During my lifetime at certain points I tended to read certain Scriptures and not think too much about them, but at the various seasons of life, some tend to have very special meaning. Here are my favorites for the seasons of my life. Precious Promises!
1. Early Spring of Life:
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;
2. Late Spring of Life:
When we first learned and obeyed the gospel…(About 11:00 one night back in 1956) Luke 1:32-33: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” My overall favorite!
3. Summer of Life:
When our children were growing up: Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
4. Autumn of Life:
Romans 8:37-39 “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
5. Winter of Life: (Favorite at this point in time.)
2 Corinthians 4:16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Raising children has given me a number of experiences and observations that serve as good object lessons. Once such observation took place several years ago at a wedding reception. Our son, Daniel was about 11 years old at the time and was almost as tall as his mother, but he was still very much a mama’s boy and when he would get tired he would go over, stand beside his mother and lay his head on her shoulder.
At the reception, there was a woman who was about the same size as my wife and had the same hairstyle and color. When Daniel got tired he walked over to the woman, whom he had never met, stood beside her and…thinking she was his mother, laid his head on her shoulder.
The woman was obviously puzzled by his actions, because she didn’t know him, but she put her arm around him and allowed him to rest his head on her shoulder. The woman had been talking with someone and as she resumed her conversation, Daniel noticed she did not sound like his mother. He raised his head and realized he was leaning on a stranger. He gave a very brief apology and went hurriedly in search of his mother. Obviously, he was thoroughly embarrassed and I was thoroughly amused.
We sing the song, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and the chorus of the song is ‘Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, safe and secure from all alarms, Leaning on Jesus, leaning on Jesus, leaning on the everlasting arms.” Truly, it is a comfort leaning on the teachings and promises of Jesus our Lord.
Yet, just as Daniel was comfortable leaning on the shoulder of a stranger, there are so many who think they are leaning on Jesus but are following the teachings and promises made by man.
Jesus warns His listeners in His sermon on the mount in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers!” Can’t you just hear the shock in the voice of those to whom Jesus was speaking. Those who thought they were leaning on Jesus but were not doing His will. They were leaning on a stranger.
When Daniel found out he was leaning on a stranger he ran immediately to find his mother. I want to challenge each one of us to look closely at the one on whom we are leaning. Look closely at the teachings and promises that we follow. We may think we are leaning on Jesus but if we are not doing the will of Jesus…if we have not been obedient to His words, we may well be leaning on a stranger.
…And the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:3-5)
William Crawford is still pretty put out with his two sons. He was running to retain his seat on the central committee of the Erie County, Ohio Democratic Party in July. He and his challenger, David Giese, got exactly the same number of votes…43 each.
Now here’s the hang-up. Crawford has two sons, both eligible to vote for their dad. But they didn’t bother to cast a ballot. Andy is a college student who lives at home with mom and dad, and Jim lives just across the street from the family home. They simply chose to skip the election. Who knows why?
When you think about it it’s not really that big of a deal. The fate of the republic is not at stake. But it does illustrate the fact that we complicate our own lives and those of others by becoming disconnected and careless.
Apathy is a terrible thing. I guess Jim and Andy had no idea they would put their father’s position in jeopardy by failing to show up and vote. I’m sure there was no conspiracy to take down their father. It was simple negligence fostered by the common idea that one person just doesn’t make all that much difference.
I wonder if Eve thought that? Aren’t you glad Noah didn’t reason that way? What about Jesus? When Paul left Jerusalem to evangelize the Gentile world, did his efforts make a difference?
I know that the phrase “make a difference” is so cliché these days, but you will almost surely have a decision to make today that may seem small or inconsequential to you; but may have long-term, even eternal consequences that will affect you and other people. Don’t see yourself and your influence short.
Some time ago, I heard an old preacher say this: It’s kinda silly, but it has some truth: “God has cast His vote for you to be saved and to live in righteousness, joy and peace. The devil has voted for you to share hell with him forever. It’s a tie. And you will cast the vote that decides the election! Think about the choices you make today. -Charles North
Note: If you would like a Bible Correspondence Course, by mail… please email Bobby and me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One time while driving into the next shopping town from us, Bobby saw about 9 baby calves being watched by two mama cows, while the other mama cows were out eating grass (within sight of their babies.) I wanted a picture of that and took my camera along the next few times but failed to catch the time of day they did it. We could never get a picture.
Today while driving about 4 miles from home, we saw a sight like it again, only not that many calves. Bobby drove back home and we got our camera and went back and took this picture. I love it! The other mama cows (you can see one of them) were in close range where they could see their babies.
It made us note the difference between animals and their young and modern day parents; (modern…as in the past 60 years or so.) who leave their babies and little children all day long with someone else…and they are NOT within sight of their babies. Maybe we could learn from them.
A lot of parents that we know, lately are leaving good jobs and benefits to stay home and be full time mothers. We are very proud of them and they will be blessed abundantly for putting family first.
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I heard a story once about a farmer who hired a young man to run a tractor, cultivating his corn field. The farmer helped the young man get the tractor serviced and hooked up to the cultivator. The farmer then helped the young man adjust the plows and he gave him strict instructions to take his time and be very careful as he cultivated the field to not to damage the growing corn crop.
As the young man began to plow he paid no attention to the instructions of the farmer. He was easily distracted and carelessly allowed the cultivating plows to get into the rows of growing corn.
After a couple of hours the farmer came to check on the young man and as you can imagine was terribly upset to see that the young man had plowed up much of the crop that the farmer had worked so hard to plant. Did you know that this same thing can happen in the Lord’s kingdom?
We sow the seed of the kingdom, the Word of God, bringing new converts to Christ and bringing our children up in the teaching of the Lord. Yet, when we live our lives carelessly and we allow things to distract us from our service and commitment to Christ, we are plowing up what we are planting. When our children and those young in the faith see us as older Christians teaching one thing and living another, we are plowing up what we are planting.
Jesus warns his disciples in Matthew 18:6-7, “…But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”
WRITING THE BIBLE IN LONG HAND.
We started a group on Face Book and several of us are writing the New Testament in long hand. Some have committed to writing the whole Bible. This is such a good thing to do, I wish I had thought of it years ago. This was on someone’s profile to do, and they were selling journals very reasonably priced (from $3- $10, depending on the size.) We all decided to just write it in common everyday notebooks so they would be inconspicuous if someone came in confiscating them in future generations…or our own generation. What a treasure we would have to pass down to our descendants.
Many of us are doing this. We started in February of 2012. Between February and August, I had written the complete New Testament plus Ecclesiastes and Proverbs. If you think it is too daunting…it isn’t. I started over in September of last year immediately and have written 14 books so far. I’m going a little slower this time, because I need to be a Martha as well as a Mary. It really makes the Bible come alive to you when you write it…and it isn’t such a slow process as you may think. My goal is to write at least 3 copies of the New Testament and Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, for my three grand-children.
The motivation? Even before there were kings in Israel, the Lord commanded the kings to write their own copies of the Law: (If it were wise for the kings to do…how much more would we benefit from doing this in this time and age?)
Deuteronomy 17: 18-20 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
GREAT PLANS THAT FALL BY THE WAYSIDE
When my daughter-in-law and I were first planning on getting a computer, back in 1996, we were discussing it one afternoon and talking about what all we could do. We decided we would get on the internet and build a web site and offer Bible class materials and ideas and have a market for our wares. We had been preparing our own Bible class material for a while.
Oh! We got so excited and the ideas just kept coming to our minds. We got our computers a few months apart but I got on the internet a few months before she did. As soon as all three of her children were in school, she started working there as a librarian.
The superintendent convinced her that she should go get the education hours she needed, to become certified as a teacher. She checked it out and she only needed 12 hours. (She already had a degree in business administration) so she earned the 12 hours really fast and became….a computer lab teacher.
Well she was so busy we had to put our enterprise on a back burner (that is where it still is!) But we had gotten so excited that we had already made up our business cards and oh! they were so neat. It said Ingram & Ingram Enterprises at the top and it had a row of neat colorful books under that and then what we planned to offer: Bible Time Lines, Puzzles, flip charts, Work sheets, etc.
Well in large letters at the bottom it should say: Fallen By The Wayside! Because neither of us have the time for it even yet.
You probably know where I am going with this! Some people become Christians and are so excited to be a part of something so wonderful, and live the Christian life for a number of months or even years, and then the idea of ‘eternity’ doesn’t seem real to them somehow.
They fall away for different reasons: Some can not stand the persecution that seems to befall those who are trying to put God first in their lives. Some fall away because of the cares of the world. The Bible says some of them have shallow roots and they rise up quickly and then fall away. But we are told in 2 Peter 2:21 that “…It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.”
When you speak to them about their spiritual life they all intend to come back some day. There is seldom one who intends to never come back. We hope and pray they will before it is too late!
Our plans for our “business” crashing is of no real consequence, although we would have enjoyed it… but falling away from God…or never obeying Him in the first place is a very serious matter.
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MAKING AN IDOL OUT OF JESUS
One of the things that characterized pagan religions throughout history is the worship of idols which were carved from wood, chiseled from stone or cast from some precious metal. These idols were formed by the hands of the worshipers and were the product of their own imaginations. The futility of such worship is pointed out in Isaiah 44:16-20, Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me; you are my god.” They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”
Today, in our society, the worship of carved and graven images is not nearly as prevalent, yet a more subtle and deceitful form of idolatry has arisen and become common in the Christian religion. This form of idolatry is the false portrayal of Jesus Christ. Many in the Christian religion would have us believe that Jesus Christ is not concerned with doctrine, but accepts men regardless of what they believe and teach. Many would have us believe that Jesus Christ is not concerned with a person’s moral conduct but accepts men even though they continue in their evil behavior. Many would even have us believe that Jesus Christ will save unbelievers and those in pagan religions, who have never heard the gospel message or confessed the name of Jesus. Those who teach such things are using lies to carve out an idol. They call the image “Jesus”, but it is not the Jesus of the Bible. The worship of such an image is no more valid than the worship of the graven images of pagan religions in the days of Isaiah.
Those who teach that Jesus is not concerned with doctrine should consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 15:7-9, You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” Those who teach that Jesus is not concerned with our moral conduct should consider Mark 9:43-48, If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Those who teach that Jesus will save unbelievers should consider the words of Jesus in John 8:24, I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins. And those who teach that Jesus will save people of other religions should consider the words of Jesus in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
To portray Jesus Christ in a way that is false is to create an idol as surely as one who carves an image of wood or stone, and to worship a false portrayal of Christ is as futile as the pagan worship of idols. Let’s be sure that we are teaching, preaching and worshiping the true Jesus Christ of the New Testament. -Wendell Ingram
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12