“I Think . . . .”

During her last semester before graduating from high school, Amy took a course in the New Testament. Probably not too many public schools offer Bible classes, but hers did.

Opposite approaches

At various times during the semester the teacher would ask what the Bible says about such and such. One male student tended to respond by saying, “Well, I think . . .” and he would give his opinion.

Among the issues discussed were whether one can fall from grace and whether baptism is essential to salvation. This student did not offer much if any Scripture as the basis for his assertions.

About once a week Amy responded to his “I think . . .” by saying, “The Bible says . . . .”

Good for her! She knew that what we believe must be Bible-based—and she had studied enough to be able to say, “The Bible says . . . .”

How many people twice her age can do that? Or three times her age?

Why we believe what we believe

Many people simply inherit their beliefs from parents without question, or they uncritically accept what some preacher says.

Bible study takes effort. Are we prepared to invest the time and energy required?

Also, if we discover we’ve been taught wrong, will we change our thinking to conform to Scripture?

What if we discover from our study that God expects us to make a major change in our lifestyle? Are we willing?

Or what if accepting biblical truth means we will face opposition from family and friends? Will we go with the truth, regardless?

What Bible study involves

To be effective, Bible study requires that we: 1) love the truth, and 2) diligently search the Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12; Acts 17:10-12).

The goal of Bible study is not simply to accumulate knowledge but: 1) to learn what God expects us to do so we can do it, and 2) to share what we’ve learned with others (James 1:22-25; Ezra 7:10; 2 Timothy 2:2).

People like Amy are in the minority. Many don’t know what the Bible says. Many don’t care.

So, Amy, keep on saying, “The Bible says . . .” and you’ll enlighten those who love the truth as you do, but who also need your help to find the Way.

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Just Imagine!

How things have changed

It has been suggested that television and air conditioning have contributed to isolating us from our neighbors. The old custom of sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening and interacting with the neighborhood is long gone. Whether or not TV and A/C are to blame, it must be admitted: People don’t “neighbor” much anymore.

Our Constitution guarantees the rights and freedoms of the individual. Properly exercised, this is good. But is it possible that as a nation we have stressed rights to the neglect of responsibility, and individuality to the detriment of community?

Making a positive difference

Many of our fellow citizens do have a strong sense of community and work hard for the betterment of others. The quality of life in our communities is definitely higher because of their dedicated efforts.

So much needs to be done. Whether in improving race relations, cleaning up blighted areas, attracting new businesses, volunteering in worthy causes, or whatever the need, let’s get involved in doing something for our city.

Having the greatest impact for good

But what is the absolute best thing we can do for our community? Isn’t it for each of us as individuals to live in harmony with the will of God—and to help others do the same by sharing the gospel with them?

Just imagine if everyone in our town truly lived by the teachings of Christ: Would there be any rape, robbery, or assault—at least by our own citizenry? Would we lie to one another or gossip about each other?

Would we have the substance abuse problems we do now? Would husbands and wives cheat on each other? Would children be abused or neglected?

Positively, devotion to Christ means obeying the law of the land (Romans 13:1-7). It means seeking opportunities to serve (Titus 3:1, 8, 14). It means giving instead of always receiving (Acts 20:35). It means shining the light of Christ in a dark, dark world (Philippians 2:15).

Christians who really live by the Book make the best citizens!

How we respond

Sad to say, many will not choose to live for Christ (Matthew 7:13-14), but what’s to stop any of us from resolving that regardless of what others may do, we will give our complete allegiance to the One who died that we might live?

high road, low road-tagged

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Responding to the Evils Around Us

 

All around us are all kinds of bizarre behavior, sinful lifestyles, and strange ideas that currently trouble our land. How shall we respond?

Responses that do not help

Some Christians, sad to say, gaze at the evil and are drawn into it. How easy it is to find our resistance gradually being lowered by the constant exposure to sins that once shocked us!  God’s people in the Old Testament were vulnerable to being swallowed up by the sins of their neighbors.  It can so easily happen to us too! (1 Corinthians 10:12; Ephesians 4:17-24; 2 Timothy 4:10).

On the other hand, while we may never indulge in the blatant sins of our society, we may be tempted to look down on those who do. We may forget that we too are in need of the grace of God and that we have something positive to offer those who are mired in sinful lifestyles (Luke 15:1-2, 25-32; 18:9-14).

A third reaction is thinking that the situation is so far gone that there’s little we can do to make a difference. It’s been well said that the darker the world, the brighter our light is.  Let it shine! (Philippians 2:15).

A better way

So how shall we respond to the evils of our day? Not by participating in them, not by reacting self-righteously, and not by withdrawing into inactivity.

So what shall we do?  The letter we call First Peter has much to offer us.  Christians then were struggling to maintain their integrity in a dark world in much the same way we do today.  Peter urges his readers to maintain holy lives (1:14-16; 4:1-4) and live in such a way that unbelievers can’t help but notice the difference (2:11-12; 3:1-2, 16).

By the grace of God let’s hate sin but have enough concern for sinners so that they too will be drawn out of darkness  into God’s marvelous light!

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The Direction of Influence

onions-tagged

The peril of proximity

The box we used to store cough and cold medicine on our closet shelf had originally contained a famous brand of chocolate-covered peanuts. On the box was printed this warning: “Do not store near heat, soaps, perfumes, disinfectants, oil products, or other articles with strong odors.”

Imagine eating candy with the scent of ammonia or Stetson cologne!

Isn’t that why we don’t put a cut onion in the frig, uncovered? Onions are, shall we say, influential?

Maintaining distinctiveness

How easy it is for us to soak up our surroundings!

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33; see 1 Kings 11:1-11).

God wants His people to make a positive impact on society, not the other way around (Matthew 5:13-16; Philippians 2:15).

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Standing for Truth but Not Obnoxious

Firm but kind

God expects Christians to take a firm stand on morals and doctrine. But how can we do this without closing doors unnecessarily?

“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth . . .” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Kindness, patience, and gentleness prevent our coming across as abrasive, arrogant, holier-than-thou know-it-alls.

A lifestyle that changes minds

People are quick to note whether we practice what we preach (1 Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:15; 3:1-2, 15-16).

Also, good deeds make the truth attractive (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12).

With this approach we may win a soul for Christ!

And won’t that make it all worthwhile?

happy sad-tagged

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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