Saturday, March 22, 2014

AND LIFE COMES BACK - Book Review

AND LIFE COMES BACK
Tricia Lott Williford

Tricia Lott Williford has written a book that delves deeply into her heart.  She goes into detail about the death of her spouse.  The numbness and the complete distraught feelings from this loss are written in words that bring sympathy and even tears to the reader.

The loss is never over; however, Williford goes through the process of coming back to life again as a need for her two boys.  As life comes back, she speaks honestly to her boys about the death of their father.


Not only does this book vividly tell the story of bringing life back after the death of a spouse, but it offers insight that would give understanding to someone attempting to help another in bringing their life back from this devastating event.  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

BE YE SEPARATE - 8

BE YE SEPARATE – 8

As we come to the end of this series we want to review some of the separations that have been discussed.  Isa.59:2 tells us that we are separated from our God because of sin in our lives.  When we become a Christian, that sin is forgiven and that previous separation from God is removed by Christ’s blood that was shed for us.  Heb.9:22   Now since we have been made new in Christ (Eph.4:22-24), just as God is separated from sin, so we must also be separated from sin (2 Cor.6:17) and the things of the world. 

The world seeks fortune and success in this life.  This is not the main goal of those in Christ.  Matt.6:33   Our goal is one that is much higher and everlasting.  As we grow in Christ we realize that the things of this life fade away.  Matt.6:19-21   We long for those things that bring us to our great hope of eternal life.  1 Jhn.5:13   Some day this separation from the things of the world will be worth it all.  1 Cor.2:9

As we think of separation, we note many contrasts in life.  Darkness which is depicted as sin verses Light which is our Lord.  Jhn.8:12   Those in darkness or sin hate the Light.  Jhn.3:20,21   What a contrast!

Another example was the blind verses those that can see.  Physically this is true but spiritually this contrasts those who cannot understand with those who understand.  Matt.13:13   It should be evident that we don’t follow the spiritually blind.  Matt.15:14   If we are separating ourselves from things of the world, we want to grow in knowledge and love.  Phil.1:9   Many other contrasts were made.

What about our desires?  Do we long for the newest, the best, the most popular, the things that those all around us want?  The problem comes when that becomes our greatest longing and we are unable to be content without those things.  Heb.13:5   This desire will separate those that only “think” they are following Christ but in reality they are serving themselves and robbing God.  Those that are sincerely trying to separate themselves and follow Jesus are hungry for spiritual things and not the material things that rust and fade away.  Matt.5:6  

The way we spend our time separates us from those of the world.  Eph.5:15-17   We find time to do the things that mean the most to us.  Entertainment seems to be the most important to the world.  Rather than pursuing the things that help us grow in Christ and then helping others that need us in some way, we spend our time all on ourselves with no regard of “redeeming the time for the days are evil.”  We snap up every opportunity to be used to the glory of the Lord.  1 Cor.10:31
Jesus left us an example of being separated from the world even though He ministered to them in many ways.  Heb.7:26   If we do not separate ourselves, the separation will be done for us but it will not be done in a good way for us.  Matt.25:32   Jesus prayed for us in that we would not be taken out of this physical world but that we would be kept from the evil one.  This is accomplished by our separating ourselves from the world.  This may be people, events, habits, attitudes—anything that determines who we really are.  Jhn.17:15   Do we spurn Jesus’ prayer?

Care must be taken of anything that would distract us or encumber us from this important separation from the world.  Heb.12:1   Too often we become as a child in the store with a parent and wants everything he sees.  We make money which we need to support ourselves/family and help others but we make money only to want more and more and it becomes a distraction.  We love others but there is this one person we can’t forgive, consequently, our love is nil.  1 Jhn.4:20   Distractions can come in many forms.  Here we have examples of attitude and worldly possession.  If we are a friend of the world, we become an enemy of God.  Jam.4:4  We need to keep this in perspective.

Jesus did not leave us alone in this matter of separating ourselves from the world.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to bring remembrance, to help us pray, to guide us in every way.  Jhn.14:26   We must be careful for we can quench the Holy Spirit; we can grieve the Holy Spirit; we can also resist the Holy Spirit.   We never want to be as those Stephen was talking to before he was stoned.  Acts 7:51   You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. (NCV)  Study and learn what the Scripture is telling us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the thoughts put into our mind as we pray.

Finally, as we separate ourselves from the world, may the world see that we have been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13   May we set aside self and distractions that would keep us from staying separated from the world and may our love for one another show the world that we are disciples of Jesus.  Jhn.13:35     



BE YE SEPARATE - 7

BE YE SEPARATE – 7

If we are truly separate from the world, we should be recognized as people that “have been with Jesus.”  Acts 4:13   Could neighbors and friends say that about us?  What is it like to have been with Jesus?  When these words were spoken, Jesus had gone back to His Father in heaven.  He was still the Shepherd leading His sheep.  He leads us now by the inspired Scriptures and by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  Jhn.13:35   The way we follow is to keep His commandments.  Jhn.14:15,21   As long as Jesus was on earth, the Helper was not needed but now that He was going away, the Helper would be sent.  Jhn.14:26

If people can see that we have been with Jesus, we need to follow in His steps.  Matt.16:24   Jesus was our example and we follow Him.  That is how people can see that we have been with Him.  1 Pet.2:21  Peter gives us a contrast of those who follow Jesus by His Word or those who follow false and deceitful teaching. 2Pet.1:16,20,21     

An important difference between those that are separated from the world and those that are in the world is attitude.  It has been said that a large percentage of our Christian life is shown by our attitude.  All kinds of good deeds could be done but with a wrong attitude they do not glorify God.  The right words might be spoken but the attitude with which they are spoken makes a big difference.  At youth camp when things get a little out of hand the statement is called out, “Attitude check!”  Everyone knows what that means and things settle down.  Sometimes we need someone to call that out to us.

Some of these attitudes might be profitable to investigate with the contrast of those that “have not been with Jesus.”  What does our life show?  Not much could be accomplished without love.  1 Jhn.4:8 tells us that we do not love God if we do not love.  It is easy to love those that love us but it is not easy to love those that we might count as enemies.  Jesus taught us to love our enemies.  Matt.5:44,46   So much conflict in families, congregations, neighborhoods, and even nations would be stopped if we could learn to do that.  This makes a great difference in those that have been with Jesus.  Lk.6:32,33,35  

Jesus and Steven, the first Christian martyr, both gave us the example of asking God to forgive those that were killing them.  Forgiveness and forbearance are attitudes we need to have to help us love in all situations.  Matt.6:14,15   None of us are so good that we do not need God’s forgiveness.  In order to enjoy that forgiveness, we have to do some forgiving ourselves.  Forbearance (put up with, tolerance) goes along with forgiveness.  Rom.2:4   God uses forbearance with us as He forgives us.  Rom.3:25   Neither forgiveness nor forbearance are found in the attitudes of those that live by the world.  They are more focused on “self.”  What you did to me; how you made me feel; it is all about “me.”

Love has to be real and sincere—from the heart.  We honestly feel love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Rom.12:9,10   We are devoted to them for they are our family in God.  Paul prayed that the love of the Philippians would grow more and more.  Phil.1:9   He prayed the same for the Thessalonians.  1 Thess.3:12   Love is important.  Jesus gave this as the greatest commandment.  Lk.10:27   We need to grow in this attitude as well.

The person of the world does not have an attitude of love and it shows in his speech.  Lk.6:45   Strong words are used by John against those that claim they love God but don’t love their brother.  1 Jhn.4:20,21    One thing that causes conflict and lack of love among brethren is complaining against one another.  James addresses this problem.  Jam.5:9  

We are not to love the things of this world.  1 Jhn.2:15,16   God loves us but not if we are loving the things of the world.  We need to be innocent of these things rather than dabble in what would cause us to fall.  Rom.16:19   As we put the attitude of love into our life, we will recognize the contrast with those things of 1 Cor.13:4-7 that make love useless.  The world watches Christians.  Love toward one another shows that we have “been with Jesus.”  Jhn.13:35



 





Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BE YE SEPARATE - 6

BE YE SEPARATE – 6

As we think of separating ourselves from the world and living for Jesus, the Holy Spirit will give us the help we need for He is living within us.  By ourselves we are weak and unwise.  However, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

Have you ever had a child or anyone that you wanted to help so badly, but they refused?  We can quench the work the Holy Spirit would do inside us.  1 Thess.5:19   We know what it means to quench a campfire.  We put it out.  So how could we “put out” the Holy Spirit?  Maybe some other versions might help our understanding.  The Amplified Version gives these words: suppress or subdue.  The NCV translates quench as “hold back.”  We want to be in control and not give in to the work of the Holy Spirit.  We think we can do it all.

Another quotation tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit.  Eph.4:30   If someone we love won’t accept our help, it grieves us.  It makes us extremely sad when we love them so much.  Guess what?  The Holy Spirit loves us just as God loves us and Jesus loves us.  We may not understand the love of the Holy Spirit but He is one with the Father and the Son.  God loved us so much He gave His Son for us.  Jesus loved us so much He died a horrible death for no wrong He had done but just for us that we could be saved from a horrible eternal death ourselves.  When we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, it causes a deep grief to the Holy Spirit.

We are to resist the devil.  Jam.4:7   In other words we are to strive against or refuse to comply with him.  If we do this against the devil, that is the Lord’s will.  But there are times we resist the Holy Spirit.  We strive against Him or refuse to comply with Him.  That is not God’s will.  Acts 7:51   This was in Stephen’s sermon before he was stoned to death.  In the NCV version Stephen says, “You are always against what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you.”  We are told through Scripture, our mind which should be on the things that are of the Spirit, and our conscience should speak to us unless it has been seared.  1 Tim.4:2

How we need to study and listen or meditate on the Word!  David’s first psalm gives us such  a contrast for those that are separated for the Lord as opposed to those who follow the world.  If we are living a separated life, we don’t seek counsel from those of the world.  Neither do we stand in the path of sinners.  We’ve read how Peter likens the devil to a roaring lion.  1 Pet.5:8   Are we going to stand in its path?  Ps.1:1; Prov.4:14   There are so many that scoff at the Bible.  We should not want to situate ourselves with them.  Ps.26:4

Ps.1:2   Where is our delight?  An honest answer to this question might reveal to us if we are really separated from the world.  There are many things of the world that Satan holds as a lure before us.  What does a lure do to a fish and for a fisherman?  The lure is shiny or looks tasty—so good, even worthwhile.  Satan has his hook ready and hidden in the lure.  The word, “alluring,” comes from lure.  Looks good but it is only looks.

If we are truly separated, we will meditate on the things of God and on things that are wholesome and godly.  Phil.4:8   In former lessons we have called this verse our filter.  A filter in our car sifts out the dregs as does the filter in a coffee pot.  If we follow this verse, we will filter out the things that are ungodly and of the world and thus be separated.

The rewards of being separated are numerous.  Ps.1:3 gives us some of these.  We will be able to stand strong.  Jer.17:8; Ps.92:12   Standing strong is something we have been enjoined to do.  Gal.5:1   Paul also urged the Philippians to stand firm in the Lord.  Phil.4:1   A person that cannot stand on their legs very well will become less and less separated from things of the world and eventually fall from their faith.  They will wither and blow away.

If we stand strong and separated from the world, we can become fruitful for the Lord.  Col.1:9,10   We cannot take pride in ourselves for our fruit is produced with the help of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of the Lord.  Alone, we can do nothing.  Matt.19:26

Not only will we be fruitful but we will prosper.  Josh.1:7   Success in the Christian life is dependent upon our stand in faith, our separating ourselves from the world and those things that oppose godly attributes.  Scripture is very plain in exhorting us or urging us strongly to separate ourselves in order to be God’s friend.  What could be more important for our eternity?  Jam.4:4




   

BE YE SEPARATE - 5

BE YE SEPARATE – 5

As we have acknowledged the many sins and distractions or encumbrances that separate us from our Lord (Heb.12:1), we must lay them aside.  These entangle us in the things of the world.  Have you ever been entangled in a berry patch?  Sometimes it is difficult to get out.  Our friends and family can get us caught up in ways that hinder our growth in Christ.  1 Cor.15:33 

In writing to Timothy, Paul gives several examples of distractions.  2 Tim.2:4   Can you imagine a soldier leaving a battle to care for his store.  Ho, hum!  I must stock the shelves.  And then go back to the battle.  We are in a battle.  Our goal is to please the One who enlisted us – Jesus Christ – when we became a Christian.  2 Tim.2:3   Separation sometimes involves hardship but the battle is the Lord’s.  1 Sam.17:47; 2 Chron.20:15

The second example is that of an athlete.  2 Tim.2:5   A marathon runner does not see someone he knows on the sideline and leave to visit for awhile, then continue the race.  1 Cor.9:25,26   As a Christian we have rules and goals and we must not become distracted in order to see our hope accomplished.

The third example is the life of a farmer.  2 Tim.2:6   The farmer does not plant the seed and let it go, then expect to reap a crop.  1 Cor.9:10   Many other tasks are to be performed to harvest a good crop.  So it is with the Christian.  We cannot expect the act of baptism, although necessary, to get us to heaven and think that now we are “safe” and have nothing else to do. 

It is of utmost importance that we do not let distractions take us away from our goal of pleasing our Lord.  These distractions can be sin or hindrances to standing firm in the faith.  1 Cor.16:13   In order to stand firm our armor becomes very necessary.  A review of this cannot happen too often to impress it upon our minds.  Eph.6:13   Truth, righteousness, gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word   Realizing that the Holy Spirit dwells within us will give us the power to stay on track.  1 Jhn.4:4   Living a life of prayer will keep our minds captive.  1 Thess.5:17 (our mindset)
1 Cor.10:5 (keeping our minds captive)

Dedication was very important in the O.T.  The altar was dedicated.  Num.7:11   In 2 Chron.6 Solomon prayed a prayer of dedication of the temple.  2 Chron.7:1,2   Later when the temple was rebuilt, Ezra together with priests, Levites and the rest of the exiles celebrated the dedication of the temple.  Ezra 6:16   Other dedications were held in the O.T.  So what happened when something was dedicated to God?  It was devoted to a special person (in this case-God) or to a special task.  It was set apart.  It was consecrated.  Jesus attended a Feast of Dedication in Jhn.10:22. 

We dedicated our lives to the Lord as we became a Christian.  Rom.12:1,2   In some Bible versions this chapter is called Dedicated Service.  Truly it is.  We offer ourselves to the Lord for we have been bought with a price.  1 Cor.6:20   At our very best, we are as filthy rags.  Isa.64:6   But Jesus took upon Himself all of our sins and put His righteousness on us.  2 Cor.5:21   Our dedication needs to be to Jesus as our all in all.

It also takes motivation.  We need to act out our dedication.  2 Cor.5:14,15   We have been given so much.  How could we sit and do nothing?  Jam.1:25   Paul speaks to the Ephesians that they were created for good works even though works do not save us.  Our dedication is shown by our good works.  Eph.2:10   We are motivated with zeal in doing everything we can for the Lord.  Titus 2:14

With our dedication and motivation to serve our Lord, we remain separate from sin, distractions, and things of the world.  2 Cor.6:17,18   With God’s promises we continue to cleanse our lives and our spirits and continue to perfect our lives in holiness to please our Lord in the fear of God.  2 Cor.7:1

    





BE YE SEPARATE - 4

BE YE SEPARATE – 4

Scripture leaves us no choice in this matter.  We are to be separate from the world even though we are IN the world; those in Christ can never be OF the world.  Jesus gave us this example.  Heb.7:26   If we do not live a life separate from the world, the time will come when the Lord will have to do the separating.  Matt.25:32   The night before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for those following Him and for those that would follow Him in the future.  Jhn.17:20   He did not pray that God would take them out of the world.  Jhn.17:15   Jesus prayed that His followers would be kept from the evil one.  The “evil one” is very real.  1 Jhn.5:19   When we took Jesus as our Savior, He took us out of the world.  Jhn.15:19   Being out of the world, we no longer follow those things of the world.  We are separate.

Since Jesus came and established His church (Matt.16:18), Christians are God’s people.  Gal.6:15,16   However, the Jews as God’s people in the O.T. were to live lives separate from the nations around them.  These were idol worshippers and as the Jews failed to heed in instructions of the Lord to be separate, they fell into many wicked practices.

One example of living a separate life that comes from the O.T. is Samson who took the Nazarite vow.  The stipulations of the Nazarite vow give us an excellent example that we need to follow in living a life separate from the world.

A Jew was not compelled to take the Nazarite vow.  It was voluntary.  Num.6:2   The purpose was to separate himself to the Lord.  Rom.12:1   We come to Jesus and present ourselves as a living sacrifice.  Some religions today think they will get to life eternal by giving their life up to bomb a site.  We offer ourselves to live for Him.

A sacrifice is when you give up something.  1 Pet.2:5   We make many sacrifices with joy to One who has given us so much.  This Scripture speaks of spiritual sacrifices.  Heb.13:15,16   Praise and sharing are other sacrifices.  When we share, it is not “throw away things” but sharing of something that we might have needed or been able to use—even financial. 

Rom.6:13   We give up what would have made us an instrument of unrighteousness to participate in godly endeavors.  We no longer love the things of the world.  1Jhn.2:15,16   A person cannot love both the world and the Lord.  Matt.6:24   If this attempt is made, we make ourselves an enemy of God.  Jam.4:4


Num.6:3   Food and drink was changed when the Nazarite vow was taken.  Remember Daniel, although not under the vow, would not partake of the food and drink of the Babylonians when it was put before him.  We are to take care of our bodies for they are a temple of the Holy Spirit.  Many would gasp at desecrating a church and yet think nothing of doing the same to their bodies.  1 Cor.6:19,20   This was so important to Paul that he was willing to give up meat altogether if it meant the saving of a soul.  His eating would become an example that might not be clear to a person just converted from idol worship.  1 Cor.8:13

A Jew under the Nazarite vow would probably be noticed because of appearance.  A Christian follows the culture and style only up to a point.  We have to think in global terms for missionaries must make important decisions in this regard.  God dressed Adam and Eve.  Before sin came into the Garden, they didn’t even know they were naked.  Gen.3:11,21   Later on priests were given instructions about their covering.  Ex.28:42   God-given instructions involved undergarments to cover their flesh down to their thighs.  Both of these times it is evident of the importance of covering the flesh.  One of the differences in the world is the display of too much flesh or being modest.  (modest—unpretentious, humble, simple, inconspicuous)  1 Tim.2:9   It seems to be a natural things for women to love fine clothes.  Rather, God wants us to be known for our good deeds and not our clothes.  1 Tim.2:10

The one under a Nazarite vow was evident by open profession.  Neither do we hide the fact that we are a Christian.  Matt.10:32,33   Part of becoming a Christian is in confessing Jesus as the Son of God and wanting Him to be our Savior.  1 Jhn.4:15   The very life of one under the Nazarite vow was evident.  The way we live is also to be evident that there is something different in our lives.  Acts 4:13


1 Tim.4:12   Our example must show that we are separate from the world in every aspect of our lives.  May we be like the Thessalonians as Paul prayed for them in his letter to them.  1 Thess.1:3   …work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness in hope.           

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

BE YE SEPARATE - 3

BE YE SEPARATE – 3

As children are taught about sin, many times the question is asked, “Why didn’t God make us so we couldn’t sin?”  As we learn about living a life separate from the world, a similar question might be asked, “Why didn’t God just separate us so we would be separate from the world automatically?”    

God gave us freedom of choice.  In most cases we all like to make our own choice.  As a parent, isn’t it difficult to let go when it is time for your children to begin making choices on their own?  Hopefully we have given them a basis on which to build their character from the Word of God so their choices will be godly.  It is a gradual process of growth.  When we choose Jesus then we can begin to grow in Him and grow in our ability and understanding of this separation between Jesus and the world. 

First, we make that important choice to become a Christian, to be a follower of Jesus.  Then we must grow.  1 Pet.2:2   In the beginning we are as babes as in physical life, but we do not want to stay that way.  The Corinthians were told that they were still acting like babes.  Why?  They were acting fleshly or in a worldly way.  1 Cor.3:2,3   They had jealously and strife in their actions.  This was not separating from the world.  They acted like “mere men.”  Heb.5:12-14   This Scripture also indicates a lack of growth. The reason is given in Heb.5:11.  They had become “dull of hearing.”  We need to test ourselves that we do not become dull of hearing.  We hear but we don’t pay attention or don’t try to understand.  Eph.4:15   We are to grow up in every way to be like our Lord. 

An important and common detriment to growing up to be like the Lord is failing to separate ourselves from the world.  2 Cor.6:14   This Scripture is often associated with marriage and well it should be; however, it relates to other aspects of life as well.  Could we be bound in business with a partner or boss that was dishonest?  Being a friend with someone in the world could draw us into social activities such as drinking and/or gambling with which a Christian must separate himself.  Various types of entertainment would not be conducive to following Christ. 

Paul uses several questions to emphasize the importance of this separation.  2 Cor.6:15,16   The first question is in vs. 14—“What fellowship has light with darkness?”  This is one of the opposites we studied.  Light dispels darkness.  Darkness can overcome light.  Jesus is the Light (Jhn.8:12) and in following Him, darkness is gone.  When we let sin enter, then the Light can be snuffed out as dusk finally becomes night.  The next question—“What harmony is Christ with the devil?”  Certainly the answer would easily be “None.”  In foreign countries  many temples of idols exist.  As a Christian our body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit.  We would have no agreement with the temple of an idol.  1 Cor.6:19,20   We might pride ourselves that we don’t worship idols.  Don’t forget that anything that takes the place of God in our lives becomes an idol.  In failing to worship, we set up idols to replace God—things we would rather do or feel obligated to do.  Matt.6:24; Col.3:5; Eph.5:5   An idol is a false god.

The next question is the difficult question for Christians today.  “What has a believer in common with an unbeliever?”  Culture and many aspects of humanity may be held in common; however, a great difference exists between a believer with a strong faith and a person with no faith or one that does not practice any form of a consenting faith.  We will rub shoulders with all kinds of people in jobs, neighbors, and even family that are not Christians.  We must be so grounded in the faith that by prayer and Scripture we keep our minds captive to the will of our Lord.  2 Cor.10:5

2 Cor.6:17   We are to remove ourselves from bad influences in both a personal, social, and religious way.  The danger is always present that we would want to conform to those of the world.  Rom.12:2   In conforming in a way not pleasing to our Lord, we could make a new Christian or a person that might be considering conversion to stumble.  This possibility was so important to Paul that even though he may have liked meat, he would be willing to never eat it again if it meant saving someone’s soul.  1 Cor.8:13  

Our relationship to the world is very important.  If we are truly separate from the world, it should be noticeable; however, it should never be obnoxious.  If we are not humble, loving, and gracious to all, we will have no opportunity to bring the gospel in word or in example to the world.  That is one purpose we have in the world.  We are to follow Jesus and He came to seek and to save the lost.  Lk.19:10   Maybe we cannot preach or teach, but there is no Christian who cannot live a godly life with the help of the Lord and in that way show Christ to others.  Don’t fear mentioning God and giving your testimony in conversation with the world.  Lk.12:8   There just has to be something “different” in our lives.  Acts 4:13   The world should be able to tell that we are Christians—that we strive to follow Jesus.  Mk.8:34   May we do that daily.