## Go Ahead, Read the New Testament

Here is a little math problem.??How many years you have been a Christian, (i.e. when you consciously gave your heart, mind and soul to the Lord of the Universe to do with as He pleased), divided by how many times you know you have read the complete New Testament.??For example, I?ve been a believer for 46 years, and say I know I have read the complete NT seven times.??That means that every 6.5 years I read the NT.??Considering how short the New Testament actually is, that is not a very good average.?

Maybe we don?t even know if we have ever read the whole NT, we just keep reading our favorite parts.??Maybe we even have memorized the verse that says that ?All?Scripture?is?God-breathed and?is?useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness?? but we have yet to read ?all Scripture.? (2 Tim 3:16)??So the question is how can we apply the rest of the verse, especially the training in righteousness, if we do not read the Scriptures very often???Hearing a sermon 30 minutes once a week is not going to fill in the gaps.

The point of this is to encourage you in a very simple way to actually read the New Testament.??You do not have to read in order; just keep track of which books you have read. Here is a simple program:

There are 260 chapters in the New Testament.??If you read 4 chapters a day you will finish the New Testament in 65 days.??Only two books, Matthew and Acts, will take you a week to finish.??The other gospels, Romans and the book of Revelation will take between 4 and 6 days.?Hebrews at 13 will take 3 days, (you could actually read 5 chapters for one day to make that work.) Many of the books you can finish reading in a sitting.??Twelve of the books are 4 or fewer chapters.

If you are a slow reader (100 words per minute) this program will take you 20 minutes to half an hour per day.??If that seems too long then make it two chapters per day and you will finish in 4 months not 2.??When you are done, do it again, slower or faster.??And then you can move on to the Old Testament.

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ENJOY!

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## Overflowing Lives

Many of the verses of Scipture that I memorized as a child were not due to diligence on my part, but on hearing them quoted at me frequently. When I would try to wriggle out of reprimand saying that what I said was not that bad because I was only kidding, the verse that I heard was, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Mat 12:34) It was quite a while before I understood that the ‘abundance of the heart’ meant that whatever the heart was filled up with, is what would spill out of the mouth. Newer translations use the word ‘overflow.’

It only makes sense that what a container is filled up with, is that which will spill out when jostled. What we need to look at is what our containers are filled with. One of the qualities of a container overflowing is that anything near said container is going to get a taste of what is overflowing. ?Imagine someone walking through a very crowded room with two buckets that were continually overflowing with water. ?Everyone would be getting wet that got anywhere near. Now imagine the buckets filled with vinegar, or acid. People are still going to get wet, but nothing good will come of it. ?Another way we commonly use the term overflow is when a river overflows its banks. ?Everything around the river gets saturated.Paul uses the word ‘overflow’ in regards to several different qualities, all of them good. Other translations use the word ‘abound.’ Both words mean more than enough.The first one sets up the reason or the means of all the others.

Romans 5:15 ?But the gift is not like the trespass. ?For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many.

Here, God’s gift to us in Christ is His grace, and it is overflowing. ?Many will be gotten ‘wet’ by the overflow of grace. ?None of the other qualities that should be overflowing from our lives is possible unless we have been affected by that abundance of God’s grace.

Romans 15:13 ?May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul prays here for us specifically that we overflow with hope. ?Anyone coming near us will be splashed with hope. ?But if you look to the beginning of the sentence he is praying that the God of hope will fill us with joy and peace as we trust in Him. ?So how do we get to be overflowing with hope. ?First the source is God, because He is the GOD OF HOPE. ?Then, as we trust in Him, the God of hope will fill us with joy and peace, SO THAT we may OVERFLOW WITH HOPE. God will fill us with JOY AND PEACE, and then HOPE will OVERFLOW.This by itself could keep us quite busy for awhile. ?But Paul keeps adding qualities that we should be overflowing with.

2 Corinthians 4:15 ?All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.2 Corinthians 9:12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.Colossians 2:7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thanksfulness.

As Christians, when we hear that the overflowing of God’s grace is reaching more and more people, it causes THANKSGIVING TO OVERFLOW. ?This is not generic thanksgiving, it is first off, overflowing, but secondly the thanksgiving goes to the glory of God. ?Our thanksgiving needs to be directed at the source of the grace, and that is God.In the second verse cited above, the people had been generous towards other believers. ?But supplying their needs was not the only good to come out of that action. ?The recipients were overflowing in thanks to God. ?Again, the thankfulness had a destination; God.In the Colossian passage there is a lot going on, which is true of many Paul’s sentences. He is telling us how to live our Christian life. ?We are to continue to live in Him in the same way that we initially received Him, i.e. by grace through faith. ?And as we continue to live in Him this way, we will be rooted and built up in Him, then we are strengthened in the faith just as we were taught. So we will have roots, a foundation, we will then be built up, have a building, and then strengthened in faith. ?Imagine an ancient oak tree by a river; deep roots, huge trunk and wide spreading branches. ?Or again a castle with deep foundations, high and thick walls. ?This is what our Christian life should be like, that is if we live in Him the same way we came to Him, by faith. ?And the result of all this will be an OVERFLOWING WITH THANKFULNESS.

Moving OnPhilippians 1:26 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesuswill overflow on account of me.2 Corinthians 8:2 ?Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled upin rich generosity.

Paul in Philippians had been debating the merits of living as opposed to going to be with the Lord. ?His conclusion was to remain for their sake, for their progress and joy in the faith. ?He was wanting their JOY to be such as that it would, in CHRIST, OVERFLOW. ?As Christians, when we progress in the faith, so should our JOY, to such a point as it is overflowing.In 2 Corinthians, Paul is speaking about the grace that God had given the Macedonian churches. ?Not only was their JOY OVERFLOWING, but so was the SEVERE TRIAL AND THEIR EXTREME POVERTY. Everything was maxed out. ?What was the outcome of these three overflowing conditions? ?GENEROSITY welled up, like an Artesian well, that continually overflows. ?So, their JOY was OVERFLOWING, as was their GENEROSITY OVERFLOWING. ?This happened in the midst of severe trials and extreme poverty, so our circumstances, severe and extreme, are not an excuse for a lack of JOY or GENEROSITY.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as our does for you.

In Thessalonians Paul says only good about them. ?He only adds, ‘may you do so more and more.’ ?In this particular verse Paul is asking the Lord to make their love increase and overflow. ?First, we could say, “I love the brothers in Christ.” Fine, says Paul, do so more and more. ?May our love not only increase, but overflow. ?And that not only for the brothers, ?but for everyone else. ??We must enlarge our hearts, and still ask God to increase our love and let it overflow, then again enlarge our hearts, increase our love still more, and let it overflow.

2 Corinthians 1:5 ?For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Here Christ’s sufferings are overflowing into our lives. ?But there is a point to this, it is so through Christ our COMFORT OVERFLOWS. ?Previous to this statement Paul says in this passage that they are comforted so that they may turn around and comfort others with the comfort they have received. ?We are to let the sufferings of Christ flow over us, so that we may be comforted and with our own OVERFLOWING COMFORT, COMFORT OTHERS.? So in this study of qualities that should be overflowing in our lives, that first proceeds from the GRACE that overflowed from God, we are to be splashing around, getting everyone near us wet ?to the point of saturation with the overflow of our hearts. ?Remember, out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks: ?What should be splashed around, just to recap:GRACE, HOPE, THANKSGIVING, JOY, GENEROSITY, PEACE, LOVE and COMFORT?David said: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. ?You anoint my head with oil, my CUP OVERFLOWS.

Posted in Godly Life | 722 Comments

## Gentleness

Gentleness

Have you ever asked yourself the question: ?I?ve read that portion a hundred times. How is it I?ve never seen that before?? This may regularly happen with parts of Scripture we aren?t very familiar with, but recently it happened to me while reading one of my favorite parts of Scripture. The way the verse jumped out at me and practically bit me on the nose was partly due to reading it in a different translation. It was this:

NASB: Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men.

NIV: Let your gentleness be evident to all. Phil 4:5

Forbearance is not an everyday word like gentleness is. I?d like to focus on that quality of gentleness in the believer?s life for it is the ?gentle that will inherit the earth.? Matthew 5:5

As Christians we really are up against a hostile world and we need to be tough. We need to have thick skins. But sometimes we spend so much time in developing those skins that out heart too becomes hard. Or perhaps we leave the gentleness to those who are naturally so, and the toughness to those who aren?t gentle naturally. We just stay in our natural personality grooves rather than developing those qualities that our faith requires of all of us.

This is addressing those of us who are naturally tough.

?Our gentleness should be evident to all.? We say, ?My close friends know how soft my heart is. When someone gets to know me they will find it out.? Well, that is not the point here. It says it should be evident, i.e. obvious, and plain as a pike staff. To whom should it be obvious? Our close friends? Relatives? No. This quality should be evident to all.

Now if you claim that the gentleness is really there, just deep down, I would ask you to take a look to see if it is still there. The Word says ?For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.? (Matthew 12:34) If the gentleness is there, it will come out.

Perhaps it would be good to define gentleness. Some dictionary definitions: ?amiably kind, mild, quiet, not rough, or severe, courteous, tender.? Another well-known verse enjoins us to be tenderhearted to each other. ?Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.? Ephesians 4:32

Because qualities are so hard to describe in the abstract, it will help to think of how we see gentleness in normal life. We have all seen it (been it) with newborns. Some of us may even be afraid to touch a newborn because we think we are not gentle enough. Or we remember how our mother tenderly took care of us when we were ill. So, on the emotional, spiritual and mental planes we can look after each other tenderly. Gentleness can also be a refreshing attitude to encounter. As a gentle breeze is so refreshing on a hot day so we can bring such relief to each other when we meet.

To look at it now from the reverse side, when is gentleness often noticeably lacking in our lives? When are we not kind, or courteous? As this will be read mostly by folks in democratic lands, think of your love and attachment to your rights. Even a small thing like someone cutting ahead of you in line brings on ?I?ll give him a piece of my mind.? That piece is not very gentle on the whole. Really does it matter that much? What I find I do is think of all sorts of witty remarks which of course I?d never say. Unfortunately, God looks at the heart.

We all love to champion justice, especially our own. But sometimes we are fighting real evil in the heavenlies made manifest on earth. Perhaps in fighting to stop the murder of our unborn we can get pretty stroppy. We fight the feminist as if she is our enemy. Remember, they are but pawns of the enemy to work his evil. The Lord loves them too, not just their babies.

There is always the need for balance; to love the sinner and hate the sin. If we look at God?s attitude toward sin (deserving of eternal death) and then look at the price he paid to redeem the sinner, we can begin to get a glimmer of His perspective.

Another occasion for Christians to be gentle and often fail is when they encounter sin in the life of a fellow believer. If the sin is in our own life, we are more apt to be gentle to a fault. There may be times when we are required to be tough on a straying brother or sister in our attempts to bring them back, but our heart must always be gentle towards them and that heart attitude should be evident.

Then there are those nice friendly theological debates we get into that can often deteriorate quickly into attacks on the other person?s ability to think, read, use their grey matter, etc. Such debates are good, refreshing and healthy if done in the spirit of gentleness and humility. However, sometimes the temptation to be witty at the other person?s expense is pretty hard to resist. Look for the way of escape.

As always, it is good to look at Jesus as our example. Paul in 2 Cor. 10:1 urges the Corinthians by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. In Him we see the perfect blend of toughness toward sin (cleansing the temple) and gentleness toward the sinner.

When Jesus was dealing with the woman caught in adultery he was gentle with her. But then again he told her in no uncertain terms to leave such a way of life. He was always gentle with those who knew they were sinners and were responding to him. He is portrayed as the Good Shepherd who goes after the one lost sheep. The rich young ruler, who did not respond to Jesus? call to follow him, filled Jesus? heart with love. Any account of Jesus with sinners that sense of gentle strength comes through. When dealing with those set up in their own self-esteem, he was harder in manner. But his heart was still soft towards them as we see on the cross. ?Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.? Luke 23:34

In Ephesians 4:1 and 2 we are told to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, which is to be ?completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.?

Once again let it be stressed that gentleness is not only for those who are so naturally; not a quality just necessary for mothers or people who work with children or the sick and aged. It is a requirement for all of us if we are to live a life worthy of our Lord.

As our Lord was gentle, so must we be.

Posted in Godly Life | 1,051 Comments

## It is Well with My Soul

“And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14

When we think of Easter hymns, we think of ones whose whole subject is about the cross and resurrection: “Low in the grave he lay,” “Christ the Lord is Risen Today,” “Old Rugged Cross,” and such. These are great hymns for Resurrection Sunday. But many hymns, even Christmas hymns, have the resurrection in them, probably because without the resurrection we have no faith. “One Day” is a great example of such a hymn, it takes you through our Lord’s whole life, even ending with the second coming. Well, this month, because we will celebrate Christ’s resurrection, we thought we would look at such a hymn and the story behind it. In the second verse it refers to Christ shedding his own blood for my soul, and in its third verse it speaks to the affect of the cross, reflecting Colossians 2:13-14 quoted above. First, here are the lyrics to this great hymn of redemption:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul. Refrain

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul! Refrain

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul. Refrain

But, Lord, ?tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!
Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul! Refrain

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul. Refrain

Besides the beautiful words to this hymn, we can be even more amazed and blessed when we know of the story behind the lyrics. This poem was written my Horation Spafford, 1828-1888. He was a successful lawyer in Chicago who was also a friend of D.L. Moody, the man who began Moody Bible Institute. He apparently had invested in a lot of real estate in Chicago and lost it all due to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. For two years after the fire he used his other resources to help the homeless people, even though he lost his son about the same time.

In 1873 he and his family, wife and four daughters, were to travel to Europe and join Moody on one of his crusades. He was delayed and could not travel with his family; they sailed ahead and he was to catch up with them later. The ship that his family was sailing on, the Ville de Havre, was sunk just off the coast of Newfoundland, when it collided with an English sailing ship. It sunk in a matter of 12 minutes. All four of his daughters were lost to the sea, and only his wife Anna was saved, being one of 47 survivors out of hundreds of passengers. The survivors were picked up and taken to Cardiff, Wales from where she sent a cable to her husband saying “Saved alone.”

It is said that when Horatio Spafford crossed the Atlantic he wrote these words “When sorrows like sea billows roll – whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.” The next two verses give the reason why it could possibly be well with his soul.

Eight years after this tragedy, with his wife and their two new young daughters they immigrated to the Holy Land, settled in Jerusalem and established the American Colony to care for the sick and destitute.

The truth of the death and resurrection of our Lord is a very practical aid to dealing with life’s trials. It is not merely theoretical, and its truths can help us to say “It is well with my soul.”

Posted in Belief | 1,501 Comments