “I got with the wrong crowd,” or “Everybody is doing it,” etc., will not pass muster with God on the day when we all shall stand before Him to give an account of ourselves.

Someone has said of history’s first couple: “Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. And the snake didn’t have a leg to stand on.” And when we try to blame others for our faults and failures and sins, neither do we.

God has provided the means for our redemption. God’s Word tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:23 NIV).

In other words, although we were sinners, because we were sinners, God sent His Son into the world to take our penalty for sin, which is death, upon Himself. How great is the grace of God! It is sufficient to cover all the sins of the entire human race – including yours and mine.

To receive the gift of everlasting life, all anyone must do is bow before God and sincerely say, “I have sinned. I don’t blame Adam or anyone else. I alone am responsible. Forgive and cleanse my life, I pray.”

You will be surprised at how much difference it will make in your life.

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