Tag Archives: Bob Prichard


The fourth commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). God gave the Sabbath as a “perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:17) between the Jews and God. As long as the Jews were a nation, they were to keep the Sabbath. This was not a perpetual covenant with anyone else, however. 

The Sabbath lasted from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The Jews, especially the Pharisees, treated it very legalistically. They expanded, refined, and codified it until it became an intolerable burden. Jesus fought the popular distortion of the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8). Jesus kept the Sabbath perfectly, something that no one else ever did. 

This commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments that Jesus did not repeat for Christians. Jesus kept the Sabbath, but never commanded Christians to keep it. 

Although some try to keep the Sabbath today, none keep it as God commanded it. The Lord commanded that the Sabbath was the day for burnt offerings, and other elements which no one keeps today. Paul says that Christ abolished the law (Ephesians 2:15), and “took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). The first covenant was taken away so that the better, new covenant could be established. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Hebrews 8:6-7). 

While we are not commanded to keep the Sabbath, there are, however, many eternal principles to be learned from the Sabbath. All Christians should consider their use of time, and the work ethic taught in the commandment, that there are six days in which the servant of God will work. As the wise man Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). Paul tried to set a good example for the Thessalonians by working to support himself, giving an example (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12). “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

Jesus showed the way to use the Sabbath, not by treating it as a day for idleness, but a day for service, a time for bringing blessings to others. The Christian should do no less with every day given to him. All life should be a rest from evil, and days devoted to God. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Every Christian should evaluate his time to see how much is devoted to God, and how much is devoted to self.


A name is very important, because it represents all that a person is. The third commandment warns, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). When Moses asked God what he should say to the Israelites, as he came to lead them out of Egyptian bondage, “God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). “I AM THAT I AM” is a form of the Hebrew for “to be,” indicating the eternal nature of God. The Israelites were so conscious of not breaking this commandment that they would not pronounce the name of God at all, instead substituting the word for Lord. 

Words, such as names, have always been important. Jesus warned that the misuse of words could destroy us, because the words indicate what is in our hearts. “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” (Matthew 15:18). James warns that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).

Our words are especially of concern when they involve God and His name. Men often curse God, blaspheme His name, or use His name in profanity. Rather than cursing His name, men ought to hallow His name. The Old Testament punishment for such sins was stoning (Leviticus 24:10-23). This may seem harsh, but Jesus said, “That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Since God’s name is often invoked in the making of vows and promises, such as the wedding vows, it is doubly important that these words be true. 

The sense of this commandment is also broken when men do not respect God’s words. You cannot reject His words, and the things His spokesmen have said, without rejecting God. Jesus told His disciples, “He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me” (Matthew 10:40). Responding properly to God’s word means obedience to it. Words should match deeds. Paul condemned those whose works were not in accord with God’s word: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate” (Titus 1:16) Jesus spoke of this important connection between our deeds and the word of God, warning, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). 

Peter, referring to the name of Jesus Christ, said “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Surely those who love Him would not want to misuse His name in songs, jokes, etc. His name should be spoken in love and obedience.


The second of the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, gives timeless principles concerning God’s attitude about worship. Christians, who are “delivered from the law” (Romans 7:6-7), learn principles from the Ten Commandments that allow them to live under the better covenant of Christianity (Hebrews 8:6-7) 

The commandment reads: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:4-6). Israel had to understand clearly that God would not tolerate idolatry. 

Idolatry, the worship of a creature, or inanimate object, seems inherently absurd to the modern mind. While modern man might not carve a statue, and then bow before it as ancient man did, he still has his idols, the false gods he worships. The problem of the idolater is not so much the idol as it is the spiritual blindness of the idolater. To place anything above God, whether it be possessions, family, occupation, or leisure activity, is to become an idolater. It has been well observed that sometimes the modern churchgoer may have his true god parked outside the place of worship. 

The command forbids making graven images to represent God to a worshipper. No image can ever “capture” God. As Paul told the Athenians, who worshipped so many gods, including an “unknown god,” “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:29-30). God’s Word must always govern worship to Him, because man has always had a tendency to worship the thing rather than the One Whom it represents. Despite God’s care of Israel, they easily slipped back into an idolatrous way of thinking. On one occasion they took the ark of the covenant into battle against the Philistines, as a sort of “good luck charm,” and wound up losing the ark, as well as the battle (1 Samuel 4). They also began to worship the bronze serpent Moses raised as a symbol of salvation (Numbers 21:4-9), so that King Hezekiah had to destroy it with the other marks of idolatry (2 Kings 18:4). 

The commandment gives a lengthy “enforcement statement,” which stresses that God will not share His people with any other god, but will bless all those who do His will. As Jesus met with the woman at the well, who wanted to sidestep the discussion of her checkered past, He reminded her, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus warned that worship is vain when men worship God “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Blessings for future generations depend on proper worship today! 


Peter concludes the first chapter of his second epistle with these words. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake us they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:19-21). These verses of scripture are especially important because of what they tell us about the inspiration of scripture, reminding us that we have a “sure word of prophecy,” that is, trustworthy scriptures.

Unfortunately, the words, “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation,” have been misused by some religious organizations to keep people from studying the scriptures for themselves. Some prefer to keep the people in ignorance, teaching that the individual Christian cannot study or understand the scriptures themselves, but must rely on “the church” or church leaders to interpret the scriptures for them. Thus individuals may think there is no reason to study and reason for themselves. This is contrary to all the rest of the scripture, however. Saving faith comes from understanding and obeying the scriptures. All will be judged by the scriptures. 

Some suggest that what Peter was teaching in these verses is that since the words of scripture have a definite meaning, then those who interpret scripture are not free to read whatever meaning they want to into the scriptures, but must consider the context of scripture. Surely it is true that no one should be free to read into the scriptures any of their own personal opinions, and context must always be considered, but this is not Peter’s concern in this passage.

There is a better, more reasonable way to understand the words. Consider the rendering of 2 Peter 1:20-21 in the New American Standard Version: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” The prophecy of scripture did not come “by the will of man.” “No prophecy was ever made by an act of human will.” The prophets were inspired to write by God, and did not just speak what they wanted to speak, but they spoke what was revealed to them by God. That is the reason for the amazing accuracy of the teaching of scripture, and the agreement among the different writers. If each had been free to just write what he wanted to write, then there would be multiplied contradictions among all of the different portions of scripture. 

The “holy men” were “moved by the Holy Ghost,” literally “borne along” just as a strong wind propels a ship through the sea. Jesus told his disciples, “when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, thst shall he speak: und he will show you things to come” (John 16:13) As the New Testament writers revealed the full truth of God’s revelation, the Holy Spirit guided them. Their message is one for all men study, obey, and live by.


We have long understood that the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament make up God’s complete revelation to man. The Bible does mention other ancient books, however. Joshua 10:13 says, “The sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher?” Among the other books mentioned are the acts of Solomon (1 Kings 14:11), the books of Nathan the prophet and Gad the seer (1 Chronicles 29:29), and the books of Shemaiah the prophet and Iddo the seer (2 Chronicles 12:15). Even more interesting, in 1 Corinthians 5:9, Paul mentions a previous epistle: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators.” Was the epistle telling them not to company with fornicators the original 1 Corinthians? Paul also wrote to the Christians of Colossae, “And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea” (Colossians 4.16). What is the “epistle from Laodicea”? 

The sixty-six books that make up the canon [meaning those measured] of scripture, are those books that have met the test of time, and have apostolic authority. For example, Peter warned that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand, and thus sometimes twisted, as “also the other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16). Thus He considered Paul’s writings to be scripture [inspired writings]. The books accepted in the canon claim inspiration for themselves, and the early Christians verified that inspiration by examining their content. These books also received virtual universal acceptance in the early church. 

We rely on the wisdom of the Jews of the first century to help in deciding which books belonged in the Old Testament canon, and the judgments of numerous early Christians help us in seeing what was accepted and rejected among the writings of the New Testament era. Among the books circulated by the early Christians, but rejected from the canon were the fourteen books of the Apocrypha. Philo of Alexandria ordered these books to be translated with the Septuagint, the Greek language translation of the Old Testament in use in the first century, but the Jews never considered them to be scripture. Many other ancient books were also considered  but rejected from the canon. Some, such as “Wisdom of Solomon,” and “Shepherd of Hermas” can be read today, but they are not inspired. In modern times, books such as the book of Mormon and other writings of Joseph Smith have been rejected because they conflict with known scripture and do not have the earmarks of inspired scripture.

Many of the books mentioned above, such as the book of Jasher, are lost. But simply being mentioned in scripture does not mean that they were inspired. Paul’s early epistle to the Corinthians apparently contained nothing that God has not repeated elsewhere in scripture. There are virtually no Bible doctrines that rely on just one mention in scripture. The “epistle from the Laodiceans” was probably just a letter from the church of Laodicea, and not scripture at all. Peter tells us that God has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Thus we have all the scripture God intended us to have in the sixty-six books of today’s Bible. It would no doubt be interesting to read some of the “lost books,” but they would not add to God’s revelation to us. We need no other new revelations or other ancient books to give us what we need to please God.


If you are a follower of the old “Andy Griffith Show,” you will well remember Otis, the town drunk, who periodically checks himself into jail to sleep off his hangover. Otis is a lovable character, who never hurts anybody else, although he doesn’t know how to handle the bottle.

One show had an interesting development. Otis received a letter from his brother, telling him he was coming to visit. Otis had foolishly told his brother that he was a deputy sheriff, and didn’t know what to do. Andy, who always tried to accommodate anyone, offered to let Otis become a temporary deputy, only while his brother was in town. The catch was that Otis had to stay sober. Of course, his wife wouldn’t believe it was true until he destroyed his hidden liquor at home.

Everything went according to plan when his brother came, and Otis was even strong enough to refuse to drink on duty when his brother asked him to go get a drink. Otis wanted to make sure that his brother knew that he was a success, not the failure that his brother expected him to be.

But then something completely unexpected happened. Otis kept expecting to get caught in his masquerade, but then his brother did the unimaginable. As Otis looked on in surprise, his brother came into the jail drunk, and checked himself in just like Otis did every weekend. The brother was appropriately sorry as Otis lectured him on how he had let down the whole family by his actions.

Andy’s lesson to Otis was that he shouldn’t have been so self-conscious about trying to impress others. But I believe there was another lesson. Otis had the chance to see himself as he really was. He had a chance to hear, “Thou art the man.”

You see, when King David stole Uriah’s wife, and then had Uriah killed to cover up his sin, he thought he really had covered up everything. But then Nathan told him a story about a rich man who took a poor man’s one ewe lamb to feed a traveling visitor. David was incensed about this man’s wickedness and vowed a fourfold retribution, and that the man should die. Nathan boldly concluded, “Thou art the man” (2 Samuel 12:7). To his credit, David responded in penitence, and accepted his punishment. But Otis never changed. He never reformed. He could see how his brother embarrassed him, but he never saw himself. How about you? Have you had a “Thou art the man” experience? How did you respond?


Tram Sessions, member of the Alabama state legislature, clipped a poem from a magazine and mailed it to University of Alabama Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Bryant liked the poem so much that he always carried a copy in his wallet until his death. The poem gives us all something to think about as we begin each new day.

“This is the beginning of a new day.

God has given me this day to use as I will.

I can waste it or use it for good.

What I do today is very important because I am

Exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever,

Leaving something in its place I have traded for it.

I want it to be a gain, not loss—good, not evil!

Success, not failure in order that I

Shall not forget the price I paid.”

—W. Heartsill Wilson

There is a great emphasis in scripture on today.

Jesus promised the penitent thief, “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

“But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 13:13).

 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Today will be soon be gone. What will you leave in its place? Why wait to serve and obey Him?


Dealing with laryngitis was a new experience for me. I had experienced sore throats before, but I had never lost my voice. It was strange to try to talk, and have little or nothing come out. It is hard enough to communicate through those speakers at the restaurant drive through under normal circumstances, but I can attest that it is impossible with laryngitis! The more I tried to speak up to let my voice be heard, the less volume I had! It was also hard to communicate to the hard of hearing, and to those who were in noisy places.

Laryngitis is bad news for a preacher, for sure. It makes it so hard to communicate the message that the world needs to hear.

Brother David Lipscomb believed that Christians had no place in the political world, not even to vote. I have read that he only voted once in his life, and was very disappointed in the man he voted for. While I agree that there are many things about politics that are contrary to the principles of Christianity, I believe that it is not only the right, but the responsibility of Christians to vote and voice our opinions on issues. When we have  “citizen laryngitis,”with little or no voice in the political or governmental realm, we allow the devil to set public policy.

An even more serious laryngitis is “spiritual laryngitis.” We must share the gospel message to those around us. The world is a noisy place, and it very easily drowns out our voice if we are not persistent in speaking out. We may even feel like we should just give up. That is the way Jeremiah felt. “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (Jeremiah 20:9). The burning fire of the word in the heart will cure spiritual laryngitis.

There are also those around us who are hard of hearing, spiritually speaking. Paul warned, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Even in that situation, we must continue to speak out the truth of God. “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry’ (2 Timothy 4:3-5). The cure for the religious fables of our day is the truth of the gospel of Christ.


“Dummer” students? There are no more Dummer students since the 2004-2005 school year. It’s not that they got smarter, it’s just that there is no more Dummer school. Over the objections of many alumni, the Governor Dummer Academy, in Newbury, MA, which opened in 1763, changed its name to The Governor’s Academy. The school, which has always carried the name of Massachusetts governor William Dummer, decided that the name was not good for public relations, and made it hard to recruit students.  It seems that too many just didn’t want to be known as Dummer students. Headmaster John Doggett said they changed the name because “rightly or wrongly, first impressions make a difference.”

Although I don’t have any relationship to the school, it  seems sad that a school that had been around for over 350 years felt like it had to change its name.

Names are important, however. “And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone” (John 1:42). That generous Levite from Cyprus, a great encourager, was renamed by the apostles from Joses to Barnabas [The son of consolation, or son of encouragement] (Acts 4:36-37).

Barnabas understood the importance of bringing Saul (later to be known as Paul) to the great missionary congregation at Antioch. “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

They wore that name of Christian with the understanding that it meant something. Peter said, “Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). 

A young soldier that had been a coward was brought before Alexander the Great. When he learned the soldier’s name was “Alexander,” he said, “Either change your name, or change your actions!” Names matter!

If we wear the name Christian, we must live a life unashamed before the world. To do anything else would simply be dumber.


The Old Testament gave elaborate ceremonies for the ordination of priests, but the New Testament contains none. There is no New Testament ordination ceremony because the New Testament teaches the priesthood of all believers. Speaking to Christians (not clergy), Peter wrote, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). He adds, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Under the Old Covenant, the priest interceded between God and man, and offered the necessary sacrifices to God. Christians, “lively [living] stones,” are “an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices.” Paul speaks of our sacrifices: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). God condemned King Saul for taking it upon himself to offer unauthorized sacrifices (1 Samuel 13:12-13; 15:22), so the priesthood of all believers is a significant change.

The emphasis of the New Testament is that every individual member of the church is important. “For as we have many members in one body and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5). As individual members of the body of Christ, all Christians, as a “royal priesthood,” and a “holy priesthood,” have a ministry to the world. There is no need for any other earthly priesthood to intercede for us with God. We all may approach God directly through prayer. At the same time, each member of this “holy priesthood” has a responsibility to seek out opportunities to minister, living a life of purity before the world.


Preachers sometimes invite their listeners to pray something such as, “God, I am sorry I have sinned. Please forgive me and let Jesus come into my heart. Thank you for forgiving me and giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.” The preacher then says, “Since you have asked Christ into your life, you are now His child and your sins are forgiven.” The problem with this, however, is that the promise of forgiveness is from man, not God. God has never promised to hear or respond to “the sinner’s prayer.”

Prayer is a privilege for God’s people. James said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b). Peter quoted Psalm 34:15-16, saying “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (1 Peter 3:12). Solomon warned, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverbs 28:9). The psalmist spoke of the dilemma of the sinner: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). 

But what about the prayers of the publican and the Pharisee? While the Pharisee prayed “with himself,” the publican, “standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Jesus concluded, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:11, 13-14). This does not set the pattern for sinners coming to Christ, however, because both the Pharisee and the publican were already in a covenant relationship with God as part of His chosen people, the Jews. They both, despite their sins, had the right to pray to God. 

What about Joel’s prophecy? He said, “It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call” (Joel 2:32). To “call upon the name of the Lord” means to make an appeal through obedience. Saul of Tarsus spent three days in prayer and fasting, but did not receive salvation from the Lord until he called upon the Lord through obedience. Ananias told him, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). In his baptism, he called on the name of the Lord and his sins were washed away. He would not have been saved if he had merely prayed “the sinner’s prayer,” and had refused to obey the Lord’s command. Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name I will do it” (John 14.14). This is not a blanket promise to any person, but to those who follow Him and have the right to ask things in His name, by His authority. This promise is to the children of God. In the very next verse? He puts it simply, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). The multitudes cried out at Pentecost, “What shall we do?” Peter did not respond, “Pray the sinner’s prayer,” but “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:37-38). We will be saved if we do what the believers of Pentecost did.


It was a terribly hectic day at the doctor’s office. And it was made worse by the new receptionist who was trying very hard to cope with the chaos, but just could not get it all together. Answering the phone, checking in new patients, and doing so many new things was just more than the new receptionist could handle. The psychiatrist had taken all he could, but finally had to correct her phone answering technique. “When you answer the phone,” he said, “just say we’re terribly busy today.  Please don’t say it’s a madhouse around here.”

What is it like in your life? Are you so busy some of these days that you don’t know what to do next? If you are retired, do you sometimes wonder how you had time to go to work? It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between just being very busy and living in a madhouse, isn’t it?

Jesus was also extremely busy, but He still had time to “get away from it all” to spend time communing with His Heavenly Father. “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth” (Mark 1:35-38). Simon’s comment, “All men seek for thee,” demonstrates how busy He was, and how many claims were made on His time and energy. But there was still time for prayer, for time with friends like Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, and to bless children.

Even in the midst of the busy pace of life, however, Jesus offers us peace. He said, “These things 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). 

There is tribulation in the world, but He offers peace.

He says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Maybe it is time to give some of your burdens to Him, and take up His yoke.


Lost finally solved its problem.  No more stolen signs. No more lost deliveries. No more confusion. Or at least we would hope so.

On average, Lost lost a road sign every year, and it had a perennial problem of lost deliveries. People loved to come to Lost to have their pictures taken, standing there with a bewildered expression, with a Lost  road sign in the background.

The problem is solved, though, because the small Scottish village of Lost changed  its name to “Lost Farm.” Local official Bruce Luffman told Reuters News Service that in addition to the lost road signs, “Deliveries get lost because they’ve got no idea where ‘Lost’ is, and it’s very confusing” (World, March 13, 2004).

The dictionary defines “lost” as “not made use of, won, or claimed; unable to find the way; no longer visible; lacking assurance or self-confidence: helpless; ruined or destroyed physically or morally: desperate; no longer possessed, no longer known; taken away or beyond reach or attainment: denied; hardened, insensible; absorbed, rapt (as in reverie).” As I read that lengthy definition, I noticed that there is not even one sense in which lost is a good thing, with the exception of the very last one, of being “lost in reverie.”

How bad is it to be lost? Have you ever been so lost that you just had no idea whatsoever where you were? Have you been so lost that you never could have found your way back without the help of someone else?

Much of the time when we are lost, we are not really lost. We may be a bit confused, but we know if we will just backtrack a little bit, or even stoop to breaking the secret men’s code [You can’t admit you are lost], and actually ask for directions, we can find our way. But when we think of being lost spiritually, we realize that the one who is lost is not just lost but dead. When the prodigal returned, the loving father said, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found” (Luke 15:24).

Since being lost is so serious, it is imperative to do all we can to reach others. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul talks about the treasure of the gospel, a treasure that must be shared with others. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (3-4). Paul says that we don’t preach ourselves, but the wonderful message of Christ, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (7). There is power in the gospel! The lost are counting on us to share the good news with them. Do it today!


A farmer came and asked his neighbor if he could borrow his rope. The neighbor said, “No, I can’t let you borrow it.” 

“Why not,” he replied. 

“Because I’m using it to tie up my milk.”

“But you can’t tie up milk with a rope.”

“I know, but when you don’t want to do something, one excuse is as good as another.”

As a preacher, I often hear excuses from people for why they don’t want to do something, and very often they fall in the category of “tying up milk.” I had a teacher in high school who really stressed to us that there is a big difference between an excuse and a reason. If you came into his class and said, “My excuse for being late is … ,” or “My excuse for not having my homework done is … ,” he would say, “I don’t want an excuse, I want a reason!”

Have you been planning to get back in church, read your Bible more, or be baptized? Have you been planning to start coming on Sunday nights or Wednesday nights? Have you been planning to volunteer to teach a class, work with VBS or Lads to Leaders, or do something else you should do? Do you have a reason? Or is it an excuse for not doing what you should do? 

Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He puts it pretty plainly doesn’t He? There it is in black and white. You may make all the excuses you want to, but if you are not obeying the Lord, you don’t love Him. Is it time to take some action? 

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49).


Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you ran the world? You could probably think of many changes you would make. The world would no doubt be a better place if you were running the world.

Walter Waldheim comments: “If children were allowed to run the country, we’d have soda flowing out of the drinking fountains, bridges built with Tinkertoys, styrofoam airliners, and bad countries would have to play by themselves.”

In many ways, our generation has failed the world. We have allowed our world to be a place filled with violence and ugliness. My prayer is that the next generation will do better than we have.

Perhaps this is why Jesus was known as One Who welcomed the children. The disciples just knew that He was too busy to be bothered by the children. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. And he took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:14-16).

What does it mean to be a child in the kingdom of God? Children often have beautiful characteristics such as optimism and trust. They just know that Daddy can fix anything, and that Mother’s kiss can cure any injury. They can see the wonder in the commonplace things of the world, and time provides the opportunity to learn and grow. And of course, one of the most enduring characteristics of children is that they forgive so easily. Rather than harboring grudges and ill feelings, they quickly make up. Life is too short for fussing and feuding. And if someone won’t play right, they just may have to play by themselves.

Have you received the kingdom of God as a little child? When the people of Samaria “believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12).


Webster defines it this way: con•text \ n [ME, weaving together of words, fr. L contextus connection of words] 1: the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light upon its meaning 2: MILIEU, ENVIRONMENT.

One of the most important elements to consider in hermeneutics [a fancy word for Bible interpretation] is context. The context often makes all the difference between understanding and misunderstanding a passage. The Bible has been divided into chapters and verses for our convenience. Without these divisions, it would be much harder to find things in the Bible. It also causes many problems, though, because the chapter and verse divisions tend to make us ignore context. We tend to think that the verse or chapter stands alone, which is almost always not correct.

Our communication is based on letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, etc. Many Bible verses are simply parts of longer sentences, and thus cannot be properly understood without considering the rest of the sentence. Further, a sentence often cannot be understood without considering the paragraph in which it is found. Beyond this, a paragraph often cannot be understood without considering the surrounding chapters, the whole book, or the entire Bible. All of this is context.

Consider this example of stringing together individual Bible passages without consideration of context:

“Then Judas, which had betrayed him … cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:3-5). “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). “And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:27).

Consideration of the context is so important, because without it, we run the risk of making the Bible say what we want it to say. Instead, we need to let the Bible speak, and learn what it really says, not just what we want or expect it to say. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). Context would tell us that it is not just any truth that makes us free, but the truth of God’s Word. And if we love truth as we should, we will make sure that we consider context.


Benjamin Hapgood Burt (1880-1950) wrote the following song in 1933:

“One evening in October, when I was one-third sober,

An’ taking home a ‘load’ with manly pride;

My poor feet began to stutter, so I lay down in the gutter,

And a pig came up an’ lay down by my side;

Then we sang ‘It’s all fair weather when good friends get together,’

Till a lady passing by was heard to say:

‘You can tell a man who “boozes” by the company he chooses’

And the pig got up and slowly walked away.”

Many have made light of the sin of drunkenness. Dean Martin, the singer and actor, joked, “You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.” Humorist Robert Benchley (1889-1945) was scolded by a friend, “Don’t you know alcohol is slow poison?” Benchley replied, “So who’s in a hurry?”

Drinking alcohol is no joke, however. The drinker likes to overlook the lives ruined and ended by the drunk driver, and the families destroyed by alcohol. Solomon said, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1). Alcohol deceives every day, because the drinker sees neither the damage he causes, nor the foolishness he spouts. Over two hundred years ago, Samuel Johnson said, “One of the disadvantages of wine is that it makes a man mistake words for thoughts.”

Solomon also said, “They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Proverbs 23:30-35).


In her best-selling book about punctuation, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation,  Lynn Truss made a striking point concerning the way punctuation can change a sentence (New York: Gotham Books, 2004, p. 74). She cites Luke 23:43 as an example. The King James Version renders the verse, “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” Thus Jesus promised the repentant “thief on the cross” that they would be together in paradise that day. 

As Truss points out, however, the preferred Roman Catholic rendering of the verse is “Verily I say unto thee this day, Thou shalt be with me in paradise.” Notice the subtle change by moving the comma. While the KJV gives the understanding that Jesus and the thief would be together in paradise that very day, the sense of the Catholic rendering is that while Jesus and the thief would be together in paradise at some point, the time is unspecified. 

Why does this comma make any difference? The reason the placement of the comma matters is the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, defined as a place intermediate between heaven and earth, where the dead who have not done sufficient penance in life may endure suffering for a certain period of time to satisfy the demands of justice left from life. Under current teaching about purgatory, the righteous on earth can pray, burn candles, and do works of penance to help those in purgatory make that last step from temporary suffering to heaven. 

The choice of where to put the comma in Luke 23:43 is one that the translators have made, since the original autographs of the Greek do not contain commas. (Biblical Hebrew does not even have vowels!) Wherever we place the comma, however, there is no mention in the Bible of purgatory. Two false doctrines—original sin and salvation through meritorious works, made the idea of purgatory necessary. Let us be sure that we do not read into the text those things which are not there!


Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) was a writer and physician, and the father of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Dr. Holmes, Sr. loved to be flattered, and in his old age he took advantage of his loss of hearing to get more flattery. When someone would compliment him, he would say, “I am a trifle deaf, you know. Do you mind repeating that a little louder.” The usual result was a repeated and broadened compliment, A LITTLE LOUDER.

Who among us does not like to be praised and flattered? Praise is valuable, but we have to be careful with flattery. When Eddie Haskel “complimented” Mrs. Cleaver on the old Leave it to Beaver show, his flattery was dripping with insincerity. Someone has said, “Flattery is like chewing gum─enjoy it briefly, but don’t swallow it.”

On the other hand, though, sincere praise and commendation may be just what many of us need. One of the great servants in the early church was a man named Joses, a Levite from Cyprus, who “having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37). Because of his great works in the kingdom, the apostles renamed him Barnabas, or “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36). 

This Levite from Cyprus had a tremendous effect on the early church. “For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord” (Acts 11:24). Without his influence, the church at Jerusalem might have never accepted Paul (Acts 9:27). His work as a missionary was invaluable to the spread of the gospel. He was able to have such a significant impact because he was an encourager.

The world, and the church, are both filled with people who just need to hear a good word some time. Many struggle through day after day, unable to see anything or anyone to cheer them on their way. You could just make someone’s day, just by saying the right thing. They don’t need dishonest flattery, but honest encouragement and appreciation could make such a great difference. We’re all “a trifle deaf” when it comes to hearing compliments and good things. I challenge you to be a Barnabas this week!


Joe Theismann had a very successful NFL career playing quarterback for the Washington Redskins (now Commanders) for twelve seasons. He led them to two Super Bowls, and was an all-pro. At Notre Dame he set several records, and had a 20-3-2 record as a starter. He was in contention for the Heisman trophy in 1971, when Notre Dame publicity man Roger Valdiserri  insisted he should begin pronouncing his name to rhyme with Heisman (as he still pronounces it today), although he had always pronounced his name “Theesman.” The ploy did not work, as he came in second in the voting behind Jim Plunkett of Stanford.

I suppose many of us would change our names if it meant fame and fortune for us. Biblical name changes have had much more significance, however. At the age of ninety-nine,  Abram who fell on his face before the LORD, as the LORD said, “As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee” (Genesis 17:4-6). With God’s renewal of the promised blessing, Abram, “exalted father,”  becomes Abraham, “father of many nations.”

After a night wrestling with the angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name meant  “supplanter,” or “deceiver” became Israel, “Prince of God.” The father of the twelve patriarchs was a changed man, with a new outlook.

Other significant name changes include Joses, renamed Barnabas, “son of consolation,” or “son of encouragement,” by the apostles (Acts 4:36), and Simon, called Cephas, or Peter, “a stone,” by Jesus (John 1:42).

Seeing the age of the coming Messiah, the prophet predicted, “the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name” (Isaiah 62:2). Peter commanded, “if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26) Since that time only those who have obeyed Him may rightfully wear this new name. Do you wear the name Christian? Does your life bring honor to this name?