Taking Personal Responsibility

Pointing at ManIn a time of lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders, and social distancing, we are more cut off from others than we had been previously. Obviously, there are challenges to this type of social arrangement – including spiritual challenges. One such challenge is that it is increasingly important for each of us to take personal responsibility for our faith and our standing before God. Paul mentioned this idea in his letter to the brethren in Philippi:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Paul wanted these brethren to maintain their faithfulness even when he was absent from them and could not encourage them in person. The reason for the lack of in-person interaction is different today. And, of course, Paul was only speaking of himself as being absent from them; the brethren in Philippi were still together. However, the challenge described by Paul is the same. We must maintain our faithfulness, even without the in-person encouragement we are used to receiving from other Christians.

In this article, we are going to notice why personal responsibility is important, some ways in which we are to take personal responsibility, and also why taking personal responsibility should never cause us to think that isolation from fellow Christians is to be preferred.Continue Reading

Planning for the Future

Plan

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

If we are going to be pleasing to God, there are two critical factors for us to consider – God’s instructions and our decisions. At the turn of every new year, many of us make resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. With this in mind, let us consider some passages from the book of Proverbs about planning for the future. As we move forward in the new year, we need to be sure we are acting with wisdom.Continue Reading

What We Should Not Pray

Woman praying

On one occasion, Jesus’ disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). It is important that we know how to pray as we should. However, when we think of learning how to pray, we usually think in terms of praying for certain things. Yet there are also some things for which we should not pray.

So in this article, let us consider five things for which we should not pray.
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Lessons on Wisdom from the Life of Solomon

Solomon - old age

Many books have been written in which the author claims to be imparting some wisdom to his readers. What makes the book of Proverbs different is the author and the source of his wisdom.

The last two chapters of Proverbs are attributed to “Agur the son of Jakeh, the oracle” (30:1) and “King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him” (31:1). The identities of these individuals are uncertain. However, the bulk of Proverbs can be attributed to “Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel” (1:1). Some of these “proverbs of Solomon” were “transcribed” by “the men of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (25:1).

It is important that we understand how Solomon acquired his wisdom. We find the answer to this shortly after Solomon established his rule as king over Israel.
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Tent-Making Preachers

Paul Making Tents

God’s design is that those who dedicate their lives to preaching the gospel receive full support for that work. Paul told the church in Corinth, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).

However, one who preaches may not always (or ever) enjoy the blessing of such support. Perhaps the brethren cannot financially support a preacher. It could be that brethren could support a preacher, but will not because they do not value the work of preaching as highly as they should. Or, as in the case of Paul, a preacher may forgo receiving support because circumstances are such that it may actually hinder the cause of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:12).

When a preacher receives only partial support – or even no support – for preaching the gospel, what is he to do?
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Blessings and Burdens of Spiritual Independence

Earlier this week, Americans celebrated Independence Day, commemorating the day when the thirteen colonies declared their independence from England. In breaking ties, the colonies affirmed that they were able to govern themselves and no longer needed to be dependent upon a distant monarch.

There were certainly blessings that came from this independence. The most notable were freedom and having a government that could better relate to the concerns of the people. However, with independence also comes burdens – additional responsibilities that must now be fulfilled by the independent entity since they would no longer be dependent upon others as they were previously.

Blessings and burdens will exist anytime a person or a people determine to be independent from others. It was true with the thirteen American colonies. At the time of the Exodus when the Israelite people became independent from the Egyptians, they enjoyed blessings (freedom from bondage) and faced burdens (they could no longer rely upon the Egyptians to provide for them – Exodus 16:3). When a young adult moves out of the house and becomes independent from his parents, there are blessings in his new independence and burdens in the greater responsibilities since he now has to provide for himself. Independence, in any context, contains both blessings and burdens.

In this article, I want us to examine our independence as it pertains to spiritual matters. Through the provisions He has given, God has made it so that each one of us can faithfully serve Him, regardless of what others might choose to do. This is not to say that we should not work together or that we cannot help one another; rather, we must take responsibility as individuals for our own spiritual lives.Continue Reading

Wasting the Teenage Years

The teenage years are an important time in one’s life. Therefore, we ought to think seriously about how these years are spent. How are parents to teach and encourage their teenage children? What should children be pursuing in their teenage years?

I read a post from Jason Hardin that got me thinking along these lines. It contained excerpts from the book, Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. I haven’t read the book, so I’m not qualified to endorse it. But the quotes that Jason shared from it were very good. The basic theme is that we, as a culture, have allowed the teenage years to evolve into a wasted time of short-sighted irresponsibility.

The way many in the world view these years is that it is a time to focus on social interactions, unrestrained fun, freedom from responsibility, and schooling – not for the purpose of life preparation, but simply for the sake of education, even if it is without direction and usefulness.
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