Sometimes we look for something to pray about. Opportunities and needs abound if we could only identify them. A prayer with a purpose is a prayer with real direction. So here’s a topic that meets all three of these areas. Continue reading
Three times in his opening statement, young Elihu talks about “what I know” Job 32.6, 10, 17. He could hardly wait for the three older friends of Job to stop talking. They failed to convince Job of his sin, and now he’s sure he can do it. He’s going to “explain” it to them. Continue reading
My heart is overflowing with thanksgiving as Douglas and I approach next weekend when we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.
The Bible says “life is a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” That is the way we feel as we look back on our married years, or even our life in general. I imagine that you feel the same way if you are in the older generation. It may be that you, like I, wonder how Christmas has “slipped up” on us so fast. It seems it comes earlier and earlier every year. A day, a month, a year, yea even a lifetime, is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then “whoosh” and it is gone.
We hear people say, “Oh, if I had my life to live over, I would do so and so,” or “If I could go back…” But we can’t go back. There is no redoing life. It is a one-time shot, and we have to give it our best to gain the best life here and in the life to come.
So what would I suggest for a person looking at the beginning of their life? Let me think… Continue reading
Jesus Christ said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14 NKJV). When children were brought to Jesus “He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16 NKJV). If “child abuse” is doing something wrong to children, then what about parents who abuse their child’s heart and soul by setting bad examples of: drug & alcohol abuse, disregarding marriage with their dating and divorce, smoking and spitting tobacco, filthy language, and immoral television programs and movies? If “child neglect” is not doing what is right to children, then what about parents who keep their children from Jesus Christ and His Christian followers? “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NKJV).
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.
We have already, in our JG studies, considered the characteristic of cooperation or interdependence. This is the quality of being a team player so that others can count on you and of having confidence in other faithful brethren so that you can count on them. There are so many ways that we need each other. We need brethren to help us when we are overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1). We need help with our overburdens (Galatians 6:2). We need elders to watch for our souls (Hebrews 13:17) We need to provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). We need to be examples to one another (1 Corinthians 11:1).
Yet, at the same time that we keep a cooperative spirit, we must be ready to stand alone, to act for God even if no one else will. That is what the characteristic of independence is about. We will not stand before God in judgment as a family or congregation. We will stand as individuals. In this life, we must independently follow God.
By independence, I also do not mean independent from God. Anytime we work without God properly in the picture, we are lost. The psalmist said, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). God wants us to depend upon him (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Independence, rather than acting apart from God, is the choice to work for God by obeying Him and living for Him even when others neglect to be obedient (Hebrews 2:3).
Many times we are moved by peer pressure to compromise our beliefs. Sometimes extra pressure is brought to bear to intentionally ignore some principle we know is true. And, it is especially true that in many congregations there are no comprehensive plans that will involve every member of the congregation in the work. We, must learn to be active for the Lord and strong for the Lord regardless of whether we are part of a congregational program or not.
Consider some people who were independent in their actions for an example to us. Consider the
independent action of Joseph recorded in Genesis 38-39. Hated by his brothers and enslaved, he still rejected the seduction of Potiphar’s wife. He still dealt honestly with his master. After being imprisoned, he did not sour on God and think that he was not taking care of Him. Rather, his continued integrity kept him in both God’s favor and that of the prison keeper.
I love the story of Micaiah in 1 Kings 22. When Ahab sent for him after hearing all his prophets tell him he would be successful in taking Ramoth-Gilead. Ahab desperately wanted Jehoshaphat to go with him to war, so the messenger sent to fetch Micaiah told Micaiah to agree with the other prophets. Micaiah’s answer will always be classic, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord sayeth unto me, that will I speak” (1 Kings 22:14).
I also believe that Jonathan was a man of independent action for God. Read 1 Samuel 14:1-14. Israel was at battle with the Philistines. Jonathan, while the army was at rest decided to take the battle to the Philistines. His words to the armor bearer in verse 6 are the words of one who depends on God and acts even when others are not.
And I especially love two passages in the book of Acts that speak of independent action on the part of many of the first century Christians. In Acts 8:1-4, after the death of Stephen, the disciples went everywhere preaching the word, but the apostles were not in the number. In Ephesus, Paul was daily, for about two years, disputing in the school of Tyrannus, but all Asia heard the word. In both of these cases, there was no program led by elders, no full time preacher going to every place, just disciples, men and women, acting independently to take the Lord to the world.
Brothers and sisters, God has given us all we can do if we will. No program is needed. No leadership is essential to my salvation.
- I can follow God.
- I can make a point of doing good for people so their heart will be opened.
- I can pray in depth for those I know.
- I can continuously ask others for studies.
- I can learn the Bible well with diligence.
- I can try to save erring brothers and sisters.
- I can be hospitable.
- I can qualify myself to teach or serve some other way.
There is never a time when every member could not fully employ his time in the Lord’s work where he or she is.We must do our own work and stand before God alone.
There is uncertainty regarding the author, time, or circumstances of these Psalms, but it is apparent Psalms 120-134 work together, and are called the “Songs of Degrees,” and sometimes “Songs of Ascension.”
Verses 1-4 mention scars from youth while prevailing;
Verses 5-8 describe uselessness in life for God’s enemies.
Verses 1-4: (Verses 1-2) The “afflictions” from “youth” are what shape us as adults. Since this appeal is for “Israel” to say this seems to indicate the “afflictions” were what was happening to them in Egypt when they started as a nation (Exodus 1:8-14). Much later, God said: “I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15). Those who did the afflicting “have not prevailed.” (Verse 3) Egyptian slave masters scarred Israelite backs just as if plows had left the scars! (Verse 4) The righteous (upright, responsive to truth) LORD “cut” them free from “the cords of the wicked” (Exodus 2-15).
Verses 5-8: (Verse 5) Leave it in the hands of the LORD. To “hate Zion” in the Old Testament, meant to despise God’s Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, and the Israelites who worshiped there (Psalm 68:16; 87:1-3). The other side of God’s promise to bless His people who obeyed, was that He “will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you” (Deuteronomy 30:7). (Verses 6-8) This recognition of what God could do to enemies is based upon a frequent practice in the Mid-East, that is, to cover their roofs with dirt, plant grass which grew quickly with rain, but then as quickly dried out before it could be mowed or harvested. In other words, it would be worthless as to its usefulness and quickly forgotten. And the punishment from the LORD for His enemies should include no future blessing because of a good harvest, such as was used in Ruth 2:4. The desire is that God would make enemies suffer because of their own unworthiness.
Thought: When Jesus came, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). It was prophesied of Him: “Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). He took the scars of sin upon Himself to establish the church of Christ in its youth (Acts 2:22-41; 20:28). Becoming a Christian means casting our sins on Him in repentance (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), and being baptized for salvation from those sins (Acts 18:8; 1 Peter 3:21). Then God will render enemies useless (Proverbs 6:12-15; 1 Timothy 6:3-5).
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
It is fitting that the greatest tribute to the Word of God is IN the Word of God, itself, and is in the longest chapter of the Word of God! This Psalm has no author’s name, historical incident, or other distraction from its theme. It is divided into 22 sections (one for every letter in the Hebrew alphabet), each consisting of 8 lines, each line beginning with the alphabet letter of that section (aleph is the first letter of each line under the aleph section, for instance). The chapter uses some 8-10 different words to describe the Word of God, each bringing something extra to the total picture of the Word of Truth. In order to savor the depth and richness of teaching in this Psalm, we will examine each portion as if it were its own chapter.
Beth: Cleansing One’s Way
Verses 9-12: (Verse 9a) “A young man” who sins can become an old man who sins, so to enjoy our “golden years” we must clean up our act when “young.” “Cleanse” indicates a life that has become “dirty,” not one that needs no clean-up! Also note that each individual is responsible for cleaning up one’s own life, not blame others (parents, teachers, employers, friends, family) for failings. The cleansing comes by: (Verse 9b) “heeding” God’s “word;” (verse 10) whole heartily seeking God; holding to God’s “commandments;” (verse 11) hiding God’s “word” in one’s “heart.” (Verse 11) Hiding God’s Word in our heart simply means we have embedded its teachings in our thinking. God never promises that we cannot sin, but that we will find the continual practice of sin inconsistent with obeying His Word. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness;” “Whoever abides in Him does not sin;” “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:4, 6, 9). It is impossible for a child of God to consistently practice sin, and at the same time, consistently practice righteousness: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). (Verse 12) God “teaches” through “statutes” (lines showing limits of what is acceptable to God). He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Verses 13-16: One who is obedient: (verse 13) cannot keep silent, but vocally teach and acknowledge the “judgments” (right or wrong decisions) from God’s “mouth;” (verse 14) must “rejoice” (be happy with life’s new direction) in God’s “testimonies” (witnesses to God’s character and concern), considering them “riches;” (verse 15) “meditate” (focus upon) on God’s “precepts” (notice or care about one’s conduct); “contemplate” (center attention upon) God’s “ways” (direction); (verse 16) “delight” (take pleasure, leap for joy) in God’s “statutes” (clear lines proscribing what is pleasing to God); making it such a part of one’s thought and conduct will make it impossible to “forget” God’s “word” (language which conveys exactly what God desires us to do.
Thought: Isn’t this exactly what the New Testament shows happened in Acts 2:38-41? “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’ 40 And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
This month has been about courageous love. We have tried to connect the fact that when we love, we are compelled to have the courage to risk ourselves for the benefit of those we love.
Christ’s entire ministry was conducted with the risk (certainty in His case) that his loving but courageously firm actions would lead to his death. That death was for the world, yet would only spiritually benefit the few who would take advantage of it.
Our text for today is Jeremiah 36:1-32. God had warned Jeremiah that his work and teaching would not be well received. In Jeremiah 1:10 that he would root out, pull down, destroy and throw down before he could build up and plant. Knowing his work would not be well received, the Lord told him in Jeremiah 1:16 to “gird up thy loins, speak what I command thee and be not dismayed at their faces…”
There was no question about the courage of Jeremiah as he carried out the work of the Lord which led to his imprisonment (Jer. 37:4), his forced removal from Jerusalem and some scholars say that he died at the hands of his brethren.
What I am interested in is the love of Jeremiah for these people who treated him so badly.
As his love led him to pray on their behalf, God told him not to pray for this people (Jer. 14:11). As he sent the scroll to be read that would send him to prison, his thought was that it might bring them to repentance (Jer. 1:7).
Brothers and sisters, courageous love does the difficult work of the Lord with the prayer and hope that it will bring men to repentance. Whether we are teaching the lost, restoring the erring or disciplining the rebellious, our love and courage go together.
Brothers and sisters, we have turned into another month. Our Joshua Generation characteristic for the month is Servant Attitude. Our slogan is, “Make me a servant, Lord, make me like you.”
Our text for this first JG bulletin in John 13:1-17. This is one of the most often-told events in the life of our Lord. Entire books have been written based on this text. Hundreds of sermons have been preached. Still, it is worthy of our consideration again even though we may know it by heart. I commend the following points for your consideration.
• The vital importance of service: This is the last free night of Jesus upon the earth. He knew his hour had arrived. For three years He had been training these men who followed Him. What should his final messages be on this final night? He chose three, love, unity and servanthood. All of these were actually bound up in this act of foot-washing. But it is His servanthood to which we address ourselves today. It shows compassion. It shows understanding. It shows humility. It is an extension of God’s grace. It is kindness. For all these reasons and more, Christ chose it in these final hours. Continue reading
The book of Proverbs shows itself to be an equal opportunity defender in 2:16-19. Not only will God’s word protect young people from “slick talking men” – it will protect them from “slick talking women” too!
Verse 16- Solomon tells his son that the pretty young from down the street has grown to be trouble in the neighborhood. While the word “strange” (KJV and others) can refer to a foreigner, it can also refer to someone who has become “estranged” from a covenant or lifestyle. She wasn’t leaving; she was already gone. This is the exact reason we find the words of verse 17.
Verse 17- She was raised to know and do better! While this can’t be said for every person, it can be said for her. In all likelihood, verse 17 indicates not only the abandonment of her God (covenant), but also the betrayal of her husband (companion of youth). So Solomon says beware my son, she knows the right words (vs.16), but she doesn’t have the right heart!
Verse 18-19 – It’s a one street with a dead-end sign. Solomon introduces a topic that every young man must be warned about – the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. It’s a big warning about a little bit of sex and it won’t be the last time these wise words are given to this naive young man. One can almost hear Solomon saying, “Don’t make the same mistake I did.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that Solomon understood how easily temptation could overtake a young person through lust. He knew everyone is only young once, but Solomon never once minced his words to his children in the book of Proverbs – sin leads to death every time no matter how pretty it may be!
Solomon is warning his children that everyone they meet won’t be interested in their well-being. If they don’t keep on their toes, they’ll soon be walking a path that needs to be less traveled. These admonitions are still as valuable today as the day they were given.
Verse 10 – The realization of the blessings in verses 11-12 are based upon the condition of this verse. “When wisdom enters…when knowledge is pleasant to the soul…” then a heads up will be given when sneaky characters come our way.
Verse 11 – Listen to God and we can better know when we hear garbage and foolishness and sin that harms the body, soul and spirit! If it doesn’t pass the sniff test, it doesn’t pass the test! This is the essence of discretion and understanding.
Verse 12 – Why are wisdom and knowledge essential? They can help keep young people from slipping on the words of the “slick talking men” who prey on them.
Verse 13-15 – Think the base characteristics of people have changed? Think again! The same promises to lure the young people of yesterday are still used as bait today. And everyday someone puts down their better judgment to take a little nibble, only to find the hook of wickedness set firmly in their heart.
There are wolves on every corner, so Solomon is urging his young sheep to carry a ready stick!
Good morning everyone. Our text today is found in Ps. 119:97-104. Of course, as we said in an earlier lesson, all of this psalm is excellent reading for an attitude toward knowledge of the Word. Each of these eight verses has a lesson for us.
- 97: O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
- Have you thought about what it means to love the law. Sometimes the law of God is our strongest rebuke. Do we love it then? Sometimes it requires us to forego what we may consider a sweet pleasure. Do we love it then? Sometimes it may require of us activities that we strongly resist. Do we love it then? Our love for the word must go beyond our wants to our welfare. We must love it because of the pure character it creates in us. We must love it because of the disciplined person it causes us to become. We must love it because it has the only instruction that can save us and those we love and know. Our fleshly feelings about what we want or do not want must be subjugated to our love for God and therefore for the word he gives us.
- 98: Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
- Wisdom, the commodity more precious than gold, can only be ours through the understanding knowledge of God’s word. We need not mistake worldly wisdom for getting rich or getting ahead or gaining prestige as the most valuable wisdom. Solomon had all of this freely given to him by God, but the wisdom he needed to gain for himself through the knowledge of the word was lost to him as he squandered his time on earth in pursuits that would not help him in judgment.
- 99: I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
- We spend a lot of time studying about a lot of things. If at home, our parents have reverently taught us the Word and impressed upon us, by word and action, it’s precepts, then we are more educated than our teachers. They may know math, science, grammar (or whatever), but we know the mind of the creator through his revealed will. May we do as much for our own children.
- 100: I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
- Once again we see that understanding comes with knowledge. You see, with the correct knowledge, we are able to put things in the proper perspective. We learn that if we love God and His word more than our family, then we have loved our family in the highest way we can upon this earth. We learn that if we love spiritual life more than physical life, then we are ready for death while others are still preparing for retirement. We learn that it is more important to save a soul than save a dollar. It is more important to die than to live, to serve than to be served. With knowledge, we are prepared for life and for death. Most of the multitudes that have come before us and that surround us do know this.
- 101: I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
- It is knowledge that leads us from evil so that we can be prepared for death. Restraint that we exercise because of God’s word does not limit our life, it make it rich. Trust, safety, security, certainty, love, health, family are all results from following principles of God. Crime, lawsuits, fear, divided families, broken bodies, insecurities are the result of evil. The more we keep the Word, the more we escape these evils. The more we refrain from practicing these evils, the more we appreciate the Word.
- 102: I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
- We must keep the word continuously, not just occasionally. “If we walk in the light…” (1 Jn. 1:7) denotes continuous action on our part. Not only has God taught us that, He is helping us do that (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 4:16).
- 103: How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
- When we realize all that God’s word does for us, we will naturally love it. We must, however, continue to partake of it in order to keep a taste for it. We must not mix it with the ingredients of sin or our taste will change ever so subtly till we no longer have a taste for the word of God. Protect yourself and your children from this doom.
- 104: Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
- I pray that I am constantly working on my mind to “…Abhor that which is evil and cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). It is hard for me to have the mind of God toward evil if I do not constantly fill my mind with what he says. This is why the Bible is full of admonitions to God more knowledge. To walk with God we must be in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3).
From a series of key words and studies for youth, by Mike Glenn
Hi everyone. God says it… that settles it! Our slogan rings with the truth that whether it is a command, an exhortation, or simply a statement from God, we must give it the fullest respect or obedience possible. Our memory verse this next week is John 14:15. Today’s text for study is Phil. 2:1-11. We will pay particular attention to the example that Christ set in respecting the authority of God.
It is not demeaning to be under someone. Everyone is under someone. Christ was equal with God according to our text (v. 6). Yet, out of his love for us he gave up that equality and “made himself of no reputation.” He placed himself under the Father (1 Cor. 15:27). Yet, Christ is not demeaned for his sacrifice and willingness to be under the authority of God. Rather, even among non-Christians, he is considered the best man who ever walked the earth. Yet, there can be no doubt he was also the most submissive to the Father’s authority. Sometimes others try to demean us when we respect authority. Kids may call their friends sissies, teacher’s pet, mamma’s boy when those kids choose to honor authority rather than rebel. Even among adults pressure in the form or ridicule or anger is brought in order to get someone to disrespect authority.
Humility is essential in respecting authority. The scripture says that Jesus humbled himself (v. 8). Without humility we might tend to think that we deserve to be our own authority. This is the way most in world act. Such a feeling would cause us to chaff under authority or even rebel against authority. A study we will do later on about Korah will show this very attitude (Num. 16:1-17:13). One of the important ideas of respect for authority is to recognize that we need authority over us, especially God (Is. 55:8-9). Such an attitude will make us thankful for rule and guidance in our lives. We will appreciate those who have accepted that responsibility.
Respecting authority results in obedience to that authority. Verse 8 also says that Jesus became obedient even to death. We sometimes disobey God just because He asks us to go a little out of the way such as Mt. 5:16 would require. Jesus was obedient to death, but we have not yet resisted unto blood (Heb. 12:4).
Brothers and sisters, let’s respect the authority of God as did our Savior.
Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Became 21 Years of Age!
by H. Leo Boles*
20 truths and principles that teens and adolescents would still do well to learn and heed!
The youth of just about every generation has much difficulty with the older generation’s way of doing things. I suppose this is the result of technology advancing and the youth thinking their parents are rooted (stuck) in old ways. However, unless the old ways have been shown to be inadequate there is no reason to dismiss it (them). This was the problem of Jeremiah’s time also. This problem was complicated because it was not the younger generation rejecting the old ways, but the nation! They refused to heed the Lord’s warnings and because they did this the Lord brought punishment to them. However, if they would have simply followed the “old paths,” that good way and walked in it, then their lives would have been spared (Jeremiah 6:16). The old path upon which many walked and prospered was rejected, and so was the nation. Can’t we learn something from that?