Is Facebook A Waste of Time Or Does it Save Time?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

It’s amusing when I hear people say things like, “I never have time to read my e-mail.” Fact is, e-mail saves time. You can reach 100 people with one mass e-mail instead of taking the time to call them one by one, or even mail 100 letters. Several times, these people will ask why they did not know something was going on, and I will tell them I sent them an e-mail. They defiantly respond, “I don’t read my e-mail.” Is it my fault they don’t read their e-mail and don’t know what is going on?

Now, with the popularity of Facebook, I still find people who think it is trivial and a waste of time, when in reality it is very useful. Just this week, I got a call that a Bible student of mine, had been rushed to the hospital and was not expected to live. Immediately I got on Facebook and several people saw my post and started praying. Later in the same day, I was conducting one of my weekly group Bible studies. Someone commented that they don’t get on Facebook because they don’t have time to read everyone’s trivial posts. I did not say anything, but I thought, asking someone to pray for a dying friend is not a trivial post. This is just one example of how Facebook can be used to quickly share valid information with hundreds of people.

I get amused when people tell me they don’t have time for Facebook, because I am on all the time, and I am also, frankly, one of the most busiest people I know. I log on in the morning, right after my prayer and devotionals, and as I read the statuses of my friends, in seconds, I see who is feeling down and in need of prayer and even a call or visit. I see who is struggling with their relationship with God, family and friends. I see praise reports. People share thoughts on Scripture that I can use later in my personal and group Bible studies and even apply to myself. That to me, is not a waste of time, or something I should be too busy for.  

Facebook does not even need to take extra time from my day. It allows me to use my down time more wisely. I do not text and drive, but with my android phone, I do check out Facebook while sitting at red lights and in traffic jams. I was going to be sitting at the red light anyway so I might as well be doing something useful, like Facebook. Same goes for when I duck into a Taco Bell for lunch, or am sitting in the doctors waiting room, or waiting for my next appointment to show up. I don’t see how people can say they are too busy for Facebook, or it is a waste of time, when I don’t use any extra time or effort to do it.

As Christians we need, to be good stewards of our time as well as money. Facebook is something I have implemented into my daily routine, to help me be more productive with my time. Time is more precious than money. Time is the substance of life. Life is a gift from God and I want to make the most of it. Facebook helps me do just that.

Jesus Wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 5

I am writing tonight from the dark and stormy Tampa Bay area.

 

Jesus wept: The Bible and Human Emotions, Lesson 5.

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“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared” (Psalm 130:3, 4, NIV).

I am so glad we have a God who does not hold our mistakes against us. I am grateful also for friends who forgive and forget so easily. When I was in junior high, I remember we used to tease a kid in our class thinking it was all in good fun. We did not realize how hurtful we were. Years later, as a Pathfinder club leader I had to counsel some kids one night for teasing one of the other kids, and making them upset. On the way home that evening, I realized that I had caused the same pain to the kid in my class years before. I felt bad, so that night I sent them an e-mail and apologized for my behavior years ago. The next morning, when I got up, there was an e-mail telling me they do not remember me teasing them. They said all they remember is that I have been a good friend for over 30 years. I just thought, “Wow!” I want to be loving and forgiving like that.

A few years ago, when I had not been in Tampa long at all, I said something (Its always my mouth that gets me in trouble) that I should not have said to another elder in the church. I called and apologized later, and the other elder forgave me very quickly. Still, I felt awkward and foolish for how I had acted. Ever since then the elder has always been very nice to me, but up until just here lately, I have always felt very awkward around this person. Then one day he and I were talking together, having a very friendly conversation when it dawned on me, that this elder does not even remember the situation that has me feeling embarrassed every time I see him. I told myself that if he has forgiven me and forgotten about it, then I should forgive myself and forget about it.

Jesus says, “freely ye have received, freely give.” Matthew 10:8. I believe this applies also with forgiveness. We need to be very forgiving of others, like my friends have been with me. Likewise we need to forgive ourselves.

Acts 25-28; Almost Thou Persuadest me

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 41.

This chapter is based on Acts 25:13-27; 26.

Deeply affected, Agrippa for the moment lost sight of his surroundings and the dignity of his position. Conscious only of the truths which he had heard, seeing only the humble prisoner standing before him as God’s ambassador, he answered involuntarily, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” 

     Earnestly the apostle made answer, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am,” adding, as he raised his fettered hands, “except these bonds.”  {AA 438.2} 

The key to overcoming covetousness is to appreciate the things we have. When we have Jesus we will no longer love and long for the things of this world. Instead we, like Paul will long for the world to have what we have. We will not be jealous of those with material treasures, but will long for them to have what we have which is Jesus.

Paul stood there in bonds before Agrippa in all of his glory and splendor but did not wish to have anything Agrippa had. Instead he wanted Agrippa to have what he had. If we truly love Jesus and believe God truly loves us and has given us everything we need to be happy, even God’s own Son, we too will no longer want what the world has but will long for the world to have what we have.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of The Cross.

Acts 20-24; The Life of The Gospel Worker

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves [with him].  Psalms 126:5-6

When God sends you out to work in his vineyard, as He did Paul, there is much joy but also amid much sacrifice and sorrow. It is not only a sacrifice for the gospel worker, but for their family and friends as well. Still, the love of Christ who left all for us, compels us to leave all for Him.

So to the apostle Paul, praying in the temple at Jerusalem, came the message, “Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” [Acts 22:21.] So those who are called to unite with Christ must leave all in order to follow Him. Old associations must be broken up, plans of life relinquished, earthly hopes surrendered. In toil and tears, in solitude and through sacrifice, must the seed be sown.   

     Those who consecrate body, soul, and spirit to God, will constantly receive a new endowment of physical, mental, and spiritual power. The inexhaustible supplies of heaven are at their command. Christ gives them the breath of His own Spirit, the life of His own life. The Holy Spirit puts forth His highest energies to work in heart and mind. The grace of God enlarges and multiplies their faculties, and every perfection of the divine nature comes to their assistance in the work of saving souls. Through co-operation with Christ, they are made complete in Him, and in their human weakness they are enabled to do the deeds of Omnipotence. 

     The Redeemer will not accept divided service. Daily the worker for God must learn the meaning of self-surrender. He must study the word of God, learning its meaning and obeying its precepts. Thus he may reach the standard of Christian excellence. Day by day God works with him, perfecting the character that is to stand in the time of final test. And day by day the believer is working out before men and angels a sublime experiment, showing what the gospel can do for fallen human beings.  –Gospel Workers 112-113.

Acts 16-20; Get your Own Relationship

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

This morning, as I reading through Acts 16-20, I first noticed a trend, confirming that we each need to have our own relationship with Christ. In chapter 17 verse 11, it reads, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  I find so much in this one verse. 1. They did not take Pau’s word for anything, but checked out what the Scriptures said. 2. They did not casually read. They searched. 3. They did this every day. They were developing their own relationship with God.

Later, in chapter 19 verses 13-17 I read, “Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.  And there were seven sons of [one] Sceva, a Jew, [and] chief of the priests, which did so.  And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.”

These vagabond Jews, were not sincere. They were trying to use the power of God for magic, to make money for themselves. This is something I feel a lot of Christians even have trouble understanding. The power of God is not magic. It is not mystical. Magic requires no relationship, or connection. It is quite legalistic actually. All the wonderful and even miraculous things accomplished by Christ and His followers were done, not through magic, but through a relationship and process. The first clue that these vagabond Jews had no relationship with Jesus is seen in the fact that they mention Paul’s name right along with Jesus. They had no connection to Jesus themselves, so they mention the name of someone who did. That did not work. They needed their own relationship with Jesus. If they had known Jesus for themselves, they would have had no need to mention Paul. So today, when sharing Jesus, if we have a real relationship with Him, we need not mention what others know about Him, or what He has done for other people. We need only mention what great things He has done for us personally. Our relationship with Him should stand on its own merit.

Acts 15; Jew And Gentile

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 19.

This chapter is based on Acts Acts 15:1-35.

 I really love Peter’s humility in this story. Some try to claim that Peter was the first pope but Peter did present himself as infallible and if he was a pope then wouldn’t the church have just let his word settle this debate in Acts 15. Peter himself knows there is only one who is infallible and that is God Himself and that there is no man here on earth who can take His place.

Secondly I like how Peter accepted Paul’s rebuke when Paul tells his own version of the story of Acts 15 in Galatians 2. Peter does not respond to Paul saying, “Hey I have been in this church for years. You can’t talk to me like that! You are a new comer I have been here since the beginning.” No, Peter realizes that the Holy Spirit was speaking through Paul. Would that we all would realize that God can use anyone to correct us! Just because we may have been in the church longer does not mean cannot learn from new members. Even Peter learned from the new members. Peter did not resent being corrected by Paul, but later referred to him as his beloved brother in his own letter.

Acts 14;Preaching Among The Heathen

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 18.

This chapter is based on Acts 14:1-26.

But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. John 12:10-11.

 

I remember as a young boy going to see the Harlem Globtrotters. No matter how hard their arch rivals the Washington Generals tried to beat them they never could. The globtrotters won over 12,000 straight games against them. It’s the same with the Jesus and the devil. No matter how hard Satan tries he just can’t win for losing. For example Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead which was a big blow to Satan’s campaign. So what does he do? He tries to get the leaders to kill Lazarus now. Really? Like Jesus isn’t going to just turn around and raise him to life again and make an even more amazing miracle.

In Romans 8:28 Paul says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” Christians can’t lose!

Those who stand on the side of truth can only win. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.  2 Corinthians 13:8

 

The chapter Preaching Among the Heathen, talks about the victories of God’s people amidst great opposition.

From Antioch in Pisidia, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium. In this place, as at Antioch, they began their labors in the synagogue of their own people. They met with marked success; “a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed.” But in Iconium, as in other places where the apostles labored, “the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.”  {AA 177.1} 

     The apostles, however, were not turned aside from their mission, for many were accepting the gospel of Christ. In the face of opposition, envy, and prejudice they went on with their work, “speaking boldly in the Lord,” and God “gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.” These evidences of divine approval had a powerful influence on those whose minds were open to conviction, and converts to the gospel multiplied.

The increasing popularity of the message borne by the apostles, filled the unbelieving Jews with envy and hatred, and they determined to stop the labors of Paul and Barnabas at once. By means of false and exaggerated reports they led the authorities to fear that the entire city was in danger of being incited to insurrection. They declared that large numbers were attaching themselves to the apostles and suggested that it was for secret and dangerous designs.  {AA 178.1} 

     In consequence of these charges the disciples were repeatedly brought before the authorities; but their defense was so clear and sensible, and their statement of what they were teaching so calm and comprehensive, that a strong influence was exerted in their favor. Although the magistrates were prejudiced against them by the false statements they had heard, they dared not condemn them. They could but acknowledge that the teachings of Paul and Barnabas tended to make men virtuous, law-abiding citizens, and that the morals and order of the city would improve if the truths taught by the apostles were accepted.  {AA 178.2} 

 

  In every age and in every land, God’s messengers have been called upon to meet bitter opposition from those who deliberately chose to reject the light of heaven. Often, by misrepresentation and falsehood, the enemies of the gospel have seemingly triumphed, closing the doors by which God’s messengers might gain access to the people. But these doors cannot remain forever closed, and often, as God’s servants have returned after a time to resume their labors, the Lord has wrought mightily in their behalf, enabling them to establish memorials to the glory of His name.  {AA 179.2} 

 

The labors of Paul and Barnabas at Lystra were suddenly checked by the malice of “certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium,” who, upon learning of the success of the apostles’ work among the Lycaonians, had determined to follow them and persecute them. On arriving at Lystra, these Jews soon succeeded in inspiring the people with the same bitterness of spirit that actuated their own minds. By words of misrepresentation and calumny those who had recently regarded Paul and Barnabas as divine beings were persuaded that in reality the apostles were worse than murderers and were deserving of death.  {AA 183.1} 

     The disappointment that the Lystrians had suffered in being refused the privilege of offering sacrifice to the apostles, prepared them to turn against Paul and Barnabas with an enthusiasm approaching that with which they had hailed them as gods. Incited by the Jews, they planned to attack the apostles by force. The Jews charged them not to allow Paul an opportunity to speak, alleging that if they were to grant him this privilege, he would bewitch the people.  {AA 183.2} 

 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Acts 13; Paul and Mark

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of The Apostles Chapter 17

This chapter is based on Acts 13:4-52.

  Paul and his company continued their journey, going to Perga, in Pamphylia. Their way was toilsome; they encountered hardships and privations, and were beset with dangers on every side. In the towns and cities through which they passed, and along the lonely highways, they were surrounded by dangers seen and unseen. But Paul and Barnabas had learned to trust God’s power to deliver. Their hearts were filled with fervent love for perishing souls. As faithful shepherds in search of the lost sheep, they gave no thought to their own ease and convenience. Forgetful of self, they faltered not when weary, hungry, and cold. They had in view but one object–the salvation of those who had wandered far from the fold.  {AA 169.2} 
     It was here that Mark, overwhelmed with fear and discouragement, wavered for a time in his purpose to give himself wholeheartedly to the Lord’s work. Unused to hardships, he was disheartened by the perils and privations of the way. He had labored with success under favorable circumstances; but now, amidst the opposition and perils that so often beset the pioneer worker, he failed to endure hardness as a good soldier of the cross. He had yet to learn to face danger and persecution and adversity with a brave heart. As the apostles advanced, and still greater difficulties were apprehended, Mark was intimidated and, losing all courage, refused to go farther and returned to Jerusalem.  {AA 169.3} 
     This desertion caused Paul to judge Mark unfavorably, and even severely, for a time. Barnabas, on the other hand, was inclined to excuse him because of his inexperience. He felt anxious that Mark should not abandon the ministry, for he saw in him qualifications that would fit him to be a useful worker for Christ. In after years his solicitude in Mark’s behalf was richly rewarded, for the young man gave himself unreservedly to the Lord and to the work of proclaiming the gospel message in difficult fields. Under the blessing of God, and the wise training of Barnabas, he developed into a valuable worker.  {AA 170.1} 
     Paul was afterward reconciled to Mark and received him as a fellow laborer. He also recommended him to the Colossians as one who was a fellow worker “unto the kingdom of God,” and “a comfort unto me.” Colossians 4:11. Again, not long before his own death, he spoke of Mark as “profitable” to him “for the ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:11.  {AA 170.2} 

Praise God that He was able to use Mark in the ministry even if he did not for a while meet Paul’s approval. Man does not determine our ministry, God does. Thank God for the encouragement of Barnabas. I am also glad that Paul and Mark patched things up.

You may find more studies and devtionals at In Light Of The Cross.

Acts 9-12; Pride and Humility

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapters 14 and 15.

These chapters are based on Acts 9-12

As I read these two chapters here is what jumped out at me. First we see a man who has come to Peter to learn more about Jesus. Here is what happens, “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him]. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”  Acts 10:25-26 While the pope and many other religious leaders for that matter will accept worship and homage from others, not Peter! He realizes he is just a man and refuses to let anyone worship him. According to Catholic church tradition Peter was the first pope but Peter would never assume the title Vicar of Christ and would never allow himself to be worshiped. Peter realized worshiping humans in the place of God is blasphemy.

Later in Acts 12 let’s look at what happened, “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, [saying, It is] the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied.  Acts 12:21-24.

 

Unlike Peter, Herod accepts being worshiped as a god and we see what happened. Here is the thing that is so ironic to me. Peter was a lot closer to being like God than Herod was and yet, Peter refused to be put on that pedestal while Herod who was nothing like God at all accepts the praises of the people. My point is, the closer we are to being like Christ the less boastful we will be. Pride is a sure sign that we are nowhere close to Jesus.

I have seen this contrast between Peter and Herod many times, on a much smaller scale of course. One such incident really amuses me to this day. My father had been the church treasure for many years and people loved the job that he did. One year though a long long time ago, my dad decides to take a break and made them pick someone else. When they asked this someone else of course they had no idea they were only being asked because my dad refused the position for that year. This someone then goes to my parents and tells them the reason they were picked instead of my dad (which they weren’t my dad was asked first and turned it down) was because they had formal training and a degree. Before the year was up this someone had made such a mess of the books that my dad had to take back over to straighten everything out. My dad is not one to brag but I will. My dad was the humble one in this story but doing the better job, while this someone had all the pride but could not do the job. That is just human nature though, and so much like all of us. On an magnificantly larger scale, we have Herod who was proud for no reason, while Peter who was very close to Jesus practiced humility. Reminds you of Lucifer who wanted to exalt himself above God, and then God who became a man and a servant to die for us all.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

Acts 9; From Persecutor to Disciple

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 12

This chapter is based on Acts 9:1-18.

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, [even] Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts 9:17-18

As soon as Saul was converted he was introduced to Ananias and was baptized into the church. He had been called by God. “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ”.  Galatians 1:12 Still God had an elder lay hands on him in Acts 9 and be baptized into the church.

Thus Jesus gave sanction to the authority of His organized church and placed Saul in connection with His appointed agencies on earth. Christ had now a church as His representative on earth, and to it belonged the work of directing the repentant sinner in the way of life.  {AA 122.2} 

 

Many have an idea that they are responsible to Christ alone for their light and experience, independent of His recognized followers on earth. Jesus is the friend of sinners, and His heart is touched with their woe. He has all power, both in heaven and on earth; but He respects the means that He has ordained for the enlightenment and salvation of men; He directs sinners to the church, which He has made a channel of light to the world.  {AA 122.3} 

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light Of the Cross.