Monthly Archives: December 2015

What Do You Do With A New Year?

There are 31,557,600 seconds, or 525,960 minutes, or 8,766 hours in a year. What can you do with that much time? Surveys have been made of how much time we spend in daily activities. Of course, much of that time is spent sleeping. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 7.7 hours of the day are spent in sleep. Let’s just round it off to eight hours. They also say Americans spend nine hours a day, on average, working. Sleeping and working, then, take up seventeen hours of our twenty-four-hour day.

According to the BLS, we spend one hour eating and drinking and one hour on household chores. (I have to admit, those two numbers are probably higher for me than that, especially eating, but let us say they are correct.) That is two more hours, for a total of nineteen hours. That leaves only five hours left in a day. The BLS says that most Americans spend 2.5 hours in leisure and sports activities one hour caring for others and one and a half hours doing other things. Twenty-four hours total.

If you do the math, you will find we spend 121.5 days out of the year asleep. (Why am I always tired and sleepy, then?) We spend another 137 days working. Thirty days are spent eating and doing chores. Thirty-eight days are spent on leisure activities. However, if we attend every service of the Lord’s church, assuming we meet four hours a week, we spend only 208 hours a year in Bible study and worship. That is only 8.6 days per year that we attend Bible study and worship God corporately! Just a little more than one week out of fifty-two. For some, even that is too much!

While what looked to be a great deal of time at first turned out to be so precious little of time, it becomes important that we use it wisely. Jesus told us that He had to work the works of Him that had sent Him while it was day, for the night cometh when no man can work (John 9:4). Paul warned us to redeem the time because the days are evil (Eph. 5:16). The wise man warned, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). God’s clear warning to us is use your time wisely!

But really, we don’t even know how much time we do have! Any moment for any one of us might well be the last. It is a very sobering fact to consider that any moment our lives might be required of us (Luke 12:20), or the Lord might return and we would then stand before the judgment seat of Christ. When you consider the fact that we do not know what is going to happen on the morrow or how much time we have in the future (James 4:13-17), then we can see that we must use our time judiciously.

Whatever we do this coming year, a few Bible principles should guide us.

  • First, whatsoever we do in word or in deed we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17). That is, we must always either have scriptural authority for what we do or, at the very least, what we do must not be inconsistent with His commands. Whatever we do must be according to His will (I John 5:14).
  • Second, we should pray about what goals we have for the coming year. Jesus told us to ask (Matt. 7:7,8). However, we must make certain that we do not ask amiss out of lust (James 4:3). The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
  • Third, above all things, we must seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33). If what we do this year puts God in any place but first, then we are doing the wrong things. Placing too much emphasis on material things is misguided (John 6:27).
  • Fourth, whatever you do, seek to glorify God by it. Paul said, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:20). If you can’t do it to His glory, you should not be doing it.
  • Fifth, whatever we do should not identify us with the world, “because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:16). As Christians, we are in the world, but we must not be of the world (John 17:16).
  • Sixth, realize that there are consequences for whatever we do. Paul said, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7,8).
  • Finally, whatever we know to be true and right we should do with all our might (Eccl. 9:10). Christianity must not be lived half-heartedly or insincerely (Matt. 22:37). Jesus warned, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).

It is my sincere prayer that God will bless you and yours in the coming new year as you seek to serve Him and glorify His name.

Eric L. Padgett


How Do You See It Now?

“Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” (Haggai 2:3).

There were many older men living at the time the foundation of the second temple was laid, who had seen the original temple of Solomon. We are told by Ezra that these men, when they saw the foundation, “wept with a loud voice” (Ezra 3:12,13). These men wept, both because they were probably reminded that the temple of Solomon had long been destroyed, and because the second temple was nothing in comparison to the former, in their estimation. “Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?” observed Haggai.

Haggai asked the question with regard to the temple, “How do ye see it now?” To the older generation it was nothing in comparison. To the younger generation it was something to cheer about because their place of worship, the house of God, was being built. Isn’t it interesting that how we see things, often depends upon our perspective. Not having seen the original, the younger generation welcomed this new temple. They had not the perspective to see it correctly, at least not in the same light that their elders had.

Our experience often colors what we see and how we see it. This is not to say, as some do, that we can never see the truth because it is colored by our experience. It is, nevertheless, true that our experience is a factor in the way we see things. It is especially true that those who do not travel the hard path do not appreciate the end destination! Too often those who have never been in the arena fighting the battles, taking the blows, struggling for victory, do not appreciate fully what they have. As Shakespeare once observed, “They jest at wounds that never felt a scar.” It is only after we have struggled and pushed and fought and climbed and pursued and been wounded and tasted our own blood that we truly appreciate the victory. It is so often true that those who have fought the battles appreciate peace the most.

How many times have we seen it? How many times, for example, have those who have come to America from countries where there was extreme poverty or no freedom exhibit true appreciation for the blessings and freedoms here in America while our own sons and daughters take these hard fought blessings for granted? In a similar fashion, how many times have the children of long-time members of the Lord’s church disregarded the uniqueness of the church and longed for something different? How many times have they left the Lord’s church in search of something “better”? How many times has the younger generation sought to change the Lord’s church? Too often!

I have spoken with older members of the Lord’s church who have seen good times in the kingdom. They have experienced auditoriums overflowing with people, they remember when chairs had to be set in the aisles to accommodate the crowds. They remembered the truth being defended and people being taught. They remember the debates. They experienced the sacrifice. However, they wept when they saw the current condition of the church and the changes taking place. Yet many in the younger generation not only welcome but advocate the changes taking place in the Lord’s church. The younger generation too often does not want the church of their fathers but one whose foundations are much smaller and far less glorious.

This is why it has always been important for the previous generation to faithfully transmit the truth to the next generation and instill in them a zeal for the truth. If we do not faithfully do this, there will arise another generation which does not know the Lord (Jud. 2:10). Paul said, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (II Timothy 2:2). If we are not made to know the truth, we will not be set free (John 8:32).

The hopeful note in this account was that the Lord promised the children of Israel that, while the present house was not as glorious as the first, God was going to make it even more glorious in the future. “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts” (Haggai 2:6-7). Paul quoted this passage and applied it to the church, the eternal kingdom (Heb. 12:26-28; II Pet. 1:11).

Today, of course, God does not tell us that any individual congregation will be more glorious in the future in this life. But we do have the promise that God will bless us by delivering the kingdom back to God (I Cor. 15:24). It will be delivered back to God without spot, wrinkle, blemish or any such thing but that it will be holy and glorious (Eph. 5:27). This is dependent upon our making our calling and election sure (II Pet. 1:10,11).

How do we see the Lord’s church now?

Eric L. Padgett

Pricked in the Heart

Recently, the president of the Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OWU) reported that a student complained that a sermon on Love from I Corinthians 13 offended him because “it made him feel bad for not showing love.” This student felt the speaker was wrong for making him feel that way. As this story might seem too outlandish to be believed, the president of the OWU assured us that he was not making it up. It really did occur.

He wrote a response to this incident in which he observed: “Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them ‘feel bad’ about themselves, is a ‘hater,’ a ‘bigot,’ an ‘oppressor,’ and a ‘victimizer.'” His whole statement can be found here.

He further stated: “I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience…The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization. So here’s my advice…If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.” Thankfully, this university president seems to get it.

However, what is true for that university, is especially true for the Lord’s church. Jesus did not come to this world, suffer and die on the cross so that you and I could feel good about living in sin. Jesus came preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). He came not to send peace, He said, but a sword and division (Matt. 10:34; Luke 12:51). He told the Scribes and the Pharisees that they were hypocrites (Matt. 23:13). He said not everyone that claims to be one of His disciples was going to enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21-27).

The examples of this kind could be multiplied over and over again where individuals were challenged to think and do better. I am sure that those who heard Jesus felt convicted of their sins. Many felt so bad that they, much like the student mentioned above, were offended (John 6:60,61). The apostles were afraid on one occasion that the Pharisees were offended by what Jesus had said and subtly warned Him to control His speech (Matt. 15:12). Some were even so offended that they “went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66). Truth has this affect on the dishonest and insincere.

It is true that one can preach a sermon out of a hateful and malicious motive. Paul encountered those that preached out of envy strife and contention, intending to add affliction to his bonds (Phil. 1:15,16). But even a sermon preached out of love–love for the truth, love for God and love for the souls of men–can prick the honest and sincere heart.

The first gospel sermon preached after the ascension of our Lord back into heaven was preached out of such love. Nevertheless, it was a hard sermon. “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain…Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:22-23,36).

Who would dare say that Peter had no love in his heart? This is the same Peter who said see that “ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Pet. 1:22). This is the same Peter who said “honour all men. Love the brotherhood” (I Pet. 2:17). This is the same Peter who said “have compassion one of another, love as brethren” (I Pet. 3:8). Peter loved and cared, even in his sermon on Pentecost. But love sometimes, often times, requires painful honesty.

The result of Peter’s sermon on Pentecost was discomfort. The Bible tells us when they heard Peter’s inspired sermon on their involvement in the crucifixion of the Christ, they were “pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37). Their conscience was pricked and they felt bad and they understood that the were culpable in the rejection and murder of the very Son of God! This was exactly the intended result. Peter wanted, indeed, God wanted, them to feel bad because he wanted them to repent.

Too many preachers today tickle the ears because men love to have it so (II Tim. 4:3). Many will serve their own belly by speaking smooth words and giving fair speeches, deceiving the heart of the simple (Rom. 16:18). Sermons that say nothing, but make you feel good generally are nothing more than pablum. If what you hear from the pulpit is what you can hear from any denominational preacher, then maybe the preacher is not speaking the truth that saves.

Here is a suggestion. From now on, when you hear a sermon you disagree with, have the courage to engage the speaker (at the appropriate time and in an appropriate way, of course. Always act in Christian charity!). If the speaker does not offer proof for his contentions, ask for it, honestly, respectfully, but ask. If the speaker is sincere, he will be glad to help and enlighten. If he is not sincere, there may be more friction than light. But if you hear something and it challenges you, that is, it makes you feel guilty, examine sincerely both what you have heard against the scriptures (Acts 17:11) and your own heart. If you hear a sermon and feel uncomfortable, then maybe you have heard the truth and it is having the desired effect. Then, you ought to be thankful that you have learned the truth.

Eric L. Padgett