A Sure Way to Stay Out of Trouble!

depositphotos_19931271-stock-illustration-open-mouth-with-tongue“When we advance a little into life, we find that the tongue of man creates nearly all the mischief of the world” (English clergyman, 1820 – 1885).  Truer words were never spoken!  Countless troubles arise when a person fails to restrain his tongue.  Friendships are damaged, relationships are wrecked, feelings are hurt, and reputations are marred – all because of lips left unguarded.  A man who has trouble keeping his words in check will have trouble keeping himself out of trouble!

“Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” – Proverbs 21:23.

Today, I will guard my tongue!

Yes Alexandria, It’s Still OK To Have Children!

earth smallFreshmen New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made the news recently with her absurd comments concerning the condition of “planet earth.”  In an Instagram live video she claimed that, in the wake of climate change, it is time for young people to ask a legitimate question – “Is it still ok to have children?”

Later in the video she went on to say, “Our planet is going to face disaster if we don’t turn this ship around, And so it’s basically like, there is a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult and it does lead, I think young people, to have a legitimate question. Ya know, should—is it okay to still have children?”  And still further, “And even if you don’t have kids, there are still children here in the world and we have a moral obligation to them to leave a better world to them.”  Representative Ocasio-Cortez claims that, when it comes to climate in particular, there is a global threat to the planet.

Who would argue with the fact that we are to be good stewards of all God has given us, including this wonderful planet on which we live?  But it is awfully arrogant for man to think he can destroy this planet.  As long as this earth remains, it will be a place to plant and harvest crops, a place where people can marry and raise their families.  God, with infinite wisdom that far exceeds that of any man, has assured us that “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).

Make no mistake my friend, this world will come to an end. Peter, writing by inspiration of God, has assured us of that.  “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (II Peter 3:12).  But the end of this world will come at a time when God, not man, decides.

Better Than Any Safe Room

Safe-Room-by-Titan-Home-SecurityThe internet site, www.fema.gov/safe-rooms, defines a safe room as “hardened structure specifically designed to meet the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) criteria and provide near-absolute protection in extreme weather events, including tornadoes and hurricanes. Near-absolute protection means that, based on our current knowledge of tornadoes and hurricanes, the occupants of a safe room built in accordance with FEMA guidance will have a very high probability of being protected from injury or death.”  Safe rooms are becoming more common in new home construction.  They are indisputably a good idea as they provide enhanced safety to the home’s occupants.

Thankfully, Christians have a refuge that provides, not near-absolute, but absolute protection. This refuge provides protection, not from extreme weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes, but from the more extreme events of life – events that challenge our faith and  test our hope.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.” (Psalms 46:1-3)

What Defines Your Life?

Packed-UnitA few months back, while traveling out of town, I passed by a self-storage rental company.  I’m sure you’ve seen them – storage units you can rent to store your belongings” People might rent these units for any number of reasons.  The extra storage space may be necessary while a house is being sold or remodeled.  Sometimes a person may rent one just to have a little extra room for his “stuff.”

On this particular trip, the storage rental company had a slogan on their sign – “It’s your life.  Store it with care.”  I had never heard of this company before and have no reason to believe anything negative about the company.  As far as I know, it is a reputable company providing a valuable service to its customers.  But nonetheless, the slogan got my attention.  Especially the first part – “It’s your life.”

King Solomon had everything his heart desired.  Nothing he saw and wanted was kept back from him. Yet, when Solomon looked upon everything he had he described it as vanity (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11).

My life is not defined by things.  “And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).  Physical possessions to which many people give great attention are temporary.  There’s nothing permanent about the things of this world.  “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (II Peter 3:10).

No friends, my life is not defined by the material things I possess, whether they be left in storage somewhere or used daily.  My life is defined by my relationships, beginning first and foremost with my relationship with God.  No wonder the apostle Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

A Call to Morality

bible mediumPaul wrote to the church at Corinth in order to issue a call to morality. Whenever we read the book of I Corinthians, it becomes readily apparent that the church at Corinth was experiencing a number of problems. One of which was the immoral behavior of many of the members there. Let’s examine the following, from I Corinthians 6:9-11.

First, consider the pollution of sin. Fornicators – a person who indulges in illicit sexual intercourse, idolaters – those who turn from God to the sin of idolatry, particularly as it relates to the sins of the flesh, adulterers – person who has sexual intercourse with another person’s spouse (notice the distinction between fornicator and adulterer; although either sin will keep a person out of heaven, there is a sense in which adultery is the worse sin because it is through adultery that families are broken up and a third party is irretrievably injured; when a man commits adultery he is telling his children their father is a liar and a cheat, his own pleasure means more to him than his children’s welfare, and his own satisfaction means more to him than their mother), effeminate – meaning soft or soft to the touch, used metaphorically in a bad sense to refer to those who make self indulgence the object of their life, abusers of themselves with mankind –homosexuals, thieves, covetous – those persons who are eager to have more, to have what belongs to others, greedy of gain, drunkards – habitually intoxicated, revilers – railer, extortioners – rapacious, given to robbery and extortion. When a place is heavily polluted, it cannot support life. Likewise, those who dwell in the pollution of sin cannot expect to have eternal life.

Second, consider the punishment that awaits those who persist in their sin. The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (regardless of family background, family ties to the church, membership in local congregation, etc.). Rather these persons will spend eternity in hell, a place of everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:31-46); a lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15); where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12); where there is no hope (Luke 16:26); where the fire is not quenched (Mark 9:47-48); prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41).

Third, consider the purifying that is made possible by Jesus’ blood. Notice Paul’s use of the past tense – such were some of you. Ye are washed (Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5; I Peter 1:22). Ye are sanctified (I Corinthians 1:2). Ye are justified (Romans 5:1; Titus 3:7). Friends, the gospel has the power to change people! But we must also notice the danger of returning (II Peter 2:20-22).

Today, we need to take heed to that same call to morality!

There’s a War Raging, And You’re In It!

War_Thunder_Xbox_release_Thumbnail-heroThere’s a war raging; and you and I are caught in the middle. Oh you won’t hear any gunfire. This war is absent of the sound of missiles soaring overhead. No grenades are being tossed in your direction; at least, not literally. But nonetheless, there is a war going on. And this war has more devastating effects than any physical battle could ever produce.

Today, like any other day, there is a war raging over your soul.   Because, just as much as God wants you to be with him in heaven, Satan wants you to spend eternity with him in hell.   “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). And he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

Satan is very cunning in his methods.   Satan will attempt to do whatever is necessary to trap us; to deceive us; to discourage us and weaken us. If left unprotected we will surely fall. No wonder then Paul admonishes us to “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

The raging war over your soul is a fierce battle that requires much strength and endurance on our part. But it is a battle that can be won! “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).

Overcoming Worry

worry.pngHave you ever heard someone say, “I can’t help it if I worry. That’s just the way I am!” Perhaps you have even made this statement yourself. It’s safe to say that many of us know how Martha felt when Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). Consider just a few of the many things men worry about. If a man is physically ill, he worries about whether or not he is going to get well. If a man is enjoying good health, he worries about whether or not he is going to get sick. If he does not have a job, he worries about whether or not he will get one. If he has a job, he worries about whether or not he will lose it. If he does not have a car, he worries about how he is going to get transportation. If he has a car, he worries about whether or not his car is going to break down. If he does not have an education, he worries. If he is getting an education, he worries about whether or not he will pass the course. And the list could go on and on!

But the Bible teaches we are not to worry! Listen to the words of the apostle Paul, recorded for us in Philippians 4:6-7. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The word “careful” has a somewhat different meaning to us today than it did at the time the King James Version of the Bible was written. Paul was not teaching that we are never to be concerned about our lives. For example, a person who is concerned about his health will be more likely to live a lifestyle that is conducive to good health. A person who is concerned about not having an auto accident will be motivated to drive safely.

Paul was not teaching we are never to plan for the future. Consider the words of James: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For what ye ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:13-15). Don’t misunderstand. It is necessary to plan for the future, provided we never leave God out of our plans.

What then, did Paul mean when he wrote, “Be careful for nothing?” Paul was teaching against an unhealthy anxiety, what most of us would call worry. Paul’s words serve to warn us against being overly anxious about our lives. Consider some of the negative aspects of worry.

First, worry is in conflict with God’s commandments. It is inconsistent to pay heed to God’s commandments to pray, to study, and to assemble to worship while at the same time ignore the simple command not to worry. A person who loves God will strive to obey all that God has commanded.

Second, worry is a wasteful way to spend both our time and our energy. The time a person spends in worry would be much more profitable if it were spent in other ways.

Third, worry can be detrimental to a person’s health (both physical and mental). You’ve probably heard someone say, “He’s going to worry himself sick.” There may be more truth to this than we realize. In his book, “None of These Diseases,” Dr. S. I. McMillen includes a list of diseases that can be caused, at least in part, or worsened by emotional stress. Included among this list are ulcers of the stomach and intestines, high blood pressure, panic attacks, diabetes, asthma attacks, fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancers of many types. Someone has said, “Worry is the sexton that digs an untimely grave.”

Fourth, worry can be a robber. The word “worry” comes from a Middle English word that means to strangle. When a person experiences the emotional strain produced by worry he begins to feel as if someone were grabbing him by the throat, refusing to let go. Worry is slowly but surely choking him of the joy, the happiness, and the peace we all desire.

Fifth, because worry is often a sign of a lack of faith, worry can hinder our prayers from being answered. When we pray to God, we are to pray in faith, without doubting. James wrote, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8).

But friends, it is possible for us not to worry! How do I know it is possible? Remember Paul’s words, “Be anxious for nothing!” What can we do to eliminate worry from our lives?

First, we must learn to live our lives one day at a time. Dale Carnegie wrote a book entitled, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” The book begins by emphasizing the need to live in “day-tight compartments,” that is, living life one day at a time. Mr. Carnegie described a ship where the captain, while standing on the bridge of the ship, could operate a number of controls that would close watertight doors, thus isolating various parts of the ship from one another. Theoretically, if the ship were damaged, these watertight compartments would serve to keep the ship afloat.

By living in “day-tight” compartments, we are able to shut out the past and put the cares of yesterday behind us. We are able to refuse to allow the thoughts of tomorrow to rob us of the joy today presents to us.

Many people have benefited from Mr. Carnegies’ book. But the idea of living in “day-tight compartments” is not original with Mr. Carnegie! In fact, any self-improvement book that is worth the paper it is printed on is based upon sound, Biblical principles. It was Jesus who said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34.) Many times people go to a bookstore, earnestly searching for that ideal self-help book, one that will reveal the secret to a truly happy life. But these people already have the only truly worthwhile self-help book in their possession. The greatest self-improvement book man can ever read is the Bible!

Second, in order to eliminate worry from our lives we must remember that much faith drives away worry while little faith invites worry. Matthew the eighth chapter records a time when Jesus and his disciples were in a ship. A great storm arose and waves covered the boat. Soon the waves partially filled the boat with water. Imagine the scene as, in the midst of the storm, Jesus lay sleeping in the boat. Jesus’ disciples were afraid, just as many of us would be. The disciples woke Jesus, saying, “Lord, save us: we perish.” When they did so Jesus asked them, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”

This was not the only time Jesus taught worry results from a lack of faith. In Matthew the fourteenth chapter we read about a time when Peter walked on the water with Jesus. But when Peter saw the waves and sensed the wind was strong, he became afraid. Peter began to sink. He cried, “Lord, save me.” Immediately Jesus reached forth his hand and caught Peter, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Our sea of life often has many waves that cause us to become afraid and doubt. But Jesus taught that as our faith increases, our worries decrease.

Our faith in God involves much more than merely believing God exists. Faith in God involves trusting in God. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). Friends, what a beautiful picture this is! When we place our trust and hope in God we are able to endure any difficulties that may come our way.

Often times we are faced with situations we simply do not understand. But we can trust in our God who will carry us through those difficult times.

Consider the following example: We trust our lives everyday to bridges built by man. The piers supporting these bridges are placed deeply underwater, unable to be seen by man. Yet we drive our cars over these bridges without any hesitation. We do so with confidence because we trust the men who built the bridges. More importantly, God can provide a bridge over every problem we face if we only learn to rely on him.

It was the wise man Solomon who wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Third, in order to eliminate worry from our lives we must hand our burdens over to God. Peter wrote, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you” (I Peter 5:6-7).

Many times a person is burdened with a load he simply cannot carry on his own. But we will never bear any burden that is so great we cannot bear it with God’s help. The apostle Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13.)

We humans ought to learn a lesson from the camels. A camel is able to carry a heavy load throughout the day. But at the end of the day, the camel kneels down in order to allow his master to remove his burden. To bear the load day and night would cause the camel to eventually become weary and collapse.

Likewise, we ought to kneel before God at the end of the day in order to allow him to remove our burden. In Psalm 55:22, David wrote, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Fourth, whatever your worry may be, take it to the Lord in prayer. Remember the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Paul is literally saying, “Stop spending all of your time constantly worrying about every little thing!” But notice Paul’s words in the latter portion of verse seven: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” When we take our worries to God in prayer, his peace will act as a barrier or wall of defense, thus preventing the intrusion of worry into our lives.

Have you ever heard someone say, “I can’t help it if I worry. That’s just the way I am!” The next time you hear someone make that statement, remember; it doesn’t have to be that way. Thankfully, it is possible to eliminate worry from our lives! We can do so by: living our lives one day at a time, remembering that much faith drives away worry while little faith invites worry, handing our burdens over to God, and taking our worries to God in prayer.