Why do we have to be diligent in reading the Bible? Because we easily become careless and complacent in our lives, which leads us into sins that so easily beset each of us. And before long we have wondered farther off the path than we ever intended and are left thinking to ourselves; how did I get here?
“You know more about your ledgers than your Bible; you know more about your magazines and novels than what God has written; many of you will read a novel from the beginning to the end, and what have you got? A mouthful of foam when you are done. But you cannot read the Bible; that solid, lasting, substantial, and satisfying food goes uneaten, locked up in the cupboard of neglect; while anything that a man writes, a best seller of the day, is greedily devoured.” -Spurgeon
“There is not a place beneath which a believer walks that is free from snares… behind every bush there is the lion seeking to devour; under every piece of grass there lies the adder. They are everywhere.” -Spurgeon
The command to be diligent
You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. -Deuteronomy 6:17
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. -Psalm 119:4
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. -Proverbs 8:17
But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him -2 Peter 3:13-15
“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’ -Deuteronomy 4:9-10
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. -Deuteronomy 6:6-8
We live in a culture that loves its wine and alcohol. Where I’m from people go to bars if they want to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. Others drink because of the stresses of life or it’s their idea of having a good time. But alcohol is a substance that can easily control a person. Whether through personal experience or through observation we have all seen this. I’ve seen women go home with guys they would have never gone home with if they were sober. I’ve had drunk people tell me things they would never tell someone in their right mind. I’ve seen drunk people act like complete fools and idiots, and I’ve seen drunk people become very angry, aggressive, and easily agitated. While drinking may not be condemned as a sin, getting drunk is. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). But the Bible says a lot more about it than just this. We would be wise to reflect on what God says about it and be willing to reevaluate our own lives.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Peter 4:3-5
For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
it is not for kings to drink wine,
or for rulers to take strong drink,
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed
and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
and wine to those in bitter distress;
let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.
They shall eat, but not be satisfied;
they shall play the whore, but not multiply,
because they have forsaken the Lord
to cherish whoredom, wine, and new wine,
which take away the understanding.
If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!
How does the Holy Spirit work in the life of Christians? Is it through promptings that are based on a feeling we might get at any given moment? Is it through an unknown and ambiguous sign? I’m sure most of us have been in situations when you get a feeling or urge that you should do something and then a few moments later you start to think better of it and question whether this is really something you should do or not; before you know it you’re on a teeter totter going back and forth in your mind. Was this a prompting from the Holy Spirit?
The Bible says God is not a God of confusion but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). So, what does the Bible say about how the Holy Spirit works and leads in a Christians life?
The Holy Spirit is…
-Active in salvation. (John 16:8-11; Titus 3:5)
-Active in assurance of salvation. (Ephesians 1:13-14)
-Active in Sanctification or the spiritual growth of a Christian. (2 Thessalonians 2:13; John 14:15-16)
-Active in guiding us in truth. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13)
-Active in the perseverance of faith. (2 Timothy 1:13-14, Romans 8:1-17; Ephesians 3:14-19)
-Active in helping us pray. (Romans 8:14-15; Romans 8:26-27)
-Active in giving us wisdom or the practical application of our faith. (Romans 12:9-21; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
-Active in promoting Christian unity. (Ephesians 4:1-4)
-Active in fighting sin and pursuing righteousness. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
-Active in reasonable and practical Christian living. (Proverbs; Isaiah 11; Philippians 4:4-9)
-Active in discernment. (1 John 4:1-6; Acts 6:10; Hebrews 5:14)
-Active in producing the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-26)
As we can see the work of the Holy Spirit is based in truth, the truth of God’s word; not in an ambiguous feeling or sense. The work of the Spirit helps us in practical daily Christian living. The Holy Spirits work is helping us actively live our faith out in a fallen, sinful, and hostile world towards God and His word. We need the Spirit to open our eyes to the truth of the gospel, to flee sin and pursue righteousness, to have the courage to share the gospel with those around us, to endure suffering and persecution, and to live with wisdom and discretion.
There is nothing ambiguous about that, rather it’s first and foremost about learning to become obedient and submissive to God and His word. And when you are living a life seeking obedience to Him, then He will guide you in His way and His time in those areas where there may be more freedom in choice; such as what job should I work, where should I live, who should I date or marry (within the Christian faith), etc…
We should not be living our Christian life based on senses, feelings, or perceived signs from God; but rather our lives should be guided by the Holy Spirit who practically helps us live out the truth found in God’s word.
A final warning about reckless living
One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.
Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Excerpt taken from this article: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/23/im-pastor-and-want-to-quit-church-now.html
“Only 39 percent of active believers consider the Bible as the literal word of God. Only 5 percent have shared their faith with a non-believer. More than half of all church members attend church once a month or less.
If we quit the casual way we approach God’s principles can you imagine what would happen in our personal walks of faith and in our community of believers?
My conversations over the past several years revealed the spiritual habits necessary for personal and church growth and revealed the “why” behind disengagement in the church.
The truth is, if we don’t feel passionate about something we don’t do it. If we don’t like something that happens in the church, we find another one. If the spiritual practices don’t fit our lifestyle, then we don’t do them.
This mindset permeates our “I want it now and I want it my way” culture and is only enforced through social media, website choices, TV options and countless other platforms that have risen in prominence in our lives. This is not the way God intended the church to live.
Jesus felt the church was worth dying for – it should be our mission as Christians to value living for it.”
“As a study conducted by the Pew Research Center finds, based on a broad range of factors, Christian women in the United States express a higher level of religiosity and religious commitment than Christian men.
For example, more than seven-in-ten Christian women (72 percent) say religion is “very important” in their lives, compared with 62 percent of Christian men.
Women are also more likely than men to read Scripture at least once a week (49 percent vs. 40 percent) and believe the Bible is the Word of God (78 percent vs. 72 percent).
While there are likely to be numerous factors that influence this gap, I suspect the most important is the difference in Bible reading habits. Let’s take a closer look at the numbers for Bible reading and prayer.
As Donald Whitney says, the most important spiritual discipline is “the intake of God’s Word. No factor is more influential in making us more like the Son of God than the Spirit of God working through the Word of God.” Whitney also adds that “of all the Spiritual Disciplines, Prayer is second only to the intake of God’s Word in importance.” Prayer is second in importance because it relies on our knowledge of God, which comes from reading his Word. Without engagement with Scripture, our prayers are lacking. It’s like having a phone conversation in which the other person can hear us but we can’t hear them.
While I don’t want to underestimate the complexity of addressing the problem, I think the core solution is to encourage Christian men to read their Bibles. What if women are more inclined to pray, attend church, and say their faith is very important to them simply because they’ve first taken the time to encounter God in his Word?”
Source: Article: “Why Are Christian Women More Religious Than Christian Men?” by Joe Carter
This is an excerpt from Barna Trends:
There are more married people in church than single people. You probably already know this just from looking around every Sunday—but here’s some data to prove it. According to a recent Barna study, less than a quarter of active churchgoers are single (23%).
The same Barna study found the majority of singles who are not active in or committed to a church are searching for meaning and purpose in life (55%). In fact, almost two-thirds of these singles (65%) are looking for ways to improve themselves and nearly one out of six (15%) would be motivated to go to church for the opportunity to find out more about God.
One in five (21%) singles who are not active in or committed to a church are interested in going to church to have support during difficult times. One-quarter of singles (23%) would be motivated to go to church if they simply knew that anyone would be welcomed into the church community.