Monday, May 31, 2010
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)
It may seem strange that liars share the same punishment as murders, immoral people, sorcerers and idolaters. Is lying that bad? Yes it is.
Lying conceals hatred.
He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool. They are an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 10:18_
Lying hurts others.
A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)
Lying is detestable.
Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those
who deal faithfully are His delight.
Lying paves the way for destruction.
The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor, the pursuit of death. (Proverbs 21:6)
Truthful lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only for a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)
- "Thursday's Thought" is edited by Ron Adams, who preaches for the North San Diego Church of Christ, San Diego, CA. To subscribe to "Thursday's Thought," write Ron at firstname.lastname@example.org Visit their website: http://thursdaythought.homestead.com (c) All rights reserved 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
20 Ways To Say “I’m Sorry”
Sometimes your heart is in the right place, but it is tremendously difficult to move up ten inches from heart to lips. When you want to apologize but can't seem to find the right words, scan this list for an appropriate line:
1. Please forgive me (Gen. 50:17; 1 Sam. 25:28).
2. I am sinful and stubborn. I need forgiveness (Exodus 34:9).
3. Since I've done this, I hate myself. I won't do it again (Job 42:6).
4. I was unaware of how I was hurting you (Ps. 19:12).
5. Don't withhold your mercy from me. I need it (Psalm 40:11).
6. Have mercy on me (Ps. 51:1; 57:1; 86:3).
7. I know I can count on you to forgive (Ps. 57:1).
8. I'm begging for mercy from you (Psalm 86:6; 130:2; 143:1).
9. I know you are a forgiving person. That's why I plead with you to forgive me (Psalm 130:4).
10. It was wrong, and I will never do it again (Proverbs 28:13).
11. Don't hang up! I'm calling to apologize (Lam. 3:56).
12. I'm not asking forgiveness because I deserve it, but because you have a lot of mercy in your heart (Daniel 9:18).
13. I can't bear to have this between us (Amos 7:2).
14. I know you forgive quickly. You don't stay angry for long. You enjoy forgiving someone. Let it be me (Micah 7:18).
15. I've sinned before God as well to you (Luke 15:21).
16. I don't deserve to be your ________ (friend, spouse, parent, brother/sister, child) (Luke 15:21).
17. You're rich in mercy, and I need plenty of it (Ephesians 2:4).
18. You know what it's like to be forgiven. Now I need your forgiveness (Matt. 18:26-29; Col. 3:13).
19. I'm sorry. I didn't know what I was doing (Luke 23:34).
20. I did it out of ignorance. I apologize (1 Tim. 1:13).
Perhaps you can add a few of your own Sorry Lines. Any said sincerely may start the process of communication and reconciliation. How much is that worth?
- via The Central Message, the weekly bulletin of the Central church of Christ in Paducah KY. Jim Faughn serves as an elder and preacher for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at : http://www.centralchurchofchrist.org
== Introduction ==
A trip to the U.S., a working visit from a friend, a touch of the flu, kept me away from UPLift. But back to our Choose series!
This issue, let's consider the choice of our time, living today. Remember, for the gluttons, there's more of the article, quotes, and verses on the website. http://YourDaytoShine.com
== Choice Thought ==
I have Today, now, this moment. I will make the most of it, without regrets or pining for yesterday, or worrying about tomorrow. Time is my friend.
== Choose Today ==
Conan O'Brien, whoever he is, said, "In Florida a 96-year-old woman is running for mayor. When asked if she knew who she was running against, she said, 'Time.'"
We see time as the enemy. Something we work against. Something that works against us, robs us of life, cheats us out of youth, health, and happiness. Milton called time "the subtle thief of youth."
Yesterday holds a log of lingering woes and fading memories. Tomorrow appears a gathering storm or the bottomless pit of our good intentions. Today we fight a fog of uncertainty clogging along in our daily routine.
But our despair about time wastes it. The Now is where we live. This moment is not merely "all we have," as if it were little enough, but the gift of God to enjoy, the plenitude of life's possibilities, the flower in full bloom.
The choice, then: to fritter time away by the minute and hour, or to choose today as my day to live, to shine, to love, to laugh.
== Choice Quotes ==
"Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends." --Shakespeare
"Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such." --Henry Miller
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." --Carl Sandburg
== Choice Scripture ==
Matthew 6:11 - Give us today our daily bread, ...
Ephesians 5:8 - for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light – (All citations are from the [NET Bible])
== Think, Choose, Do ==
1. How do I think of time, as a friend or enemy?
2. Do I think more about the past or the future?
How does this keep me from living in the present?
3. When was the last time I remember really enjoying the moment?
- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: http://randalmathenycom/. When reprinting this
material, please include the following: Copyright (c) 2009 J. Randal
Matheny. All rights reserved.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
When the church finds out that it cannot compete with the world on the world’s terms perhaps it will try the religion of Christ again.
The church is not a distribution point for spiritual aspirin.
The less true religion a church has the more fellowship suppers and entertainment programs it needs to keep going.
- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola church of Christ, Dongola, IL. Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister. He may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com
While we’re giving quotes, here’s another for you to contemplate:
“Life cannot be divided into compartments in some of which God is involved and in others of which He is not involved; there cannot be one kind of language in the church and another kind of language in the shipyard or the factory or the office; there cannot be one kind of conduct in the church and another kind of conduct in the business world. The fact is that God does not need to be invited into certain departments of life, and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and in every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in His name: He hears all words; and there cannot be any such thing as a form of words which evades bringing God into any transaction. We will regard all promises as sacred if we remember that all promises are made in the presence of God.” (William Barclay)
- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through their website at http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. [H. L. Mencken , 1880 - 1956)
"You don't have to suffer to be a poet; adolescence is enough suffering for anyone." [John Ciardi]
"I'm astounded by people who want to 'know' the universe when it's hard enough to find your way around Chinatown." [Woody Allen]
"By the time I'd grown up, I naturally supposed that I'd be grown up. " [Eve Babitz]
I Can't See Any Harm In It
Consider these guidelines when determining whether a practice is right or wrong.
THE PERSONAL TEST: Will doing this make me a better or worse Christian?
THE SOCIAL TEST: Will doing it influence others to be a better or worse Christian?
THE PRACTICAL TEST: Will the results of my doing it be desireable?
THE UNIVERSAL TEST: If everyone should do this, would it improve or degrade society?
THE SCRIPTURAL TEST: Does the Bible endorse it, or is it expressly forbidden by the Word of God?
THE STEWARDSHIP TEST: Will my doing this constitute a waste of talent God gave me?
THE CHARACTER TEST: What will be the influence of my moral and spiritual stamina?
THE FAMILY TEST: Will it bring discredit and dishonor to my family, and will it embarrass them?
THE PUBLICITY TEST: Would I be willing for friends, fellow Christians, the elders, and the preacher to know about it?
THE COMMON SENSE TEST: Does it agree with just plain, everyday, ordinary common sense?
THE FAIRNESS TEST: Is it honest, and is it practicing the golden rule?
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearances of evil." (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
- Harry Middleton serves as one of the ministers for the Lebanon Road church of Christ in Nashville, TN. He may be contacted through the congregation’s website at: http://www.lebanonroadchurchofchrist.org
You Tell Me I Am Getting Old
You tell me I am getting old,
I tell you that's not so!
The "house" I live in is worn out,
and that, of course, I know.
It's been in use a long, long while;
It's weathered many a mile;
I'm really not surprised you think
it's getting some what frail.
The color's changing on the roof,
the windows getting dim,
The walls a bit transparent
and looking rather thin,
The foundation's not so steady
as once it used to be-
My "house" is getting shaky,
but my "house" isn't ME!
My few short years can't make me old,
I feel I'm in my youth;
Eternity lies just ahead,
A life of joy and truth.
I'm going to live forever there;
Life will go on-it's grand!
You tell me I am growing old?
You just don't understand.
The dweller in my little "house"
is young and bright and gay;
Just starting on a life
to last throughout eternal day.
You only see the outside,
Which is all that most folk see.
You tell me I am getting old?
You've mixed my house with ME!
Waiting Until the Last Minute?
- Selected; via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com
I Know Something Good About You!
If the folks we met would say,
“I know something good about you!”
And then treat us just that way?
Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy,
If each handclasp, warm and true,
Carried with it this assurance,
“I know something good about you?”
Wouldn’t life be lots more happy,
If the good that’s in us all
Were the only thing about us
That folks bothered to recall?
Wouldn’t it be nice to practice
That fine way of thinking, too;
You know something good about me;
I know something good about you?
- Copied; Bulletin Digest; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Sunday, May 16, 2010
In the ‘Test Kitchen’ of Life
“Each food,” he said, “teaches us something about facing adversity, as represented by the boiling water.” The carrot went in hard but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out hardened. The coffee, however, changed the water to something better. “Which will you be like as you face life?” he asked. Will you give up, become hard—or transform adversity into triumph? As the “chef” of your own life, what will you bring to the table?
- via The Lantern, Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL Visit their website as http://www.highwaycofc.com
Ten Rules for Influencing Others for Good
Make promises sparingly and keep them faithfully, no matter what it costs you.
Praise good work done, regardless of who did it. If criticism is needed, criticize helpfully, never spitefully.
Be interested in others—interested in their pursuits, their welfare, their homes, and families. Let everyone you meet however humble, feel that you regard him as one of importance.
Be cheerful. Hide much of your pain, worry, and disappointment under a smile.
Preserve an open mind on all debatable questions. Be friendly. Discuss; do not argue.
Discourage gossip. Keep things sacred in your heart. If there is any doubt as to
Be careful of another’s feelings. Wit and humor at the others expense are rarely worth the effort, and may hurt where least expected. Pay no attention to ill-natured remarks about you.
Don’t be too anxious about your “due.” Do your work, be patient and keep your disposition pleasant. Forget self and you will make few enemies.
- Anonymous; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family. To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Reflections On Getting Older
Birthdays are an annual occurrence--for most folks, at least! To me, birthdays are not that big a deal; however, they serve as a yearly reminder of a daily fact: all of us are getting older! James wrote, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." (James 4:14.) To children, time can't pass quickly enough. To grown-ups, the days pass all too hurriedly. How should it affect us? Here's how it touches me. Knowing how quickly the days go past…
I want to become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). I want to be the best husband I can be (Ephesians 5:25). I want to be the best daddy I can be (Ephesians 6:4). I want to influence as many people as possible (Mtt. 5:14-16). I want to live life to the fullest (John 10:10). I want God to use me to teach the lost as much as He can (Proverbs 11:30). I want to set my mind on things above (eternal things) because I know I won't be here forever (Colossians 3:1-4). Though we may not like to be reminded of the fact that we're getting older, it is good to rethink and reprioritize our lives in light of that simple truth. Make the most of every opportunity!
- via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson, preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/
Ever wonder what life is all about? God has a wonderful plan for us in this life! Many times we try to run our own lives without God’s help. Then, just like the children in the wilderness, we wander around and around, never finding God’s best for us. Nothing just “happens” with God. He has a master plan for everything.
For example, did you know:
* Beans grow up a pole from left to right; and the morning glory grows from right to left. If you try to try to wind them the “wrong” direction, they will rewind themselves the direction they are supposed to go.
* Seeds may be dropped into the ground upside down or sideways, and yet the plant comes up to the surface.
* A light crop of wheat will produce approximately 30 grains on each stalk; a good crop of wheat will produce approximately 60 grains on each stalk; and an exceptional crop will produce up to 100 grains. There will always be an even number of grains.
* An ordinary watermelon will have ten stripes on it. Larger ones may have twelve to sixteen stripes, but always an even number.
* Water will travel from the roots of a tree to the topmost leaf on it and no one really understands how.
* The dandelion will always grow above its surroundings whether the grass be two, ten, or twenty inches, for it must get up into the sunlight.
Now, if God cares for and has a special plan for beans, wheat, watermelons, and even dandelions, do you think He is going to let us, who were created in His image and likeness, to wander around with no plan or purpose for our lives? No, He has a wonderful plan for your life.
God also has the provisions to carry His plan to fruition in us. He will supply all our need (Phil. 4:19; 2 Pet. 1:3). By His grace we receive strength to rise above all our circumstances (Rom. 8:31). In His vineyard, we can produce much (Gal. 6:7-9).
God has a great plan for you. Have you accepted it? Are you living it?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11 ESV).
- Selected; via via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Now Or Never
So he continued to toil for his expectations of a deserved future sanctuary of peace, joy and contentment. He never reached the age when all these things were assumed to happen. He died of cancer.
I was in the doctor’s office that day when I stumbled on to this heart-wrenching article. I was in my in my middle thirty’s. The next morning I got up early and watched the sunrise before I went to work. I started taking advantage of all the beautiful parks and recreational areas in the local area. I have to admit it is not like a trip to the some Tropical Island but paradise could be a lot closer than you think if you would just take the time to go there. The reality is this. Take the time now.
“Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money." Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that." - James 4:13-15
My gift reminds me that spending too much time on tomorrow might totally destroy a real nice day. Don’t get so caught up in yourself that you have no time to enjoy today and work on your real destination.
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” - Phil 3:20
Have a great week.
Love in Christ,
- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address: http://mysite.verizon.net/yorktownroadchurchofchrist/
Marriage: Crucible Where Character is Formed
This is the century that is testing marriage and family life. The sexual revolution has persuaded every one that personal satisfaction and fulfillment are dependent on great sex. People of all ages are claiming as their birthright the right to be happy, no matter what the cost. The rate of social and economic change has so accelerated that commitment is disappearing from the catalog of desired character traits.
With the continuous reports of infidelity by husbands and wives and with divorce rates that indicate that marriage is going out of style, I vacillate between anger and despair over the plight of families. I sometimes wonder what we have done to create this climate where people are not willing to pay the price for a relationship that can last. Often I long for the days when divorce was non-existent in the church.
Struggling with the problem as it strikes so many people I know and love, I have determined that I must become an active advocate of marriage so that we can save it. I believe that we all must become aggressive in telling each other and especially the younger generation that a good marriage is not only God’s way, but it is worth the price because of all that it brings us.
“The first hundred years are the hardest.” Many years ago I laughed at that old saying. Now I have been married long enough to know that the saying is doubtless true, even though I don’t expect to live long enough to find out. Perhaps we have not been willing to tell ourselves and the next generation that marriage is hard work and has to go on as long as the relationship is alive and working. A good relationship takes time, patience, and all the other resources of character we can muster.
“Marriage is the crucible where character is formed.” Those are the words of J.P. Sanders who taught the marriage class I took as a senior in college. I knew just enough about the word crucible to understand that it implied heat, transformation, and usually worth. The phrase sounded good, but the experiences that tested and changed my wife and me involved a lot more pain and discomfort that we could have anticipated. We must pass the word that marriage includes pain, abundant pain, but that it also brings gain in character and happiness.
So far I’m not sounding much like an advocate of marriage, but my method is that of a good friend who regularly encourages people to go white-water rafting in the Rockies. He begins by telling all the dangers, all the work, all the inconvenience. When a listener asks, “Why would anyone want to do that?” he promptly launches into a recital on the sights, the feel, and the exhilaration of the trip. So here is the payoff.
“Marriage is the source of lasting personal identity.” As creatures always searching for identity and a better understanding of what makes us work, the prospect of having a catalyst to hasten the process of knowing ourselves is significant.
A commitment to a relationship which we expect to last as long as our lives forces us to face up to who we are, what is important to us, where we are going, and what we are really like. I cannot possibly tell anyone all about a shared life and identity, but I know it brings more joy, satisfaction, and meaning than I could have ever anticipated.
“Marriage empowers us to sustain the highest quality of life.” Those are the sentiments, if not the exact words, of one of my best friends a day or two after the death of his wife. Most people have the feeling after 20 or so years of marriage that they married above themselves. Husbands and wives have the special opportunity to spark the best qualities in the character of a mate. When a spouse “speaks the truth in love,: the message is powerful in bringing transformation and growth. When two people have worked together, cried together, prayed together, laughed together, worshipped together, and even fought together, they find power in their relationship. They discover a unity that brings out the best colors of their lives. They discover a harmony that adds music to their lives and their communication. They discover strength to keep working to make their lives better. They discover a spring of water that flows continuously and waters their whole existence.
- Bailey McBride, Christian Chronicle, June, 1994; via The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family. To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
Some Claims of the Bible
The Bible claims to be inspired of God. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God...” (2 Tim. 3:16). Though spoken and written by men, the Scriptures are not from men (Gal. 1:11-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Eph. 3:3-5); they are the Word of God (1 Thess. 2:13) and reveal to men the mind and will of God (1 Cor. 2:10-13).
The Bible claims to be the truth. Jesus prayed to God, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Bible is inerrant; its commandments are right (Psa. 119:151); its ways can be trusted (Pro. 3:5); its promises are sure (2 Pet. 3:9), and its histories are accurate. It is authored by a God that cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18).
The Bible claims to be all-sufficient. The apostles were guided into all truth (John 16:13); the Scriptures can make us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17). The Bible is all we need for “life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). The Word of God always accomplishes its purpose and has been “once for all” delivered (Isa. 55:10-11; Jude 3).
The Bible claims to be authoritative. “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Sin is the transgression of God’s law, and its wages is death (1 John 3:4; Rom. 6:23). We must, therefore, teach and practice only that which is taught in the holy Word of God (1 Pet. 4:11; Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19; Gal. 6:6-9). We will be judged according to the things taught in Scripture (John 12:48).
The Bible claims the Word of the Lord endures forever. “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the LORD endures forever.” (1 Pet. 1:24-25). Kingdoms rise and fall, man’s power and influence comes and goes, but God’s words will eternally stand (Isa. 40:8). The words of Scripture are “forever...settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89).
The Bible not only makes these claims but is the only set of documents upon the earth that can stand by these claims. Don’t you think that it’s time that you read, studied, obeyed, and shared the Bible and its powerful message? After all it’s the Bible - our Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth!
- Harold Hancock (adapted by Edd Sterchi); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
Monday, May 3, 2010
The Rest of the Story
The Bible can change not only a life but also an entire lifestyle. Most of us have heard the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, but few of us have heard how the Bible played a very vital part in that historical event. The Bounty was a British ship which set sail from England in 1787, bound for the South Seas. The idea was that those on board would spend some time among the islands, transplanting fruit-bearing and food-bearing trees, and doing other things to make some of the islands more habitable. After ten months of voyage, the Bounty arrived safely at its destination, and for six months the officers and the crew gave themselves to the duties placed upon them by their government
When the special task was completed, however, and the order came to embark again, the sailors rebelled. They had formed strong attachments for the native girls, and the climate and the ease of the South Sea island life was much to their liking. The result was mutiny on the Bounty, and the sailors placed Captain Bligh and a few loyal men adrift in an open boat. Captain Bligh, in an almost miraculous fashion, survived the ordeal, was rescued, and eventually arrived home in London to tell his story. An expedition was launched to punish the mutineers, and in due time fourteen of them were captured and paid the penalty under British law.
But nine of the men had gone to another distant island. There they formed a colony. Perhaps there has never been a more degraded and debauched social life than that of that colony. They learned to distill whiskey from a native plant, and the whiskey, as usual, along with other habits, led to their ruin. Disease and murder took the lives of all the native men and all but one of the white men named Alexander Smith. He found himself the only man on an island, surrounded by a crowd of women and half-breed children. Alexander Smith found a Bible among the possessions of a dead sailor. The Book was new to him. He had never read it before. He sat down and read it through. He believed it and he began to appropriate it. He wanted others to share in the benefits of this book, so he taught classes to the women and the children, as he read to them and taught them the Scriptures.
It was twenty years before a ship ever found that island, and when it did, a miniature Utopia was discovered. The people were living in decency, prosperity, harmony, and peace. There was nothing of crime, disease, immorality, insanity, or illiteracy. How was it accomplished? By reading, the believing, and the appropriating of the truth of God!
Inspiration says, "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
- Tom Moore preaches for the Avenue T church of Christ in Temple, TX. Tom is also one of the editors of “Seek Ye First,” a free quarterly gospel journal. He may be contacted through the congregation’s website: www.avenuetchurchofchrist.com
Count It All Joy
There is not a single person who has not endured human suffering. It seems that some people go through more than their share of suffering, but such is part of the human experience. We often hear those that are frustrated with the crushing blows of life saying, “Why me, Lord!” The God of heaven becomes an easy target for those lashing out when such cases of human suffering knock at our door. There are three kinds of people in the world today: (1) those in the middle of a trial; (2) those coming out of a trial; and (3) and those who are about to enter a trial.
The general subject of temptation or trial is discussed in James 1:1-15. It is apparent that those to whom the epistle was directed were, at the time, suffering in some form, or would be called upon to pass through temptations, and that they needed counsel and support. The young Christians reading these words were faced with challenges; murmuring and complaining, and of charging God as the author of temptation and of sin. Let us consider the following topics:
THE CERTAINTY OF TRIALS (James 1:2). All readers of the epistle of James should expect trials to come with certainty. James wanted these young Christians to understand that this subject was not one of sorrow, but of gladness and joy (James 1:2). These Christians would be called upon to endure severe trials. Enduring these trials would produce patience and grace in a difficult time. Truly we still need the admonition to “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations?” We never know when our faith will be put to the test physically, spiritually, or emotionally. The readers of James epistle were not to regard it as a matter of sorrow, but of gladness and joy to be called upon as they enter through such fiery trials. James was not suggesting that Christians ought to enjoy trials, or that trials are here for a joy. The inspired writer is not referring to some pain for pleasure ritual.
The fruit of such a spiritual exercise would produce patience, and this was to be considered a blessing from God (James 1:2-4).
THE CHALLENGE OF TRIALS (James 1:3). The trials we face in the Christian life could be fittingly described as a test or audition. Trials or tryouts are necessary before one is given the part in a play or theatrical production. All the trials we face in the Christian life compels us to rely completely upon our faith in God, to see if we are able to finish the race (I Cor. 9:24-25). He who passes through these fiery trials meeting the challenges of life gives proof that his religion is sound. The evidence seen in the lives of Abraham, Job, Daniel, Peter, Paul and others gave them courage, patience, and perseverance.
It is clear that the readers of this epistle are suffering in some form, or they would soon be subjected to trials causing their souls to be tested. The word “temptation” in the KJV comes from the Greek work peirasmos. In fact the words “trials” and “temptations” come from the same root word. We must look at the context to determine its meaning.
Trials are given by God that we may learn steadfastness. Temptations are given by Satan to cause us to stumble (James 1:13-15). God uses a trial to test us with the goal of bringing His children to the state of maturity. Satan, with his test, is plotting your misery. Peter drives home this truth: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try (test) you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (I Peter 4:12). Now to be tempted, or tried, is not a sin. Jesus was tempted, but he did not sin (Mt. 4:1-11; Heb. 4:15). Temptation is an enticement, an allurement, or inducement to commit sin.
THE CONFLICT OF TRIALS (James 1:4). God’s people have entered the arena of conflict time and again. The trials of life will often shake us to the core, seeing if we can survive such a trying encounter. And when these trials come to pass, WHAT NEXT? We will either become stronger or weaker. If we become smitten by this conflict, Satan will prevail as we sink into the quicksand of destruction (Mt. 7:24-27). If we stand the test we become stronger, which is the objective of James admonition. He is saying endure the test so that you will be a stronger person. Notice verse three: "knowing this the trying of your faith worketh patience."
Patience in the New Testament refers to three words giving a fuller meaning: endurance, perseverance, and steadfastness. Think of how Paul was under so many trials, but he endured them. He was steadfast; he persevered (II Corinthians 11:23-33; II Timothy 4:6-8). The purpose of a test is two-fold. Tests reveal the "strength" of your knowledge; and it measures the "weakness" of your knowledge.
We may think our faith is strong if we are regular in church attendance, contribute faithfully, live an upright life, and show compassion to the needy. It is only when trouble knocks at our door will we know if we are strong enough to withstand the storms of life. You see, faith not only must stand the test of time, it must stand the test of trouble. Each of us has confronted sudden and unexpected trials that may very well bring us to our knees. Your next phone call may be the greatest trial of your life. Someone on the other end will give you stunning news that you are not prepared for. You will either fall through weakness blaming God, or gird yourselves with faith becoming victorious. We wish you well and “Count it all Joy” when you are subjected to the trials of life.
- Bob Spurlin, the "horizontal" preacher, has been bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis for a number of years, yet continues to faithfully serve his Lord through a number of avenues, most notably his writing. In addition to his website, http://www.bobspurlin.com, you may contact Bob via his email: email@example.com (©2000-2007 BOB SPURLIN).
What the Lord Hates
1) Haughty eyes
2) A lying tongue
3) Hands that shed innocent blood
4) A heart that devises wicked plans
5) Feet that make haste to run to evil
6) A false witness who breathes out lies
7) One who sows discord among brethren
What the Lord Loves
It goes to follow, then, that the opposite of the above would be seven things that the Lord loves:
1) Humble eyes and life
2) A truthful tongue seasoned with kindness
3) Hands that dispense mercy, providing for the needs of all
4) A heart that is always devising ways to do holy things
5) Feet that run to help others, preach the gospel, and worship God
6) A truthful witness of the gospel
7) A peacemaker, one who lives in harmony with the church
Are you doing anything the Lord hates? Please stop it now. Are you doing everything the Lord loves? If not, resolve to do them all, even today.
- Selected; via - via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org