Our culture in the USA has taught us that you work hard until 65 or 70 and then it’s time to retire from everything, relax, and do whatever your heart desires or in other words, nothing at all, including spiritually. That’s not what we read in the Bible. Take the story of Caleb. Caleb stands as an inspiring and encouraging example of having enormous spiritual energy at the age of 85. He first appears as one of the 12 spies that Moses sent out to scout the land of Canaan. Upon returning, all 12 men confirmed the land’s beautiful layout, but 10 of the scouts focused on the land’s fearless inhabitants (Num. 13:31-33). Joshua and Caleb believed that God would find a way for Israel to conquer the Canaanites (Num. 14:6-9), telling the Israelites to immediately take the land (Num.13:30), but the people wanted to stone both Joshua and Caleb (Num. 14:1-4, 10). God protected them and punished the people (Num. 14:11-38). Later, God rewarded Caleb and Joshua for their faithfulness. Among all those who left Egypt, Caleb and Joshua were the only ones to enter the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey.
I’m sure that Caleb witnessed many people die over the 45 year period of wandering in the wilderness, but his faith did not diminish in that time (Josh. 14:6-15). In (Josh. 14:10-11), Caleb states, “ today, I am 85 years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then.” (NLT version)
WOW, 85 years old and Caleb still had the spunk of a 40 year old. I’m sure that Caleb helped preach over several funerals too, over that 45 year period in the wilderness, and he still had a great attitude and faith in his creator. I’m also impressed with the fact that since Joshua was in the spotlight after the death of Moses, Caleb was not jealous, but faithful in serving God in whatever situation he was in, to the fullest, and didn’t lose his spiritual energy or zeal for serving God. He never made an excuse because of his age either. His testimony reveals his character and rock solid faith in God and his promises.
We need to overcome the obstacles, including the doubts and fears in our lives, as Caleb did, and accept the reliable promises of God with staunch faith and courage even in our golden years. It’s very encouraging to see older men like Ward Hogland, preaching Christ at 87, as strong as he did in his 40’s, with the courage and conviction to preach the truth. When I see men like Bill Cavender, who preached the gospel up until a few months before his death, whose faith never wavered, and he looked so forward to being with God, even though he’d miss his earthly family here; that is encouraging and teaches us what Biblical faith is all about. As we approach our later years and are rounding 3rd base, let’s serve God with unabated vigor, serving God faithfully and believing in his promises, trusting his grace, until our last breath, just like Caleb did.
– Phil Barnes
I Peter 5:6-10 has always been one of my most comforting and favorite passages, especially as I grow older. There are times in our life when things kind of seem unbearable. During those times, we often feel like we’re the only ones going through this type of mental anguish and pity ourselves. Peter warns and encourages us by stating, ” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time” (I Peter 5:6). God’s help will come at just the right time. “Casting all your anxiety on Him, because he cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).
In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul tells us the same thing. Take your cares and worries to God. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). I Thessalonians 5:6,8 also warns us to be alert and sober.
Perhaps Peter remembered his own difficulty in keeping awake during Christ’s agony in Gethsemane. (see Matt.26:36-46) ”But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (I Peter 5:9). How comforting to know that there are others who are going through the same trials as we have to endure, and they have not wavered under the storms of life.
God has always provided a way for us to handle any situation in life. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, and strengthen and establish you” (I Peter 5:10). God has always provided a way for us to handle things in this life through his grace and providence. We must be patient and endure the storms of life in order to make it to heaven.
Life is short and eternity is forever. We can prevail by the grace of God.
In this wonderful country of ours, that allows all Americans freedom of religion, some people believe the Bible was written by inspired men. They believe it describes a God who created man, the earth and the entire universe. They also believe it contains God’s plan of redemption, from the Old Testament through the New Testament culminating with Christ’s death on the cross. In God’s plan, Jesus lives a sinless life and was sacrificed so we can have forgiveness of sins. The New Testament also describes the establishment of the Lord’s church, and the spread of the gospel throughout the known world. We believe the New Testament reveals that men will be judged and will either go into heaven to be with the Lord or suffer in hell with the devil and his angels.
There are other people who choose not to believe in God. They refuse to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and that when we die there is no life after death. There are still other people that believe in parts of the Bible. They believe there is a God and some of the Bible is inspired by Him, but some of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, was written by uninspired men and is mostly composed of myths and fables.
Now let’s consider the above scenarios. I believe with all my heart the Bible is from God and that we will be judged for the way we live. But for this discussion, let’s say there is no Heaven or Hell, when we die, all ends. Those individuals that followed the Bible lived a wonderful stress free life. They did not cheat on their spouses; therefore they were not eaten up with guilt, always afraid of being caught by their mate. They did not cheat on their income tax; therefore, they are not afraid of an IRS audit which would catch them. Because of their spiritual training before they married, they do not commit sexual sins that might lead to a pregnancy or contracted some type of sexually transmitted disease. If they get sick or become incapacitated in any way, their brothers and sisters in Christ will take care of them. When they lose a loved one, their brothers and sisters in Christ will be there to comfort them, prepare food for their family and many other acts of kindness. There are many more reasons I could give why being a faithful Christian results in a wonderful life on the earth.
Now for all those that reject God and his Bible nor accept God as our Creator but reject parts of his Holy Scriptures, would their life be as happy as the individuals described in the above paragraph? I have personally known some that I worked with that rejected God and his teaching. They decided to enjoy the worldly life style. They wanted to have a good old time doing what they wanted to do. Some were having affairs, always lying to there mate, always worrying about getting caught. I have known others addicted to drugs and alcohol that lost their family and jobs. They were mental wrecks. I have known others addicted to the internet and all the things it had to offer, i.e., pornography and other impure things. They would spend hours on the computer filling their mind with filth and garbage found there. How could anybody be happy with this life style?
Now let us fast forward to the end of time, and we find out there is a God, there is a judgment day when all people will be judged for the way they lived. We find out there is a Heaven and a Hell. What happens to those that loved the Lord and lived their lives as His children? We read in Revelation 22:14, “Blessed are those who do my commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and enter through the gate to the city.” Also in Revelation 21:4, “And God will wipe away every tear from your eyes there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
This is what happens to those individuals that reject all or part of God’s Holy Scriptures, and lived a life contrary to the scriptures. We read in Luke 13:27-28, “He will say I tell you, I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the other prophets in the kingdom of God and yourself thrust out.”
Also, in Revelation 21:7-8, “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly, unbelievers, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstones, which is the second death.”
What if you make the wrong choice???
There are two things that most of us understand in this life, these are commitment and dedication. Haven’t we as parents encouraged our children to commit themselves to getting a good education and to be careful who they pal around with or the company they keep, telling them as they get older to pick certain goals, commit to these goals and pursue them? If you don’t follow these basic rules of wisdom, then you will divert your attention to some other area of involvement, be it good or bad. They may completely leave their former goals and direct themselves to something different.
I would like to notice two examples of this area of commitment and dedication. The first being the quarterback of a very recognizable football team. He is probably the best and most successful quarterback of any football team in the world today. Let us ask the question: How do you suppose he got to where he is today? I’ll tell you how, “commitment and dedication”. He set his mind to the challenge and diligently pursued his goals. Suppose this quarterback quit practicing and communicating with his coaches and fellow teammates. Let’s say he stopped all community affairs and meeting. He removed himself from all football related involvement and became involved in something else totally separate and apart from football. Doesn’t he cease to be a football player?
The next example is a farmer, a “tiller of the land.” He raises crops to feed his family and provide food for the hungry. He makes a living from farming and supports the local farmers co-op and even brings visitors to the meeting. He is dedicated to his chosen field. Let’s say this farmer stops preparing the soil, stops planting seeds, stops all cultivating; therefore no harvesting. He stops paying his dues to the co-op and farmer’s organization. When he stops doing these things that identify him as a farmer, doesn’t he stop being a farmer?
Now let’s apply this line of reasoning to a Christian. He is committed to serving Christ. He attends all the services of the church whenever possible. He uses his talents to further the Gospel, honors the leadership of the church and brings visitors to the services when he can. He studies his Bible and prays daily. He gives as he has been prospered. He is a positive influence to those around him. But in time he stops studying his Bible, he stops praying, stops attending services, ceases to do personal work. He stops giving as he has been prospered. He stops living a faithful Christian life. May we notice; just as when the quarterback quit playing football, he was no longer a football player and when the farmer quit farming, he was no longer a farmer, we may surely say that the Christian who stops living and serving as a Christian, he effectively ceases to be a Christian. If we are not serving Christ, we are serving our own desires and the things of this world.
James 4:4 says, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God.” This verse does not speak of God’s attitude toward the believer but the believer’s attitude toward God. Notice Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Consider the Apostle Paul in Romans 6:4, “We are buried with him in baptism…we should walk in newness of life.” Notice the last part of Romans 6:6, “That we should no longer be slaves of sin.” Romans 6:12 says, “ Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies, that you should obey it in its lust.” Romans 6:16 says, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” You cannot serve two masters; for you will hate the one and love the other or else you will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore, the most recognized football player, the dedicated farmer and the committed Christian can leave that to which they were so dedicated and committed. Let us consider who we are serving in this life. It is ultimately our decision.
God’s word places great importance on TIME.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, and a TIME to every purpose under the heaven.”
Ephesians 5:16 “Redeeming the TIME, because the days are evil.”
Psalms 89:47 “Remember how short my TIME is.”
James 4:14 “For what is your life? It is a vapor, that appeareth for a little TIME and then vanisheth away.”
Today’s society is very TIME conscious. We have our bedside alarm clocks, watch alarms, cell phone alarms, day-timers, Blackberry meeting reminders, and on-line schedules to remind us of important meetings and appointments.
In light of all this emphasis on TIME, how do we prioritize our TIME for meeting with our brothers and sisters to worship God or to study his word?
When was the last TIME you were late for:
Movie at a theater
Kick-off or tip-off of a sporting event
Dinner with friends at a restaurant
Business meeting with your boss or a client
In contrast, how often are you late for :
Bible study on Sunday morning
Worship services on Sunday
Bible study on Wednesday night
Special services where God’s word is being taught
Accidents happen, sickness occurs, but be honest with yourself, most cases of being late, anywhere, are due to poor planning in advance and bad habits which could be cured by leaving the house five or ten minutes earlier. Being late to services or classes disrupts the concentration of the teacher and the other students or audience. Give your spiritual life as much importance as your secular and social life and TIME will not be an issue.
I would like to ask a question for your consideration and study. After a sermon or Bible study or even a conversation with someone have you ever said, “that lesson or sermon was great, a very good presentation,” when really we thought the sermon or lesson was not as good as we indicated? Don’t we express our thoughts sometimes as positive when in reality our thinking about them may be more or less negative? We can voice our opinion about the matter and the person hearing it will think that is exactly what we meant when it really wasn’t. Will they know that what we said was not really what we meant? No, of course not. We are not given the ability to know the thinking of others. Our thoughts are our own, unless we reveal them.
I have spent quite a bit of time thinking about my prayers to the God of Heaven, trying to search my mind and select the proper words as I approach Him in prayer, are they too long, too short or repetitive in content. Do we sometimes listen to the prayers of others and ask the same questions?
May we consider Prov. 23:7? “For as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” I cannot know what is in a man’s heart; neither can I judge a man by his prayers. Notice with me what these Scriptures say. In Luke 24:38, Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled? Why do thoughts arise in your hearts?” He knew the disciples thoughts. They didn’t tell Him; He knew their mind without them even speaking. In Matthew 9:4, “Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?’” These Scriptures tell us that God knows our mind before we even express it.
Romans 8:26-27 is very comforting to us when we think of how we express ourselves in our prayers. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weakness. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the heart knows what the mind of the Spirit is because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” As we pray, choosing words that we feel are appropriate for praying to the God of Heaven, it is a great comfort to be assured that the Spirit speaks to God words that cannot even be uttered by us.
May we search the Bible and apply the teaching that it contains to our daily lives.
At this time of year many Christians struggle with how to deal with Christmas among their family, friends, co-workers and other Christians.
How do we present the story of our Savior’s birth, a true and essential part of our faith?
How do we deal with “gifting”, why do we give gifts to others at this time of the year?
As a family, do we have a tree in our home or not? How was this tradition started, is it appropriate for Christians to observe this tradition?
What do we tell our children and grandchildren about Santa Claus (St. Nicholas), is there a place for fairy tales and myths in the life of a Christian?
Can we as Christians sing traditional spiritual songs associated with this Christmas season?
As a congregation, do we avoid any preaching, teaching or songs that would lead our visitors or others to believe we condone the religious celebration of this season?
I will not attempt to answer all of these questions.
We do have scripture that cautions us about observing special days, Galatians 4:10.
We do have scripture that teaches us to do good unto all men, Galatians 6:10.
We do have scripture that teaches of the Greatest Story Ever Told; Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of our Lord.
We do have scripture that teaches of the Greatest Gift ever given, John 3:16.
We do have scripture that teaches that our Savior died on a tree (cross), different from this traditional tree.
We do have scripture that teaches us to teach and admonish each other in song, Colossians 3:16.
At this time of year I am always reminded of Paul’s teaching in Philippians 1:15-18. ” not withstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached, and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.”
In whatever way Christians choose to observe the traditions of this season, let us seize every opportunity to teach Christ!
I worked at Vanderbilt Medical Center for over forty years. The medical center had a number of specialty Clinics. One of the most popular centers was the Nutrition Clinic. At this clinic patients were taught how to manage their special diet. One day I was going past that clinic and saw a sign over the door that said “WHAT YOU EAT IS WHAT YOU ARE.” I got to thinking, what exactly does that mean? Then it came to me that the nutritionists were trying to get over the concept that if we eat unhealthy food that has high fat content, a lot of salt or sugar, and low fiber we will most likely be obese and very unhealthy. The nutritionists were trying to get their patients to eat healthy foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Meats that we eat should be low in fats like fish and chicken etc. This diet will lead to a healthy body.
This concept applies to our spiritual health (What You Think Is What You Are). Think about it, when we spend a great deal of time watching adult themed movies, read adult books, spend time on the internet watching adult websites, we are poisoning our spiritual lives. We will be sick and unhealthily spiritually. There is an old saying “Garbage in, Garbage Out.” In 1 John 2:15-17 we read, “Love not the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.” When we watch and read this filth, we develop a lustful attitude. We read in James 1:14-15, “but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed then when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
It is easy to see when we consume all this garbage, our mind as well as out spiritual life will be very unhealthy and sick. Paul tells us in Philippians 4: 8 what to meditate on: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy meditate on these things.”
In order to live the life God would have us to live, we must not simply refuse to eat whatever is found in a garbage bin, but actively seek to eat of the finest delicacies available. These finest (spiritual) delicacies can be found by spending time in God’s Word. When we do this we will develop a healthy spiritual life. 2 Peter 1:4-8 defines the growth of a healthy Christian. “By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we want healthy physical bodies, we will eat good healthy food, and if we want healthy spiritual lives, we will spend time in God’s word and think on principles found there.
Let us make a deal. You read this short article concerning the reality of life and how we look at it and accept it. If it does not create some thoughts as to how we view our lives while on earth, then my time writing this would not have accomplished what I would have liked. On the other hand, if these few thoughts will cause even one person to look at the events in their lives and consider what the point of this article is, then I would have accomplished my intended purpose.
We prepare and train for important contests; it does not matter the type. We push ourselves; we sweat and suffer through rigorous daily routine preparing ourselves to meet our or someone else’s goals. How much effort and energy do we put into training and preparing for jobs and careers. Don’t we think ahead and make plans for our children and their future education?
Do we ever plan for a vacation? Wow, the thought and planning that proceed this coming event. Just think of the time and effort that goes into making sure the event goes well and is well remembered by all those involved. When it’s over, it’s back to the regular and normal life after having enjoyed that for which we made so much preparation.
May I redirect your thinking with this question. Is there a place that you and I will be going to and never return? You have heard this statement sometimes in your past: “From the cradle to the grave.” This is certainly a true statement concerning man’s existence on this earth. It is an accepted truth that we are not immortal; we don’t live forever in this earthly body. Simple evidence: look at the records of our relatives or, more simply, look around and see the evidence of natural aging up to the point of one passing from this life and not being here on this earth anymore.
By observation and plain understanding, we see there is a place we are going and will not return. Shouldn’t we make plans and prepare for this last trip before our existence here on this earth ends.
Let’s see what the Scriptures say in Hebrews 9:27, “And it is appointed for man to die once but after this the judgment” (NKJV). In Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead small and great before God and the books were opened and another book was opened which is the book of life and the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books”(NKJV). Certainly the question arises, how does my name get into the book of life? The context of the verse is those who labor and work in the Gospel are there.
Is this not a reasonable conclusion that we prepare and make plans for trips in this life but neglect to make plans and prepare for the journey that we will not return from? These Biblical instructions are for our thinking and consideration. May God give us ample opportunity to consider these most important matters as we live.
Through the centuries this challenge has taken on a more complex meaning in disagreements with peoples and nations.
The Mason-Dixon Line is usually thought of as the dividing line between the North and the South in our country and symbolizes a great conflict that tore our nation apart.
The Maginot Line was a fortification built on the eastern border of France for protection from invading armies. During World War II the German army passed to the north of the line and attacked the French from the rear capturing the line.
During the Korean Conflict (War) the United Nations Security Council established the 38th Parallel as the line which North Korea was to retreat to and not enter South Korea beyond that line. North Korea ignored the resolution and invaded the South.
Spiritually speaking, we are called upon to draw lines every day.
Where do we draw the line when it comes to sin? For example, where do we draw the line when we are faced with decisions about drinking alcohol, taking habit forming drugs, or having sexual relations outside of marriage? Do we see just how close we can get to the line and then convince ourselves we will not cross over the line? Do we run with a crowd that is always pushing the line and testing us to see just how far we will go?
As Christians, we often sing the song “Have You Counted The Cost.” The first verse begins, “There is a line that is drawn by rejecting our Lord.” If we reject the Lord, we can live anyway we please and have little conflict. If we cross over the line and accept Christ, we are signaling the beginning of a battle. We will battle Satan everyday as he tries to devour us (I Peter 5:8), but our reward will be eternal victory in Jesus (I John 5:4).
Where have you drawn the line?
–by David Coleman