So Much Time, So Many Different Bible Versions to Choose From

I was recently reflecting back to a time when I was in Africa, (last summer to be exact) and a friend and I were in a discussion about Bible versions. I had explained that in Tanzania, where I particularly was, they had the Good News Bible because that was what could be translated into Swahili because the King James Version could not be translated into their language very well.

Now, that got me thinking, there are many that are so baffled that people wouldn’t use the KJV Bible and only the King James Bible. I for one, prefer the KJV. If I am going to read scripture in a service or teach or preach it’s going to be from the KJV. I wouldn’t, however, say that I am KJV only person, I think a better way to say it is, I am a KJV preferred person.

Now some of you reading are already mad at me for stating what I just did, and that’s okay, I appreciate all opinions and input and this is just my personal conclusion that I have recently come to.

I can’t understand why people would say that other versions of the Bible are simply “not the word of God”. Who are we to say, well that’s not the KJV, therefore, you cannot learn and grow, so here, here’s the ‘right Bible’. I have many versions of the Bible and often times in my personal studies I will use different versions. One, for the different study notes. Secondly, to compare translations, because I do enjoy seeing the differences. Thirdly, because sometimes the different versions of the Bible help me to understand a particular passage better.

When I see others that have a Bible that maybe isn’t the Bible that I favor, I am not going to tell them their Bible is corrupted and inusable. Rather, it’s a blessing to see someone with a Bible, and by that I mean a paper one, (I don’t have a Bible on my phone, which is an entirely different post for another day). Rather than argue and bicker amongst ourselves, why not use what we have. Why not disciple someone using what they have, whether that be an ESV, NKJV, NLT, or NIV. I have run into many people and when I have asked them why they use the KJV only, they really had no idea. Which I can admit for a while I was the same way. I really didn’t know why I liked the KJV or thought that was the only Bible that there was to use.

There are many countries where the KJV Bible cannot be translated very well, and other Bible versions are used. And guess what, those Bibles are reaching, teaching, and impacting people’s lives. Why would that not be the case here in the USA. I almost feel that if we say that the KJV Bible is the only Bible that we are to use as Christians, then we are putting God in a box. We are almost saying that we cannot walk someone down the Romans with an ESV Bible, or that John 3:16 has no impact to anyone if it is the NIV version.

Isaiah 55:11, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it.”  It is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. The Bible doesn’t say God’s word will go out void if you are using an ESV Bible. God can, and he will use any version of the Bible. There is no limit to what God can use to touch the hearts and lives of the unsaved.

Think we need to be careful and draw a clear line in saying, ‘well son if you are going to teach, preach, read scripture here at this church we prefer the KJV.’ Rather than, “you use a Bible other than the KJV so you cannot preach, teach, or do anything at this church.” There are people in other countries that would die to have a Bible or pamphlet with Scripture on it. We have such wonderful freedom here in America, we can purchase Bibles anywhere and carry them anywhere we please. So why limit it to just one Bible.

I love God’s Word. I love that I get to teach, and preach, and read, and learn, and grow from it. I love when I am given any Bible of any version. They have all been a great blessing to me. So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were

So I challenge whoever may be reading, search out why you believe in what you believe. Don’t believe in something or hold hard to an opinion just because that is how you were raised, rather search out and make your own conclusions. Be able to defend your views, whether it is Bible versions, or doctrinal issues or whatever it may be.

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Be Strong and Courageous

Have you ever had a job or get assigned a task and you think to yourself, why in the world was I chosen for this? There is no way that I can get this done. I have often felt that way about numerous things.

In I Chronicles 28, David gives instructions to Solomon to build the temple. But he doesn’t just give him the instructions and then send him off on his merry way. He encourages him as well. God did the same thing with Noah, he gave him in the instructions on how to build the ark and then provided everything that he needed to complete the task that was before him. Joshua was left to complete a task after Moses had died, and he may have thought how am I ever going to get this done. But God encouraged and reminded Joshua that he was going to see him through all the way to the end.

“…as I was with Moses, so will I be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Joshua 1:5 Again, in verse 6 he tells Joshua to be “strong and very courageous.” And then a third time in verse 9, “Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” 

I often need to be reminded of verses such as Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God doesn’t just give us a task to complete and then fold his hands and sit in a rocking chair and wonder to himself, I wonder if they can handle that one. No, thankfully, God provides and sustains us through whatever task he gives us.

David encourages Solomon in I Chronicles 28:20 “And David said unto his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it; fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of God.”

Our issue and mine as well, is that we often already have a pre-assumption that whatever God wants us to do we aren’t adequate enough to complete, so why bother even trying. What’s the point? The point is that we have gifts and skills that God gave us, and if we are willing, he will work through us and allow us to use those strengths for his glory, and in a way yes, we aren’t really adequate enough to really do much of anything for God, but that’s why we need his help! He’ll see us all the way through.

God will even provide the right people to come along side of us and help as well. I Chronicles 28:21, “And, behold, the course of the priests and the Levites, even they shall be with thee for all the service of the house of God: and there shall be with thee for all manner of workmanship every willing skillful man for any manner of service, also the princes and all the people will be wholly at thy commandment.” 

Just like a baseball team, you can’t show up with 9 pitchers. You need a catcher and a pitcher and all the other positions filled. The pitcher can’t just do everything on their own, thats why they need everyone else on the field supporting them. As Christians we can’t do everything on our own. We can’t do anything without help from our Heavenly Father. With God helping us, willing and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ helping us as well, we can accomplish whatever God has asked us to do!

 

 

“Two are better than one; because they have good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Being confident if this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

 

 

 

 

 

Sow and Let God Grow

Matthew 9:37 – “…The harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few.” 

This verse to me has always been convicting and humbling. We live in a world where there are billions of people (the harvest) and yet finding people to be committed to the ministry of reaching them with the Gospel is as stated, being few laborers.

I think that sometimes, and I myself am guilty of this, we find ourselves doubting or even tired of the work (ministry). We have doubtful questions: well, these people never come to church anyway so, why bother to knock on the door. No one comes to evening services anymore so, why have them? I want to sleep in instead of getting up on Saturday morning and going out and visiting. I have often thought, well what if I say something stupid or dumb to someone while trying to share the Gospel and get rejected or look like an idiot.

But my friends do not doubt, do not be fearful, don’t get frustrated and don’t quit the work. Ask God for divine appointments. In Matthew 13:1-8 we have the parable of the sower. We see different outcomes of what happens to the seeds that are attempted to be sown. The first, “the fowls came and devoured them up.” (v.4). The second, fall onto stony soil and they become scorched because they had no root. (v.6). The third, are fallen onto thorns and then the thorns choke the seeds. (v.7).  But lastly, we see that some made it on good soil and brought forward much fruit. (v.8). 

I think that sometimes in ministry all we see, and if we aren’t careful, all we focus on is the seeds that we try and plant and become choked out, devoured, or even scorched. But friends we can’t get caught up on the seeds that did not grow the way we wanted. All that we are, is simply sowers. We may think that there is no point, we have not seen any fruit from the seeds that we have planted. But evangelism is more than what we can see. Isaiah:8 – “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” What a great comfort!

Farmers don’t just plant seeds and expect growth overnight. In fact, sometimes they plant a crop, some time has passed, they begin to think that that there won’t be any substance. Later, unexpectedly something appears. But if the farmer never plants any seeds then they will never know what can possibly be grown. If we don’t plant seeds- pass out tracts, share our testimonies, invite people to church, visit different people then it’s no wonder that we don’t see any fruit. James Merrit in his devotional book called 52 Weeks With Jesus, stated “Jesus won’t do our job- we are to sow. We can’t do his job- he is to grow. We can do our part but only Christ can reach the heart.”

You see it’s not so much was my delivery of the Gospel flawless, or that someone has to get saved every time that I share the Gospel and if not then the opportunity was a bust. No friends, we have no control over when and how the seeds that we planted are grown. That is up to the work of God. Personally, there were many sowers that planted seeds in my life. There is the possibility that those that shared testimonies and the Gospel with me thought, “you know I don’t think he is ever going to get it” or perhaps “this really has just become useless”. Only to their pleasant surprise one day I accepted Christ as my Savior.

Had seeds never been planted then who knows how I may have come to faith or if I would have come to a belief in Jesus Christ. The fruit came many years later. But don’t give up planting seeds. You never know what growth can come about. But just remember that is all in God’s time, and we can’t do the growing. John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

There is a world of people that you reading this can reach that I may never. As II Timothy 1:6 says, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” Let’s get stirred up, be bold, and be confident not in ourselves but in the amazing work of the Holt Spirit and because “God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 

“Our tendency is to write off people in our minds: friends we think would never be interested in Christianity; colleagues who seem to sinful, ‘too far gone’; or family members who say conversations about ‘your religion’ are off limits. When I start thinking this way, I need friends to remind me that no heart is too hard for the Holy Spirit.” – J. Mack Stilles.

Recovery

For the past few years I have become a part of a great family, known as Reformers Unanimous – it is a faith based Recovery Meeting that meets every Friday night. We like to say that we are a Friday Night Family, and truly that’s how I feel whenever I walk into the room. Now, I didn’t always feel that way, but after I got saved and accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, I realized that those ‘Jesus people’ and those ‘Holy Rollers’ aren’t as judgemental and crazy as everyone makes them out to be, and well, now I am 0ne of them.

Whenever I meet someone that has had or currently is struggling with addictions, the word recovery is frequently used. But what is recovery? How does it work?

Well first, I believe that when people hear the word recovery or addictions our minds immediately assume we are talking about those that are struggling with drugs and alcohol. But when we really stop and think about it, we all are on our own roads of recovery in one sense or another. We all have something that we are more than likely addicted to, whether that be video games, or shopping, or a substance or eating and the list goes on. Likewise we all have had situations that have hurt us and left deep wounds. We all have skeletons in our closet and things in our past that we are trying to work through.

First, let me say that I believe that people were created by God and God created them in his image (Genesis 1:27). There is the trinity which is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and just as there are three there, I believe that God created three parts of humans. The first being the body. In addictions recovery there is a physical element. This could be anything from the body physical dependency and a substance; cravings, withdrawal symptoms, etc. Second, there is the soul of the human being. As humans we all have a soul and I believe that this is the mind, or our thoughts. When it comes to addiction the thoughts in the brain play a big role. I am in recovery and I still have thoughts such as drinking or using drugs would be a good idea right about now. I have met people that have had many years of sobriety and say that they still have thoughts about using drugs or alcohol even after ten plus years of clean time. Personally, I don’t know that I will ever stop having thoughts every once in awhile about drugs and alcohol. As II Corinthians 2:7 says, “…there was given to me a thorn in the flesh…”. I believe that the thoughts that still re-occur for me is my thorn in the flesh and that this is God’s way of keeping me humble and reminding that I can do nothing in my own power, but that “I can all things through Christ which strentheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13. Now the third part of the human body I believe is the spirit – that is our heart. I personally believe that if our hearts are not right then the other two things, the thoughts and the body will be off as well. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” 

A lot of people think that when it comes to addiction that it’s all physical and sadly in today’s society doctors and clinics will just easily prescribe a drug that will ‘help’ you get off the substance that you are currently on. Now that is not to say that all medicines are bad, and that you should taking your meds. Maybe some meds are good and make the detox stage a little easier, but I think being able to be completely substance free is the right road to travel down. The thought life is one that as I mentioned before will always be a constant battle, I believe that a great way to defend the mind is meditating on good things. Meditate is defined by Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines this as – to dwell on anything in thought, to study, or to contemplate. I believe that meditating on God’s Word (the Bible), prayer, and fellowship with other Christians is the best way to guard our thoughts. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2 

Here is the point that I am trying to drive home. Recovery, from anything, but especially with addictions, comes the inside out, not the outside in. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” – Psalm 51:10 

After I got saved and my heart was made new, the other two aspects started to heal. The physical side of my addiction got easier, and my thought life had become better. This is not to say that all my problems just went and disappeared, but I don’t think that things would be the way they are now if I had never gotten my heart right. I’m also not saying that 1,23 get saved and suddenly all life’s woes and miseries will go away. But they will get easily. 12 Steps may work for some, but for me the one step that I took and coming to know the Lord and getting my heart right was the biggest, hardest, most difficult, but the best step that I have ever taken. I am still on the road to recovery, it’s a daily, hourly, minutely, everyday battle. But do not be discouraged, one foot in front of the other. One step one minute at a time.

 

“…be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee wherever thou goest.” – Joshua 1:9

“These things that I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” – Romans 8:37

Feeling The Heat

You ever gone to the ocean and think to yourself, you know the waves don’t look to bad, I’ll go in for a minute or two. So, you walk out about waist deep or so, when out of nowhere a wave comes and knocks you. And just as soon as you stand back up, guess what, here comes another one, right on top of you. Now you aren’t sure when you are going to be able to stand up. You’re struggling for air and you’re being sucked right under, and the one thing that seems to cross your mind is, when is this going to end?

You know life can make you feel this very way as well. You’ve had health issue after health issue and you think I’m finally start to be okay, then you go to the doctors for what seems like a routine checkup, and they tell you some not so routine news. Now they must do some not so routine testing.

There was a time in my life where I thought the same thing, it was just one thing after the other. Trial after trial with no end in sight. One glorious day I asked Jesus Christ into my life, and to be my Lord and Savior. What a truly tremendous decision that I made and one that I have never regretted and I am not ashamed to proclaim to others.

But I had a problem.  You see I misjudged the waves. I thought that now I’m a Christian, life would be easier, life would be smooth sailing. I realizing it wasn’t and it hasn’t been. Although there have been some wonderful moments of victory that the Lord has allowed me to have. I have lost friends and loved ones, there have pain and suffering. Granted some of that has been self-inflicted due to my rather poor decision making. I have often asked myself, “God, when are you going to give me a chance to breathe? Is there an end in sight?”

It is in Isaiah 48:10 I find my comfort and encouragement. “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” You see there is a point in the trial that you are facing. There is a purpose that you are going through what you are going through right now.

A furnace is a place is prepared for gold. A furnace makes gold purer than it was before. The trials, or furnace we can say, is divinely appointed by God and are meant to make us purer and more holy.   Job 23:10 – “But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” The furnace is not meant to hurt us, but provides grace. God knows just how much heat we can take in the furnace. Isaiah 43:2 – “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” And lastly, when we come out of the furnace there is a benefit. Romans 5:3 -4,  “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.”

I don’t know how long it seems that you have been walking through a valley or a fire so to say, but what I can tell you is that there is an end. That you will make it the other side to that shore. And there can come peace unlike any other in the midst of your storm. And yes it is difficult to be joyful and thankful during those times that we are in a furnace and in a trial or a storm. But it’s not in vain friends! That is the time to snuggle close to the Lord and let him walk you through and know that you are not alone, you will make it, and you will be better for it.

 

II Corinthians 12:9-10,  “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

 

 

Learning To Stand

For the Christians we if aren’t in trouble, we are preparing for trouble, getting out of trouble, or are in trouble. At least that the it seems a lot of the time for most of us.

But how do we overcome these things? How do we overcome mess ups and  mistakes?

Because lets face it, mistakes make us all want to quit. They make us doubt everything that we ever have known or even been taught. You get to thinking you know what, I’m not good enough for this. I actually am not ‘called’ to do this or maybe I thought i was but now that I think about it, you know I’m not the one to keep this torch going.

The fact of the matter is, are anyone of us cut out to be the Pastor? Or sing in the choir? Or play piano? Or preach? Or even do much of anything for God. We all fall short of the glory of God according the Romans. But here’s the comforting news. Every Christian will mess up. Now some mess ups maybe ‘bigger’ than others but guess what, because we are all born with a sin nature we are all going to mess up and fall short of the glory of God. Just because I am a Christian doesn’t make me any better than anyone else.

But I mess up and have and guess what, I still will. And when Christians we mess up we can’t take it back. And maybe the world judges us more than the average Joe and that gets under our skin, but hey, that is what we signed up for.

The good news is that, no matter how bad we mess up. No matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ we mess up, there is a way that we can repair our relationship with God. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Even though we are forgiven sometimes we can’t help but remember what we have done in the past. It hangs over  us like a dark storm cloud that never seems to go away. And maybe the hardest thing that we face is not so much looking at someone else in the eye and asking for forgiveness, but looking in the mirror and telling ourselves that yes, YOU. You are forgiven because Christ has forgiven us of ALL our sins. IF we CONFESS.

There is  no such thing as the Christian that never stumbles or messes up. But the real Christians are the ones that are gonna stand back up and make themselves better after they fall.

Philippians 3:13-14,  “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

We can dwell at the past all we want and think man I am the one that caused this, and yes it is easier said than done but at some point you and I have to pick the pieces of our broken selves and move on. We cannot change the past but what we can do is make a brighter future. YOU are forgiven, now look yourself in the mirror and realize that you are, and that the dark cloud that seems to never go away can finally be gone and you can wake up to a brand new sunny day.

Broken Pieces

Let me ask you a question – What are the  broken pieces in your life that God has chosen to work through?

As I think about this question I can’t help but chuckle a little bit. As I just sit back and reflect on this question I feel as though my whole life is broken piece after broken piece and I am just one big broken mess of a human being. Then the light bulb in my mind goes on. That’s exactly what I am, broken. Broken sinner, saved by grace. Washed in blood of Jesus Christ. Redeemed. Child of the King. Eternal home being prepared for me. Heaven bound. What a joy and an absolute privilege to be considered as such.

But when I look back at my life and the short amount of years that I have been on this earth I realize there are so many broken areas that God worked through. Whether it was through the many years of addiction I went through. Or my time spent at Crossroads Rescue Mission. Or the many times I relapsed or woke up in a hospital. Or when I started at Bible college and the struggles that I faced there. There is one thing that remains and always will remain the same, God worked through all of that. Whether it be ‘big’ things or ‘little’ things. God in his love chose to just hold the broken pieces of me and through all the dust and rubble, his grace and mercy shined through. And in the end everything worked out for good, just as it says in Romans 8:28.

Now my problem and the issue that many of us face, is this, we often don’t see or perhaps want to see what good can come out of what seems like a devastating circumstance. Those famous questions arise; Why me? Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? That comment, ‘I really don’t need this right now’ was something I find myself personally muttering under my breath rather frequently.

What I realize is this, I did need every one of those trials and struggles that I have gone through and that I may face down the road. I needed every situation that I was in where all hope seemed lost and the outcome seemed horrific, I needed that. If everything in my life was perfect and I was perfect (which I am far from, just call and ask my parents sometime) then how could I ever help anyone else. Or if everyone else around me was perfect and everything was perfect in their lives how could they help me? Because of the many things that  I have gone through in my short time here on earth, I am the person that I am today. There are definitely things that I regret but I wouldn’t want to change how my life has played out for anything. It’s all apart of God’s plan, which is far greater and better than anything that I could ever try and map out.

Friends, you and I cannot go back and re write our past, so as 2017 unfolds, stop trying to. We can’t change the past, although if we could it would probably be nice for some of us. But what we can do is paint a better and brighter futures for ourselves. No matter what trials you are going to face, there is good behind it and take every opportunity to grow and learn.