Friday, February 28, 2014

1,000 marbles

One day, a man was explaining to a younger man how he was able to determine the correct priorities. He explained to him his theory of a “1,000 marbles.” “One day,” he said, “I sat down and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about 75 years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, this is what I can expect.”

“I then multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays the average person has in their entire lifetime. It took me until I was 55 years old to think about all this in any detail,” he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over 2,800 Saturdays.”

“I got to thinking that if I lived to be 75, I only had about a 1,000 of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1,000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container in my garage. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on what is really important in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

David once said that “our days on the earth are as a shadow” (1 Chronicles 29:15). Peter said that “the glory of man [is] as the flower of grass” which will wither and disappear (1 Peter 1:24). Through your faith, repentance, confession of Christ, and baptism you can enter into a new life of righteousness. There is no better way to have the proper priorities. After becoming one with Christ, then continue steadfastly in the faith (Colossians 1:23). You can count down your life confident of your eternal destination (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Kyle Campbell

Monday, February 24, 2014

An examination of Luke 13:1

In Luke 13:1, Jesus is discussing repentance. Someone asked a question in Luke 12:13 and Jesus taught them without an application. In the beginning of the next chapter, Jesus makes the application. The incident in vs. 1 is recorded nowhere else for us in the New Testament. However, it is in harmony with the outrages that Pilate had committed. He had charges of violence, robbery, persecutions, wanton malicious insults, judicial murders without due process of law, and cruelty brought against his administration.

Apparently, these Galileans where at a feast in Jerusalem where they may have been involved in some insurrection against the Roman government. Whatever the circumstance, Pilate had them slain right in the courts of the temple where they were offering sacrifices. The figurative language of the Bible says that the “blood had mingled with their sacrifices.” Jesus continued on to teach that the Galileans had not been punished for some special sin against God. The Lord was instructing them that all people needed to repent, not just those who had a certain calamity befall them.

Repentance is defined as a change of mind, arising from the conviction that we have done wrong and forsaking all sin in heart and in practice (Acts 3:19). It has been translated “to perceive afterwards.” Man has a stubborn will which is the seat of rebellion against God. When someone repents, they not only abandon sin, but they also turn to God (Acts 11:19-21; 26:19-20; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Repentance produces good fruits (Matthew 3:8).

The scribes and Pharisees were being judged harshly because they refused to repent under the preaching of the Son of God, while a prophet of God went to a heathen country and convinced them to repent (Matthew 12:41). This blog attempts to preach the Son of God. Just because it’s being read online does not mean the message has any less power. The command for all men everywhere is to repent (Acts 17:30). Have you done it?

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hearing voices

“Hearing voices” can be an indication of mental illness or mental health — it all depends on the voices and what they say. For instance, “voices” that urge you to hurt yourself or others, to do something morally reprehensible, or to act in ways contrary to sound logic and reason are obviously wrong whatever their source. But what about “voices” that instead urge you to: help yourself and others, to act in morally upright and righteous ways, and to conduct yourself in reasonable, logical, and sound courses? What “voices” do this?

The first is the voice of inspiration. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Are you listening to the voice of inspiration for the education and correction it provides to enable you to be useful to God in your life?

The second is the voice of reason. “I urge you there, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). The word translated as “spiritual” in this verse can also be rendered as “rational” (and is given as an alternate in the margins of some versions). What does this mean? It is not only spiritual, but also reasonable to listen to and obey God by living sacrificially for Him instead of selfishly for yourself. Are you listening to His voice of reason in this way?

The third is the voice of knowledge. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). There is an obvious arrogance involved when we think we know more or better than our Creator about anything. So, when facing problems and difficulties, or just seeking to navigate through the mazes of life, do you listen to the ultimate voice of knowledge, or assume you have gotten all the needed information yourself?

The fourth is the voice of understanding. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). There are so many times and circumstances in life that cause us to admit, “I just don’t understand.” But, in how many of those times and circumstances do you appeal to God in prayer for assistance and look to His word for enlightenment? We may tend to ask for His help, but usually fail to search the answers He has already provided for assistance. Are you listening to the voice of understanding by trying to “see” the way God does?

The fifth is the voice of wisdom. “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealous and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18). Thus, “true wisdom” is only present when the “right” actions are done through it. Are you listening to the voice of wisdom “from above” in righteous conduct, or still struggling to find peace through the wisdom from below (human sources)?

Why not listen to and heed these “voices”? To be sure, there are myriads of “voices” which claim to be those of reason, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom today. However, there is but one voice that really counts — the voice of inspiration! Read your Bible — it contains the reason, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that matters to eternity.

Adapted from Philip Strong

Friday, February 14, 2014

The blessings of affliction

Isaiah 48:10 says, “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Maintaining righteousness was a constant struggle for the Israelites. From a very early time in their history, they loved to worship idols — in opposition to the will of God (Exodus 20:3-6). For this rebellion, God would bring a calamity on them for their sin.

God could have cut the people off like Sodom and Gomorrah, or He could allow them to suffer for a while to bring them back into fellowship with Him. In captivity, they got to think about their sins. When they suffered, they repented and turned back to God. In short, the furnace of affliction made them better. God is not to blame for the suffering in the world, though. The ultimate cause of suffering is Satan and his impact in the world. However, no affliction is completely bad.

When we experience the furnace, it can make us better — but how? First, affliction allows you to get to know yourself — it reveals the real you. Peter thought he was strong and would never turn away from the Lord, even exclaiming in Luke 22:39, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” But he found out he was fallible like everyone else (Matthew 26:69-75). He learned the principle taught by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:12. Second, affliction allows you to relate to others. Jesus had compassion for others (John 11:35; Matthew 9:35), and this made a real difference in how He could help them. Hebrews 2:17-18 says, “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Third, affliction allows you to put life into perspective. No suffering is enjoyable, but it helps us to appreciate the brevity of life and the certainty of judgment (Hebrews 9:27; James 4:14). It also helps your faith grow. When David was fleeing from Saul in the wilderness, he wrote, “Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast” (Psalms 57:1). These beautiful words show that through suffering we can feel closer to God in a way not possible in the absence of suffering.

Do not let suffering keep you down. Peter wrote, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Kyle Campbell

Friday, February 7, 2014

"And rose up to play"

Paul wrote, “Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Corinthians 10:7). The occasion of this observation was the Israelite’s sin with the golden calf (Numbers 32:1-10). The statement made by Paul gives us a good principle on which to meditate.
Before we continue, I understand that the context is speaking of idolatry and the licentious practices that occur with idolatry. I do not mean to imply immorality with the comments that are going to be made. But the phrase, “and rose up to play” is unfortunately fitting for too many churches now.
For many years, churches have been using recreation to appeal to the “unchurched,” or those who do not regularly attend any kind of worship service. The intended point is that they can get them to “eat, drink and play” and then teach them the Bible. These efforts occur in every part of the year. The spring and summer includes basketball and baseball teams. The fall and winter includes Halloween, Thanksgiving festivals, and Christmas festivals.
The Lord’s church is a glorious institution. It was purchased by the blood of Christ and its purpose is to preach the gospel to save men’s souls (Acts 20:28; Mark 16:15; Romans 1:16-17). When people taint the church with these inane activities, they profane something with the highest, noblest objective on earth. Jesus did not die on the cross for children to play basketball or adults to have Super Bowl parties!

Kyle Campbell

Saturday, February 1, 2014

55 million blessings

Last week, the U.S. marked the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that there have almost been 55 million abortions performed since 1973. Although the number of abortions in the United States has dropped precipitously since the early 1980s, the procedure still remains a prevalent form of birth control in this country and around the world. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, there were 846,181 abortions in the U.S. in 2006, the latest year for which government records are available. Amazingly, according to Guttmacher, 35% of all U.S. women will have had an abortion by age 45. The Institute also reported that 93% of all abortions occur for “social reasons” such as a mother’s decision that the child is unwanted or “inconvenient.”

Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children are blessings from God, and are not to be “terminated” for “social reasons.” Tragically, the blood of the innocent has been shed in the land, sacrificed to the god of “personal convenience.” The Bible provides the necessary steps to solve the abortion “dilemma”: (1) Flee fornication; (2) learn to love, appreciate, and care for the baby; (3) learn to trust God for the strength to face any hardships life brings and study His word, pray, and seek help from other Christians; (4) help others who have difficulties caused by the birth of a baby; and, (5) speak out in defense of life and seek to deliver those who are about to be murdered. Murder is never a viable solution to life and its problems. God will deal with murderers (Matthew 19:18; Revelation 21:8; 22:15), for God is not bound by the Supreme Court (John 19:10-11).

Kyle Campbell