As we rapidly approach another new year, we need to give serious thought as to what we may have accomplished for the cause of Jesus Christ who gave his life that we might have life, everlasting. Regardless of what we may have done, there is virtually no doubt we could have done more.
A thought came up in a recent Bible class, that it is not uncommon to hear those who claim the title of ‘Christian’ say, “I don’t know much about the Bible and don’t care to know it, because I know the Lord and that is what counts”. Or something similar such as, “I know very little of the Bible but I have faith in Jesus as strong as anyone”.
Without trying to be brutal are critical, both of those statements are from those who are misled in their thinking. Without the Bible, one would not be able to know God at all. Certainly, we can see the creation and it can cause us to believe that a higher power than us must have had a hand in this. But to even guess that there was an eternal spirit god who could accomplish this great feat, would be impossible to know. And especially know this Jehovah God who sent his only Son to earth to live and die that we might be saved. And to top that off, you have to obey God, not just pretend that you know Him.
And no one can obey Him unless they know what he says! The Bible is the only place we can gain access to His commands an expectations of us.
Now, back to our opening statement, in order to please God, we need to strive harder and harder to follow His instructions as closely as we possibly can.
So, we need not wait for the New year, but simply because it is a reminder that our lives are swiftly nearing the end of our pilgrimage here on this earth. I can recall as a pre-teen when a sibling and I would discuss whether or not we might live to see the new 21st century. A year when I would reach 70 and my brother 73. It seemed as if it would be an eternity before we reached such a mark. Yet, we turned around a couple of times and lo, there it was. We both made it but it does not now seem like it was long at all.
So, we all need to resolve now to grow as close to the Father and His Son, as we possibly can, even before the new year of 2014. There are things that are required of Christians which will draw us much nearer to Him and it only takes commitment.
By far, the most needful among most ‘Christians’ is more reading and study of the Bible. It would be most beneficial if one set aside 2 hours per day for Bible reading and 2 additional hours in studying chosen subjects of the Bible, via biblical dictionaries, sound commentaries, sound gospel articles and sermons, etc. There are innumerable great sources for those with a computer. Listed here are a few from among many.
The Bible Net, Center for Scientific Creation, The Bible Study Guide, The Apologetics Press.
Knowledge is a definite imperative of Christianity. God, through the prophet Hosea, makes this devastating remark concerning the Israelites:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6 KJV)
Realizing the above remark was concerning the Jews under the Old Testament Law of Moses, however it is just as pertinent to Christians today as it was to them. Perhaps more so, since it is our duty to know not only what Jesus and his apostles instructed us but we must also learn of the things done under the Mosaical dispensation so we may avoid the pitfalls.
Plus there are numerous commands in the New Testament regarding the need for our learning. Jesus himself said:
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:29 KJV emphasis added-JHH)
And Paul instructed his young evangelist friend, Timothy:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)
Another strong admonition, as Moses instructed the Israelites, also coming from the Old Testament but just as meaningful today as then:
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates“. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 KJV)
The quote above simply emphasizes the fact that one should spend the day, if not discussing God’s words with others, certainly we should be meditating upon them. Keeping God’s words in our heart throughout the day will almost assure us of not sinning. If you are sincerely striving to live a faithful life before Him, and you are constantly thinking of His instructions, you can overcome any temptation which you may encounter.
And, along with all of this attention to His word, we need to ‘pray without ceasing’. Paul gave some good and strong advice to the church at Thessalonica concerning their daily lives. Read this:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 KJV)
Now, to pray without ceasing does not mean 24/7, but to pray regularly and routinely. Each person has the privilege of choosing when he prays, but not just by choosing once per month. We have examples. We know that Daniel, who was referred to as ‘beloved’ by God, prayed 3 times each day and even when a decree was give to forbid prayer to God, the Bible simply said:
“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” (Daniel 6:10 KJV)
Virtually nothing one can do is more intimate and reassuring to him than a private prayer to God almighty. You can be assured that He is hearing you and He knows the sincerity of your heart. Don’t try to con Him into believing something on which you hold back reservations. He knows, so confess your weaknesses and sincerely ask Him to strengthen and forgive you for any failures to serve Him properly. Sincere prayers are as a ‘sweet smelling savor’ before God.
In short, serving God is a full time job and needs to be treated as such. We can still perform our daily work schedule without letting His word out of our hearts. No monetary salary is worth losing the eternity of our souls from heaven. Paul paints a beautiful picture when he explained to the church at Thessalonica that their loved ones who have died, will rise first to meet the Lord and adds this: “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17 KJV)