It’s not often that we look to the insect world for guidance. Yet that’s exactly what Proverbs 6:6–8 encourages us to do: “You lazy people can learn by watching an anthill. Ants don’t have leaders, but they store up food during harvest season.” (CEV) Such a wise example carries four important lessons for us.
1. Harvests, literal or figurative, should not be taken for granted. The opportunity to gather provisions—to earn money or build a surplus—is not always available. That’s why it’s important to make the most of every opportunity while we can. The ant doesn’t sit out a harvest cycle to figure out what it wants to do with its life. It gathers while the gathering is good. If you have a chance to build a surplus—to do work that rewards you with pay or benefits—do it while you can, for as long as you can.
2. Fortunes can turn in an instant. If the “dot-com bubble” collapse of 2000–2001 or the “real estate bubble” collapse of 2007 taught us anything, it’s that when things seem too good to be true, financially speaking, they probably are.
3. Productivity should be a constant. The author of Ecclesiastes tells us there is a season for everything, including planting and reaping (Ecclesiastes 3:2). That suggests a continuous cycle. If you do not reap when it’s time to reap, you could be out of step with the natural rhythms of life.
4. Relying on others to do the work for you is counterproductive. Working to provide for our needs, along with the needs of our families, can give us a sense of pride, accomplishment, and purpose. The satisfaction that comes from storing up provisions—that is, from reaping the benefits of an honest day’s work—cannot be overstated. Every person who is physically capable should experience it.
On Monday, July 21th 2014 we continue our second video Bible study in the Summer Bible Study Series sponsored by TheBiblePeople. These July and August sessions will cover: * Part I: Who is God? (Missed it? Watch it here) * Part II: Who is Jesus? (July 21, 12pm EST) * Part III: Who am I? (August 5, 12pm EST) Together we will explore these topics from a conservative, Christian exploration of the Bible. PART II: WHO IS JESUS? This upcoming video study will be broadcast on July 21, 12pm (New York). Reserve your place by clicking here. Then press the REMIND ME button toward the top of the page. PART III: WHO AM I? What does the Bible say about you and me? You're probably going to be surprised. The third part of our summer Bible Study Series will explore what the Bible says about those who put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Even if you live by a moral code, you will face challenges to your convictions. Temptation found Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It found Jesus in the wilderness. And it will find you—likely when you’re at your most vulnerable point. You might as well heed this advice from Proverbs and prepare yourself to face temptation:
“Obey the teaching of your parents—always keep it in mind and never forget it. Their teaching will guide you when you walk, protect you when you sleep, and talk to you when you are awake. The Law of the Lord is a lamp, and its teachings shine brightly. Correction and self-control will lead you through life” (Proverbs 6:20–23, CEV).
As the author of Proverbs 6 recommended, meditating on the principles that form the core of who you are and who you should be is a great first step in resisting temptation. For the ancient Israelites, those core guiding principles were found in Scripture. A great many people still find the practice of reflection to be a helpful tool.
Here are some other useful strategies: 1. Recognize where you are vulnerable. 2. Practice your escape routes. 3 .Enlist the assistance of others. 4. Celebrate your victories, but not too much. 5. Learn from your failures.
On Monday, July 7th 2014 we began the first in a new Summer Bible Study Series.
These July and August sessions will cover: * Part I: Who is God? * Part II: Who is Jesus? (July 21, 12pm EST) * Part III: Who am I? (August 4, 12pm EST)
Together we will explore these topics from a conservative, Christian exploration of the Bible. Watch WHO IS GOD? PART II: WHO IS JESUS?
This video study will be broadcast on July 21, 12pm (New York). Reserve your place by clicking here. Then press the REMIND ME button toward the top of the page.
Someone I greatly admire once said, "You cannot change the world, but you can change one person's world." Today I'm going to share an opportunity for you to change someone's world and also get a free book out of it. No catch. WHAT IS KIVA? In the last two years, I've become a big fan of Kiva. This organization helps organize microloans for people around the world. At $25/each, you can research the loan you'd like to offer and then share it to an entrepreneur who will use it to grow his or her own business. You know what I love about it? It works. Kiva has 98% repayment rate, which means these men and women are serious about using your loan to build their business and provide for their families long term. Kiva is running an amazing promotion through 6/30. If you join during this weekend, they'll give YOU a $25 credit you can use to make a loan to someone else. Free. No catch. They're betting that if you make your first loan, you'll become as hooked on them as I have. You have to join by 6/30 and you need to join using this link. When you join, you'll receive a $25 credit to use. They will also add a $25 credit to my account so I can make another loan as well. (No, I don't gain anything personally from this.) Is this a Christian organization? No. But it offers a chance to help extend the Kingdom of God in a tangible way by helping someone in need. In a real way, you can bring peace to someone else by extending a gift that will improve their life. And while it's not a Christian organization, you'll find there are some loans for people who love God, love Jesus, and love the Bible. You might choose to select one of those for your first, free loan.
And a Free Book for You I believe in this cause so much, I'm going to give a free copy of The Bible: 50 Ways It Can Change Your Life to the first 100 people who sign up and make their first loan through this link. This is at my expense but it is worth it to see you become involved. I hope I have to buy and pay shipping on 100 of these books!
Send me a message through Facebook when you've completed your loan and we'll make arrangements. To receive the free book, you must sign up and complete your first loan by June 30. (Also, your shipping address must be within the USA or Canada. Outside of these two countries, I would be happy to share a free book with you if you are able to pick up the cost of international shipping, which is $10-15 in many cases).
I'd love to have you join me in this important cause. Thanks for considering it!read more
What does it take to stop you? What is the kryptonite to your Superman? What, besides death, could halt your forward momentum in this world? Knowing the answer to this question could mean the difference between a life well-lived and one spent wondering what might have been.
The apostle Paul understood the importance of endurance. You can almost hear the pleading encouragement in his words to the Galatian church: “Don’t get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9). In order to live well, you need to be unstoppable in helping others. You will get tired; you might even want to quit at times and only focus on your own needs. Be aware of your vulnerabilities, and figure out how to keep your involvement fresh and interesting. A little preventive maintenance now will go a long way toward keeping you viable later. Caring for the needs of others can be demanding, but it can also be immensely rewarding—both now and for eternity
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young Jewish men, were taken into captivity when Babylon conquered Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, recognized the extraordinary potential in the three men and appointed them to important posts in his government. King Nebuchadnezzar had created a giant gold statue and commanded everyone in his kingdom to bow down and worship it. Anyone who didn’t bow down to the statue would be thrown into a fiery furnace. On the appointed day, the statue was unveiled, and everyone in Babylon bowed to it, save for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This was the Babylonian advisers’ chance to do away with the Jews. They knew that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were forbidden by the God of Israel to bow down to any idols. So they alerted Nebuchadnezzar to the three Jews’ disobedience. Enraged, the king sent for them. He gave them one more chance to bow down to his idol and escape certain, painful death in the furnace. They politely declined his offer. No threat could make them disobey the God who had taken care of them throughout their captivity.
The essence of their faith is found in the words, “But even if he doesn’t.” They knew God could save them but didn’t know if that’s what he would do. It didn’t matter, though. What mattered was obedience.God did miraculously rescue Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from their fiery fate. Yet that’s almost a coda to the real story. The point is that all three men stood ready to give their lives for what they believed in.
Perhaps you’ve never faced a life-or-death test of your faith. Perhaps you never will. You may, however, face tests that pull you out of your comfort zone. You may be asked to risk public embarrassment and vehement opposition for Jesus’ sake. You may be put in uncomfortable positions. How will you respond? Will you draw on the strength and courage that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego drew on to take your stand?
"I said to myself, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.' But that also proved to be meaningless." (See Ecclesiastes 2:1–11) On the surface, Solomon was recalling a life well lived—perhaps the most enviable existence of them all. Beneath the celebration, though, lay despair and hopelessness—and one of Solomon’s hardest-earned lessons: all the pleasures, possessions, and accomplishments in the world cannot bring fulfillment. Solomon experimented with nearly everything, and he found meaning in none of it. In truth, deep fulfillment cannot be found in shallow pleasures. Fulfillment springs from things that matter, things that have an impact not just on yourself but on others as well. Fulfillment is found in the following things: 1) HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS--It comes from investing yourself in others and allowing them to do the same for you. 2) A WELL-EARNED, GOOD REPUTATION--It comes from being quietly recognized as one who lives a life of integrity and loving concern for others 3) SPIRITUAL PEACE--It comes from having an obstacle-free relationship with God.
“God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!” (Matthew 5:5)
In sports, the chest-thumping athletes get most of the attention. The players who celebrate their own accomplishments are usually the ones who end up in the highlight reels. In Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, though, it’s the glory a verse people who get the spotlight. “God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!” (Matthew 5:5). God chooses to work through humble people because when he’s done, they will make sure he gets the glory. They won’t claim undue credit for themselves. That’s why they are blessed. Every positive thing about us is the product of God’s creation. Every good thing we do is the result of God working through us. God uses us to make a difference in this world.
Additional verses on humility: http://bit.ly/HumilityVerses
God gives us salvation through his Son, Jesus. That’s the central theme of Christianity. With the gift of salvation, however, comes something equally valuable. The apostle John describes it this way: “God has given us his Spirit. This is how we know we are one with him, just as he is one with us” (1 John 4:13). How do we know we belong to God? We have his Spirit inside us. We have access to his strength when we’re tempted. We have access to his guidance when we’re lost. We have access to his wisdom when we’re confused. We have a direct line to him when we need to talk. If we think it, he hears it; when we ask questions, he answers us. How often do we thank God for such an incredible gift? How often do we take advantage of the opportunities the Holy Spirit offers?