Bible verses to build your life on
Jesus said: “… whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…” ~ Matthew 7:24
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Redeeming the Time ~ October 2010
Dear brothers and sisters and friends, I've been thinking about life - time. How do we lose so much of it? Where does it go? How can we get it back? Most often we can't - but we can redeem it, and set patterns that help us to redeem more time in the future, not for temporal earthly things, but for eternal. Please check out my notes and get back with me ~ okay? Thanks. ~ your bro/friend and a growing servant/life-slave of Jesus, SH
Thoughts and study notes: Have you ever thought about why entertainment is so spiritually harmful? Why is that? Well, for starters, they either act out, laugh about, or give blatant approval to actions and lifestyles that God says are evil and wrong. In addition to that, they desensitize us to what is right - actually convincing us to rewrite our definitions in our heads to something different from what the Bible says. And, entertainment stirs up and inspires our self-centered wants. For instance, the American dream: to have a large house, nice car(s), the perfect (worldly-minded) wife, kids that don't require any (or minimal) discipline and care, and a lifestyle that includes time alone for just us. Does that catch your attention? If it does, then there's hope for you, because you are likely seeing the problems and cutting spiritually harmful things from your life. If that doesn't catch your attention, then you need to really get worried - because there is a good probability that you are drifting further from God and obedience to Him and His Word than you have realized.
May I give you a few examples? Sports - boosts our pride, inspires our self-centered desires to be lazy, and even helps us 'get used to' the immorally dressed ladies called 'cheerleaders'. ~ There is a bit there that should make us blush and not participate in it and angry a holy God. Spiritual hazards? When we are praying for our team to win (etc), then we are spending our energy on something very self-centered, while millions of unbelievers die all around us, and persecuted Christians desperately need our prayers for their protection.
TV - so they portray something to either boosts our lust, boosts our covetousness, or boosts our pride by helping us feel good about how good we really are. They act out all manners of sinful lifestyles in ways that make sin look fun, and righteousness look uninteresting. ~ Spiritual hazards? How often do we think about how it's not when we feel the best about who we are that are our most holy moments, but it's when we see how Holy, Holy, Holy He is, and how we must keep growing into His likeness, even to the point of hating things, activities and attitudes - in our lives (and around us) that He says He hates, or that He tells us to flee from.
Movies - basically all of the movies these days - and in the past, package murder 'for a good cause' and call it 'an action movie', and lust and immorality 'for fun' and call it a 'romance' movie. My dear brothers and sisters, don't you realize that every time we watch something and listen to something, we are learning the ways of the ones we watch? This is evident in the fact that most Americans who call themselves Christians, look just like the world. How did this happen? One step, one show, one movie, on song, on game, one choice - at a time. "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'" (1st Cor. 15:33) It corrupts us, and that's not good. May I also add to this - how can we abhor what is evil and yet entertain ourselves with it? ~ "... Abhor [hate] what is evil. Cling to what is good [right, holy, pure]." (Romans 12:9) ** "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does [practices] evil has not seen God." (3rd John 1:11)
Please hear me on this - when I see others post things like this, the typical response is - 'Oh he just hates entertainment...' I think those who say that miss what some are trying to say. And if you, my dear brother, sister, or friend, think that - you've misunderstood me, and missed what I'm trying to say. I'm not attacking the objects of your interest, I'm merely trying to show as many as I can that the objects of their affection are very often: 1) what they choose to follow, and 2) are leading you step by step further from God, and more in love with sin and friendly with the world. It's not the object that I'm trying to highlight, but how it is affecting and spiritually harming YOU. I genuinely care about you - yes you who are reading this! And if you think anything differently, I'm sorry - you will have misunderstood me.
Please, join me, and let's rethink what we do and why? We all seek comfort in this life. Is that wrong? No. However, if we are finding comfort in a distraction (that helps us ignore reality and life) than that's a problem and it will show one day - unless we catch it early. If, however, we are everyday including Christ in more of our activities, plans, thoughts, decisions, then we are indeed growing closers to Him, and in the process becoming more like Him - in His image.
If you are wondering if I have solutions, I do. I'm still learning in this, so it's not complete, but here are some starters. 1) First to recognize any spiritual hazard in our life, we have to grow in spiritual logic - oh, when I do this, such and such will (does) happen and that hurts - oh, I guess I need to stop doing that and ask God to show me why this is wrong, or if I'm doing it with the wrong attitude. 2) We need to take action on getting rid of the problem. If it's part of our lifestyle, then we need to get very serious about getting rid of it, until it's gone - not just try for a week or two and give up, as all of us have the tendency to do. It takes discipline to actively become dead to old sinful behaviors, attitudes and activities (and all the wrong enjoyment of sin and it's temporary pleasures) that we train ourselves to like - with the help of our rebellious nature. And, it takes discipline to become alive to things that are good and right - to relearn how to be faithful, to relearn how to always tell the truth, to relearn how to love those of the opposite gender so much that we do not dare reduce them to objects of lust. Those take discipline - they take work, and that's what Romans 6 and 8 describe in more detail. If we are spiritually alive then God will be teaching us to become obedient in those. However, if we are lazy and try to ignore His teachings and disciplining, life will get more painful.
How do I (we) know if we are making progress in these areas? Simple - if you and I hate lying and deceiving more this year, than we did last year, then that shows progress. If there's no change, then we might want to look at if our commitment to Christ is real or fake. Same with lust, same with coveting, same with using God's name carelessly. Those are the types of wrong things to double-check to see if we are growing.
Let's look at another side - Do I spend more time 1) thinking about God's Word, and/or 2) reading God's Word myself than I did last year? If so - there's evidence of growth. If not, the evidence of no growth needs to cause us to do some soul-searching.
With this said, I need to cover another angle on it, as well - our desires. Do we desire to spend more time in God's Word than last year? Do we desire to tell more people about Christ, and to grow in making sure our message is becoming more exactly like His than last year? Do we desire to be humble in everything? Patient? Genuinely loving? - than last year?
These are simple steps for us to assess ourselves. But, there is another key factor for this to work - quality quiet time. We cannot make sense of life when we are constantly pumping ourselves with music, books, friends, food, partying or entertainment. We must break the habit of the American culture - we must either grow or start incorporating quality quiet time with God, in His Word and presence - into our daily schedules. Let's look at this a little more.
Have you ever seen a speaker ask any size crowd to just be completely quiet for 30 sec? It's pretty funny - none of us like to just be quiet and sit there. :) ~ But, we cannot run on the fast-paced 'American dream' hamster-wheel and expect God to insert Himself somewhere. We have to stop, and get alone with Him, and learn to just be real - everyday, at least once. This may be a novel idea for some of you. For others it may not be. But, either way - this is essential!
Well, I have shared a variety of thoughts built on Biblical principles, and I want to build on them in the days ahead. I want to wrap up, for now, with a Bible verse that Jesus said is very, very important. And I want you to read it as though it were the first time you read it - and really think about it again, and I plan to do the same. And I would challenge all of us to really dig into this verse and meditate on it for (at least) the rest of this year - better yet, the rest of our life. May it never become stale to us - better said, may we never let it become stale to us.
"And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." ~ Mark 12:30-31
For now, take care - with my prayers, your bro/friend and a growing servant/life-slave of Jesus, SH