Bible Quiz: Each week this blog will begin with four questions. The answers are at the end of the blog. Have fun!!
According To the Bible‚Ä¶ 1. The symbol of the Cross was used by the early church on places of worship and worn by believers to identify themselves as Christians. 2. Work is a result of the fall. 3. Dietary laws were given for health purposes. 4. Numerology ‚Äď 7 is the perfect number.
Dear Prayer Warriors,
I have a section of my Prayer Notebook entitled the ‚ÄúNo Whining Zone.‚ÄĚ Underneath it I have written ‚ÄúWho do you think you are, Billy Graham?!?‚ÄĚ This is to remind me that, as a minister and a missionary, I am a very small fish in a very big pond. I have no cause whatsoever for feelings of resentment or dissatisfaction because things do not seem to be going my way. I have but one valid response to each and every day ‚Äď thankfulness. I should be like the stray dog who is plucked from certain death by some kind master. We all know such dogs. There is no more faithful, compliant and seemingly thankful dog than one who has been a starving stray but is now living with a kind master in a loving home. That is me, and that should be my life‚Äôs witness ‚Äď faithful, compliant and, above all, thankful to my loving heavenly Father.
Below the ‚ÄúNo Whining Zone‚ÄĚ statement, I have four verses on which I reflect, meditate and pray over every day. These are not the only passages on thanksgiving over which I pray, but I make sure I visit these four passages every day.
The first is Deuteronomy 28:47-48 which exhorts that "Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things; therefore you shall serve your ‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ This passage is to remind me that one of the ways God teaches us to be appreciative and thankful is to play ‚Äúcompare and contrast.‚ÄĚ We have all done this with our children when they are unthankful. God also deals with us as His children - not that we are punished but we are trained to be thankful. It is good for children to be thankful. Woe to the child, when I returned from a ministry trip, who asked ‚ÄúWhat did you bring me?‚ÄĚ El would immediately discipline that child. It was enough that God had brought their father safely home. Woe to the child who asked for something different to eat than what El had prepared and set before them at the dinner table or asked to have something added to it to improve it. I would immediately discipline that child. It was enough that their mother planned, shopped and prepared a good meal for them - they had nothing to complain about and there was nothing they needed to do to improve it. It is good for children to learn to be thankful for the sacrifices and services their parents make for them. And Psalm 92:1 teaches us that ‚ÄúIt is good to give thanks to the LORD.‚ÄĚ God knows this and is faithful to teach us this truth. I would rather be pro-active in my thanksgiving than reactive to God‚Äôs discipline so I pray over this passage every day, that I might not fall into this sin and have to learn the lesson the hard way.
A second passage I daily visit is Numbers 14:27 which states "how long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.‚ÄĚ Israel did not realize that God hears everything they said and that when they complained about life (given the fact that God is sovereign), they were complaining about God. When they complained about Moses and the other ministers whom God had raised up, they were complaining about God. I was at a ministers‚Äô conference where a fellow minister was making fun of women from Texas. He was making fun of their accent, their hair - you name it, he was making fun of them. Now I have a Yankee accent so I imagine he thought I would agree. The problem was that my wife was born and raised in Dallas, my daughter was born in Austin and my other daughter was born in College Station - all Texas women. It did not take long to set him straight on this subject. When he complained about Texas women, he insulted me, and I left no stone unturned in setting him straight. It is said that Priscilla and Aquilla instructed Apollos ‚Äúin the way more perfect‚ÄĚ - this fellow got that and more. It is important for me to remember that when I complain about the church, the ministers of the church, my life circumstances, those around me, I complain about God. God does not bear long with grumblers and it behooves me to begin each day with a reminder from God the Holy Spirit of that very fact.
The third passage that I make sure I visit each and every day is Numbers 16:9 which asks ‚Äúis it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them?‚ÄĚ I have the phrase ‚ÄúIs it not enough for you‚ÄĚ underlined and printed in bold. God has given me the indescribable privilege and blessing of ministering in His name. He has allowed me to teach His holy, eternal, inerrant, written Word. He allows me to witness to unbelievers and to lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He allows me to teach others how to pray. He allows me to teach others how to study the Bible. He allows me to teach others how to witness. What else do I want? If this is not enough, to be able to pray, to read and study the Word, to witness, to fellowship and to teach others the same - if this is not enough, then what will be enough? Acts 20:28 says that God ‚Äúpurchased with His own blood‚ÄĚ those to whom I am privileged to minister. He indeed takes notice when Christians esteem lightly that which cost God His only son. He indeed takes notice when Christians esteem lightly that which cost Jesus‚Äô blood to be poured out on the dirt of this fallen earth. If you are insulted when someone complains of a gift you gave them, then consider the emotional reaction of God to a grumbling Christian when he does such at the cost of God‚Äôs only Son whose blood was spilled for the remission of our sins and the sins of those with whom we fellowship and to whom we minister.
The last passage upon which I meditate and reflect daily is Lamentations 3:39 which reminds me that ‚Äúwhy should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins?‚ÄĚ What have I got to complain about...
What I deserve is judgment ‚Äď what I get is mercy and grace. What I deserve is Hell ‚Äď what I get is Heaven. What I deserve is death ‚Äď what I get is eternal life. What I deserve is to be satan‚Äôs slave ‚Äď what I get is to be God‚Äôs son. This list goes on and on and on.
In light of this reality, I have nothing to complain about. I have only things for which to be thankful.
Hebrews 13:7 instructs us to ‚Äúremember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.‚ÄĚ Throughout my prayer notebook are quotes and examples from men of God about the life to which I aspire. In terms of my ‚ÄúNo Whining Zone,‚ÄĚ immediately after the above passages I have quotes from two books which I have read to remind me of how this looks in real life:
John Fletcher of Madely - ‚ÄúOne time meeting him when he was very ill with a hectic fever... I said, ‚ÄėI am sorry to find you so ill.‚Äô Mr. Fletcher answered with great sweetness and energy, ‚ÄėSorry, sir! Why are you sorry? It is the chastisement of my heavenly Father, and I rejoice in it. I love the rod of my God, and rejoice therein, as an expression of His love and affection towards me.‚Äô‚ÄĚ (.JC. Ryle The Christian Leaders of the Last Century; pg 388)
Francis Jane Crosby (1820 ‚Äď 1915) - Fanny Crosby was probably the most prolific hymnist in history. Though blinded by an incompetent doctor at six weeks of age, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said: ‚ÄúIt seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.‚ÄĚ (Sankey page 122)
Great quotes, aren‚Äôt they? You know, as I think about it, no one wants to quote a whiner. No one looks up to a whiner. No one wants to be discipled by a whiner. No one wants to write a book entitled, ‚ÄúThe Whiniest People and The Secret of a Grumbling Spirit.‚ÄĚ It is thanksgiving, not whining, that people admire.
Therefore, as I begin this Tuesday morning, I stop as I do every morning. I gaze into the ‚Äúmirror‚ÄĚ of God‚Äôs holy, eternal, inerrant written Word (James 1:22-25). I drop His holy Word against my life as a ‚Äúplumb line‚ÄĚ (Amos 7:7-8). I allow it to cut to the ‚Äúdividing point of bone and marrow, soul and spirit‚ÄĚ that it might ‚Äújudge the thoughts and intentions‚ÄĚ of my heart (Hebrews 4:12). "O Lord, make me a truly thankful child. Let me not be just another spoiled, whiney Christian. Use Your holy, eternal, inerrant written Word to sanctify me, to set me apart for Your service and Your glory in thankfulness," I pray.
Having done this, I slowly go through the Thanksgiving section of my prayer notebook and linger for a while, thanking God. ‚ÄúO Lord, thank You, thank You, thank You, how can I ever thank You enough‚Ä¶‚ÄĚ
In the coming weeks I will share with you some of the things for which I thank God every day, but for now be encouraged that ‚Äúit is good to give thanks to the LORD.‚ÄĚ
By His mercy, II Corinthians 4:1 Rev. John S. Mahon Grace Community Int. ‚Äď Tyumen, Russia, deep in the heart of Siberia.
Answers to this week‚Äôs Bible Quiz
1. F - Nowhere in the Gospels, in the Acts of the Apostles nor in the writings of the New Testament is there an example or teaching concerning the wearing of the cross as a Christian symbol. There also exists no example of the cross being used to adorn churches, Christian buildings, homes or gathering places. There are no examples of ministers using the ‚Äúsign of the cross‚ÄĚ to bless, begin or end a prayer.
2. F - Work is not a result of sin and the fall of man. God works (Genesis 2:2); while on earth the sinless Son of God worked (John 10:37 & 38); before the fall Adam worked (Genesis 2:15 & 20). The result of the fall was not work but unfruitful work (Genesis 3:17 ‚Äď 19). Had Adam never sinned we would all still work.
3. F - Nowhere in the Law are dietary regulations presented as necessary for good health. There are no verses in the Bible teaching the dietary regulations of the Law for health reasons. These laws were a symbol (Hebrews 8:5; 9:9; 10:1) to teach that there is a difference between the holy and profane. (Leviticus 10:10; 11:47; 20:25 &26; Ezekiel 22:26) If keeping the dietary regulations of the Law resulted in better care of our body, the temple of God, then Jesus would not have freed us to eat anything we want (Mark 7:18 & 19). To follow the dietary restrictions of the Law or any manmade moral code for eating reveals a weakness of faith (Romans 14:2).
4. F - Although teachings concerning numerology abound in the church today, God the Holy Spirit is silent on this subject. There is not a single verse in Scripture teaching ‚Äú7‚ÄĚ as the perfect number. Because of the frequent use of some numbers in the Bible, it may seem that they have a figurative meaning, but this is entirely different from a doctrinal statement.
Now ask yourself ‚Äď what other things about the Bible do I believe which are, in reality, false? From now on when something is taught about the Bible your first questions will be ‚Äď ‚ÄúWhat is the book, chapter, verse?"