How Did I Get Here?

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?


The battle

“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

Have You Sacrificed Relationships Because of Selfish Ambition?

Have you sacrificed relationships because of selfish ambition? I have. It may look different for each of us; possibly athletic achievements, career advancements, the pursuit of wealth and possessions, social status, online fame, etc.… Anything that so consumes us we loose sight of what is really important and of those around us. We all have to ask ourselves if our personal goals and pursuits are really worth sacrificing relationships for?

We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with our families.
We have an opportunity to have a good relationship with friends and others around us.

How we relate to God and how we relate to people are of utmost importance.  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

If our goals hinder these relationships, maybe we should re-evaluate our goals.

Alcohol is Always a Good Time, Right?

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.

Galatians 5:19-21
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.

Proverbs 20:1
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

Proverbs 21:17
Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.

Isaiah 5:11
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!

Isaiah 5:22
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink,

Proverbs 23:29-31
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.

Proverbs 31:4-7
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.

Isaiah 28:7
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.

Hosea 4:10-11
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.

Micah 2:11
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!

Christian Women are More Committed to Faith than Men

Excerpt from: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/christian-women-religious-christian-men/

“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

Treating Others as Objects

An Excerpt from “A Culture of Freelance Relationships”

 

“An article entitled “Sexual Freelancing in the Gig Economy” (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/15/opinion/sexual-freelancing-in-the-gig-economy.html) appeared in the New York Times. Its premise is this: economics influences dating.

And here’s where things get interesting: the article argues that dating simply “applies the logic of capitalism to courtship. On the dating market, everyone competes for him or herself.” Hold on. Is this really the way we view dating? Honestly, I think we have to own it: We do, in fact, tend to treat people as objects instead of people. But is this the way it should be?…Many of us treat relationships like unpaid internships: We cannot expect them to lead to anything long-term, so we use them to get experience. If we look sharp, we might get a free lunch.

What can we do, then, to confront a worldly attitude that promotes using other people? I think we must start here: as single people looking to date other single people, we must take each other seriously. People are not to be invested in for the simple return they may yield to us.

Jesus’ words are hard to hear: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25); “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In the topsy-turvy ethic of the Kingdom, true life on this planet looks more like losing an investment than gaining a profit. Love looks more like the cross than the crown. Meaningful relationships look more like the servant who washes feet rather than the master whose feet get washed.

In other words . . .

Meaningful Relationships Are Costly

We need to steep ourselves in the truth that meaningful relationships cost time. In an age of instant gratification and constant distraction, simply finding the time to talk meaningfully about life is rare.

Meaningful relationships also cost the facade. The thing about the freelance mentality of relationships in our culture is that this constant shopping around helps us avoid the true vulnerability that comes with meaningful relationships, where we are both known and loved, not simply for our accomplishments but for our failures as well.

Does the prevalent view of humanity we pass to singles look more like the gig-relationship mindset that pervades our culture? Or does it look more like Jesus, who takes us and our lives seriously from the outset, who served us that we might be washed, and who sacrificed Himself that we might have life in Him?”

 

Source: (https://www.harvestusa.org/culture-freelance-relationships/)

Sharing Faith

“When was the last time you had a conversation about God? For most people, the unfortunate and surprising answer to that question is not very often. Spiritual conversations are exceedingly rare for most Americans, and even for Christians, who are at best reluctant to have them.”

“A growing number of Christians don’t see sharing the good news as a personal responsibility. Just 10 percent of Christians in 1993 who had shared about their faith agreed with the statement “converting people to Christianity is the job of the local church”—as opposed to the job of an individual (i.e., themselves). Twenty-five years later, three in 10 Christians who have had a conversation about faith say evangelism is the local church’s responsibility (29%), a nearly threefold increase.”

“The truth is, most Christians are busy with other things: the day-to-day of normal life—jobs, kids, budgets, sports, weather and what’s premiering on Netflix this week. None of this is bad, but the unfortunate reality is that most adults don’t seem to connect their everyday experiences with their faith. Or, at least, they aren’t talking about it if they do.”

“Followers of Christ have something essential and meaningful to share with their families, neighbors, friends and those they come into contact with,” … We ought to help Christians begin to make the connections between their everyday, ordinary life—their sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life—and the faith that sustains them.”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/sharing-faith-increasingly-optional-christians/

Prayer in America

This is from Barna Research about Prayer in America:
“What we found gives us a much more nuanced portrait of the American prayer life. The most notable aspect of which is it’s individual quality. People pray mostly alone—it is a solitary activity defined primarily by the immediate needs and concerns of the individual. Corporate prayer and corporate needs are less compelling drivers in people’s prayer lives.”

“Though the vast majority of praying adults (89%) direct their prayers to “God,” they don’t all pray to the same god (if they pray to a deity at all). For instance, only half of praying adults (50%) pray to Jesus, and less than one-quarter (23%) pray to the Holy Spirit.”

“American adults who pray with regularity do so with varying motivations, the most common being to offer “gratitude and thanksgiving” (62%). Generationally, this is lowest among Millennials (53%) and highest among Boomers (71%). An equally popular prayer incentive is the “needs of their family and community” (61%), followed by “personal guidance in crisis” (49%). ”

“The generation most willing to cover prayer requests from others are Elders (47%), who are almost twice as likely to do so than Millennials (27%). Just less than half of praying adults (47%) most often direct prayers toward their own health and wellness.

“Almost all American adults (94%) who have prayed at least once in the last three months most often choose to pray by themselves. Not only are most prayers a solo practice, but the vast majority are also most often silent (82% compared to 13% audible and solo prayers). Affirming this shift is the fact that only a very small percentage most often pray audibly with another person or group (2%), or collectively with a church (2%).”

 

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/silent-solo-americans-pray/