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Choose to Pray More Effectively

Barbara | March 11, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Believe it or not, the ultimate goal of prayer is not to get God to give us everything we want. “Give me, give me, give me” prayers miss the mark. If that’s the only prayer we offer God, our prayer life will become ineffective. Prayer is a way of entering into a relationship with God.

Therefore, prayer can have many components: praise (1 Chronicles 29:10-13), adoration (Ephesians 3:14-21), thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20), supplication (Matthew 7:7, Philippians 4:6), confession (Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9), and so on. There are many ways to approach prayer.

If anyone should have known how to pray, it should have been the disciples. Yet one of them asked Jesus to “teach us to pray.” (Luke 11:1) He wasn’t just asking for himself, but for all of them – teach “us.” Maybe these disciples knew how to pray but they were aware that there was more to it, so they were asking for further instructions, deeper relationship, and more understanding – perhaps a different way of looking at prayer. We can ask God the same question. Lord, teach us more about this wonderful, direct access we have with you.

Why? So we can get what we want? I think not!

Lord teach us to pray…

  • so we can stay attuned to Your presence.
  • so we stay focused on You.
  • so we can realize all blessings come from You.
  • so we can love You with our whole hearts.
  • so we can love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • so we can love our neighbors.
  • so we can appreciate the beauty of Your creation.
  • so we can forgive those who have wronged us.
  • so we will not be hypocrites.
  • so we can be an instrument of Your peace.
  • so we will trust You more and more.
  • so we can participate in Your plan rather than have our own agenda.
  • so we can promote unity in the church.
  • so we can exercise Your wisdom.
  • so we can be less critical and more understanding.
  • so we can esteem others better than ourselves.
  • so we speak only Your truth in love.
  • so our actions glorify You.
  • so we can have compassion on the hurting and suffering around us.
  • so we can be a reflection of Your love.
  • so we can glorify You.
  • so we can align our will to Yours.

We were created to be in a relationship with God. Prayer is part of that process. A deep, meaningful relationship cannot form unless we have a means of constant contact. Prayer is our avenue of developing that relationship. It provides continual dialogue with God.

Consider this… Perhaps our prayers would get more results if we didn’t approach them with the attitude of “I wonder what God can do for me today?” Maybe asking God what we can do to better serve Him each day would make all our prayers more effective.

One final thought…

“Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ~Mother Teresa

 


Choose to Align Your Will to God’s

Barbara | March 4, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Many times we ask people for advice but we really do not want their input. What we really want is their stamp of approval on what we have already decided to do. Unfortunately, we can approach our spiritual life the same way. Many prayers are not seeking God’s guidance in our lives, but an attempt to talk God into giving us what we want.

The purpose of prayer is not to get what we want. The purpose is to develop a relationship with God. This relationship changes our way of thinking. We no longer look at prayer as a means to change our circumstances as much as it is a way to change ourselves. That’s heavy stuff! Prayer, coupled with Bible study, helps us form a deeper relationship with God. It is an avenue for His thoughts to become our thoughts. Our ultimate goal is to align our will to God’s, not the other way around.

While it is true that God hears all prayers, if the only time we pray is when we are at the end of our rope expecting God to immediately deliver us from our circumstances, we are being unreasonable. Prayer doesn’t change circumstances as much as it changes our way of thinking, so we can cope with our circumstances. Many of us are secretly thinking “let my will be done” when we should be praying “Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6:10) God is not as concerned about granting our every request as He is that through prayer we might come to discern His mind and become ONE with Him. (John 17:21, 22)

Our prayer goal should be to align our will with God’s, not the other way around. Christ realized this when He prayed for “this cup to pass from me” regarding His crucifixion. That would have been His preference. However, ultimately He wanted God’s will to be done. (Matthew 26:39)

We all go through hard times. These experiences will either make us bitter or better. We will either become cynical or nobler, small minded or understanding, selfish or giving, negative or positive, self-centered or God-centered. Prayer is what enables us to be sorrowful yet always rejoicing, financially poor but rich in the fruits of God’s Holy Spirit, having very little but possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:10)

Consider this… Prayer and being close to God is why Habakkuk could say that even though his crops failed and his cattle died, he would still rejoice in the Lord. (Habakkuk 3:17-18) It’s why Job could say that even if God killed him, he would still trust in God. (Job 13:15) It’s why Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego declared they knew God could deliver them, but even if God chose not to deliver them, they still weren’t going to bow down to some golden idol. (Daniel 3:16-18)

Saying prayer changes things is not as close to the truth as prayer changes the way we look at things. We can see the spiritual depth behind physical, mental, and emotional challenges.

When we truly trust God and turn our lives over to Him, we surrender our will to His. We want Him to guide us because we know He has our best interests at heart. Only God knows how we can best glorify Him. We want God’s will to be done in our lives and the lives of those we pray for. After all, we should want what is truly best for them, not what we think is best. That’s why we want to align our will to God’s.

One final thought…

“Don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!” ~Corrie ten Boom


Choose to Use Biblical Knowledge Wisely

Barbara | February 25, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

A few years ago, I was conversing with a man about some “special” understanding he had reached while doing Biblical research. Actually, I use the word “conversing” loosely, since it takes two people to have a conversation and this guy definitely was not interested in anything I had to say.  It was somewhat interesting, but the pontification went on for a long time. I tuned out somewhere between the genealogies, archeological findings, and where everyone had it all wrong but him.

Finally, when he took a breath, I said, “That’s interesting. How do you feel all these findings have enhanced your walk with Jesus Christ?”

I expected him to expound on proving the Bible true or God’s existence or something somewhat significant. Instead he just looked perplexed and almost speechless for a moment. Then he replied, “I don’t think it has.”

“That’s too bad,” I said. “What good is all this knowledge if it doesn’t draw you closer to God?” A statement he could not seem to comprehend.

As he started to spout a few more facts and data, I excused myself. My “polite-listening” gene had reached its limit. Let him bore someone else with his “special” understanding. What good is this kind of knowledge if it doesn’t enhance one’s relationship with Jesus Christ?

Biblical knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom or spiritual maturity. Knowledge is merely information. If not used to edify the body of Christ, it can just “puff” us up – not build us up. And it can be incredibly boring! That “I know more than you do” officiousness will not win souls for Christ. 1 Corinthians 8:1 says that knowledge may make us feel important, but love builds up the church. The purpose of Biblical knowledge and scriptures should be to point us to Jesus Christ. (John 5:39, 40)

We study the Bible not so much to know about God, but rather to know God and grow in an intimate relationship with Him. Knowing about archeological findings might be interesting, but knowing how Jesus handled certain situations can teach us how to live. How did He treat people? How was His relationship with God manifested? Sometimes we build whole doctrines around one or two scriptures we do not fully understand and totally ignore the hundreds of scriptures focusing on believing in God, praising God, loving God, and loving one another.

Bible study is essential for Christian growth. Using other reference sources to elevate that study is commendable. No one loves a trivia tidbit better than I do. It can stimulate us mentally and cause us to dig deeper into the Scriptures. But let’s never forget that God is not looking for “head” knowledge as much as He is for “heart” knowledge.

Consider this… We are to love God with all our “heart,” not all our “head.”  Using what we learn to draw closer to God, enhance our relationship with Him, and be better representatives of Jesus Christ is how we can use our Biblical knowledge wisely.

One final thought…

It’s not how much you know, but how much you care that really counts!

 

 

 


Choose to Live the Abundant Life

Barbara | February 18, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Christ came so we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) Some modern ministers lead us to believe this refers to wealth and prosperity, encouraging people to go boldly before God and claim this promised abundance. These “health and wealth” and/or “name it and claim it” preachers measure faith by how much God blesses us materially.

However, God is not the big “sugar daddy” in the sky, ready to give us everything we want. We may prayerfully sing, “Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz” and we might get it, but that doesn’t mean God gave it to us. 

In fact, Jesus said that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he might possess. (Luke 12:15) If we seek first the kingdom of God,we won’t have to be overly concerned about such matters. (Matthew 6:31-33) If we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us when the time is right. (1 Peter 5:6-7)    

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying an abundant life precludes riches or worldly success, but it does not depend on it either. Paul knew this better than anyone. He knew how to be abased or exalted, have a full tummy or an empty one, to abound or suffer – and through it all be content and give thanks. (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 5:20) In other words, we can experience the abundant life even if we are dealing with family trials, poor as church mice, or at the bottom of the workforce food chain.

John 10:10 tells us the reason Jesus came was so we could have life (eternal life, everlasting life, life without fear of death). The phrase “more abundantly” is the Greek word “perissos” meaning “beyond, more, and above measure.” It refers back to the word “life.” Not only did Jesus come to give us eternal life, but even more than that, He lives His life within us right now. His very presence in us adds something immeasurable to our existence. He is what makes our life worth living in spite of how much money we have in the bank.

If we read the whole passage of John 10, we see it’s about Jesus being our shepherd, the sheep hearing His voice, and Jesus being our open door. The whole context refers to us having access to God. And that, my friend, is what the more abundant life is all about. Not only do we get eternal life, but as an added bonus we have the opportunity to build a relationship with Jesus Christ – the very One who makes it all possible.

Man views abundance in terms of physical possessions. God has a different perspective. His abundant life is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control, compassion, humility, character, wisdom, enthusiasm, dignity, optimism, confidence, honesty, and a relationship with Him. In other words, the more abundant life is full of all the things money can’t buy. No matter how much money we have, we cannot buy more patience, wisdom, hope, self-control, or salvation!

Consider this… Money cannot buy us a “more abundant” life, but God can give it to us if we let Him. The more we open our hearts to God, the more abundant our lives will be.

One final thought…

Abundance is not always about having more; sometimes it’s about having enough.


Choose to Be Content

Barbara | February 11, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Paul told the Philippians that he had learned the secret of contentment. (Philippians 4:10-14) Paul used the word “learned” twice in this passage, which indicates that contentment did not come naturally. It was not some instant transformation. It was something he learned through his relationship with God.

Did you know Paul wrote these words while in prison, being denied every comfort? The Philippian church had sent him a financial gift and he wanted to express his thanks. However, he didn’t want to give the impression that God was not sufficient for his needs, so he used this situation to emphasize a life lesson on true contentment.

Paul rejoiced in their gift, not really because of the money (although it was nice and he definitely didn’t turn it down), but more so because it showed their heartfelt care and concern for him. (v. 10) However, Paul wanted the Philippians to know that true contentment looks beyond physical comforts to the peace that comes from being right with God. (v. 13) That’s why he could be content regardless of his circumstances. Nevertheless, he praised them for sharing in his distress. (v.14)

Some synonyms for contentment might be satisfaction, gratification, happiness, or fulfillment. But believe it or not, true contentment is not dependent on outer circumstances. Paul knew this. He knew how to be exalted and abased, have a full tummy or empty one, and abound or suffer – and through it all be content and give thanks. (Philippians 4:11-13; Ephesians 4:20)

Contentment is not based on power, money, physical beauty, or material possessions. If it were, all successful, wealthy, gorgeous people who surround themselves with everything money can buy would be happy and content. We know that’s not the case. Actor Jim Carrey once said, “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

What is the answer? What is this secret Paul talks about? God! True contentment is an inner sense of peace that comes from being right with God. Additionally, contentment comes from focusing on what we have, not on what we don’t have.

Have we learned the secret of being content? In today’s world, we receive thousands of messages daily trying to persuade us to buy things we do not need with money we do not have. It’s tempting, even though God tells us that a man’s life does not consist of the abundance of things he might possess. (Luke 12:15)

Consider this… Arsenius was a Roman imperial tutor in Egypt who withdrew from Egyptian secular society to lead a prayer-oriented, austere lifestyle in the desert. His contemporaries so admired him that they named him Arsenius the Great. He was considered one of the Desert Fathers, whose teachings greatly influenced the contemplative life. He was content to live with very little. Yet whenever he visited the magnificent city of Alexandria, he spent time wandering through its splendid bazaars. When asked why, he explained that his heart rejoiced at the sight of all the things he didn’t need.

Oh, that we could say the same thing after an afternoon at the mall!

One final thought…

Contentment can make poor people rich while discontentment makes rich people poor.


Choose to Admit a Mistake

Barbara | February 4, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

General George Patton was a stubborn, obstinate leader. He was nicknamed “Old Blood and Guts” and many say he was the greatest combat general of World War II. However, he could never admit being wrong about anything.

One story says that Patton accepted an invitation to dine at a press camp in Africa during World War II. Wine was served in canteen cups. Patton thought it was coffee, so he poured cream into his cup. As he stirred in sugar, Patton was told that his cup contained red wine and not coffee. General Patton could not admit making a mistake, so without hesitation he drank it and replied, “I know. I like my wine this way.”

There may be a little of Patton’s blood (hopefully not the guts) in each one of us. It is hard to admit when we are wrong. We are very concerned about what others think. Yet the benefits far outweigh our discomfort when we have the courage to admit we’ve made a mistake.

James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another…” My favorite translation of this scripture says, “Admit your faults…(TLB) God will always forgive our sins, but when we admit to others that we are vulnerable or weak, it makes us a little more accountable for our actions.

Proverbs 28:13 says that those who try to hide their mistakes can’t really prosper. They have no peace of mind. They are always in fear that someone will find out. However, if we admit our mistakes and make a commitment to change, we get a second chance.

King David was called a man after God’s heart. (Acts 13:22) Why? He was not a man without sin. However, he was a person who could admit making a mistake.

When his predecessor King Saul made mistakes, he was not sorry for what he did – only sorry he got caught. For example, when God told Saul how to deal with Amalek, Saul chose to make compromises with God’s instructions. God wanted all of Amalek’s sheep and oxen destroyed, but that was not done. Saul and the men saved the best animals for themselves. (1 Samuel 15:8-9) To make matters worse, Saul did not take responsibility for his actions, but tried to pass the blame onto the people by saying, “The people saved the best animals to sacrifice to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 15:15)

When confronted and rebuked by Samuel, Saul finally said, “I have sinned.” Then he quickly added, “Yet honor me before the elders and Israel.” He wasn’t concerned about what he had done, only about how he would look in the eyes of others. (1 Samuel 15:30)

David is a different story. When he made mistakes – and he made some BIG ones – he was willing to admit them, genuinely repent, and change. When God didn’t want him to take a census of Israel and he did it anyway, he took the blame. “Let your hand, I pray, O Lord, be against me, but not against your people.” (1 Chronicles 21:17) When David realized having Bathsheba’s husband sent into David repented. (2 Samuel 11, 12)

Of course, he should have realized it all along, but he didn’t. He, like so many of us, wanted something so badly he was willing to do anything to get it. But when the light bulb went off in his head, he repented. He deeply repented. (2 Samuel 12:13) Read David’s Psalm of Repentance (Psalm 51) and see why he was a man after God’s own heart. David never tried to hide his mistakes. He admitted them, asked God’s forgiveness, and changed.

Consider this… It’s always risky to be open and honest about our mistakes. We think others will think less of us. That may be true to a certain degree, but most will come along side us, want us to succeed, and appreciate the courage it took to say, “I was wrong. I made a mistake.” These words can actually break down barriers and draw us closer to others.

Of course, if we’d rather go through life pretending we like a little cream and sugar in our wine, then bon appetit!

One final thought…

Making mistakes is not so bad. Not learning from them is a lot worse!


Choose to Be Gentle

Barbara | January 28, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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By Barbara Dahlgren

Yet Another Year of Choices…

 One fruit of the Holy Spirit is gentleness. (Galatians 5:22) The Greek word for gentleness is “prautes” or “praotes” which means gentle, meek, and to have a “grace of the soul.” Gentleness and meekness are interchangeable in some Bible translations like the NKJV.

The Bible places great importance on gentleness or meekness. It says the meek will inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5) However, meek isn’t a very popular or common word today. Our society is obsessed with being aggressive. To get ahead you must swim with the sharks. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and wimpy people get gobbled up pretty fast. However, associating meekness with weakness is a big mistake. Gentleness or meekness is not weakness. Jesus described Himself as a meek man and He was far from a weak, spineless jellyfish, flip-flopping around issues. (Matthew 11:29) He was not indifferent to His surrounds or the needs of others.

Many legendary historical figures like Lincoln, Gandhi, Einstein, and Mother Teresa have been gentle and meek, but not timid. They didn’t need to project their importance to others. They had purpose and the ability to stand in the face of every obstacle thrown their way. This inner resolve is very precious to God. (1 Peter 3:4) It actually takes a great deal of inner strength to be really gentle. Gentleness has been described as strength under control.

It’s interesting to note that the word “gentle” was rarely heard before the Christian era, and the word gentleman was not known. This high quality of character was actually a direct by-product of the Christian era.

Being gentle or meek translates into what we think of ourselves and we what we think of others.

How do we treat others when we have power over them? Blessed is the person who doesn’t think more highly of himself than he ought to when others are praising and promoting him as compared to the time in life when he was a virtual nobody.

We need to be gentle in the words we speak. (Proverbs 15:1; Proverbs 25:11-15) We need to be gentle in how we treat others. (1 Thessalonians 2:7) Our gentleness should be evident to all. (Philippians 4:5) It’s not our beauty God values, but our gentle spirit. (1 Peter 3:4) A gentle spirit is not confrontational. (1 Corinthians 4:21) A spirit of gentleness is kind to those who make mistakes and knows that “there but for the grace of God go I!” (Galatians 6:1) God called us to walk with a spirit of gentleness. (Ephesians 4:1) When called upon to give an answer, one who possesses godly gentleness does so confidently – not with an “in your face” attitude, but one with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

Consider this… People with gentle spirits do not impute wrong motives to others while self-justifying their own behavior which is illustrated in this narrative:

 

The Other Fellow

When the other fellow takes a long time, he’s slow.

When I take a long time, I’m thorough.

When the other fellow doesn’t do it, he’s lazy.

When I don’t do it, I’m busy.

When the other fellow does something without being told, he’s overstepping his bounds.

When I do it, I’m taking initiative.

When the other fellow overlooks a rule of etiquette, he’s rude.

When I skip the rules, I’m original.

When the other fellow pleases the boss, he’s an apple-polisher.

When I please the boss, I’m cooperating.

When the other fellow gets ahead, he’s getting the breaks.

When I manage to get ahead, it’s because I’ve worked hard.

 

 One final thought…

A gentle spirit will treat those under them like they would want to be treated – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because they know they might be working for them one day.

 

 

 


Choose to Make Wiser Decisions

Barbara | January 21, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

We all make hundreds of decisions every day. Some are life changing; some are not. Yet each decision helps mold who we are as individuals. Each day we decide what we will wear, what we will eat, where we will go, what we will do, how we will spend our time, what we will say, where we will work, who we will be with, and so on. A simple life is easier to manage, but most of us do not lead simple lives. We live complicated lives filled with endless options. The more options we have, the harder it is to make wise decisions.

While what we decide to eat for lunch or wear to work may not need a list of pros and cons (although, some of us might benefit from doing that), other decisions take more thought and consideration. In those cases, it might be easier if we keep a few of the following principles in mind.

Pray about every decision. Bring concerns to God and ask Him to be actively involved in the decision making process. (Philippians 4:6-7) However, bear in mind that God’s major concern is not our comfort but that God be glorified, which should be our focus as well. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

To make wiser decisions we have to know about wisdom. A good start is reading the book of Proverbs which was written specifically for us to gain wisdom. (Proverbs 1:1-9) True wisdom comes from God. If we ask God for wisdom, He will give it to us. (James 1:5-8) However, God doesn’t play games. If we ask with a “double-mind” or not really wanting God’s wisdom, but asking Him out of a false sense of lip service, don’t expect much. God doesn’t just funnel wisdom into our minds. He expects us to do our part.

Seek wise counsel from those who are knowledgeable about the decision to be made. Seek counsel from those who can point out a spiritual perspective. Seek counsel from lives that could be affected by a decision, such as a spouse. Many fail because they have not taken the time to seek wise counsel. (Proverbs 11:14; Proverbs 12:15)

Heed the examples of others. The Bible is a history of those who made wise decisions and not-so-wise decisions. The world is full of such examples as well. However, many foolishly think they can make unwise decisions but it will turn out just fine for them – even though it didn’t turn out fine for anyone else. We tend to think we are the exception to the rule.

Count the cost. (Luke 14:28-30) Think of the long-term effects of a decision. Gather all the information. Get the facts. Don’t get caught up emotionally in a moment. Take your time. Good deals come and go all the time. We don’t need to buy now so we don’t miss the golden opportunity. Avoid making hasty decisions. Try listing options – pros and cons. We always have options. While it’s true some options might run the gambit from bad to worse, there are still options to be evaluated. Usually some option will stand out, but there will always be unclear concerns.

Calculate the risks. There are risks in every decision. I read recently about a man who asked a financial advisor if he should take his $3.5 million and use it for a business venture that could give him $25 million. The advisor said, “What can $25 million do for your family that $3.5 million can’t do? It’s too risky and jeopardizes your family’s security.” The man gambled and lost. His family was saddled with bankruptcy and debt. Even the benefits of a temporary gain could be offset by a permanent loss if risks aren’t considered. The Bible says, “What good is it if a man gains the whole world, but loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36)

Consider this… Decisions aren’t always lumped into right and wrong. If they were, they would be easier to make. It helps to know who we are in Christ and if a decision will help or hinder our walk with Him. However, we don’t always get clear answers from God about specific decisions. God never promised to give us all the answers. The Bible doesn’t tell us what to do in every circumstance, but it gives guiding principles to help us make wiser decisions. We are the ones who have to put those principles into practice.

One final thought…

Some think it’s good to follow your heart when making decisions, but be sure to consult your head in the process.

 


Choose to Cherish God’s Word

Barbara | January 14, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

 

Many do not understand what a blessing it is to have a Bible readily available to read. Today we don’t have to wait for Moses to come down from a mountain with a tablet of stone to hear what God has to say. We don’t have to wait for Paul’s next parchment epistle to arrive in the mail. We have access to God, His thoughts, and His example at our fingertips. Do we realize what a privilege that is?

In biblical times the average person did not have access to a Bible. In those days only the religious leaders had a copy of the Bible and probably not in total. That’s why public reading of Scripture was important. Paul refers to this in Timothy 4:13: “Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine.”

I’m not sure what scrolls or parchments New Testament leaders had access to, but I do know that people weren’t just grabbing their Bibles and heading over to Joe’s house for an impromptu Bible study. Many at that time were illiterate. When the Bereans were commended for searching Scriptures daily, they were making an effort to get together with someone who could read and had access to portions of the Bible. (Acts 17:11) Reading or studying the Bible was a shared activity with people supporting and encouraging one another.

Once the Bible was canonized, copies of the Scriptures were copied by hand. Emperors like Constantine or religious authorities would sanction that Scriptures could be copied by scribes. This was a huge, laborious undertaking. We cannot imagine what it took to produce just one hand copied version of the Bible. Each word had to be carefully formed in ink with no room for error since there was no “Wite-out” or “Correcto-type” available.

During the Middle Ages, around 600 to 1400 AD, several thousand monasteries were established across Europe to copy the Bible. Teams of scribes and artists produced magnificent parchments filled with beautiful artwork. Most people in the Middle Ages were illiterate so these pictures, designs, and illustrations were very popular.

Of course, a lot of these Bibles were huge and expensive – not available to the common man. They would be put on display at some churches, monasteries, and universities. Years ago I saw some of these magnificent manuscripts displayed at the Getty Museum in Southern California. Unbelievable works of art!

When the printing press came along in the 1400s, the flood gates of information became available to ordinary, everyday people. Many were skeptical of this new invention, but actually the printing press was the Internet of its time. Eventually literacy and access to books became widespread. The Bible became accessible to the average person – people like you and me.

Consider this… When something is readily available, it is not always appreciated. It’s taken for granted and not valued. Christians can’t afford to do this with God’s Word.

Do we long to understand God’s precepts, His principles for living a happy, productive life? (Psalm 119:40) Do we allow God’s Word to be a lamp to guide our steps? (Psalm 119:105) God wants His Word to be a vital part of our lives. He wants it written in our hearts, taught to our children, and discussed. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9) God wants His Word cherished!

Here’s a final thought…

Would you rather be without a Bible or your cell phone?

 

 

 


Choose to Make Your Words Sweet

Barbara | January 7, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments (0)

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Yet Another Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

We all know there are many ways our words can get us into trouble. That’s why scriptures encourage us to guard against lying, swearing, gossiping, complaining, grumbling, and so on. However, the focus of Proverbs 16:24 is using words for good. Loving words! Gracious words! Caring words! Pleasant words! These kinds of words are sweet to our souls and possess a healing power, making us happier and healthier. They are good spiritually and physically.

Using an analogy about honey with words is pure genius. (Yes, the Bible is the inspired Word of God!) Honey not only tastes sweet, but it has health benefits as well. From ancient times, honey was used as a food and as medicine. In fact, ancient Egyptians made offerings of honey to their gods. Here may be a few reasons why…

Honey is an all-natural, high-energy food loaded with antioxidants. It’s used to help suppress coughs and reduce allergy symptoms. Perhaps the most amazing fact about honey is that it’s a natural antibiotic. When applied to a burn or wound, it promotes healing because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. No wonder honey is used as an analogy of using our words like a honeycomb – sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Here are some effects of using words for the good of others: A wise tongue promotes healing. (Proverbs 12:18) Good words make a heart glad. (Proverbs 12:25) A soothing tongue is like the tree of life. (Proverbs 14:4) Words of edification impart grace to hearts. (Ephesians 4:29, 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

When we are weighed down by the troubles of this world, one word of kindness can lift our spirits. A note of appreciation, a word of thanks, or a nice comment can help anxieties fade away. I’m not talking about false flattery or just telling people what they want to hear. That’s the wrong use of words. I’m talking about words of edification – words that build up others, not tear them down. We need to be honest, not cruel.

Think of words of affirmation and use them with others often. Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

Consider this… Maybe your mother was right when she said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” About ninety percent of the time that’s pretty good advice to follow. When we must give instruction or guidance, we should do so with kindness. After all, a spoonful of honey can make the bad taste of medicine easier to swallow.

Here’s a final thought…

If we make our words sweet, they will be much easier to eat – if we have to!