With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Christmas on its heels, this is the time of year for family, friends, food, celebrations, and an overwhelming number of great service opportunities. Service opportunities??? Yes!
This time of year there are numerous opportunities to show the love of Christ to others. You can volunteer a few hours to ring a bell for the Salvation Army or to serve meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas days at numerous churches and community organizations. You can buy a few extra groceries and drop them in a basket on your way out the door. You can even collect everything from toys to coats to benefit children locally and around the world.
This time of year there is no shortage of opportunities for you and your family to serve. I hope you will take the opportunity to show the love of Christ to others. If you have children, get them involved. Make service a regular part of family life.
I also encourage you to take it step further. Christmas and Thanksgiving are times when it seems we can go on service overload. This is not a bad thing. The season brings out feelings of gratitude and good will, and I challenge you to allow these attitudes to live in your heart all year long. Consider these facts. Food banks run short of volunteer workers in the summer. Giving to non-profits falls in the spring and summer months. Blood banks run low in the summer.
Why not make volunteering in our community something we do regularly not just during the Holidays? How about sponsoring a food drive in March or providing a meal in July? Let’s show the love of Jesus all year long.
Don’t avoid serving during November and December, but be more than a seasonal servant. Make service a part of everyday (every month) life.
I had an interesting experience yesterday, one that I had prayed for. As I was reading my Bible in the park, a curious jogger stopped to ask why I was reading the Bible and if I truly believed that it contains the answer to life’s problems.
First of all, I had to recognize that I have some presuppositions about God and the Bible that this jogger might not share with me. So I wanted to be careful in how I shared my beliefs compared with the jogger’s doubts.
I started with how I view the Bible as a whole. I believe that the Bible has authority. According to H. D. McDonald, “[T]he Bible has a real authority in itself as the authentic embodiment of God’s self-disclosure.” I believe that because the Bible is the Word of God, and because God Himself is the ultimate authority, His Word has authority in the same manner as God has authority over me and my life.
That led me to talk about inspiration. The jogger was skeptical about the Bible, saying that it was written by men no different than you and me. I explained to him that he was partially correct about the authorship of the Bible. It was penned by men, but that those men were led by divine inspiration. God Himself guided the men and the words that were written. The Bible says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). The Bible is not a work of the human mind, but the very words of God.
The jogger then asked a difficult question, “How can the Bible be accurate if it was written by men?” I told the jogger that I believe the Bible is inerrant. To me, inerrancy simply means that God is incapable of anything short of truth and perfection, and therefore, His word contains no errors or false claims. The Bible says, “it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged” (Hebrews 6:18, NIV).
I explained to the jogger that I learned about some arguments that have been made about the Bible being inerrant. The Slippery Slope Argument says that “some see inerrancy as so fundamental that those who give it up will soon surrender other central Christian doctrines.” I believe this to be the weakest argument to convince an unbeliever because the belief is based on a structure that is foreign to an unbeliever, the doctrines of the church. The Epistemological Argument says that the claims of the Bible’s inerrancy can only be certified by proving its claims. While we can verify many of the things the Bible claims, we cannot prove them all, because not all things have come to pass or the evidence of other claims no longer exist. The Biblical Argument uses Scripture itself to show that it is inerrant and infallible. The best example of this is the previously mention verse, 2 Timothy 3:16. The argument that I would consider the strongest is the Historical Argument. This argument says that the inerrancy of the Bible “has been the view of the church throughout history.” At first glance, this argument may seem overly simplistic. But it is a view that carries tradition and a long lineage of believers who were intent on sharing a view of God’s Word as it is, inerrant and authoritative. This view is founded by eyewitnesses to Biblical events. And then it was shared through generations. This argument shows a history of people, sinful humans, who have heard the message and accepted it and built their lives in Christ according to what each person saw in other humans. It is our greatest witness to the lost of our time.
The inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible are complimentary. Elmer Towns states that, “Inerrancy recognizes that what God revealed and inspired is accurate, reliable, authoritative and without error.” Because the Bible is inspired by God, the nature of God is a part of the Bible. The Bible is Truth. It is accurate. It is reliable. It has authority. It’s attributes are synonymous with God’s.
Because I believe that the Bible was inspired by God and therefore, carries the authority of God, is inerrant and infallible, I believe that what the Bible teaches has real meaning for me. I must study the Bible in order to know how I should live a life that is pleasing to the Creator. I must obey the commands of God that are found in the pages of His word in order to receive the blessings He has promised to His people.
Have you ever found yourself doing something that you know you probably shouldn’t? Ever struggled with a bad attitude? We have all fought with negative behaviors at one time or another. At times, we can be unaware of the problem. Or perhaps, we recognize the issue but are unwilling (or feel unable) to change. So we go on doing the same things over and over again. For those of us who come to the point where we actually want to change or want to improve, it can be a struggle to figure out where to start. Well, the Bible gives us a clear picture of what we need to do in order to change.
In Romans 12:2, Paul tells us that we must be “transformed.” He doesn’t tell us to be transformed by doing the exact same thing we have always done. He doesn’t tell us to be transformed by blaming others for our troubles. Paul says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind.
Our minds are a battleground. The world wants to have us pondering violence, unrestrained sexual pleasure, self-gratification and enmity towards others. But the Bible calls us to help the weak and downtrodden. That means we may have to change our attitudes toward the less fortunate. The Bible calls us to purity. That means that we have to reject and avoid sexually immoral images and themes.
Romans 12:2 is a key verse for the Christian walk and how we are to avoid being overly influenced by the world. But it goes on to remind us that a transformed mind prepares us to hear God and obey His will. A mind that casts off worldly influences is better able to embrace what is good, acceptable and perfect.
If you are stuck in constant quarrels or arguments, seek a transformed mind. If you are stuck in an endless cycle of bitterness and negativity, seek a transformed mind. If your outlook on life is bleak, seek a transformed mind. Jesus came to bring us life, not misery. Let us embrace Him and be transformed by Him.