The Bible View #810 — Church Members

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In This Issue:
Every Church Has Them
What Can Keep People from Church
The Church of His Own Opinion

Volume: 810   May 17, 2021
Theme: Church Members

Every Church Has Them
Bill Brinkworth

Every church has its good and bad members. The church that John was writing to in III John had several of both categories, I am sure. However, the apostle wrote of three members in his letter.

Two of the members were good representations of what a Christian should be. Gaius was the “well-beloved” (III John:1). He was most likely a friendly person who many loved. Many reports from the church told John how Gaius was a blessing to the church family (III John:3, 6) and how the man attended to the needs of other Christians (III John:5). It was evident by his concern for the brethren that he truly loved the members of his church.

Another blessing in the church was Demetrias.  John also heard good things said about him (III John:12). These two were an encouragement to the apostle’s heart. It is always good and encouraging to hear how people get saved, get their hearts and lived changed by the Holy Spirit’s work, and do much for the cause of Christ and the people of God.

People like those two encourage others by their proof of love for the family of God. They are sometimes part of the reason many stay faithful in church. However, even if we are saved, we still have sinful flesh to contend with, and there will often be “stinkers” in every church. In this church, there was one like that. His name was Diotrephes.

Diotrephes had a terrible testimony in the eyes of others. Instead of showing the spirit of meekness the other two good members showed, this man exhibited improper Christian behavior. He was known for always wanting recognition (III John:9). 

I can imagine Diotrephes was one of those that always had something to say. He was the one that got much of the attention and the glory. He refused to accept John the Apostle and any missionaries John sent to the church (III John:10). This discontented man did all he could to talk poorly of John and his work. Diotrephes even had people kicked out of the church that showed charity to anyone Paul sent to the ministry.

This type of man ruins the testimony of any ministry. When man tries to get the glory, which Diotrephes was attempting to receive, the Holy Spirit is grieved. The work for Christ in a ministry can come to a screeching halt. That is one reason many once-thriving churches are now spiritually dead and doing little for the cause of Christ. Men like this man, unfortunately, often become an excuse for many leaving a church. 

In every ministry, there are two types. The good workers are the light in this dark world. They make the church a Christian family. The evil (III John:11) should be ignored and not be the reason anyone leaves a church. If one quits because of a “Diotrephes,” one can be assured that the Holy Spirit is not involved in the decision. If you have one or more of “Diotrephes” in your church, do not leave. Get your eyes and ears off them, and keep them on the Saviour. He will never let you down, and He is the reason you should attend anyway!

“You are not too bad to go to church.  You are not too good to stay out!”  
— Author Unknown


What Can Keep People from Church
Bill Brinkworth

“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be ableto stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11

Daily the Christian must prepare himself to ward off the wiles, or tricks, the devil has for him. Satan’s stratagem is to do all he can to keep us from obeying God. One area he prompts us to be disobedient in is for us not to attend church.  However, we cannot blame all our disobedience on him. Our pride, laziness, and sinful nature also keep us from being faithful in attendance.

Some of the popular excuses in keeping many from faithfully attending church are:

Church “hopping”: Church attendance is a must for Christian growth. God has raised up a pastor of a local church to minister to your needs. When you miss church, you miss what God had for you that day. When you are a church member and go to this church today and another one next week, your “hopping” around keeps you from attending the church God has for you.

Discontentment: If God originally pointed you to that church to join and attend, you need to stay there until He tells you to move! “I’m not happy with the preacher” or “That church is too cold” are not excuses not to attend. The question should be, “Does God want me to attend there?”

Hurt feelings: All churches are made up of humans. All humans are sinners. Therefore, there is no perfect church! People will accidentally or purposely say the wrong things. Everyone gets their feelings hurt sometimes. I am sure you have hurt other’s feelings. Again, the question should be, “Did God call me here?” If He did, hurt feelings are not a legitimate reason to leave a church.

Sin: When people are purposely sinning against God, they most often do not want to be reminded of it. Where will they be reminded of it? In church. That is often why they will not attend.  However, to get one’s freedom back from the control of sin, one should hear the Word of God, not avoid it.

Conviction: When the Holy Spirit of God urges people to halt their sin, instead of obeying His small “voice,” they avoid it by keeping out of church. Sometimes they even join another church, where watered-down preaching does not remind them of what God has already spoken to them about.

Lack of understanding of the things of God. Since they do not read their Bible and do not know what it teaches, when they hear hard, convicting preaching from the Bible, they stay far away from it.  Ignorance of the Word of God keeps many from attending a strong, Bible-believing church.

Legitimate reasons, such as sickness, vacations, or work. Sometimes good excuses keep people from attending church for a week or so. That is understandable and happens. However, because they miss, it is easier to miss twice, then three times, then it is months since they attended the ministry. Breaking a routine of consistent church attendance is a subtle way of stopping faithful attendance.

Pride: “No one shook my hand,” “They are such an unfriendly church,” or “No one is going to tell me what to do.” These thoughts and others reflect that the sin of pride is involved.  Pride keeps many out of church.

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

“Don’t wait until six strong men have to carry you to church in a casket.  Go when you can walk in.”  — Author Unknown



The Church of His Own Opinion
Bill Brinkworth

“Well, I need to get up.  It is Sunday.  I need to go to church,” he thought, as he rubbed his eyes. He struggled to make the first move of the day out of bed.

“But then again, why do I have to go?  God is everywhere.  So why can’t I worship Him here or on the lake?  I know, I can take the boat and go fishing.  It will be okay with God.  I’ll just talk to Him out in the boat and admire all He has made.”

The convicting voice of the Holy Spirit whispered, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is…” (Heb. 10:25a).

That fleeting remembrance of the verse soon left as the half-slumbering sluggard drifted in and out of sleep. Minutes later, he again awoke and continued his thoughts.  “Besides, the preacher is not always right anyway.  He thinks the Bible is the only source of knowing God’s way.  Why, it’s just a book and probably has a lot of mistakes. What does he know?  Besides, I’m a good person, and I think I know what is right. I don’t think you have to go to church every time. I don’t think God wants me to stay away from everything bad.  I know He wants me to have fun sometimes. He probably doesn’t expect me to be perfect.”

Again the soft voice of the Holy Spirit put in the contemplator’s mind a verse that was preached the last time he was in church, “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

The fleeting reminder of the verse did nothing to change the opinion of the dozing man. Another thought was chased around by the man’s logic. “Yeah, I’m a good person.  I don’t need the preaching and Bible reading like those other folks. I do a lot of good things, and God knows about them. As long I’m not as bad as the others, I’m sure it’s okay with God.”

The Holy Spirit wanted to shouts, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Rom. 3:23), but He did not think the man would listen.  He decided He would try one more time to speak to the hardening heart, “… There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Rom. 3:10b).

The verse was received in the half-slumbering mind, but it, too, was ignored. “Well, if I don’t go to church, I can save some money by not putting it in the offering plate. Besides, the preacher just wants my money.  That church has got more than enough.”

Immediately, the Holy Spirit thought of the verse about how not tithing is robbing from God (Malachi 3:8-10).  Still, He reasoned, “Why should I tell him. He’s ignored everything I tried to tell him already.  He will just rationalize it somehow.  Probably the old excuse, ‘Well, that’s just an Old Testament verse and not for today.’  He has decided to do what he wants and will not obey anyway.” The Holy Spirit was silent to the slumberer and spoke no more.

Ten more minutes of dozing continued until finally, the man made another move to get out of his bed.  He already had formulated his plans for the day. He would walk the dog, get breakfast, and hook up the boat and head out to the lake.

One more local Church of My Own Opinion had just let out, but there would be millions of them meeting all over the world.  It was the most popular denomination.  As with most of the meetings, the Holy Spirit’s voice was not wanted to be heard, so He was likewise silent in most of their “services”.  He was very grieved (Eph. 4:30).

“I wonder why people change churches all the time.  What difference does it make which one you stay home from?”  — Author Unknown

The Bible View #809 — Contentment

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In This Issue:
It’s Not Natural
We Can be Content
Be Content
The Two Chimneys
Blind, but Content
Paul’s Advice to Christians

Volume: 809    May 10, 2021
Theme: Contentment


It’s Not Natural
Morning and Evening, Spurgeon (Edited)

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

The words in Philippians 4:11 show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil.

We need not sow thistles and brambles.  They come up naturally enough because they are indigenous to earth, and so we need not teach men to complain.  They find fault fast enough without any education.

The precious things of the earth, however, must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plow and sow it.  If we want flowers, there must be a garden and all the gardener’s care.

Contentment is one of the flowers of Heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated.  It will not grow in us naturally.   The new nature (II Cor. 5:17) can produce it.  Even then, we must be especially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us.

Paul says, “I have learned… to be content” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned and then broke down.  When at last he had acquired it and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, close to the borders of the grave — a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome.

We might be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities and share the cold dungeon with him if we, too, might by any means attain his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmuring, natural though it be, and continue to be a diligent pupil in the College of Content.



We Can be Content
Watson, 1696 (Edited)

If we should put some men in a job that they are not skilled in, how unfit would they be?  Put a farmer to drawing pictures, and what strange work would he produce?  Usually, he would be out of his expertise.

Take an artist that is exact in his use of colors and put him to the plow or set him to planting and grafting trees, and he most likely would not do it properly.  It was not his skill and would not be done right.

Bid a worldly man to live by faith and to be content will be expecting him to do something he has no skill in.   He will not excel.

To live contented upon God’s provision and promises is a way of living which “… flesh and blood hath not revealed it…”  (Mat. 16:17).    However, many of God’s children who have learned to trust Him are content in the state they are allowed to be in (Phil. 4:11).  They are pleased with what God has provided or allowed them to experience.  Their training and history with God’s help have taught them to be satisfied in the faithful hands of their Master.

“And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”  I Timothy 6:8



Be Content
Watson, 1696

The best way to be contented is to believe that the condition is best which God carved out for you. If God had seen it fit for us to have more, we would have had it.  His wisdom chooses the best for us.

Perhaps we could not manage great wealth.  Having all this world can offer includes great temptations that could be our demise. What many see as the answer to their woes can bring great loss and unhappiness.
“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4:11

“Enough is an abundance to the wise.



The Two Chimneys
Bowden

Two chimneys stood near each other on separate houses.   One was high and therefore very conspicuous.  The other short, just jutting above the roof.

“What a contemptible structure you are,” said the tall one, looking down disdainfully on his neighbor, the short chimney.

“I know,” said the short smokestack.  “I am but a very humble thing.”

“You need to look up very high to see my top,” boasted the tall chimney.

“Yes,” said the shorter one.

“Why, you are hardly worth the name of a chimney at all,” remarked the other.  “You are so short!”

“I don’t pretend to be greater than I am, though I am just as high as I ought to be for my purpose,” replied the little chimney.

“As high as you ought to be? Well, that is funny.  Why you are little better than a mere hole in the roof,” said the tall one with a loud laugh.

“It isn’t becoming that all chimneys should be of one height,” said the little one modestly.  “It is fitting that some should be high, like you, and some low down, like me.  Our duties are the same.   We are pretty much equal for our use, whether tall or short.”

The morning light showed the short chimney smoking as usual. Where was the tall one? Alas!  A storm that had come suddenly during the night swept it from its lofty place because it was so exposed.   It lay now only a heap of bricks on the ground.

“How thankful I am,” said the little chimney, “that I was so low.  Had I been high, like my poor neighbor, I might, and no doubt would have shared his unhappy fate.” The little chimney was content and grateful he was what he was made.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Prov. 16:18

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”  Hebrews 13:5



Blind, but Content
Bill Brinkworth

Because of poor medical treatment, Fanny Crosby lost her sight at a very young age. Although the life-altering blindness changed her life, the writer of over 9,000 hymns accepted her condition and did not let it dominate her life.  Even at eight years old, her content attitude was evident in a short poem she wrote:

Oh, what a happy soul I am,
Although I cannot see!
I am resolved that in this world,
Contented, I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy
That other people don’t,
To weep and sigh because I’m blind
I cannot, and I won’t!

When someone asked William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army,  his great secret to happiness, he replied, “I never said ‘no’ to the Lord.”



Paul’s Advice to Christians
Bill Brinkworth

In closing his letter to the Hebrew Christians, Paul left them with seven pieces of advice dealing with a Christian’s social duties. They were:

  • To love other Christians (Hebrews 13:1).
  • To be nice to strangers, especially because we do not know that when we do, we may be entertaining angels (Hebrews 13:1). This informs a Bible reader that angels are real and that we may contact them more often than realized. Because we may entertain them “unawares,” the art depicting them with wings and halos is not accurate. If they had those features, we could distinguish them from other people. However, if they looked like normal men, we would never know if we had communicated with them. You may even come in contact with an angel today!
  • To be concerned about the difficulties others are going through as if they were your trials (Hebrews 13:3).
  • To remember, marriage is the “honourable” thing, whereas adultery and fornication (sexual relations without being married) are not (Hebrews 13:4).
  • To be content with what you have and not to covet the things of others (Hebrews 13:5).
  • To be respectful and obey those with leadership responsibilities over you in your church (Hebrews 13:7, 17). It is the preachers, teachers, and other church leaders who God uses to minister to us. They have to answer to God for how they lead those under them. The least we can do is obey their leadership.
  • To not fall for false doctrine (Hebrews 13:9). Study the Scriptures and evaluate if what you are hearing is taught in the Word of God. If it is not, stay with what the Word of God teaches!

Paul felt this advice would benefit the early Christians if they would heed his counsel. Over two thousand years later, it is still excellent advice for one to follow.

The Bible View #808 — False Teaching

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In This Issue:
Free from False Religion
Free from What?
They Looked “Religious.”  They Acted Righteous.
What Is Not Salvation

FREE printable versions of this Bible View and others, (including the large print and the church bulletin versions), can be found at https://openthoumineeyes.com/newsletters.html.

Volume: 808    May 3, 2021
Theme: False Teaching

Free from False Religion
Bill Brinkworth

One of the most deceptive, dangerous forces hampering the growth of Christianity has always been the false teachings and intents of some “spiritual” leaders. Jesus battled those that claimed to be of God but were not. It was even the “religious” leaders who orchestrated His death.

Paul warned of wicked leaders and had to battle their attacks against him and his stand for the Word of God.  In II Peter 2, Peter also warned his readers of those that claim to be of God but are not!

Peter red-flagged false prophets (II Peter 2:1-3). They claim to be knowledgeable about God’s Word and His way but sometimes subtly stray from the truth and promote their philosophies. Often their motivation is not to advance God’s way, as they advertise, but for their gain (II Peter 2:3). They sometimes try to take advantage of God’s blessings on His people for their benefit.

Today, we see “Christian” celebrities often with their hand out trying to get the money that should go to support a local church to reach their local community. Instead, they get hold of that money and use it for their cause.  In the last 40 years, many Christians have been disappointed when they discovered the offerings they sent to radio or television preachers were absconded for personal rather than ministerial use. Too many have deceptively made “God their belly” (Phil. 3:19).

No matter the lies the false prophets and teachers sow and the destruction (“pernicious ways” – (II Peter 2:2) they commit, they will not get away with it. The fallen angels did not get away with their sin (II Peter 2:4). A godless people of the time of Noah did not get away with their sin (II Peter 2:5). The wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrha did not continue unchecked. An all-seeing God will only sit by for so long. One day, His judgments will fall on those that oppose Him by teaching false spiritual doctrine (II Peter 2:9). No one gets away with iniquity!

No false prophet or teacher will ever stand in their position of authority and admit, “I am teaching you false doctrines.” They will hem and holler at any suggestions they are wrong. They will insist that they know the truth (“presumptuous” – II Peter 2:10), and one that is opposing them does not know the truth as they do.

It can be a no-win situation if believers do not know ”thus saith the Lord.”  If man would search the Scriptures for himself like he is commanded in the Word of God (II Tim 2:15) and know and live the truth, false prophets, teachers, and other religious leaders would have little audience for their often blasphemous teachings.

The cure for false teachings inside the local church’s doors is wary, Bible-educated believers and followers. When believers shirk their responsibility to study the Scriptures, false teaching will prevail and grow. It is long past the time that we as Christian people should learn the Scriptures for ourselves and stand up for Its truths.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32



Free from What?
Bill Brinkworth

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32

When you know and follow the truths preserved in God’s Word, you will be free, but free from what?

You can be free from:

  • The penalty of sin in a tormenting Hell and later in the Lake of Fire.
  • The hopelessness of not having guidance and help from the Lord.
  • The bondage one’s sin has on a person.
  • Making wrong relationships, decisions, and doing things you may regret the rest of your life.
  • The uncontrollable demand to heed sinful temptations.
  • Falsehoods that are taught or believed are often contrary to what God’s Word commands. Believe and obey the Word of God, and you will have your eyes opened to the deceptions and dishonesties that are peddled as truth and fact. God can give much discernment to the believer, and it will change how he sees what is happening around him.
  • A troubling, worrisome future with little hope.

It often is not an easy road to be untangled from sin’s grasp and to follow God’s will and way.  There may be many failures, weak moments, and struggles, but the freedom one gains by following God’s truths is worth it all!

“The appearance of religion only on Sunday often proves that it is only an appearance.”  — Author Unknown



They Looked “Religious.”  They Acted Righteous.
Bill Brinkworth

The Pharisees were a powerful, controlling, Jewish group that boasted about and led “spiritual” activities in Jesus’ time. They were known for their separation from the scripturally “unclean” practices of the worldly Gentiles. Their roots came from the intellectual scribes that had much to do with understanding and preserving the Scriptures. At the time, if anyone were considered to be “godly” people, certainly it would have been the Pharisees.

However, Jesus had much to say against this sect. It was some of these “religious” people that opposed Jesus and tried to stop His preaching.  This group taught contrary to what the Word of God taught. It was the Pharisees that led people in the wrong direction about spiritual matters.

John 8 tells much of what Jesus knew about this religious but unrighteous group, including:

  • Their judgments and discernments were often determined by their weak flesh and not by God’s influence (John 8:15).
  • They did not know God (John 8:19). Although this group was known for their wisdom of the Scriptures, Jesus knew that they were not of God. They did not even know the true God, and He was not their Father (John 8:44).
  • Their garb and practices led people to believe they were religious, but Jesus knew that they were not of God but of the devil (John 8:23, 44).
  • Their man-made “religion” would not save them. Unless the “religious” believed in Jesus alone, they would die in their sins (John 8:24).
  • They did not realize that they were held captive by their sins. They were not spiritually free (John 8:31-37).
  • The truth of God did not direct their lives (John 8:37). They were not obedient to the Word of God they had claimed to follow (John 8:37-39).

Today, we may not be controlled by the Pharisees, but we still have “religious” among us that are not righteous. Even if they are faithful in going to church, doing “spiritual” things, or even talk the “Christian talk,” they may be as spiritually dead as were the Pharisees.

God’s Word reveals that today’s “religious’” errors are often the same as the Pharisees clung to and that Jesus rebuked. “Religion” does not save or change anyone! Only a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and trusting in God’s Word will change anyone — from the inside out!

A religion that is small enough for our understanding is not great enough for our need.” — Balfour



What Is Not Salvation
Bill Brinkworth

The Bible DOES NOT say that salvation can be gotten by:          

  • Doing many good works and earning one’s way to Heaven.
    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Believing there is a God and Jesus. Satan knows and has talked to both the Father and Son, and he is certainly not going to Heaven. Believing and knowing there is a God is not enough.
    “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41
  •    Believing you are a good person and worthy of Heaven.
    “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10
  •   Obeying all the doctrines of a church, or even the Bible. Without Jesus as one’s Saviour they are just good deeds. Unless one receives Jesus as personal Saviour, all “religion” is in vain.
    Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6
    “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
     Matthew 7:22-23
  • Being a member of any church or religion alone will not guarantee anyone Heaven.
    “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:8-9

Just having a saved mother, father, or a “grandfather that was a preacher.” The salvation of others cannot get anyone into Heaven. Salvation is a personal relationship with God. No one can get saved for us.

The Bible View #807 — Godly Advice

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In This Issue:
Getting Advice
Advice on Handling People Problems
Advice on Handling Difficulties

Volume: 807    April 26, 2021
Theme: Godly Advice

Getting Advice
Bill Brinkworth

Sometimes I am surprised where some people get their “wisdom.” I remember asking a young lady, “Why would you go to your peers and ask them about dating?”

I turned to the person giving the advice, “Have you ever dated?”

“No,” the adviser replied. “My parents won’t let me yet.”

Back to the person asking the advice, I commented, “So, she has no experience in the area you are asking about, yet you would have made life-changing decisions based on what she suggested you do.”

She shrugged, “Probably.”

“Wouldn’t it be wiser if you went to a person with experience in the area you need help?” All I got that time was a nod. “And who could you go to that has that experience and is personally interested in helping you with no strings attached?”

She thought about it and replied, “Well, my parents.”

It makes more sense to go to someone who has been through the trials you face when getting advice. As the teenager in the above account, there is an entire world going to the inexperienced or poor examples for advice.

Seeking wisdom from poor sources is not limited to young folks. Adults are far guiltier. There are people following marriage advice from television-celebrity psychologists, whose own marriages are on the rocks. Other celebrities give out advice, who on the same show they are giving counsel, have the psychologists trying to help them with their problems. People unquestionably follow their suggestions.

Many go to friends, television celebrities, newspaper columnists, psychologists, and even fortune-tellers for answers. The people that are relied on for truth and wisdom often have lives as confused as those seeking guidance and who are also without solutions to life’s problems.

It is wiser to have one that made the right choices and decisions in the past to help guide the way, not one that is still stumbling to find the right solutions themselves. For Christians, we have a good reliable, always right source for advice. Our never wrong, raised-a-million-zillion-children counsel can come from God. Through prayer and the scriptures, He can direct our paths in the right way. His directions are never wrong.

He loves us so much, and because He knows we will face many difficulties through our lifetime, He left a guidebook to help us through our lives. This map-through-life is the Bible. One entire book is even dedicated to sound advice. It is the book of Proverbs.

Throughout the Bible’s pages, one will find advice on who and who not to marry, how to get friends, how to know for sure that your eternal future will be in Heaven, how to handle anger, how to be successful, and much, much more. If the Word of God were read and followed, psychologists, high school counselors, marriage counselors, and many other advisers would be looking for work.

The only way this wisdom can be extracted, however, is by reading it yourself! To whet your appetite for reading the Word of God, here is some of the Bible’s advice:

  • Advice on who to marry and who to befriend: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” II Corinthians 6:14
  • Advice on getting friends: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24
  • Advice on how to get to Heaven: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” John 3:3
  • Advice on getting the right advice: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:6
  • Advice about listening to advice: “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.” Proverbs 12:15
  • Advice on how to handle a hostile person: “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
  • Advice on keeping out of trouble: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” I Thessalonians 5:22

Unlike fortune-tellers, television hosts, marriage counselors, and even parents, God’s advice is never wrong. Obeying God’s guidance will always guarantee counsel that is best for us. We may not always like what we read, but Father knows best. He has led many before us through the same trials and tribulations we may be facing. All the Christian needs to get His direction is to read it for themself in the Word of God and then follow it.



Advice on Handling People Problems
Bill Brinkworth

 “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” Matthew 18:15-17

Everybody has had a problem with somebody sometime. What does the Bible say to do when you are offended? It does not suggest starting a smear campaign and tell everybody your side of the situation to get them on “your side.”   That usually gets a bunch of people bitter at the other person. When you do that and convincingly get that person to think you are right and the other wrong, you are bringing the innocent listener “shame and folly” (Proverbs 18:13) for making them judge a situation without hearing the other side.

The Bible also does not say, when another has offended you, to hold it all in. That often results in one having a severe case of “bitterness” against that person. Waiting around for him to come to you and getting it right is also not on the Bible’s recommended list of ways to handle problems.

It does say, if one is a Christian, to go to the other person. Many times, that person may not even know they have offended you. Going to the person one-on-one will often solve the problem. When you go to that person, you may discover:

  • He did not mean it the way you understood it.
  • That you heard it wrong!
  • An alternative way of looking at a matter.
  • That you were 100% wrong!

I have often been embarrassed when I talked with a person and found that my being upset was not justified. It takes courage to face a person when they have offended you, and they may not always accept your confronting them. That is why the next step to get the problem solved is found in Matthew 18:17-18.

There may be a time to settle the differences between you and another person, you may have to bring an unbiased person with you to be a witness in further communications with the one that offended you. Rarely, it may even be necessary to take the matter in front of the church if the Christian is a member of your church.

People shudder at the Bible’s way of handling a problem. Most do not address the situation correctly. It may be one reason there are many disgruntled people in churches. It is also why many “… soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:19) and why there are so many trying to live with bitterness.

Follow God’s advice in solving a problem between one another. Our heavenly Father knows best; He has raised billions of children!

“Sin hurts!  Once burned, twice learned — hopefully” — Author Unknown



Advice on Handling Difficulties
Bill Brinkworth

James, who some believe to be the brother of Jesus, gives practical advice in this writing. One of the most helpful and oft-experienced situations for all people, including believers, is discussed here. The “good” side of going through difficulties is examined in James 1:2-6.

Here James identifies the difficulties, trials, and enticements all face as “divers temptations.” Although most initially shudder at even the thought of going through different problems, James exposes what can positively be gained by going through our individual “valleys.”  Instead of agreeing how terrible it is to have problems, James encourages Christians to “… count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;” (James 1:2).

How could anyone be joyful when facing joblessness, heartaches, financial problems, family problems, or the thousands of difficulties we all face in our lifetime? James tells us we can be “joyful” because:

  • The trying of our faith during the hard times builds our patience (James 1:3). Since there usually is not much we can do but wait until the trial passes, we learn to wait patiently and trust the Lord during those hard times.
  • The practical lessons on patience we learn build a good Christian into a “tested” believer. Most of us have some person in our life that we have observed as more spiritual than ourselves. We are often amazed at how calm and patient they are when they face difficulties. They did not wake up one morning and decide to be patient for the rest of their lives. They got that way because they went through hard times, got close to God, and saw that His help sufficed to deliver and guide them. The next time they faced an unfavorable situation, they remembered all He had done in the past and did not get frazzled. Their learned patience (James 1:4) built their character and trust in the Lord.
  • When we go through a “temptation,” we go to the Lord in prayer more than we ever have before. In doing so, we get closer to the Lord, see how he supplies wisdom as to how to handle our trial (James 1:5), and have the potential to have our faith increased.

Trials and tribulations are not something anyone desires to go through, but after going through many of them and drawing close to God during those times, we can learn that they are not so bad. The valley of “temptation” can be joyous, as our God guides us through the treacherous pathways.

“…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

The Bible View #806 — Christian Living

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In This Issue:
The Flesh Is Alive and Kicking
Other Verses about Our Flesh’s Weakness
A Blessing or A Curse
Stand Up And Tell Them

Volume: 806    April 19, 2021
Theme: Christian Living

The Flesh Is Alive And Kicking
Bill Brinkworth

For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Romans 7:15-20

On one early winter day, I cut down many small trees and brush hoping to build a new garden there in the future. My friend and I stacked them in a large pile to burn later.

Three months later, I burned that well-dried pile of brush and trees. As I was feeding the “dead” cut limbs into the fire, I noticed something very unusual.  Most of the old foliage, except the pines, had sprouted buds, and in some cases, little wisps of green leaves were showing.  I thought they were dead even before they were cut down, but there was still life in those old limbs. The plants must have been feeding off stored sugars in their branches, even though they were long severed from their roots.

This curiosity reminds me of the dilemma that most Christians battle their entire life. They may have accepted Christ as their Saviour and even repented of most of their sins, but every once in a while, their old sinful habits, thoughts, and actions rear their ugly heads.

We may be saved from the wages of our sins and are forgiven by our Creator, but we still have the same flesh with which we were born. Our flesh still would like to sin. If we do not keep a tight rein on it, it will certainly take back its control and do what it wants, rather than what the indwelling Spirit of God desires us to do.

It is a battle that we all face. When we least expect it, our old life can pop up and try to grow.  That is why those saved and serving God for a long time can fall as quickly as those saved for a shorter time. If sin creeps in, anyone can fall.  Temptation or sin allows the old ways to attempt to flourish in our lives again.  The “old man” (Rom. 6:6) in us will come back to life if we let him.

With God’s help, we can avoid many temptations by obeying His commandments, having a regular prayer life, and feeding daily on the Word of God.  It is possible to limit the damage done by our old sinful nature. Being stronger spiritually is the only way to keep one of our main enemies, our flesh, under subjection.

We can be victorious in living the way the Lord desires. He would not command us to do something that is not possible. Our old, sinful nature does not have to be fed. Make the right spiritual decisions.  Do not give in to the flesh’s desires. Be obedient to the Spirit’s calling, not the flesh’s weaknesses.
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Mat. 26:41

“If you were perfect, your first name would be Jesus, and you would have holes in your hands!



Other Verses about Our Flesh’s Weakness
“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Gen. 6:5
“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” Mat. 12:43-45
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.” Mat. 15:19
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Rom. 7:18
“For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Philippians 3:3



A Blessing Or A Curse?
Bill Brinkworth

In Deuteronomy, Moses reiterated to Israel some of what God had shown and done for them. He also made it clear to them that as God was with them in the past, He could be with them in their future.  Although the proper context of the following verses was to Israel, there is certainly application to those that are saved (Romans 10:9, John 3:3) today.
“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: 28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” Deuteronomy 11:26-28

Christians, as well as the people of Moses’ day, can receive a blessing from God. If one hears the commandments of God, be it from the reading of His Word or hearing it, and obeys what one hears, one can have God’s blessing on one’s life.

The choice is up to us what we do with God’s message. Do we get convicted about something as we read the Bible, or get that gnawing guilty feeling when we are reminded of our sin?  Do we obey the Holy Spirit’s reminder to our conscience as a warning from Him and do our best to change our behavior to what is pleasing to our heavenly Father, or do we ignore it? Obeying conviction and doing our best to live a life approved by God is the way to get His blessing on our life.  There may still be trials and difficulties in our lives, but one living for Him can have God’s blessing, protection, and guidance on one’s life.

Unfortunately, too many hear the commandments from God and make wrong choices not to obey what they have been told to do. Excuses for not heeding the Holy Spirit’s tugging on our hearts can creep in and justify our not following what we are told.

It is easy to be convicted of our lying lips, but quickly write it off to, “Well, I had to lie, or I would have gotten in trouble.” A temptation to justify not going to church because of work or “being too tired from a week’s work” hardens one’s conscience, so it is easier to ignore what God’s Word instructs us to do.  Refusing to tithe because “I hardly have enough to live on, let alone give to the cause of Christ” is one more act of disobedience that can bring God’s curse on your life or even His not helping and protecting you.

All Christians have similar opportunities to obey or disobey the still, quiet, convicting voice of God. The difference between a flourishing, growing Christian and a stagnant, disobedient Christian is that the one growing is the one that said “Yes” to what they were convicted of and did their best to obey.  The one that may be “cursed” or have God’s helping and guiding hand removed from his life may be the one that ignored what he was told or shown to do by the convicting Holy Spirit.

Are you receiving the blessing of God on your life because of your obedience, or are you suffering because God’s hand is not guiding and helping you in your life? The choice is up to you.  Whom do you choose to obey: God or your own will?

“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15



Stand Up and Tell Them
Bill Brinkworth

Continuing from Acts 6, it is read in Acts 7 that religious Jews and their leaders persecuted Stephen. He turned their time of questioning him into an opportunity to preach to them.

He started by preaching a condensed history of the Jews. I am sure all who were listening agreed with him as Stephen gave a synopsis of their Jewish past, starting with Abraham. Heads may have been nodding as he progressed through the experiences of Joseph, Moses, and David. All must have agreed as he spoke of David and Solomon.

Then Stephen’s history lesson ceased, and he got to the reason for his reviewing the great prophets and leaders of the Jews. Stephen reminded them that the Jews had persecuted all the past prophets (Acts 7:51-52) and, because of their hardened hearts, were not even obeying the law they were given. I can imagine for a brief minute, heads stopped nodding, and a silence came over the crowd.

After that brief, silent second, anger burst out of every person in the room. “Who does Stephen think he is accusing us of being disobedient to the law?” certainly had to be the majority attitude. Shouting ensued. Hands went over their ears in a vain attempt to keep them from hearing any more of Stephen’s accusations.

The mob grabbed Stephen and took him outside the city, and stoned him to death. As their anger at the preacher caused them to hurl rocks at the man, they saw a scene they did not expect. They saw Stephen kneel, ask the Lord not to lay this sin to the murderers’ charges, and saw the man fall asleep peacefully!

Knowing what he said would anger and certainly would rile this crowd, Stephen selflessly preached the truth, no matter what their reaction and the cost to him. Stephen knew what they had done to Jesus for preaching the truth. He most likely knew how they would react to what he was telling them, but he spoke the truth no matter what.

If we had more preachers like Stephen today that would be more interested in telling the truth, no matter the reaction, our churches would be much different. The country would not be the same.

If we had more Christians that would also adopt a similar attitude and would say what needs to be said, rather than what is safe to say, Christianity would certainly have more influence in this world than it has. The truth can set a world free from the bondage of sin and godlessness.

The Bible View #805 — Just Jesus

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In This Issue:
Christ, Our Middleman
Jesus, Our High Priest
Our Mediator
Christ Is Our Intercessor

Volume: 805    April 12, 2021
Theme: Just Jesus

Christ, Our Middleman
Bill Brinkworth

During Old Testament times, priests served as mediators between God and man, presenting their prayers and sacrifices to Him. Before Moses, the priests’ duties were often done by the head of a household, as did Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Moses’ day, God appointed priests from the Levite lineage. These practices were intended only to continue until the perfect priest came, Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament priesthood was not perfect. Its limitations were because:

  • The priests were ordained (“appointed by”) by men, although they were of an ancestry ordered by God (Hebrews 5:1). Not just any man could be a priest.
  • They had to go to God with sacrifices and gifts (Hebrews 5:1, 3). The offerings were not a one-time gift. They had to be offered more than once. They were only temporary appeasements to a Holy God.
  • The priests themselves were sinners. They also had to give an offering for themselves (Hebrews 5:2, 3).

Soon the priesthood stopped. The sacrifices halted. Intercessory prayers and gifts to God ceased, but man still desperately needed a mediator between him and God.

God then sent mankind the perfect priest. Man did not appoint him. That priest only had to make one offering for ALL of mankind’s sins. That sacrifice covered sins past, present, and even into the future. This priest was not of Levi’s lineage. He was very much like a priest of Abraham’s time — Melchisedec.

Like Melchisedec, whose name means “king of righteousness,” this God-appointed priest was the real King of righteousness. This priest was God’s only begotten son — Jesus! Jesus’ one-time sacrifice that never had to be re-offered was His own life.

Unfortunately, many have not allowed God’s High priest to be the sacrifice for their sins. Too many have rejected Jesus and are still appointing priests. No matter what those sincere people offer to God, it will be refused by the Creator. They are doing it their way and are rejecting the one-time sacrifice Jesus made for them on Calvary’s cross.

The Old Testament priesthood was for another time, a time before God had sent the perfect Priest. Today we have the privilege of going to that High Priest, which is not sitting in some earthly temple or church but is sitting at the right hand of the Father, in Heaven. We can accept His offering on the Cross to cover all our sins. After we have accepted Him as our Saviour, we can go to Him anytime with our prayers and needs. We no longer need an imperfect middle man. We have the perfect mediator — Christ Jesus.



Jesus, Our High Priest
Bill Brinkworth

In Hebrews 8, Paul gives the Hebrew believers five more reasons Christ is the better High Priest:

  1. Christ, our High Priest, is sitting. No Levitical priest ever sat because their work was never done. There were no chairs in the tabernacle or temple. Here, our Priest’s one-time sacrifice is complete, and Jesus is seated (Hebrews 8:1). Jesus’ earthly ministry is finished!
  2. Christ, our High Priest, is at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 8:1). No Old Testament priest ever saw God, let alone sat next to Him, as does Jesus.
  3. Christ is the minister of the “sanctuary and the true tabernacle” (Hebrews 8:2-4). All the Levitical priests ministered in a God-ordered but man-made tabernacle and later a man-made temple. The tabernacle was not perfect, although created as God relayed its design to Moses.
  4. All the earlier levitical priests presented a “shadow,” or picture, of heavenly things to come (Hebrews 8:5). Christ’s ministry is not a picture of anything to come. It is the real thing!
  5. Christ’s ministry is a “more excellent ministry” than any earthly priest ever had. The Old Testament priests represented all people. They mediated with God for all the people; however, few had a direct audience with the priest. We, as Christians, have an audience with the perfect High Priest, no matter who we are.

Christ’s ministry is “more excellent” because it comes with a “better covenant,” a better agreement between God and man. Although Paul sites the old covenant as faulted (Hebrews 8:7), it does not imply that God made a mistake with the old agreement. That agreement was good for that time and met its purpose — to show man could not make a worthy sacrifice himself. The sacrifice had to be made by His perfect Son, Jesus!

This explanation of the past priests and our current Priest can help today’s believers understand more of what Jesus did for them and who He is. He is the most “excellent” priest (Hebrews 8:6), with a ministry many throughout past ages have awaited.



Our Mediator
Bill Brinkworth

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” I Timothy 2:5

What wonderful news it must have been to the Jews, who were familiar with Old Testament-worshiping when they learned they could go to God themselves in prayer. Before Jesus’ death on the cross, they had priests go to God as middlemen for them. After the sacrificial death of Christ, they could enter the “Holiest of Holies,” the closest place any man could be to God, by themselves through their prayers (I Timothy 2:1).

However, then and even today, many believe they cannot go to God themselves. Those folks still, if they realize it or not, are attempting to worship the way it was done in Old Testament times.

Some go to a “priest” in a confessional and tell him their sins. With his words and doing what he tells them to do, they believe he can order their sins to be forgiven. They trust the “priest” to be their mediator between them and God.

Some pray to deceased biblical characters hoping that a “saint” can be the middleman between them and God to have their sins forgiven or requests granted.

Sincere as those people are, what they are doing is contrary to the teaching of the Scriptures. I Timothy 2:5 tells us there is only one mediator between God and us, and that is Jesus Christ.

We no longer must present a perfect, unblemished animal sacrifice for the high priest to take its blood through the temple’s curtain to the Holiest of Holies, as in the Old Testament. When Christ died, God ripped that veil in two from top to bottom. Now, any believer can go to God in prayer through Jesus Christ.

Telling a person, be it priest, parent, or any other person, one’s sins will not remove the consequences of one’s iniquity from God’s memory. Those people may want to help, but they too are sinners in need of the only true Mediator, Jesus Christ.

Going to anyone else other than Christ to meet a need in one’s life or receive help from God will not result in God answering one’s prayers. The one qualified to go to the Father on our behalf is His Son, Jesus. He is the only mediator between God and man.

“A mediator is considered in two ways, by nature or by office.  Jesus is a mediator by nature, as partaking of both natures, divine and human.   Our Saviour is a mediator by office, as transacting matters between God and man.”   — Waterland



Christ Is Our Intercessor
F. C. Feus

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation [atonement; reconciliation of God and man] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” I John 2:1-2

Christ is our intercessor (a negotiator between two parties) to the Father. He is there today advocating (pleading the cause of another; another’s defender) our cause. Whether He presents His petitions in words or not, I cannot tell. Perhaps His presence there is quite enough.

We read that Qischylus was condemned to death by the Athenians and about to be led to execution. His brother, Amyntas, had distinguished himself in his country’s service, and just as his brother was condemned, he entered the court. He came in, and, without saying a word, he lifted his arm — the stump of his arm, for he had lost his hand in battle. He lifted it up in the sight of all but said not a word. When the judges saw this mark of suffering, they forgave the guilty brother for the sake of him who had imperiled his life on behalf of the country. 

Perhaps Jesus Christ has only to present Himself before His Father’s throne and show the marks of suffering to get acquittal and pardon for us transgressors.

The Bible View #804 — “Heart” Problems

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In This Issue:
Heart Problems
A Hardened Heart
Our Hearts — Summed Up
Muddy Water
If the Heart Is Right

Volume: 804    April 5, 2021
Theme: Spiritual Heart Problems

 Heart Problems
Bill Brinkworth

There are many excuses available for any mistake or sin in our lives.  Psychologists often blame a patient’s difficulty on their environment. Social workers label many behaviors as peer-pressure related. Income, hereditary, age, and race are also some of the popular excuses for wrongdoing.

Sometimes, the excuses mentioned above are legitimate, but they are often scapegoated justifications for the problem’s real source. The Bible often speaks of the heart as the origin of wickedness.

By “heart,” the blood-pumping organ is not what is referred to but is more the center of thoughts, feelings, and our will. There is no one location where a surgeon could, under dissection, point to and identify as, “this is where lying comes from” or “this organ generates the desire to steal.”

It is this “heart” that Mark speaks of when he writes, “… Do ye not perceive that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly…” Mark 7:1-19

Things entering the body cannot make us do wrong unless our “heart” is in such a state as it would allow our bodies to perform the sin. Although many under the influence of drugs and alcohol do wrong things, it is not totally what went into their bloodstream that is at fault. Their “heart” was most likely in a tolerant-to-sin state to allow such a thing to happen in the first place.

If this were not true, then anyone partaking of alcohol or drugs would have the same desire to fight, rape, curse, steal, and get into more sin. This, however, does not happen every time booze is swallowed. It is the already willing, desensitized-to-sin heart that allows a person to sin further.

Nothing entering the belly can defile the man. There is not one un-Koshered pickle, a third scoop of vanilla ice cream, or anything man puts into his mouth that he should blame as the reason for his wrongdoing. The source of sin generates fromman’s own “heart.”

“Don’t put off doing what the Lord has shown you to do today.  You may not have another opportunity or another tomorrow!”



A Hardened Heart
Bill Brinkworth

One of the most dangerous conditions for anyone to have, Christian or non-Christian, is mentioned in Hebrews. That condition is having one’s heart “hardened” (Hebrews 3:8). It is not a problem with one’s physical heart. It is the spiritual part of a person that has determined not to do what God had urged it to do. By refusing to do what God has shown it to do, it is directly disobeying God — a most serious situation!

To make it clear to the Hebrews, Paul reminded them what hard-heartedness cost their forefathers in the wilderness. While in the wilderness, the Jews had a wonderful opportunity to follow God to a land He had reserved for them. By day, God led them in His direction by going before them in a column of cloud that stretched from Heaven to Earth. When it moved, they moved. When it stopped, they stopped. At night, it changed to a column of fire. Although they had many proofs of God’s helping them, they still doubted. Unbelief, the root cause of hard-heartedness (Hebrews 3:12), crept into their thoughts, and they doubted God. 

This provoked God (Hebrews 3:8) and caused the Israelites to have many unnecessary testings, trials, and tribulations. They missed many of the blessings they could have had because their hearts were fixed not to believe or trust God. Because of their hardened hearts, a possibly six-day march to the land God had prepared for them took 40 years. None of the hard-hearted people ever got to see the promised land, although their offspring did. Their hearts of unbelief cost them much.

A hard-hearted condition can just as easily be obtained today as it was then. When God shows a person what salvation is and that they should trust Christ as Saviour today, they are hardening their heart when they postpone the decision.  When their heart is shown to do something, such as being saved, faithful in church attendance, praying, reading their Bible, tithing, or telling others about salvation, their not doing it is a direct refusal to God. Even slow obedience to a command, or justification in not doing as they were shown, is still unbelief and distrust.

Four times (Hebrews 3:7, 12, 13, 4:7), Paul mentioned the key to not having a hardened heart. The key is “today.”  When God shows you something or quietly speaks to your heart in conviction, you must obey Him then! Not tomorrow! Not later! It should not be open to debate!  Doing it when we want, and not when He commands, is a step in hardening one’s spiritual heart. 

Slow obedience is no obedience.”   — Author Unknown



Our Hearts — Summed Up

He who makes a watch or engine knows all the workmanship in it. God, that made the heart, knows all the motions and fallacies of it.”  —Watson, 1696

“God sees hearts as we see faces.” — George Herbert.

“Before men, we stand as opaque bee-hives. Others can see the thoughts go in and out of us, but they cannot tell what work is done inside. Before God, we are like a glass bee-hive.  He knows, sees, and understands all our thoughts.”  — Beecher.

 

Muddy Water
Scriver (edited), 1629-1693

In a vessel filled with muddy water, the heavy sludge soon settles to the bottom. It leaves the water “clearer” until it seems perfectly clean. However, the slightest motion brings the sediment again to the top and makes the water as thick and turbid as before.

Here we have a picture of the human “heart.”  The heart is full of the mud of sinful lusts and carnal desires.  No good and holy thoughts can flow from it. It is filthy and contaminated, no matter how it appears.

A man’s “heart” is a miry pit and slough of sin, in which all sorts of ugly reptiles are bred and crawl. Many are deceived by their spiritual condition and never imagine their heart half so wicked as it is.

At times, one’s lusts are at rest and sink, as it were, to the bottom. The iniquities of one’s past are often forgotten. On some occasions, one’s thoughts appear to be holy and devout, desires pure and temperate, words charitable and edifying, and works useful and Christian.

This period of apparent “Christianity” and good living lasts only so long as one is not “shaken.”   As long as one is without opportunity or incitement to sin, a wicked heart is hidden.   However, when worldly lusts are aroused, one’s thoughts, words, and works show no trace of anything but slime and impurity.

A sinner is meek as long as he is not thwarted, but cross him, and he is like powder, ignited by the smallest spark, and loudly explodes.  Some are temperate, if he is separated from the wrong companions or while others’ eyes are upon him.  The “mud” is still there, at the bottom, do not shake it up.

Slow obedience is no obedience.”   — Author Unknown



If the Heart Is Right
Author Unknown

It doesn’t so much matter
What path our feet may tread,
Or, whether the cheering hopes we knew
In youth are vanished — dead.
We shall find a gleam in the darkness
To guide in the dreary night,
And a joyful song as we journey along,
If we go with a heart that’s right.

We sip from the cup of sweetness
And then the bitter gall;
Blossoms and friends are swept away,
Dreams are forgotten — all.
And you have known the tugging
That comes to the heartstrings tight,
Know of the balm, the peace, and calm
That comes from a heart that’s right.

The thorns that beset the causeway
May fester and wound the feet;
The cup you drink may end with gall,
Drowning the cherished sweet;
But the nectar for which you hunger,
The roses that suffered blight,
Will be yours to taste and smell again
If you go with a heart that’s right.

“To sin is to walk the way of the heart.”  — Matthew Henry

The Bible View #803 — Repentance

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In This Issue:
Many “Second” Chances
The Nature of Repentance
Repentance…
Tears of Repentance
The Bible and Repentance

Volume: 803    March 29, 2021
Theme: Repentance

Many “Second” Chances
Bill Brinkworth

“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.Luke 13:5

In Luke 13:2-4, Jesus reports two terrible tragedies that occurred. One was a man, who some believe might have been the notorious Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37), whose death was ordered by Pilate (Luke 13:1).  The other was the unusual end of 18 people when a tower fell on them (Luke 13:4).

Of both events, Jesus asked His listeners if they thought the deceased were terrible sinners to have had such horrible deaths. Apparently, the one that Pilate killed had committed some horrific infraction against the government.  Although most likely caused by accident, the other tragic deaths appeared to be a judgment from God.

Although not all deaths and hardships are judgments from God, sometimes they are.  Jesus addressed those that are by answering His questions by saying, “… except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).

Jesus explained with the use of a parable (Luke 13:6-9) to help his listeners understand why God sometimes allows terrible things to happen to those who are blatantly sinning. The parable is about a fig tree that would not produce any fruit.  The man who owned the tree was not happy that for several years it had not given fruit.  He was going to give it one more chance to produce fruit. If it did not, he was going to have it cut down.

When one is in sin, God is very patient and merciful.  He could easily bring a sinner’s life to an end, but He gives him multiple chances to stop his sin and change his lifestyle.  As with the fig tree, there may come a time that a person will not turn from their sin, and God will end their life.

What a warning to those that think they are “getting away” with sin!  There will come a time that God’s mercy will not be poured out on one’s ignoring God’s commandments.  There is always a payday for sin someday.  Turn from violations against God, and ask for His forgiveness today!

You cannot repent too soon because you do not know how soon it may be too late.”  — Fuller



The Nature of Repentance
R. Watson

As explained by John the Baptist’s ministry, repentance is a conviction of the fact of sin — a painful conviction.  A conviction that never produced humility, never sighed, never wept, and never sought solitude for prayer and reflection is not an element of true repentance. 

Repentance is a serious and painful apprehension of the danger of sin’s involvement.  Hence John asked the Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees [‘religious,’ but ungodly sect members] come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” Mat. 3:7 There can be God’s wrath for continuance in sin.

Repentance is a humble confession of sin.  The people generally confessed to John, for he could not enter into the particulars of each case.  To God, they confessed their sins in detail.

Repentance is fruitful.  Under its influence, the churl (bad-mannered people) becomes kind, and the unjust become righteous. Those who had formerly been careless of their spiritual interests wait upon God in using every means of grace.

Repentance is despairing but can bring hope.  The people who were awakened under John’s ministry felt that in themselves, there was no help.  He taught them to seek Christ the Saviour.

“Being sorry you got caught in the commission of sin is not always repentance.  Repentance is sincerely desiring you had never done the iniquity in the first place and doing all you can, with God’s help and forgiveness, never to do it again!



Repentance…
Bill Brinkworth

  • Stopping sin, bad behaviors, and habits does not get one forgiven.
  • Stopping sin, bad behavior, habits, and living a better life does not give anyone entrance to Heaven.  One must be saved (John 3:3) to go to Heaven.
  • Stopping sin, bad behaviors, and habits may ease your guilt.  It will not reduce your guiltiness between you and the Father unless you ask for forgiveness (Romans 10:9).
  • Stopping sin, bad behaviors, and habits can be good “works” if you think it will clear your sin-slate with God.  Good works that we can do will get no one to Heaven:
    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8 -9
  • Not stopping sin, bad behaviors, and habits when the Holy Spirit convicts one’s heart may harden one’s heart from further hearing His convicting “voice.”

“Deathbed repentance is burning the candle of life in the devil’s service and then blowing the smoke into the face of God.” — Billy Sunday



Tears of Repentance
E. Irving

The tears of repentance differ greatly from the tears shed over the loss of some things or friendships. They are different from tears of disappointments.  Real tears of repentance are those that the Lord blesses because of a heart that wants to get right with Him.
“… Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Luke 6:21

Those are the tears of repentance, which Peter shed when he went out and wept bitterly (Mat. 26:75).  They are the same tears that Mary Magdalene shed when she washed her Lord’s feet.  They are the tears that burst from our hearts when we looked upon Jesus, whom we pierced because of our sins, and when we remember unrepented sin.

“Late repentance is seldom true, but true repentance is never too late.”
 — Venning



The Bible and Repentance
Gleaned from Bible Readings for the Home, pg. 89-90

  • Who is called to repentance?
    “I [Jesus] came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
  • What accompanies repentance?
    “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” Matthew 3:8
  • Who awakens the soul to a sense of its sinful condition?
    “And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” John 16:8
  • What will the truly repentant sinner be constrained to do?
    “For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Ps. 38:18
  • What is the result of godly sorrow?
    “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” II Cor. 7:10
  • What leads sinners to repentance?
    “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” Rom. 2:4

“If we put off repentance another day, we have a day more to repent of and a day less to repent in.”  — Venning

The Bible View #802 — Studying God’s Word

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In This Issue:
Study!
How to Study the Bible
Result of Reading the Bible

Volume: 802    March 22, 2021
Theme: Studying God’s Word

 Study!
Bill Brinkworth

One of the most important responsibilities Christians have is to study the Scriptures for themselves. Church is important, and one can learn quite a lot from the man of God in the pulpit, but it is up to us to study and understand what the Word of God says.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Tim. 2:15

II Timothy 2:15 teaches us five things about studying the Word of God:

  1. We get God’s approval when we think it is important enough to explore what God has recorded for us in the Bible’s preserved words.
  2. Notice that the words God used are “study” and not “read.”  We are to search its pages for His help so we can pass life’s tests and its challenges and know God’s mind. It is the main source that will help us get through life’s difficulties and learn more about the Father.

    Reading is a shallower, less urgent, and less purposeful approach to a subject. Studying takes time, rereading, comparing Scripture with Scripture, and much prayer. It takes “work,” commitment, and a great desire to get all one can out of God’s Word, and that is how God expects every Christian to approach His Truth. Be a “workman”!
  3. When we study the Bible, we will not be embarrassed by believing the wrong things. There are so many that have never read the Word of God for themselves. All they know about God’s Word is what others have taught them. If the teachers are wrong, then they are wrong. If more studied the Word of God with an anxious desire to find what God has in store for them there, learn His teachings, and practice them, most liberal, unbiblical churches would be out of business within a month! Unscriptural denominations would be history! The greatest revival ever would sweep this planet!
  4. In studying the Word of God, one must separate, or “divide,” some teachings. Some practices were for past dispensations. The priesthood, sacrifices, and signs from God were some practices for times past. Proper delving into God’s Word will expose those facts, and one will not include them in their beliefs for the current church age.
  5. God’s Word is called the “word of truth.” It is not just a collection of accurate statements, but it is truth from our Creator. It is the only source of truth on Earth, and God has preserved it for all to read!

The reverse teaching of II Timothy 2:15 is, if one does not study God’s truth, he is not approved of God! Gulp. That is a hard truth to swallow. Looking at it that way should put a higher priority on one’s Bible learning.

Is knowing what God says important to you?  Is it valuable enough for you to invest time in understanding what God wants you to know?



How to Study the Bible
Bill Brinkworth

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” II Timothy 2:15

Many readers of the Word of God quickly encounter Timothy’s admonition on studying the Bible. Some faithfully read the Word of God every day.  Many do not, and even fewer study the truths God has preserved within the pages of His Word.

Not only does it take extra time to study the Bible, but many do not know how to start.  Reading a few verses each day will have less impact on one’s life than a scriptural diet of several chapters.  Taking the time to study the Word of God will be a life-directing, life-changing, God-leading influence and will help more than reading a few pages.

Then the question arises, how do you study the Bible?  How does one get the most out of their Bible?  The answer varies from one person to another since each of our brains and learning methods are different.  Here are a few study methods that may help you get more out of the Word of God so that you will learn more, that its content will help you with your life’s decisions, and that you will have a better relationship with the Lord:

  • Be saved!  The Word of God is for the people of God and will not mean as much to a person who is not saved!  Bible studying, however, will point an unbeliever to God’s truths so he can become a born-again (John 3:3) child of God and get more understanding about God
    “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor. 2:14
  • Pray and ask God to help you understand His Word before you even begin!  It is His Book; you need His help to understand it!
  • Consistently read the Bible.  Schedule and make it a priority to expose yourself to God’s Word every day!
  • Use the King James Bible. ALL the other versions, including the New King James Bible, alter what God’s Word says.  One cannot build a spiritual life close to God if the foundation, God’s Word, is corrupt and not true to what God originally had preserved!
  • Do not just read to fill a quota of verses or chapters.  Read at a speed you get something out of it.  Sometimes I have spent most of my devotional time on one verse.  There have been times that I have read several pages.
  • If you do not understand a word, stop and look it up in a dictionary.  You will be surprised to find that you do not know all the meanings of words as well as you thought you did.  Most do not need to know the Greek or Hebrew languages to get more out of their English Bible, they just need to understand the English language better!
  • If you find you have read several verses and do not remember what you read, read them again.  The goal should be to get a blessing from reading God’s Word. 
  • One method to slow one’s reading speed down and get more from the reading is to make notes on what you have just read.  A notebook or a wide-margin Bible can be used for this. 
  • Since we are in the New Testament church-age, a believer should first understand Jesus, the early church, and the teachings for this time. First, read and study the New Testament.  With its understanding, when the Old Testament is read, one will get a fuller, clearer picture of what God did then and how it pictures what would happen later.
  • While reading a verse, read other verses that teach the same principle.  Some study Bibles have references in the margin.  Follow those references, and read those verses.  Often you will get a clearer picture of what God has written by reading different, related passages.
  • When reading a verse, understand the context first.  To better comprehend a verse, first understand who the scripture was addressed to, why, and when.  Many pluck out a verse and apply it to whatever they want to apply it to, forgetting what situation, time, or people it was originally speaking of.
  • Read other Bible books that cover the same topic.  For example, if you study The Revelation, it would be good to understand Old Testament prophecies in Ezekiel and Daniel.  If trying to learn more about Jesus’ life, it is important to read other aspects of His life in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
  • Although not to be trusted as one can trust the Word of God, a Bible dictionary, such as Unger’s Bible Dictionary, can give some insight into a subject, place, or person you are reading about. Be especially cautious of books from authors or publishers who condone other Bible translations or come from denominations or institutions that teach differently than what the Bible teaches.
  • Look up, using a concordance (a book that has words listed and where they are used throughout the Bible), a word or name you want to learn more about. Some Bible computer programs are very useful for this purpose.
  • The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself!  Although many books on a subject or book you are studying can be helpful, they can also be wrong!  I have far more commentaries on my bookshelves that I cannot trust what the author says than I have books that have been proven reliable to what the Word of God says.  All authors are only men, and all make mistakes!  God’s Word, however, is from God and has His influential inspiration preserved and is trustworthy!
  • Do not compare with other versions and translations of the Bible!  They usually originate from sources that were not accurate in their conception, change doctrines that support the translator’s beliefs, or change facts and doctrines.  Comparing them with the real Bible (KJV) will only raise doubts and breed confusion! 

These are just a few of the many ways to study God’s Word. No matter what technique is used, the main goal is to get as much out of every precious word God has kept for us to glean.  Are you diligently reading and studying God’s Word?

“With God’s help, we can get out of the Bible what we invest in it.”



Result of Reading the Bible
Oliver Green

A young believer was discouraged in his attempts to read and remember the Bible. He said, “It’s no use. No matter how much I read, I always forget what I have just read.”

A wise pastor replied, “Take heart. When you pour water over a sieve, no matter how much you pour, you collect little. But at least you end up with a clean sieve.”

Some seem to expect the Word of God to hit them like a jolt of adrenaline each time they read or study it. Although the “jolt” may hit us periodically, the benefits of the Word of God act more like vitamins. People who regularly take vitamins do so because of their long-term benefits, not because every time they swallow one of the pills they feel new strength surging through their bodies. They have developed a habit of consistently taking vitamins because they have been told that, in the long haul, vitamin supplements are going to have a beneficial effect on their physical health, resistance to disease, and general well-being.

The same is true of reading the Bible. At times, it will have a sudden and intense impact on us. However, the real value lies in the cumulative effects that long-term exposure to God’s Word will bring to our lives.

“The Word of God is an armory of heavenly weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of exhaustless wealth. It is a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, a medicine for every malady, a balm for every wound.”   — Guthrie

The Bible View #801 — Temptation

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WWW.OpenThouMineEyes.com
In This Issue:

Have You Been Seduced?
Vexed by Ungodliness
Keeping A Distance from Temptations

Volume: 801    March 15, 2021
Theme: Temptation

Have You Been Seduced?
Bill Brinkworth

Many of the problems early churches faced are very much a concern today. Those ministries had to deal with many that departed from the faith and followed “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (Timothy 4:1). Being this is the “latter times” Paul spoke of, this problem is very real today.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” I Timothy 4:1

People, then and now claim to be Christians. They may be; they may not be. At first, many make a profession of salvation and start doing something for the Lord. Too often it is not long, before they are nowhere to be found.

Why did they wander away from trying to live for the Lord? They may not have been saved and were only going through “religious” motions. If they were truly saved, they are still children of God, but they may have been “seduced” by demonic spirits.

Perhaps those spirits caused their feelings to be hurt or offended their pride. People may have faced an overwhelming temptation and succumbed to it. There are thousands of ways a person can be trapped into running in the opposite direction of obeying God.

Satan and his devils cannot get anyone unsaved. Still, they certainly can make sure one’s testimony is so destroyed that they are of little use for the cause of Christ. That is one of Satan’s goals, and unfortunately millions have succumbed to his trickery.

None of the reasons a saved person gives for not serving the Lord are legitimate. Nowhere in the Bible is there any reason one should stop living for and obeying God’s commandments. All rationales for not doing what a Christian should are not of God!

“Well, you don’t understand. So-and-so in church said mean things to me, so I’ll not go anymore.” You have been seduced, and a non-holy spirit knew where your weak point was.

“That preacher just doesn’t feed me anymore, so I’m out of there!” You have been seduced, and the wrong spirits are giggling because they “got another one.”

“I’m not reading my Bible anymore. I just don’t get anything out of it.” A deceiving spirit has seduced you.

“If I live like a Christian, everyone will laugh at me.” You have been seduced.

As Ephesians 6 reminds us, there is a spiritual war going on. Satan and his devils try their hardest to seek one “whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). Be wary in the raging spiritual battle and purpose to always do the will of God — no matter the temptations.



Vexed by Ungodliness
Bill Brinkworth

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13

When given a choice by his Uncle Abraham, Lot chose the choicest of lands to raise his cattle and family (Gen. 13:8-11).  He left Abraham (named Abram at the time) the less appealing land and kept the “best” real estate for himself.

Lot’s selfish pick may have appeared to be the best choice. There was, however, one important matter the nephew did not consider when picking where he would live.  He did not contemplate what his soon-to-be neighbors would be like.  The places he lived near were the twin cities: Sodom and Gomorrah.  Those cities were known for their rampant sin, particularly homosexuality.  It was there that the righteous man, Lot, chose to live.

It was not long before he was involved in the city’s government (Gen. 19:1, 9).  He was not only living among wickedness, but he was involved in the choices made to help the community be managed. Shortly, his constant exposure to godlessness and sin affected Lot. The Bible says that he was “… vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked… in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;” (II Peter 2:7-8). The part of Lot that wanted to live and please the Lord was “irritated, harassed, teased, and disturbed” by the lifestyle he allowed himself and his family to be exposed.

As a Christian, we usually cannot live on top of a mountain, away from the world and all sin.  Most of the time, we have to live around iniquity. It is seen in the workplace, heard on the television, and we can be exposed to its consequences and involvement wherever we go. 

However, if we are not wary of it and do all we can to limit our exposure to iniquity, we too will be “vexed” by sin.  It will wear on us, and if we are not careful, evilness will be commonplace to us.  Seeing or hearing sin will not bother us like it did previously. The spiritual part of us will be desensitized to sin’s evilness.  If we are not careful, we will be involved in it and think it is normal because “everyone is doing it.”

Despite what the unsaved world is doing, sin is and always will be wrong.  The only protection from being desensitized or involved in it is to do one’s best to avoid it.  If you are vexed (troubled or bothered) by filthy language on television, there may be some channels you should never watch again, or you may have to stop watching the “hellevision” altogether. 

Filthy words creeping into your language? Maybe there are some influencing foul-mouths you should no longer listen to or associate. Seeing things your eyes should not be seeing on the Internet? Limit where you browse, or maybe you will have to stay off the Internet. Dirty images you have already viewed plaguing your thought-life? Avoid further looks and recite Scripture verses, particularly about what you are thinking.  It is difficult to have the clean Word of God and filthiness in your thought-life at the same time. The sinful thoughts will flee!

The key to keeping a holy, unsoiled life and testimony for the Lord is to separate (II Cor. 6:17) from the world’s ungodliness.  It is possible to remain undefiled in this ever-increasing, sinful world. If we purpose in our hearts to not be defiled by ungodliness in this world, the Lord will do His part to help us.  He will give the believer “a way to escape” sin’s vexing grasp if the believer desires it!

If you can get along with the world, then you are out of step with God!” — Dr. Harold Sightler



Keeping A Distance from Temptations
Bill Brinkworth

“I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.” Psalm 101:2

Successful people often reveal how they got so many achievements and victories.  David did that in Psalm 101.  He accomplished what he did, not only because of his wealth and powerful position.  David attained so much because he behaved himself “wisely in a perfect way” (Psalm 101:2).

In this Scripture, “perfect” was not referring to sinlessness.  “Perfect” in this context means “moral, upright, sincere, undefiled.” Although he fell spiritually several times, the leader of Israel tried his best to live the way that was pleasing to the Lord.

David revealed several ways he kept from spiritually falling even more than he did.

  • He protected his eyes from seeing the wrong things (Psalm 101:3).  Israel’s leader may not have had the amount of pornographic temptations that awaits to snag wandering eyes today. Still, he had to divert his vision not to see things that would also lure him into sin.  If David had a television in his day, there would have been many programs he would not have watched.
    “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes:…” (Psalm 101:3)
  • He avoided those that were lazy and did not work (Psalm 101:3).
     “… I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” Psalm 101:3
  • He would not allow himself to be self-willed and unreasonable (“froward”) —  Psalm 101:4.
  • He avoided those doing wickedness (Psalm 101:4).
  • He kept from those that talked ill of other people (Psalm 101:5).
  • He kept from those that were prideful (Psalm 101:5).
  • He surrounded himself with others that also worked or tried to live the “perfect way.” (Psalm 101:6)
  • He kept his distance from deceivers (Psalm 101:7).
  • He avoided liars (Psalm 101:7).
  • He did all he could to stomp out wickedness in the lands he controlled (Psalm 101:8).

Although this Psalm was written over 3,000 years ago, every behavior that David did to protect himself from falling into sin would help people today.  Temptations surround every single one of us. We will also be inclined to sin if we do not separate ourselves from those destroyers of our testimony and joy.  Avoid wrong influences, or you too will succumb to sinful behaviors and evil temptations.

The reason the world is not seeing Jesus is that Christian people are not filled with Jesus.  They are satisfied with attending meetings weekly, reading the Bible occasionally, and praying sometimes.  It is an awful thing to see people who profess to be Christian who are lifeless, powerless, and in a place where their lives are so parallel to unbelievers lives it is difficult to tell which place they are in, whether in the flesh or the Spirit.” — Smith Wigglesworth