I was fortunate to see the David Crowder Band in concert twice before taking time off to lead worship at his home church. While David decided to change his band to simply Crowder, this group has a special gift for drawing audiences closer to the Lord. While teaching at Red Lion, I served on part of the security team for both of Crowder’s concerts in Delaware.
Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me. 2 In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you, John 14:1-2.
When I first started teaching high school Bible, No One Like You was part of the regular rotation during our school chapel services. While Red Lion’s worship team did a good job, there is nothing like hearing Crowder play No One Like You live. David’s energy, joy, and passion lifted up the concert audience up, giving those in attendance a glimpse of heaven. May you enjoy this classic song.
As a former Bible teacher, you have to demonstrate what you believe before any student will take you seriously. You can be prepared and know exactly what you are going to teach, but if you are not walking the walk as a Christian, your words will fall upon deaf ears. It doesn’t take long to spot a hypocrite so unless you demonstrate what you believe your audience will continue to shrink.
And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 3:21.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from John 8:10-11. One day Jesus approaches a town where and man and woman are caught in the act of adultery. As members of the community begin to pick up stones to fulfill Leviticus 20:10, Jesus starts writing in the sand. Although no one is sure what was written, some scholars have suggested Jesus began to write down secret sins of those with stones. After a call for inner reflection, Jesus keeps writing until everyone in the crowd had left and gone home.
But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. 7 [Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness ([c]that relation of being right into which God puts the person who has faith), Hebrews 11:6-7.
Jesus could had said a number of things before leaving town. Yet, Jesus turns to this adulterous woman and declares, “go now and leave your life of sin.” The apostle Paul devotes Romans 8:1-13 to demonstrating what you believe. After sharing his own personal failures and struggles in Romans 7, Paul reveals how to leave your life of sin. Demonstrating what you believe is based upon leaving your former desires for sin and replace this with a craving for the Holy Spirit. When your life begins to reflect the acts of the Spirit and not the flesh, Galatians 5:16-25, you’re on your way toward demonstrating faith.
I tend to be outspoken about issues that affect or impact my life. While teaching high school Bible for a decade, I lost my cool a couple of times. On one occasion I wrote a letter to the administration which got me in hot water with other teachers. Following this escapade, my good friend Spencer provided words of wisdom: “loose lips sink ships.” According to one of Jesus’ disciples, this is crucial to enjoying life and seeing good days ahead.
For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit), 1 Peter 3:10.
My grandmother Joana always greeted me with the same corny phrase, “you’re such a good religious boy.” As a children raised in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to pursue the holy sacraments. From my first communion, years of CCD (Sunday School for Catholics), and completing the Confirmation process, I thought I was well on my way toward enjoying life and seeing good days. Boy was I wrong as if God was whispering, “not so fast.”
Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze! 6 And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna), James 3:5-6.
While I knew all the right religious answers, my life was void of a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10. Subsequently, I struggled through my first two years of high school with many unanswered questions. Thanks to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes group at Concord High and a local Methodist youth group, I started to run the race of faith, Hebrews 12:1-2. Although I’m nowhere near graduating from this spiritual adventure, I’m on the right path to clearing up my speech. As Christian’s mature, enjoying life and good days are slices of heaven on earth before the real party in the sky commences.
There are various forms of agreements that you will make over the course of your life. This may be a handshake between friends, a business deal, a pledge you make to a local church or charity or a mutual consensus. Unfortunately, some of these agreements are temporary, contain escape clauses or are broken by someone who feels like they got the short end of the stick.
Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), Hebrews 13:20.
The phrase “all good things must come to an end” comes from a medieval poet. The origin of this expression was first written by Geoffry Chaucer in Canterbury Tales. While this is true in the context of life and death, the Bible speaks of an everlasting agreement. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of receiving a gift in Romans 6:23. However, the key is accepting this free gift as your own by taking ownership of it.
And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who possesses the Son has that life; he who does not possess the Son of God does not have that life. 13 I write this to you who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) the name of the Son of God [in [c]the peculiar services and blessings conferred by Him on men], so that you may know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have life, [d]yes, eternal life, 1 John 5:11-13.
First century Christians referred to this everlasting agreement as the gift of eternal life, John 3:16-17. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples believed that you could know for sure about your eternal destiny. There was no hopefully or maybe, but an absolute guarantee based upon your belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. As 2022 begins this week, make sure you secure this everlasting agreement.
The concept of biblical first fruits is one of those things I always struggled to visualize. First fruits is introduced in Genesis 4 where two brothers are called by God to give an offering up to the Lord. Since Cain was a farmer and food takes time to grow, he was hesitant to give God the best crops that he just picked. Meanwhile, Abel was a shepherd and offered up his very best sheep to the Lord. Abel gave his first fruit of the year believing God would provide in the future, but Cain held back food, doubting God.
And [we obligate ourselves] to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the first of all the fruit of all trees year by year to the house of the Lord, 36 As well as the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, as is written in the Law, and the firstlings of our herds and flocks, to bring to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in [His] house. 37 And we shall bring the first and best of our coarse meal, our contributions, the fruit of all kinds of trees, of new wine, and of oil to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God. And we shall bring the tithes from our ground to the Levites, for they, the Levites, collect the tithes in all our rural towns, Nehemiah 10:35-37.
Nehemiah was living in exile, serving as bodyguard for the king of Persia. One day a messenger sent word to Nehemiah that the wall of Jerusalem had been broken and the gates were on fire. This devastating news stirred Nehemiah’s heart, inspiring an extended period of fasting and prayer. Following this time of mourning, God gave Nehemiah a vision and plan to repair and rebuild the wall. The passage above serves as a celebration to give first fruits to the Lord as the wall surrounding Jerusalem was completed.
And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself], James 1:18.
The earthly brother of James provides a modern interpretation of first fruits. Instead of offering up a sacrifice similar to that of the Old Testament, our lives should be a demonstration that we’re serve a living God. As you read and study the Bible today, you should be inspired to live out your faith like Jesus, Romans 10:17. Colossians 3:17 and 23 provide a call to action. “Whatever you do, whether in action or words, do this all in the name of Jesus” as a first fruits offering in this new year.
As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.
For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, 5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.
What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.
After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.
When you don’t get that job you feel you were born to do, this news can be disheartening. Meanwhile, if you have ever been fired from a job, it takes time to recover from the permanence of this decision. Whenever you find yourself unemployed, starting over is a humiliating process. While it’s good to redefine who you are and what you want to do in the future, waiting for a door to open, the right job to come along and hope to be restored can be exhausting.
But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.
My first interview for a full time job after attending a youth ministry trade school was suppose to be a slam dunk. At least that’s what I thought since I was good friends with the older brother who was interviewing me. The position was the Youth Pastor at a Lutheran Church in Rapid City, South Dakota. My future office was on top of the Black Hills, overlooking Rapid City. During a series of meetings, I thought I knocked it out of the park until I was told I was too evangelical for their congregation.
Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), 17 So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Twenty years later, I found myself teaching high school Bible and coaching golf for an Evangelical Free Church in Delaware. This was a dream job that combined my passion for sports and teaching. However, as the church and school went through a scandal, attendance declined. This led to another church buying this property and school in the middle of the first semester. After being reassured that no one would lose their jobs, I was fired on New Years Day, 2012 because I wasn’t Calvin enough. Nearly 10 years later, I still find myself somewhere between too evangelical and not Calvin enough.
In the context of business, a yield is an agricultural, natural or industrial product that is produced. This is achieved by creating, generating, planting and maintaining this process until it yields a completed product. Since the Bible contains analogies of farming and fishing, you have to put in the time before a yield is possible. Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, but determination, hard work and perseverance are crucial ingredients to ensure a productive yield.
Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather, Psalm 1:1.
The Bible refers to a spiritual yield based upon the fruits that you accumulate over the course of your life. Christians yield spiritual fruit as individuals begins to develop and use their spiritual gifts and talents. Listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, this collection of special qualities are designed to be utilized at a local church. Depending upon the current needs of your church, you may have to serve in a lesser role until you are able to blossom in the area of your calling.
But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. 3 And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity], Psalm 1:2-3.
Before you get too far ahead in the yielding process, a Psalmist explains what it takes to remain productive in all 4 seasons. Every plant needs access to sunlight and water. Meanwhile, the soil a seed is sown in must be tilled, cleared of rocks and fertilized. From a biblical perspective, the Bible is symbolic of streams of water which nurtures souls. As Christians take delight in God’s boundaries, commands and decrees, lives become more than just a yield. Lives are transformed by an invisible Spirit that plants a desire to experience the abundant life of Christ, John 10:10.
When government officials began their regional lock downs in late March of 2020, the state of Delaware deemed my position as essential. Thus, as many were forced to stay at home, I ventured out on to barren streets to get to work on time. As several of my co-workers decided to opt out, afraid of catching Covid-19, I spent most of my shifts working solo, creating a large back log. While I was blessed with countless opportunities to work overtime, I became a resident who was not present in my community. To avoid getting sick, I stayed in bed as long as possible to prepare myself mentally for another night of work.
Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:16-17.
While visiting the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul noticed a group of Christians who attended church regularly, but the presence of a living faith was absent. Based upon his numerous missionary journeys, fruits of the Holy Spirit easily visible in other churches was missing from Ephesian Christians. Based upon the passage above, there was an apathy, complacency and lack of urgency within the hearts and minds of believers. The solution to this void was to become filled with the Holy Spirit. This leads Paul to make an interesting analogy. Instead of getting drunk during celebrations, this fullness should occur daily.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. 19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, Ephesians 5:18-19.
This spiritual infusion begins by reading the Word of God, Romans 10:17. As Christians dust off the covers of their Bible, encouragement, hope, and inspiration is found in these living pages. Yet, becoming filled up with the Holy Spirit starts when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10. From here, local churches come into play through fellowship with other believers, Acts 2:42-47. If you try to skip one of these steps like I did in 2020, you’ll become a resident who is not present, void of any signs of spiritual life. If you want to make a difference in 2021, make sure you take the time to become filled with God’s Spirit.
There are two common Greek words used to describe attitude in the Bible. Diáthesi̱ refers to disposition or mood while stási̱ points to body language and posture. If you are observant, attitude naturally flows out of individuals. Joy can’t be contained while depression sucks the life out of battered souls. Some wear their emotions on their sleeves, the reserved try to say even keeled and others are comfortably numb, jaded by previous trials in life.
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.
King Solomon suggests that attitude is a choice. You can focus on the positive by looking at life with a half glass full mindset. Or you can be a party pooper, allowing depression to bring you down and everyone else around you. Thus, the attitude of one person filters down to impact your sphere of influence. Neighborhoods, schools and work environments are at the mercy of attitudes. Depending upon the response, whether good or bad, strong attitudes can alter hearts, minds and souls.
As it is written, God gave them a spirit (an attitude) of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, [that has continued] down to this very day, Romans 11:8.
Perhaps, this explains the apostle Paul’s comment in the passage above. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience periods of insensibility. When the negativity of another person’s attitude impacts your perspective, a state of near-unconsciousness can blind you from the truth. To overcome this spiritual stupor, Paul urges first century believers to set their heart and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. The best way to fight poisonous attitudes is by developing a spiritual attitude fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more you meditate upon the Bible, your attitude can spread joy to others, like good medicine for the soul.