Unwise Wisdom

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Benefits of sports

A woman said of her young daughter, “My goal is to keep her busy.” I can certainly see the wisdom in that. Kids need to be so occupied with good things that they don’t have time to get into trouble. There is so much out there that can lead them astray. And so this mom signed up her daughter for two sports.

Sports can help fill the void. Sports provide structure and discipline. A child learns how to work together with others as a member of a team. Sports develop eye-hand coordination, as well as motor skills. Competitive sports provide opportunities to learn to lose gracefully. Much more can be said about the benefits of organized sports. And yet….

Misplaced priorities

When she said, “My goal is to keep her busy,” I couldn’t help thinking: What about keeping your daughter busy in church activities?

If sports and other pursuits so fill the schedule that the church gets the short end of the stick—if even that much—then isn’t something wrong with this picture?

Sports have their place. So do a lot of other worthwhile things. These days we have so many options—good options—that it is easy, as someone well said, to let the second-best pre-empt the best. “I will follow You, Lord; but first . . .” (Luke 9:61).

The church offers something no other organization can: a God-ordained environment for spiritual growth. How many parents realize what a positive impact the church can have on their children—both now and for eternity? There’s just nothing quite like it!

One Christian family I know found themselves running hard night after night to keep up with the activities they had their kids involved in. Finally they decided they just couldn’t maintain such a hectic pace. It was just too much. Something had to give. And for them, it wasn’t going to be the church.

For Christians, can there be any other option?

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

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“Believe” is the main key word of the Gospel of John. From the 12th chapter of John let’s see what we can learn about what it means to believe:

Many believed (vv. 10-11).

A large number who witnessed Lazarus’ resurrection came to believe in Jesus (11:45). This is as it should be, for that was why Jesus raised Lazarus in the first place (11:4, 15, 42).

Some did not believe (vv. 37-40).

In spite of Jesus’ many miracles, some still refused to put their trust in Him. Why? It’s not that they didn’t have ample evidence, but they willfully closed their eyes against the Light. In doing so, they forfeited their only hope. “Having so hardened themselves, they inevitably suffered the penalty of God’s judicial hardening, making them no longer capable of believing” (James Burton Coffman, Commentary on John, Austin, TX: Firm Foundation Publishing Co., 1974, p. 305). Could anything be sadder?

Some believed but would not go public with their faith (vv. 42-43).

They knew if they confessed their faith, they would be put out of the synagogue. So they kept quiet. In doing so they took their stand with those who did not believe. In contrast, those who believed as a result of Lazarus’ resurrection were willing to bear public witness to Christ (v. 17). They weren’t ashamed to say so.

“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light . . . . I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness” (vv. 36, 46).

Those who do not believe and those who do not confess remain in darkness.

Those who take their stand for Jesus are the ones who become sons of light.

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

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Sayings and Scriptures

Passages paraphrased

How many times have you heard someone say, “God won’t lay on you more than you can bear”? While this is not found in Scripture per se, notice how closely it parallels what Paul says: “. . . God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). No, God never lays on us more than we can bear.

Another common saying: “One soul is worth more than all the world.” Although these exact words are not found in the Bible, it does echo Jesus’ statement, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Yes, one soul is worth more than all the world. What a bad bargain if we exchange our very soul for anything this world has to offer!

Skewed scriptures

It is also frequently said, “Money is the root of all evil.” Close, but not quite. What the Bible actually says is, “For the love of money is the root of all evil . . .” (1 Timothy 6:10). It’s the love of money we must guard against. A more accurate saying is, “Love people and use things. Don’t love things and use people.”

Often you hear, “Receive Christ as your personal Savior.” Certainly Christ is our Savior, He saves us personally, and we are to receive Him. But receiving Christ means more than saying the “Sinner’s Prayer.” We must obey Christ if we are to be saved by Him (Hebrews 5:8-9). This obedience involves faith, repentance, and baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38). Obedience does not earn us our salvation—we are still saved by grace. Obedience is a test of our faith, a condition of our salvation. Without it we cannot be saved (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

The purpose of this little exercise is to help us be more discerning regarding the things we hear and say. Do they truly measure up against what the Bible teaches?

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

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What Do We Know?

Here’s a multiple-choice question:

What do we know about the future?

A) Everything

B) Nothing

C) Something

D) None of the above

If you picked C, you’re right! If it weren’t for the Bible, we would know nothing about the future. While much of what lies ahead is known only to God, He has drawn back the veil just enough for us to know all we need to know about the end of the age.

Christ will suddenly return (we don’t know when). The dead will be raised. The earth will be destroyed. Judgment will take place. Eternity begins.

Unlike stock market projections and weather forecasts, what the Bible says about the Day of the Lord is not mere guesswork, a possibility, or even a probability. The End is certain─just as certain as the integrity of God’s promises. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:17-19).

What we do with what we know

And why does God reveal these things to us regarding the future? Certainly not to satisfy our curiosity, but rather to help us know with certainty what to expect so we can be well prepared for it. The New Testament equips us be ready for these eventualities.

We must keep in a state of readiness, always active in His service (Matthew 24:42-51). We must be prepared to give an account (Romans 14:10-12). In view of the destruction of the material order, we must live holy, godly lives (2 Peter 3:10-14). And then help others get ready for that Great Day (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Living in a state of readiness, we can look forward to that Day. We’re going home! No more death or pain! We will be with Christ! Reunion with our loved ones! (2 Corinthians 5:6-9; Revelation 21:4; Philippians 1:23; 1 John 3:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Yes, we do know something!


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The Two Poles of the 2nd Commandment

It was Jesus Himself who identified loving God and loving neighbor as the first and second commandments (Matthew 22:36-40). It’s worth noting that the second commandment, like a magnet, has both a positive and a negative pole.

The negative pole:

“For this, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

The positive pole:

Referring to the second commandment, a lawyer asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered his question by telling the story of the Samaritan who met the needs of the wounded traveler—providing first aid, transportation, and lodging.

He then asked the lawyer which of the key players in the story had “proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands.” The lawyer admitted, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus replied, “Go and do the same” (Luke 10:25-37).


So if we love our neighbor as ourselves there are certain things we will not do to our neighbor—to harm him (Galatians 5:14-15; James 2:8-9).  And there are things we will do for our neighbor—to help him (Galatians 5:13-14).

Let’s see how good a neighbor we can be this week!

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

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Of Doctrine and Landing Places

A Christian invited his neighbor to visit the congregation where he and his family worship. The man explained that his wife was raised in a particular denomination, but he said, “I’m ‘non-denom.’ I believe in God, but beyond that I don’t want to get involved in all those rules and details. I believe in God, and we’ll just leave it at that. We’re going to visit several churches, and wherever we like it, we’re going to land.”

Suppose this fellow accepts the invitation. He and his family visit and are impressed with the warm welcome, the children’s classes, and the preacher’s message. Let’s say that after a few more visits he and his wife decide this is where they will “land.” What then?

What they would learn

Someone will likely sit down with them, with an open Bible. If what follows is really a Bible study, it shouldn’t be long until it gets into some “details”—such as:

>The Bible is our only authority in religion.

>Jesus is the Son of God and our only way to God.

>Repentance is a requirement for salvation.

>Baptism is the moment at which we are forgiven.

>The church must conform to the New Testament pattern.The church Jesus purchased with His blood was established long before denominations.

How they would respond

If the teacher of this study is really “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and if this couple are convicted by the Scriptures, they would then be willing to become true disciples of Jesus Christ─Christians only.

On the other hand, they may quickly decide this is not the place for them—too many “details”—and then resume their search for a landing place.

Do they genuinely want the truth (Acts 17:10-12)? Or are they simply religious consumers in search of what they want (2 Timothy 4:1-4)?

How this scenario turned out, I don’t know, but we can be sure of this: Regarding the doctrine we are to believe and practice, as revealed in Scripture, “God is in the details” and therefore discounting these details as dispensable or optional is not an option.

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Three Questions

“Am I in the place of God . . . ?”

“. . . am I in God’s place?”

“Am I God . . .?”

These three questions asked by biblical characters sound much alike, but the circumstances provoking them are quite different.

A recognition of limitations

Desperate for a child, Rachel blurted out to her husband Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” Knowing how powerless he was to fulfill her demand, Jacob became angry with Rachel and replied, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?” (Genesis 30:1-2).

Now that their father Jacob was dead, Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph would revenge the harm they had done to him some 39 years before. Grieved that they would even think this, Joseph replied, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?” (Genesis 50:19).

The king of Syria sent word to the king of Israel, “. . . I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” The king of Israel “tore his clothes and said, ‘Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?’” Elisha then sent this message: “Now let him come to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel” (2 Kings 5:6-8). By following God’s instructions through Elisha to dip seven times in the Jordan, Naaman was healed by the power of God.

A lesson in humility

Both Jacob and the king of Israel realized they could not do what was asked of them. Joseph, however, could have misused his great power to have his brothers’ heads, but he rightly deferred to the One who said, “‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).

Occasionally we all need a refresher course in humility: to admit that God has His place and we have ours—and they are not the same!

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

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