“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Have a Heart…A Merry One (Bryan Gibson)
2) Benefits from Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover (Abraham Smith)
Have a Heart…A Merry One
“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken…all the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast…a merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 15:13,15; 17:22). There’s no debating, then, the value of a merry heart.
That’s not to say that sadness is all bad, or that one should (or could) avoid it altogether. “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief” (Proverbs 14:13). Albert Barnes, in commenting on this passage says, “Sorrow of some kind either mingles itself with outward joy, or follows hard upon it.” So it’s unavoidable, and it can also be quite helpful, even spiritually. “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better” (Ecclesiastes 7:3).
To remain, though, in the depths of sorrow and discouragement can be hazardous to our souls, and the souls of others. Here are just a few reasons: 1) It’s hard to stay busy doing good when we’re discouraged — it “dries the bones” or saps our strength. 2) We’re more vulnerable to false teachers, because they like to prey on the miserable. 3) We’re also more vulnerable to the lusts of the flesh, looking for that “quick fix.” 4) We’re much more likely to cause strife among brethren, because in this state we tend to see everything in a negative light. 5) Our influence will be greatly diminished — no one likes to hang out with a joyless person, and they sure don’t see us as someone to imitate. 6) For the same reasons, we may even turn some away from the truth.
So how do we maintain a merry heart, even in the midst of sorrow? Proverbs not only commends the merry heart, it also tells us how to keep it.
Find JOY in the truth, in the ways of the Lord — not in what “seems right” (14:12), but in what IS right. The satisfaction this brings to our souls just can’t be replaced. “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above” (Proverbs 14:14). “The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).
ENJOY the fruits of our labors — in the physical realm (“he who tills his land will be satisfied with bread” — Proverbs 12:11), but especially the spiritual realm. “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Proverbs 13:19), especially when that desire is to win souls (Proverbs 11:30).
Develop gratitude and contentment. “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (27:7). We’re not entitled to anything, so let’s learn to be thankful for every “sweet” blessing — from the least to the greatest. “The leech has two daughters — Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, ‘Enough!’ The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water — and the fire never says, ‘Enough!’” (Proverbs 30:15-16). Gratitude and contentment — we’ll never be merry without them, and what’s worse, we’ll lose our souls.
Don’t drink the poison of envy, which in some cases may be the source of our unhappiness. “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:39). “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15) — that’s the antidote to this crippling sin of envy, and one more key to a merry heart.
REJOICE in the hope of eternal life. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:17-18). Can’t escape sorrow here, but we can there, and that prospect will surely sustain through whatever difficulties we face in this life.
Hard to find more fitting words with which to close: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
— Via Plain Words from God’s Word, April 28, 2016
Benefits from Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover
In an earlier article, “Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover,” we considered several factors that hinder us from reading the Bible in its entirety. Let us now examine the benefits we get from routinely reading all of the Bible.
The road to understanding the Bible
The Bible is written in such a way that all the answers we seek are not contained in one verse or one chapter. This is the reason the Bible says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).
There are many passages of scriptures that we cannot understand without turning to other passages that may be in another book of the Bible. An example of this is Mark 9:1. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” We must turn to other passages to learn of what kingdom Jesus refers (Daniel 2:44; John 18:36), who is the King (1 Timothy 6:15-16), when the King would begin reigning (Psalm 2:6; Acts 2:29-36), the relationship of this power to the kingdom, and when the kingdom would be present with power (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4), and how one can enter into and become a citizen of this kingdom (John 3:3-5; Matthew 7:21; and Matthew 18:3).
So, in order to understand certain passages, we must have knowledge of other passages and see how they relate to the particular passage we wish to understand. We must be able to make that connection between the two passages. Reading the Bible regularly will increase our ability to connect passages that must be connected in order to be understood.
The more times we read any book of the Bible, the more specific pieces of information from that book we will remember. Thus, we will have specific pieces of information to link to other passages to help us understand these passages of Scripture. The fewer the number of times that we read a book, the fewer the pieces of information we will remember.
When we read a passage of Scripture without understanding it, the reason may be that this understanding will be provided by another passage. The more we read other passages, the more likely we are to associate these passages to the passage to be understood. Since we do not know where in the Bible these other passages are located, reading all the Bible regularly will ensure that we will be acquainted with them wherever they may be.
Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle? I have found this task difficult when there are 1,000 or more pieces. What helps me to put together a large puzzle is having a picture as a guide. Sometimes understanding a particular passage is like that. This scripture is like a piece of a puzzle. Like a puzzle, in understanding the scriptures, we need an overall picture as a guide. That overall picture is provided by our familiarity of each book of the Bible containing each passage we seek to understand. But we get this overall picture of each book of the Bible by reading it often.
I believe that we should study passages of scriptures in detail. But unless we have the overall picture of a book of the Bible in which to fit the passage to be understood, we may find ourselves studying without understanding it. The book of Revelation is a good example of this.
Other benefits to reading the whole Bible
Another benefit in reading the whole Bible often is that we become familiar with the context of every book in the Bible. This familiarity of Scripture gives us the ability to recognize when passages are being taken out of context. Thus we will not be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14).
There are many other things we would discover if we would make time each day to read the Bible. We would discover that our inclinations for sin would be less (Psalm 119:9-11). Our strength to do good things would increase (1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 3:3-5,16,17). Our patience in difficult times would be maintained (Acts 20:32; Ephesians 4:1-3). Our contentment would increase (1 Timothy 6:6). Our peace would multiply (Philippians 4:6-9; Psalm 85:8). Our love would be stirred as well as our joy (Hebrews 10:24; Galatians 5:22-23). We would desire more for our Creator (Psalm 31:23; Psalm 73:25; Deuteronomy 6:5-9).
In addition to this, we would learn what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 3:3-4; 5:17). We may also learn that we have been told many things about the Bible that are not true. This false information would cause us to have a distorted impression of the Scriptures. We can help avoid such distortions if we set a time each day for the reading and studying of God’s precious words.
— Via articles from the La Vista church of Christ
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)