Young People, Difficult Days are Coming

Young People, Difficult Days are Coming

Solomon, the wisest man of the Old Testament, had so much to say to young people about their lives. A quick search of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes shows that he mentions child, children, son, sons, young and youth over 85 times in these books.

Evidently one of the purposes Solomon wrote these books was to give instruction to his children. He uses the expression “my son” 23 times. He wanted his son to live a life filled with wisdom. Take time to think about his closing words to young people found in Ecclesiastes chapter twelve.

Young people

They are certain they have all the answers and wisdom, perhaps its time to turn to the creator.

Remember now your Creator…” These words presuppose that young people would be taught about God when very young. You cannot remember what you have never learned. God’s plan is for children to learn about Him from infancy (2 Tim. 3:15).

“Remember now your Creator…” There is an urgency in these words. It is foolish to wait to do right. Hearts are open and tender in our early years, so do it now! It’s always right to do right, right now! Failure to do this is so foolish.

“Remember now your Creator…” lt is true that He is the Creator of the entire universe, but this concept can be so impersonal and vague. It is imperative that young people realize He made them, individually and personally.

“Remember now your Creator…” He is the Almighty God, the origin of any reality you know. Paul described this in these words, “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God has shown this so clearly that there is not a single person who cannot know of His majesty and power (Rom. 1:19-20).

“Remember…before the difficult days come…” One cannot be wise and not make preparation for what lies ahead. You cannot wait until those days arrive and then deal with them. It is in our youth that we must prepare.

“Remember…before the difficult days come …” There is a strong tendency for young people to live only in the present and fail to look to the future. Solomon speaks of the years when trials will come, and you may be unable to cope with them. Life is not always lived on the mountains of carefree happiness. On the other side of those mountains are valleys of trials.

“Remember…before the difficult days come and… when you say, “I have no pleasure in them.” Very few young people realize that it is in our youth that we set the course for the rest of our lives. There is one decision that we must teach our young people to make. That decision is “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come and years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” God help us to seriously think about this! 

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A Disposition of Inward Joy

A Disposition of Inward Joy

It is a truth of life that our disposition is determined more by our inward man than by our exterior circumstances.

Consider two friends, working at the same job, facing the same difficulties, and yet approaching them very differently.

“I can’t see things ever getting better,” says the first, “I’m getting older, my health is getting worse; there is hardly enough money to pay the bills, and I find no joy in life.”

“Things are great and getting better,” says the second, “Life is wonderful.”

“How can you say such a thing,” asks the first, “You are no healthier than I, no wealthier than I, and you face many of the same difficulties I do.”

“My outward man is dying, it is true, but my inward man is being renewed daily. My bank account is empty, but I have treasures laid up in heaven. And the difficulties are nothing compared to the joy that awaits me in heaven (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16; Matthew 6:19-20; Romans 8:18).”

inward joy

Your Joy will not be found in the earthly accomplishment.

Attitude is everything when dealing with life, and God makes it possible to have a great attitude. Not a naïvely unreasonable attitude, but rather an optimistic hope based in the firm promises of God.

One of the great examples of this, oft cited, is that of the men, Paul and Silas, who, having been arrested for preaching the gospel, subsequently beaten soundly, and then locked, injured and wounded, in stocks in the bottom of a dungeon, spent the next few hours singing songs and offering praise to God (Acts 16:25). Their outward circumstances were as sad, tragic and deplorable as could be; but their sins were forgiven and they had been freed in Christ, and thus had joy in their hearts sufficient as to sing.

These two saints were just following the example of Christ, who, having been beaten, tortured, stripped naked, and nailed to a cross, was able to say, in the midst of pain, “Father, forgive them(Luke 23:34).” Though His outward circumstances were horrific, Jesus was able to commend Himself to God, and had the firm and true hope that He would soon be once more in paradise (cf. Luke 23:43, 46).

In Christ, it is possible to have an attitude sufficient so as to weather any storm, or face any trial, and do so with joy, hope, and love.

Such a feat requires, it is true, a good reworking of the inward man, but that is what Christ truly wants to give to us. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” says the Bible (Romans 12:2). Let God renew that inward man on a daily basis (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:16). Learn to think on those things good, lovely and noble (cf. Philippians 4:8).

Unfortunately, many seek only a superficial sort of religion that consists of little more than outward show. Of such was the religion of the Pharisees which Jesus condemned, likening them to white-washed tombs, that, while they looked rather clean and lovely on the outside, were filled with rot and decay (cf. Matthew 23:27). Such a religion is worthless for overcoming the trials of life, and sadly, in such a religion, there is no true hope. If the inward man is dead, the trials of life will too often prove superior to our faith and joy. We will find ourselves feeling bleak and lost. If the inward man is dead, then we truly are lost, and eternity will be bleak.

If you want the full blessings of Christ (cf. Ephesians 1:3) then you must allow Him to work on changing you inwardly, replacing the worldly with the spiritual, the sinful with the righteous, and the temporary with the eternal. Such change begins with faith and repentance, a forgiveness of sins in the waters of baptism, and a new life in Christ. But as we walk with Christ, through our obedience to His word, we allow Him to continue to work on us inwardly.

Such a process is well worth it, producing as it does, joy eternal, peace that passes understanding, and an overflow of love within and without us. With such gifts, we can weather any trial, and come out as victors (cf. Romans 8:35-37).


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Hypocrisy and the practice of it. Nobody likes it. You don’t like it. I don’t like it. Jesus didn’t like it (Matt. 6:1-24, 23:11-33). Even those who practice it must not really like it, as they so often seem to be some of the most consistently angry, bitter, and miserable people in the world.

hypocrisy run

Where can you go to avoid hypocrisy?

Hypocrisy itself means to wear a mask, to pretend to be something that one is really not, often in order to personally benefit from the deception. Perhaps you may have heard someone who used to attend church regularly say that they stopped going because of the hypocrites there. The fact is that, yes, sadly, there are indeed hypocrites in the church. There always have been. There were hypocrites in the first century church (Acts 5:1-10; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 3 Jn. 9-10). There were hypocrites among her preachers (Phil. 1:15-17). In fact, we are informed by the Lord that there always will be hypocrites amongst religious leaders (2 Ptr. 2:1-3; 1 Tim. 4:1-5). We are, however, also assured that He will personally deal with all such come judgment day, punishing them ever so severely for their hypocrisy (Matt. 13:41-43, 23:31-36, 24:45-51; Rom. 2:1-11).

Having established these foundational facts regarding hypocrisy, let us now turn our attention to the true focus of today’s article: How can one tell, when those who make the statement that they stopped attending (or never started attending church in the first place) because of all the hypocrites there, if that is the real reason why they do not attend, or if that is just an excuse they are using because they’d rather please and live for themselves, than to obey and live for the Lord? The answer is actually quite simple.

If one is being truly honest and sincere in their statement that the reason they refuse to attend the worship assemblies of the church anymore is because of hypocrites in the church, then they should be just as consistent in their outright rejection of any other venue wherein such hypocrisy is present as well. In other words, they should no longer allow themselves to go shopping for food or anything else – because there are hypocrites in the stores. They will no longer be able to go to work, but should immediately quit their jobs – because there is surely hypocrisy in the work place as well. They will never again attend any sporting event of any kind – because of the hypocrites present there. Neither can they ever attend any family, social, political, or any other event ever again where other people are present either – because wherever you have people, you will inevitably have some level of hypocrisy found present in some.

The only way to legitimately guarantee the absence of hypocrisy, is to avoid all other people at all cost… or is it? You see, when one who professes to either love, follow, or even believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of the living God, suddenly decides to disobey His commandment NOT to forsake the assembly of the church for which He was willing to pour out His very life’s blood (see: Hebs. 10:19-39), are they not still, by sitting home alone, completely and totally surrounded and overwhelmed by the sin of their own hypocrisy? Consider for a moment: To follow Jesus is to obey His commands (Jn. 14:15-21). To obey His commands is to NOT forsake the assembly (Heb. 10:23-25). Therefore, is it not the absolute height of hypocrisy for one who claims to know andfollow Jesus, to yet disobey Him by forsaking the assembly of His church? Scripture certainly seems to so say.

So what is the answer then? How do we properly deal with and avoid the ever-present sin of hypocrisy in the assembly – or anywhere else for that matter? The answer is incredibly simple: Let us do exactly what Jesus did. (WWJD?) First off, He certainly did not stop associating with Peter, James, John and the rest of the apostles, simply because one of their number – Judas – was a complete and total hypocrite. And make no mistake about it, Jesus knew that about Judas from the very beginning. He knew that Judas was both a “devil” (Jn. 6:70), and a “thief” (Jn. 12:4-6), and that he was simply posing as a faithful disciple for whatever personal gain he might possibly be able to get out of it. In fact, so incredibly convincing was Judas in his hypocrisy, that even after three and a half years of very close, intimate, social and spiritual interaction with and amongst Jesus’ closest disciples, none of his peers ever even suspected what an incredibly fake, false, self-serving and hypocritical tool of Satan he truly was (Mk. 14:17-19; Jn. 13:18-30).

Secondly and most importantly however, is precisely how Jesus did deal with Judas’ hypocrisy instead (as He set the perfect example for how we should go about dealing with the ever-present sin of hypocrisy within the groups we frequent as well – and particularly when it comes to our assembling with the saints). Jesus never abandoned assembling with them, but instead, determined to be there and teach by both word, deed, and especially His example, exactly what a life completely devoid of hypocrisy truly looks like so that others could see and emulate it. That is what those who truly want to avoid hypocrisy in the church will do; while those who are simply using the hypocrisy of others as an excuse to avoid assembling with and serving them, will simply and sinfully continue to sit at home, completely submerged in their own self-imposed style thereof.

Which are you? We’ll see on Sunday…

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Thank You Lord for Older Christians

Thank You Lord for Older Christians

Forgive me, for sometimes I do not think about how hard it is for you to come to worship. I take for granted things like putting on clothes and driving to the church building. I rarely think about how much pain you endure in getting in and out of a car or sitting on a hard church pew.

While you may fret about whether your hair is too thin or whether you are too slow, I want you to know what I see. I see love—love in a form that Jesus wants me to see it. Words cannot adequately describe your beautiful warm smile and the love you show for everyone in our church family. Your hugs are like being wrapped in a blanket of love—something I desperately need in the hustle and bustle world we live in today. I see a person who has weathered many years and truly knows the things that are important in life—a lesson that I’m still learning.

older christians

Shining hearts are hidden within the cloak of years.

I suspect when you look in a mirror you see an old person—someone who feels the aches and pains of many years. But that’s not what I see. I see someone who I long to see sitting in “your pew” every Sunday.

You see age-spots on wrinkled hands that sometimes tremble.
I see the caring hands that reveal years of hard work, and gentle hands that have held many children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren.

You see someone who can’t hear well and whose voice sounds rougher with each passing year.
I see someone who sounds just like my grandparents—a sound that I treasure in my heart.

You see someone who shuffles down the aisle and is slow.
I see someone who may need an arm for support and someone who is teaching me a good lesson on patience.

You see someone whose hair is thin and white.
I see someone whose hair reveals years of wisdom.

You see someone who you think will not be missed if you are not there on Sunday.
I see a pillar of our church family—someone who makes everything feel just right.

You see someone whose clothes may be out of style.
I see someone who has amazing stories of what life used to be like.

You see someone who can’t cook as well anymore.
I see someone whose pies and cakes are legendary at fellowship meals—and maybe someone who is now giving me an opportunity to provide meals for them.

You see someone whose memory doesn’t work as well.
I see someone whose very presence edifies and encourages me.

You see someone whose has aches and pains, and feels old and tired.
I see a Christian soldier who still puts on the whole armor of God and is showing me what living faithfully until death really means.

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Bible Contradictions Question

Bible Contradictions Question

A co-worker tells me he doesn’t believe in the Bible because there are so many contradictions in it.  What should I tell him?

(The following directly comes from the Apologetics Press two-volume book by Eric Lyons, The Anvil Rings.  I highly recommend it as a study that deals with supposed contradictions within the Bible.  It contains much more information needed to know to answer the charge of supposed scriptural contradictions than what I have listed below.)

First, ask him if he has an “innocent until proven guilty” attitude toward the Bible.  A teacher cannot justifiably assume that a student who makes a perfect score on a test without studying for it in fact cheated.  He may have received all the information elsewhere at another time, or perhaps he learned everything well enough that he didn’t need to study at home.  He may have even got lucky and guessed correctly on the questions he didn’t know.  In our daily lives we generally consider a person to be truthful until we have evidence that he or she has lied.  The same rule should apply when we read a historical document or a book, including the Bible.

Bible Contradictions

Many things on their face seem to be contradictions. Yet, context and study show this not to be the case.

Next, ask him if he allows possibilities to suffice as solutions for supposed contradictions.  If we believe the Bible is innocent until proven guilty, then any possible answer should be good enough to nullify the charge of error and contradiction.  Not just any answer, but any possible answer.  When you study the Bible and come across passages that may seem contradictory, you don’t necessarily have to pin down the exact solution in order to show their truthfulness.  You need only show the possibility of a harmonization between passages that appear to conflict in order to negate the force of the charge that a Bible contradiction really exists.

For example, who was present when David at the showbread?  Christ says Abiathar (Mark 2:25-26), while Samuel says Ahimelech (1 Sam. 21:1).  Did Jesus contradict Samuel?  Not necessarily.  Perhaps the two names belonged to the same man (like Peter who was also called Simon Peter, Simon, and Cephas.)  Perhaps Jesus didn’t mean that Abiathar personally ministered to David, but that the event with David and the showbread occurred in his lifetime (“in the days of”).  Notice also that Samuel refers to a priest named Ahimelech, while Christ mentions a high priest named Abiathar.  A priest was not the same as a high priest, so two different men in two different offices could have been mentioned in both accounts.  Any of these possibilities suffice to negate the charge of a contradiction.

Also, ask him if he understands that a genuine contradiction must refer to the same person, place, or thing in the same sense in the same time but in different ways.  One of the main problems in a discussion concerning alleged contradictions is that most people do not understand what constitutes a genuine contradiction.  Nothing can both be and not be.  A door may be open, or a door may be shut, but the same door may not be both open and shut at the same time.  With reference to the door, shut and open are opposites, but they are not contradictory unless it be affirmed that they characterize the same object at the same time.  So it is very important that one recognizes that mere opposites or differences do not necessitate a contradiction.  For there to be a bona fide contradiction, one must be referring to the same person, place, or thing in the same sense at the same time, but in different ways.

Suppose someone says, “Terry Anthony is rich,” and “Terry Anthony is poor.”  Do those two statements contradict each other?  Not necessarily.  How do you know the same Terry Anthony is under consideration in both statements?  Maybe Terry Anthony in Texas is rich, but Terry Anthony in Tennessee is poor.  The same person, place, or thing must be under consideration.  Plus, the same time period must be under consideration.  Terry Anthony could have a fortune in his youth but then lost it all in a stock-market crash.  At one time he was rich, but now he is poor.  Also, the statements must be talking about the same sense.  Terry Anthony could be the richest man alive, but he is poor if he is not following God.  On the other hand, he could have no money whatsoever yet still be rich in spiritual blessings.

Keeping these principles in mind, it’s easy to see that Luke did not contradict himself by describing the death of James in Acts 12 only to describe James as a church leader in Acts 15…because the James in Acts 12 is a different James than the one in Acts 15.  Likewise, the ark of Genesis 6 is not the same ark of Joshua 3.  God seeing that everything he made was very good (Gen. 1) does not contradict him being sorry that he had made man (Gen. 6), because the events of Genesis 6 took place hundreds of years after the events of Genesis 1.

Finally, ask him if he understands that supplementation does not equal contradiction.  Suppose you are telling a story about how you and a friend went to a Braves game.  You mention what great defense the Braves played, and your friend talks about their clutch hits in the final innings of the game.  Is there a contradiction because your friend talks about their offense but you mention only their defense?  No, he is simply adding to (supplementing) your story to make it more complete.  That happens in the Bible a lot.  Matthew 27:57-60 says Joseph put Jesus in the tomb, while John 19:38-40 says Joseph AND Nicodemus did so.  Contradiction?  No, because John is simply supplementing Matthew’s account.

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