Temptation Part 2: Patience

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.–James 1:3

It seems odd to say that temptations leads to patience. Yesterday I discussed temptations. Temptations are difficult times or trials in our life that God uses. Paul says in Romans 5:3, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience.”

So there has to be something there about difficult times leading to patience, if both James and Paul have said this. How do we respond when we go through trials? We want to fix it now. We don’t like going through them. We don’t want it fixed tomorrow, next week, next year. . . we want it to end now. When we go through these difficult times in our life we seek God more. By seeking God’s grace, instead of driving us to despair, suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character. Proven character results in a mature hope in God (or patience) that will not disappoint.

God’s grace lets us look beyond our present problems in life and lets us have hope in God and a certain hope for the return of the Lord. So this is more a patience that we know that the Lord is good and he will take care of us. So often we want our problems to end now, but God’s time is not our time. In 2 Peter 3:8, it says “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. ”

When we go through trials, we need to pray that God will give us the perseverance to get through it. That He will show us the lesson he wants us to learn and that we will increase in our spiritual maturity.

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No Addition Needed

Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.–Proverbs 30:6

Adding To The Word

The Word must not be mixed with human ideas and imaginations. God’s truth is fully adequate to meet our spiritual needs. Anyone who teaches that something must be added to Biblical truths in order to fulfill our lives in Christ are wrong.

Revelations 22:18-19 states: “. . . If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

We should never be careless with the Word of God. Adding our own ideas or taking away parts that we do not like will have costly impacts. God does not need us to perfect his word. Our ways are flawed, His ways are not. No additional human wisdom is needed to complete the sufficiency of God’s Word. The words of Jesus and the grace of God were enough in the early days of the church to meet the needs of the lost.

Be Careful

It is easy to get in discussions about the Bible, ideas are being thrown around, you don’t have time to think about it, and you spout something off. We need to be very careful with this, especially around new believers or non-believers. They may not have the knowledge to refute what we say. If we are in any situation where we teach, we need to be very careful what we say. I have a habit of thinking out loud a lot. Sometimes what I’m saying is my own internal way of vetting what I want to say and if it is Biblical, I sometimes forget that I’m talking out loud. I’ve had to go back to people and say, that’s not true or Biblical on what I said. It was me vetting my own ideas. Individuals that are new believers, don’t always know when to question what they hear. So, if you are a teacher, always be cautious of how you word what you say and what you say in general, when discussing the Bible.

Secular Application

We should be very careful what we add to what others have said. Many times we will rephrase what somebody says and it ends up completely different that what the original person had said. Maybe you remember the telephone game that was played in school, someone says a sentence to the person on the right of them, then that person repeats what they heard to the person on the right of them. This continues until you have went through the line or around the circle. Usually, what the last person says, is nothing close to what was originally said.

When we add or rephrase what someone says, we have a good chance of changing their true meaning. Sometimes this has no impact, other times this could cause a lot of grief.

Going back to the Bible, we could be hurting someones spiritual walk with God, by adding to the Bible or taking from it. We could end up causing someone not to accept Jesus as their savior. We could cause them to be confused or even hurt them. Always be alert of what you say when teaching the Bible. We will be held accountable as John mentioned in Revelations 22:18-19.

On the flip side, we also need to be cautious of people that add to God’s word. Preaching prosperity seems to be very popular right now, but it’s very non-Biblical. Nowhere in the Bible does it say if you become a Christian, everything will be okay, you will be rich with no problems.

The take home message is, don’t change God’s Word, and stay away from those that purposely do change His Word.

Are Your Standards Right?

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him–Proverbs 26:12

Our Hearts

Pride and self-importance cause people to seem wise in their own view, which leads them to be arrogantly confident in their own ideas. Wisdom comes from God and is not formed by human reasoning, but accepting what God has said and revealed in Scripture. We have to understand that that there is potential deceit within our hearts and we must not assume that our standards of right and wrong are God’s standards. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

The heart is the inner being of a person that includes our desires, feelings and thoughts. The heart is extremely evil and corrupt, as a result people turn to selfishness and evil rather than to God. This cannot be cured and cannot be changed by itself. Only God’s grace can cure it. We need to ask God for wisdom.

Seeking Wisdom

James 1:5 says, “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. We need to be asking God to give us wisdom in dealing with and coping with our trials. Wisdom means the spiritual ability to see and evaluate life and conduct from God’s point of view.

In 1 Corinthians 2:16 Paul says, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” To have the mind of Christ means knowing God’s will and his plan and purpose. It means seeing things the way God sees them, valuing things the way He values them, loving what He loves and hating what He hates. This is how we should be setting the standards in our life.

Setting Standards

Many times we set our standards based on our own understanding, preferences, and how we were raised. There have been many times as I’ve got older that I have realized that some of the standards I was setting were based on my parents preferences. We also set standards to what we think is right, which is flawed. We need to be seeking God’s wisdom when setting our standards. As a whole, we need to also realize that our standards may work for us, but may not work for other people. For example, dressing up for church, I personally feel that I should dress up for church, because I’m going to worship God. Other people do not feel that they should dress up for church. I should not apply my standard to other people. In reality, I don’t think God cares what I’m wearing, it’s my heart at that time when I’m worshiping Him.

When we set our standards in our lives, seek God’s wisdom. Our ways are deceitful, God’s are pure and just.

Samson Part 3: Wisdom

In Part 3 of Samson, were going to discuss wisdom. Part 1 talked about wasted potential. Then in part 2, focus was discussed. To see those blog posts go here: Part 1, Part 2

Judges 16 goes through the exchange between Delilah and Samson. To give a quick overview, the Philistines come to Delilah and want her to find out what the source of Samson’s strength is. Judges 16:7, Samson says if they bind me with seven green withs that were never dried. Then he tells her in 16:11 if they bind me fast with new ropes that never were occupied. The third time, Judges 16:13, Samson tells Delilah if though weavest the seven locks of my head with the web. Finally, in Judges 16:17 he tells her the truth: That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a rasor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

Each of these times, Delilah told the information that Samson had told her, to the Philistines and they tried it. I would like to think that if I told where my strength came from and then the enemy got that info and tried it to kill me, I wouldn’t be dumb enough to tell the person that just asked me what my source of strength was. Maybe Samson was asked a lot about where his strength came from. He could have told all sorts of people the same things as he told Delilah. When you tell a person three times what the source of your weakness is, and the enemy tries it on you; I would think you would start wondering who is giving them this information. The fourth time is what set him on the path of death.

As I mentioned in Part 2, we have to be careful who we associate with. We need to seek wisdom from God. The people that surround us, have the most influence in our lives. We need to ask God for wisdom with who we choose as friends. Those individuals can dictate how we serve the Lord, no matter what our intentions are.

I would think at some point Samson was wondering, why does she keep asking me what my source of strength is. We’ve all been there, where we’ve been in situations where the circumstances don’t seem quite right. That’s when we need to be asking God for wisdom.

As discussed in Part 1 and 2, Samson took a Philistine as his wife, even though God had forbid mixed marriage. All that did is start the fall of Samson’s life. We need to seek God’s wisdom in who we marry. Choosing the wrong person, can cause a lifetime of misery. Choosing the right person will lead to a lifetime of serving the Lord together and that can bring joy in your life even when troubles come.

The main point, we should always be asking God for wisdom in every aspect of our life. Too many times we get caught up with our lives and our wants and don’t seek God’s wisdom to guide us through the challenges we face every day. Samson was more concerned about his wants. Besides praying for wisdom, we should be praying that God changes our heart to be after his will, not ours, so we don’t end up like Samson.

Samson Part 2: Focus

In Part 1, I discussed how Samson wasted his potential that God had for him. Part 2, I’m going to discuss how not being focused on the right things in life can cause destruction. If you missed Part 1 of Samson, click here.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines.And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife.Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.–Judges 14: 1-3

Samson was blessed by the Lord, but he made errors that led to spiritual failure and actual death. He was not focused on the Word of God. He ignored God’s law concerning mixed marriages. He disregarded his parents God-given instruction in order to fulfill his own desires. He chose to enjoy the short pleasures of sin and express his human desires that were unpleasing to God. He misused the gifts that God had given him.

After his wife was killed, Samson wanted to avenge her death (Judges 15:7). His fight with the Philistines was more about anger and revenge than doing God’s will. In Judges 16:1, we see where Samson’s sexual lust got the better of him, as he took a harlot. Samson also fell into the trap of telling Delilah what the source of his strength was. I’ll talk more about that in Part 3.

As talked about in Samson Part 1, Samson wasted his potential. That potential was wasted due to not focusing on the right things in life and mainly God. It’s easy for us to fall into sin and lose our focus on God’s will for our lives, which causes us to not use what God has given us. Not having the right focus also causes God not to use us. As stated before in previous blog posts, God doesn’t need us, we need God.

So how do we not become like Samson and stay focused on God?

First, we need to be in the Bible reading every day. Being in the Bible lets us get the foundation that we need. Many times when trouble comes I remember a verse that either helps in the situation or provides some comfort. Second, we need to make sure we are praying and constantly in communication with God. This is how we let God know what our struggles are and how he tells us to handle those struggles. Third, we need to make sure we have the right people around us. So many times what we would say are good people, get caught up in the wrong crowd and end up getting away from God.

We should always be on guard, to make sure we’re not losing our focus on God. When we do, that’s when we fall. Just like when Peter took his focus off Jesus, he started to sink. We are the same way.

What Are Your Intentions

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.–Proverbs 16:2

Have you ever been pushing someone to do something and you tell yourself you’re doing it for the right reasons, but reality is, your intentions are not good? I think we’ve all been there. There’s been many times where I try to influence people to do something and state it’s for some reason, but reality is, I have a different reason. Its not for anything that’s bad, but my true intentions are not what I’m telling people. Sometimes it’s because I’m being lazy and don’t want to help someone out.

Many times we convince ourselves that why we want to do something is justifiable. Just in the case with me not wanting to help someone out. I might say, I’m not good at doing that or people need to help themselves. Reality is, I’m being lazy. How many times do we lie that our sin is fine? We try to lie about our true intentions. When we say we have to teach someone a lesson, is that true or are we trying to get revenge or get out of helping someone? We do this so many times in our lives.

When need to remember to ask ourselves what our true intentions are. Other people may never know what our true intentions are, but God does. We’ll have to answer for that. Are you being honest with your true intentions?

Thursday Thoughts: Why I Don’t Use My Bible App for Bible Reading.

As our phones and tablets are integral in every aspect of our lives (seriously, I turn my lights on with my phone), Bibles are also making their way onto our phones/tablets. Working the sound booth at church, I have a good view of what people use, and quite a few are using an electronic devise for their Bible (or games. . . yeah I see you).

As electronic reading devices have become more popular over the years, you hear people say I rather have a book in my hand. I want to feel the pages and smell the book. Full disclosure, I fall into this category. That musty smell and flipping through the pages lets me get my mindset that I’m going to be reading. Flipping through the pages is almost an encouragement to keep moving forward, and as you see the pages go from a stack on the right side to piling up on the left side of the book, there is a sense of accomplishment. For me, I could read twice as much on my tablet and feel like I’ve read way less than if I flipped through a book.

So what does my need to smell musty pages have to do with Bible reading?

Per a Dartmouth study, what you read on a screen compared to paper does have a difference when it comes to recollection. The study found that screen reading helped with learning concrete facts, reading off paper helped with abstract learning. So if you want to remember dates, the computer screen shows better results, while wanting to learn why those events occurred, reading off paper is better.

Screen reading has also shown that people tend to read faster or more likely skim, therefore not picking up as much information while reading. Reading off the screen also creates less of an experience making it where people tend to have difficulty reading long text, which leads to minimal comprehension.

Once again, what does this have to do with Bible reading?

First, our Bible reading should be about quality, not quantity. People are more likely to skim and speed read when using a computer screen, which leads to less comprehension. If I’m wanting to get the most from my Bible reading time, I want to comprehend it as much as I can.

Second, to understand what is going on and the why of events, it’s been shown that reading off paper gives better results. Can God speak to us and guide us if we’re on an electronic devise? Yes, but getting yourself in a better environment to do that is only going to help you understand what you’re reading and get a deeper meaning from it. We don’t go read our Bible usually in a noisy room.

Third, for me I can picture where I read something. If I need to find a verse or passage, I have a lot better chance to find it in my Bible by remember what side of the Bible or which column it was on.

Do you only use your hard copy Bible?

Nope, just as I mentioned in my third point up above, sometimes you have to find a passage and if you don’t know that verse or general location, the Bible app comes in handy, it’s far easier to search for terms or a phrase, than search your whole Bible.

In reality, it comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. I prefer to be able to jot notes down while I read. I like to make arrows and draw those points to other verses. I find it more difficult to do that on the apps. I’m also more likely to remember ideas I jot down, instead of when I type it. So for me, I’ll be sticking to my physical Bible when I do my reading.

Works Cited
Ferris Jabr, “The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens” Scientific American April 11, 2013

Maria Gilje Torheim , “Do we read differently on paper than on a screen?” Phys.org, September 21, 2017

Michael Lazar, “Study Finds Difference In Recollection From Screen Reading Vs. Paper Reading”, huffpost.com, May 30, 2016

Searching and Drawing Closer

Proverbs 25:2 It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.

This is a verse that has stuck out to me for many years. It was the verse that smacked me in the face when I was going down the wrong road, when I wasn’t sure what I believed was true. In short, God doesn’t make everything in his word fully revealed on the first pass. If that was the case, we could read the Bible once and know everything about God. I don’t know how many times I’ve read a passage and the second time around and got something else out of it, and then the third time something else, and so on.

I think this is where we fail many times, especially in our society now. We like information quick, and we don’t even need all the information, just give use the headline, and we’ll assume the rest of the story narrative. This is why news agencies have catchy headlines. Where we do search out for more information is misguided. How much time do we spend looking at the sports page to see what the score was of our favorite team or know the stats by heart of our favorite player? We know the ends and outs of the musicians of our favorite musical group or all the books of our favorite author. We get on social media and discuss and search about our favorite tv show. If you’re me, you spend time searching out some new science discovery. We spend our time doing all this, but will speed read through our Bible (if we even do that) to make ourselves feel good that we did our Christian duty.

God conceals himself in his word, so that we will seek him, we will chase after him. When we’re in a position to find God, searching his word, we’re focused. Just like Earthly relationships, when we meet someone new we asking questions, spend time with them, want to know more about them. This is how we get closer to them. This is how we build a relationship. The more we search in God’s word the closer we get to him. Are you reading and searching God’s word and seeing what he has to reveal to you?