A Time to Think

Bible Lessons (2)Right now is a great time to think about your soul. Just a little while ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving, thanking the Lord for his blessings and care. And now Christmas has just passed, when people think on the birth of Jesus even if the Bible doesn’t say what day he was born or give us any instructions to celebrate that day, whenever it was. In just a few more days, we will celebrate New Year’s Day, and think about a time of new beginnings. All of these could lead us to God and His Son , if we would only think about them in a spiritual way.

If any of this encourages people to think about their souls, then the chances to reach them with the gospel increases. When a person is thinking about God, spiritual things, and their souls, then they are much more likely to apply what they hear or read to their lives. And when we obey Jesus and find forgiveness of sins, salvation, and the promise of heaven, then their life can literally change.

Now is a great time to think about your soul – right now! Paul wrote in 2 Cor 6:2 ….. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. Right now, is the time to think about your soul. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, what day or month it is, or what time of the day – Right now is the time to think about the salvation of your soul!

You see, right now is the only time that we have for sure. Yesterday, or even a minute ago is already gone and cannot be retrieved. Tomorrow, or even an hour from now is not guaranteed – and is uncertain. It may come and it may not, but Now is here and available. You can do something now, but before you know it the opportunity will be gone. Some live their lives expecting to have another chance, and then another one in an endless string. But it is a fact that somewhere along the way your string of ‘now’ moments will come to an end. Then there will be no more opportunities to change things and save your eternal soul. We do not know when that last chance may be – perhaps even today, maybe even as you finish reading this. Don’t let the opportunity pass you by – think about your soul, and obey the Lord. Right now is the time to make things right with God.

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Soul and Spirit

Arlington Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OHIn Hebrews 4:12, the writer says: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The distinction between the soul and spirit is very difficult, yet we are told that the word of God is powerful enough to do it. Most seem to think that the two are the same thing, yet this verse indicates that while they are similar that there is a difference.

According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary – “Soul” has two meanings in scripture: 1) That which makes the body alive (life in the physical body) and example is found in Gen 35:18 …”As her soul was departing – she named her son Ben-oni.” 2) The inner life of a person, the personality. An example of this use is Gen 2:7 “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” The word ‘soul’ can refer to either physical life or the spiritual life depending on the context. In the verse – Matt 16:25-26 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” The same Greek word translated ‘life’ in verse 25, is translated ‘soul’ in verse 26. In verse 25, it is referring to the physical life, and in verse 26, to the spiritual life.

“Spirit” comes from the Greek pneuma which means breath or wind. It refers to the vital principle given by God, the ‘spirit’. It is the part of man that is made in the image of God. It is used in verses like Gen 2:7 “ the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath (spirit) of life, and the man became a living soul.” Also see Heb 12:23
The scripture says in James 2:26 “the body without the spirit is dead..” which indicates that although the body may die, the spirit lives on. The spirit is the part of man that is made in God’s image and lives eternally. See Ecc 12:7 So the ‘spirit’ is the part of man that lives on, while the ‘soul’ (physical life) can die. See Josh 10:28, Josh 11:11 KJV

These two words are so closely associated though that distinguishing between the two is very difficult. In some passages, the word ‘soul’ is used to mean the spiritual life that continues on after death, and not just the physical life. So it may be said that the ‘spirit’ is the eternal part of man, made in the image of God, that will live forever in either heaven or hell. The ‘soul’ is the resulting life in the body, and may refer to either the physical life or the spiritual life in the new spiritual body (depending on the context). The body is made ‘alive’ by the combination of the soul and spirit. 1Thess 5:23 “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body, be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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A Name or a Number

Bible Scripture TruthThe story is told about a census taker who was making his rounds when he came upon a woman hanging clothes on an outside clothesline. ‘Madam’, he said, ‘I am taking the census and I need to know how many people live here.’ She replied, “Well, my name is Mary, and then there is Marcia, Patrick, Duggie, Amy, and …” The worker broke in – ‘Just give me a number, I don’t want the names’. To which the woman replied, ‘I’ll have you know, Sir, that we ain’t into numbering yet, we still haven’t run out of names.’

Our world is filled with so many people that we can easily feel insignificant. No one wants to know our name. They just want our number – social security, Medicare, I.D., or another string of numbers. It is a very impersonal world and we are just one of the masses. We end up feeling very lonely even when we are surrounded by large crowds. We can be tempted to listen to Satan’s whisper that we really don’t matter to God – that He is too busy taking care of the ‘world’ to deal with one person and their problems.

But in the eyes of our God, each of us is known personally, even before we were born – Psalm 139:13 “ For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” And in Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart, I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

We are also told that even our lifespan is known by the Lord – Psalm 139:16 “ Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” And not only does our Lord know each of us individually, but He is concerned about the daily needs of our life – Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” And we are told that the Lord knows even the smallest details of our lives – Matthew 10:30 “ And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” And Hebrews 4:13 – “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account”.

But perhaps the greatest blessing from our God is that of His concern and care for our eternal souls. He knew us, He loved us, and supplied the way of forgiveness while we were still rejecting Him – Romans 5:6-8. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Won’t you recognize that love and respond to it today – God loves you, Christ died for you to show that love, and He knows what is happening in your life minute by minute. He cares for you, individually!

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Fasting

Church of Christ DevotionalsMatt 6:16-18 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men that they are fasting. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it is not obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father , who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.”

Fasting was an essential part of religious life in Eastern countries. For the Jew, there was only one compulsory fast – the Day of Atonement – Lev 16:31. But the religious Jews made great use of private fasting. It was the custom to fast from the death of a relative until the burial, or to show sorrow for sin, or as an appeal to God in times of physical or spiritual need. Occasionally a time of fasting would be declared for the whole nation as a sign of national repentance – Judges 20:26.

While fasting was supposed to represent devotion to God and repentance for sins, it had the potential to be done for improper motives. One might fast as a sign of ‘superior piety’ – Luke 8:11-12. One might fast to show others how ‘devoted’ he was in order to gain their praise and admiration. So Jesus warns His disciples about fasting for the wrong reasons.

While we as Christians are not commanded to fast, there are some practical reasons to do so:

• healthy eating habits – makes us think about what we eat
• self-discipline – we learn to deny ourselves and break habits
• it teaches us to distinguish between needs and wants
• it teaches us appreciation of what we have
• it makes us more sensitive to spiritual things by sharpening senses

Jesus condemned the wrong kind of fasting- when it was done for outward show. But nowhere does the Bible encourage Christians to avoid the practice of fasting. We would do well to consider our own situation, and if fasting would help us get our lives into the proper perspective. However, we must follow the instructions of Christ and do it privately, so that it will not be obvious to others. Fasting is to be between the individual and God. In fact, Jesus condemned any religious practice when it was done for show. If we do things to impress men, we will get no reward from our Father. (He knows our hearts and our motives) What would the Lord say about the way that you ‘practice’ your religion? Is your heart right with God?

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