Monthly Archives: July 2014

Quality and Quantity

For most of my life, I have felt good.

But all that time I didn’t really know how good I felt.

It took “precious” trials of life, such as cancer, to see how wonderful physical life truly is. So that is why I am not using a Jedi mind trick when I think positively about problems – I truly do rejoice in trials, knowing the sweet fruit it produces. Today when I feel good, I REALLY feel good!

When people are having a good time and have their physical senses filled to overflowing, they often say, “Man, this is REALLY living!” On the other hand, when we don’t feel good physically and are being stretched to our limits by pain, we describe ourselves as being “dead”, even though we are still alive physically.

The quality of life. It is a major factor in health care decisions when someone is trying to decide if the cure is worse than their disease. If the treatment causes more misery and takes away the quality of everyday life, most will choose to let the disease run its course rather than just “exist” in a dull, senseless condition, even if treatment gives us a few more days on earth. Some people commit suicide because they see no quality in their life, no matter how healthy they may be. We all want a life that is useful, beneficial and enjoyable in some way, or else it just doesn’t seem worth living!

When it comes to the important things in your life, shouldn’t we always be more concerned with quality, rather than quantity?

One of the great promises of Jesus is eternal life (John 3:15,16.). Upon hearing this, we may put the emphasis on quantity of life in this magnificent blessing and think that He is just speaking of “how long” Heaven will be. But do you think it might be even more important to consider that what makes this life so great is its unsurpassable, mind-boggling quality?

Jesus said in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Here the Savior contrasts the malicious intent of our spiritual enemy to defraud us with His Own loving desire that we not only have “life”, but that we have it in the best way: “More abundantly!” What a wonderful Lord we have to not only offer us an eternal home with Him after this world passes away, but to taste that eternal life dwelling in us today! (I John 5:11-13).

What kind of “life” will you and I have after we leave this old world? Or, what will be the “quality” of your life? If you don’t have Christ as your life (Colossians 3:1-4), you will still exist. But it will be in a state referred to in Revelation 20:14 as “The Second Death”, since death is a separation (James 2:26) and you will be eternally separated from our Creator. Is this the quality of life anyone truly desires?

Man has made amazing strides in prolonging the length of our days on earth. But has he made any progress in improving the quality of real, spiritual life? No one can improve on “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.” The farther a person or society roams away from the Source of life, the poorer the quality of life. In the end, this downward slide from God leads to a worthless existence, with no quality of life… but plenty of time.

“Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that is believing in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever is living and believing in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Choose quality – choose the real Life.

Thomas W. Woody
~ P.O. Box 148, Brighton, IL  62012-0148

Finances for the Faithful

Ecclesiastes 10:16-18 compares the state of two nations. One is woefully prepared, having a child as king and princes feasting in the morning. The other is blessed, having a mature king of noble birth and princes feasting at the appropriate time. The conclusion, then, is that a nation needs appropriate controls in order to thrive. Verse 19 explains, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but money answers everything.” While feasts and wine might be enjoyable, we must consider what happens when the feast is over, the wine is dried up, and the house is falling apart. The woeful nation does not recognize the consequences of their merriment. This principle can be applied to the individual.

We live in a society that sees life as something to be lived for the pleasures of feasting and merriment. Very little thought goes into purchase decisions. Just a few years ago individuals were financing their futures for the “ideal” home of their dreams. They thought the feasting, laughter, wine, and merriment would never end. Because of ill-formed decisions many lost their homes, their jobs, and their reputation. When we do not govern our resources wisely, we are like the woeful nation not recognizing the consequences of our decisions.

Many examples throughout the scriptures prove that living life for feasting and pleasure ends miserably. II Kings 5 particularly conveys this idea. Through the power of God, Elisha provided the means for Naaman to receive healing from his leprous condition (5:1-15), and in exchange for receiving this great blessing, Naaman desired to give him a gift (5:16-19). Elisha would not accept this gift, instead approving Naaman to offer sacrifices to the Lord, saying to him, “go in peace.” Gehazi, though, saw a great investment opportunity in his own well-being. Naaman was from a nation which had just recently raided portions of Israel (5:2), and he was loaded down with bounteous goods for the taking. Gehazi runs after Naaman saying, “My master has sent me, saying, ‘Indeed, just now two young men of the sons of the prophets have come to me from the mountains of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of garments.’” Naaman more than granted his request, giving him above and beyond his ‘humble’ plea. Upon returning, Elisha chided Gehazi for his sinful behavior, asking him in verse 26, “Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants?” Gehazi’s imprudent decision stained him with a life consuming disease.

Elisha responds very instructively by asking Gehazi, “is it time…” Elisha understood there is a time for joy, a time for gain, and a time for pleasure in this life. There is a time for a man to rule as king. There is a time for princes to feast. Money has its time and place in our lives. Ecclesiastes 2:8-26 explain this clearly, concluding in verses 24-26 that labor, and the good produced by labor (including wealth), are to be enjoyed by man as a gift from God.

What would one think appropriate to do with a handmade quilt from their grandmother? Would they place it on the ground as the entry mat, so everyone’s muddy shoes would be cleaned by it, or would they hang it in a place of honor? If we would treat our gifts from men with such esteem, what ought to be our response to the gifts from God? Should we lavishly spend our gift till we are left with nothing, or should we honor our work and the goods provided through that work by wisely utilizing them to God’s glory?

In Matthew 25:14-30 three men were given three distinct measures (talents) from their master, according to their ability. The master charged each servant to put that measure to work while he was away, so that upon his return, he would have his original investment back plus the gain from their labor. While this passage may not directly relate to finances, consider God’s measure provided to us. We have been given a blessing that does not belong to us (Psalm 50:12), in order that we might maximize its usefulness in order to return positive benefit to the One to whom it truly belongs.

How, then, can we maximize our financial blessings to return positive gains to God?

BE CONTENT: I Timothy 6:6 states, “godliness with contentment is great gain.” God is especially interested in the return of our heart. How will we respond to the finite blessings we receive? Do we begrudge God for not providing enough for us? “…For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” (Matthew 6:32) Being content with the supply provided to us is great gain to us and God. To us, in that we respond with thanksgiving in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). To God, in that He is glorified by our actions (I Peter 2:12).

BE PRUDENT: God’s expectations are laid out in I Timothy 5:8, where the one who does not provide for his household is said to be worse than an infidel. God is well pleased when we wisely weigh the needs of our family above our own desires. Faithful servants gain much by providing for the needs of their home. Prudently consider the consequences of each decision, weighing their benefit to God and to your family.

BE GIVING: II Corinthians 9:6-15 encourages us to be generous of heart. When opportunities arise, we should give generously, lovingly, and cheerfully. By our action, God is glorified by both us and the recipients. Your heart emulates God’s nature, and the recipients, who pray to God on your behalf, strengthen your soul. Paul describes this as God’s “indescribable gift.”

Truly our wealth is an indescribable gift from God. Are you using your blessings for treasures on earth or riches in heaven? Teach your heart to be content, set your priorities to please God, and generously and cheerfully share the wonderful blessing God has entrusted to you.

Joshua Riggins
~ 146 N. Seminary St., Bloomfield, IN  47424

Being Together

At the very beginning of humanity, God declared that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). It is important for us to have companionship and help that we cannot receive from any beast of the earth or bird of the air. This was one of the first things that Adam learned from God. In the world of today, we are more connected with other people than ever before. We have so many ways to communicate and so much information available to us that we have forgotten what it is like to not know. If you want to know something you Google it and the answer will appear before your eyes. If you want to see how someone is doing, you Facebook them, or Instagram, or read their tweets. We are able to discover every trifling trivial piece of information with the greatest of ease.

Yet the problem with this is that it is very rarely important information and does little to actually connect us with each other. In general, people do not get into deep conversations on the internet. We don’t always get into deep conversations on the phone, or while texting. Even more telling is that through all this we are even losing some of the art of conversation. We sometimes lose the ability to talk to those around us because we are so used to interacting with others through our electronic devices.

It is not uncommon to walk into a room and see every person on some kind of electronic device. In fact, this is becoming so prevalent that I recently saw someone post the question, “so anyone going to stare at their phone someplace interesting this vacation?”

In spite of being more connected than ever before, we also are becoming more isolated than ever before. We need to make meaningful connections with the people around us that truly matter. The most important people in this world for us to make a connection to in this world are our fellow Christians. These fellow Christians are the ones with whom we will spend eternity with. And it will not be an eternity living in isolation!

As Christians we need to work hard at meeting together, living with each other, and helping each other.

The writer of Hebrews tells to not stop meeting together (Hebrews 10:25), though some people do the easy thing and stop meeting with their fellow Christians. We should take the example of the very first believers and try to meet together as frequently as possible (Acts 2:42-47). To them it was important enough to get together that they did it every day in the temple courts! How much more would we enjoy life and how much more would we be in touch with God’s will if we were able to get together that frequently?

Unfortunately life tends to get in the way of getting together. Even Paul recognized that life could be a problem when he mentioned the fact that married men must be concerned about pleasing their wives and married women must be concerned about pleasing their husbands (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). This is just one example of something that brings concerns other than God into our lives. There is also work, feeding our family, having a roof over our head, and the list goes on and on. We must be careful here to not be like the seed that fell among the thorns that was choked out by worldly concerns (Matthew 13:22).

One of the best ways to avoid this problem is to associate ourselves with our fellow believers. If we place ourselves close enough together, then there is no place for the thorns to grow. We are able to help each other through the difficulties that this life has to offer. And by meeting together we can be certain that we are in the presence of Jesus, for where two or three are gathered in his name, there he is with them (Matthew 18:20).

When we come together it should be with the right attitude. Some people come to church wondering what they will get out of church today. That is the wrong attitude to have. We ought, instead, to think about what we are going to do to help others when we get together with them. The writer of Hebrews tells us to “spur one another on to love and good deeds,” and to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We should always strive to do the best we can when it comes to building up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12).

The more we work on building each other up, the more we will be able to get along with each other and learn to live with each other. We must be wary of things that come along to divide us. There will be things that define us and our roles (1 Corinthians 11:18-19), but we should not let these things separate us or cause us to quarrel with each other (1 Corinthians 1:10-11). We should be of one mind and spirit with each other, for are we not the body of Christ? We have one head and that is Jesus Christ himself (Ephesians 5:23).

We need to do the best we can to treat each other as though they were a part of ourselves. To do what we can to build each other up and to live in harmony with each other. Our God is not a God of disorder, but of peace (1 Corinthians 14:33). Therefore, we too should be people of peace. That way we will be like our Father in heaven. To this end, we must bear with one another and help each other to become stronger. Those who are strong need to bear with those who are weak (Romans 15:1). We need to be available to be able to bear each other’s burdens.

Think of how different the scene in the Philippian jail might have been if Paul had been alone with no Silas to sing with him (Acts 16:25). The strength of the group is more than the strength of a collection of individuals. Solomon reminds us of that as he talks about one person alone, if he falls there is no one to help him up, but a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). There are many examples in the Scriptures of people who stood together for God. We need to be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and stand firm in our faith together. As individuals we are weak, but walking together in the light we are strong and the gates of Hades will not stand against us (Matthew 16:18).

Benjamin Fry
~ 2324 Delbert St., Bakersfield, CA  93312