Don’t Labor in Vain Day

Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain (Ps. 127:1, HCSB).

Most of us have worked hard to get where we are today. If you’re like my wife and me, you periodically reflect back over your years of laboring. In our case, we can hardly believe it’s been 43 years. I was in my second year of seminary in Scotland.

We had just enough savings between us to squeak through the year. By the time we got back to the States, I had decided not to pursue ministry as a profession but was unclear about what I would do as an alternative. We borrowed money from my mother for the first month’s rent and security deposit on an apartment. No furniture, no job, no prospects, and practically no money — our future was uncertain, but that didn’t seem to matter.

We sat on the floor of the apartment the day we took possession, looked around, and couldn’t have been happier. We were fueled by love, hope, and faith. We knew we’d be fine.

I wonder, if we were faced with the same circumstances today, would we be as confident and hopeful? What might we be thinking, feeling, and saying to each other? Maybe I’d be ashamed that I’d put us in such a position. Perhaps I’d be fearful about how to navigate out of that rut at the age of 67. We wouldn’t want to impose on our children for help. Would the tenderness and partnership between us still be there — enough to see us through? Or would we turn on each other, cast blame, and make matters worse? I’d like to think that enough love, hope, and faith are still there so that we’d be able to face those circumstances together and find our way through it with the Lord.

Thankfully, that’s not our situation. However, this forces some questions: Who has been building the “house” of our lives over the years? Were we? Was the Lord? Did we build it and invite Him in, or did He build it and invite us in? These are tough questions. It’s easy to rationalize that we were trusting Him for direction and outcomes — diligently doing our part to bang the nails with the hammer He gave us. The honest answer for me (my wife was and is better at this) is that there were times, even long stretches, where I “hammered” first and consulted later. There were other times, usually when I hit rough patches, that I asked my Builder-Foreman for assistance. He was always quick to respond, performing for or with me what I couldn’t accomplish on my own.

I suspect that, if you were to take a spiritual photo of the “house” of your life, it would be apparent who was building what at various points in the construction process. The better, more finished looking parts were the Lord’s craftsmanship.

The obvious do-it-yourself parts were your handiwork. Is it perfect? No. Could it have been better? Of course. If we all could retrace our steps and do it over again, knowing what we now know about His faithfulness and effectiveness, would we give Him more control over the building? You bet we would … hindsight. But here’s the thing — the house of our lives is still being built. What about the sagging ceiling in our marriages? The leaking basement in some of our family relationships? The cracked wall in certain friendships? The weakening support beams of health and finances? The broken seals in the windows of our earlier hopes and dreams? None of those are beyond repair or remodeling.

Labor Day commemorates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. We take a day off from our labors to give tribute to those who have labored before us. I’d like to propose a new holiday. We can celebrate it on the same first Monday in September. We’ll call it “Don’t Labor in Vain Day.” This is when we bring in the Inspector, take that spiritual photo, get the report, and call in the Contractor of Contractors to come in and take care of business. There’s no telling what He’ll be able to do that day. He works wonders.

You may be in a season of life where what you’re facing has required you to recalibrate your game plan, make adjustments, change your expectations, and realign your priorities. Whatever your circumstances, He who numbers every hair of your head is able to do exceedingly more with the rest of your life than what you’ve been able to do under your own labor up to this point. That’s not an idle pipe dream. It’s a promise – His promise. Let’s remember that on this Don’t Labor in Vain Day.

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This article is courtesy of Mature Living.

Steve Silver is a retired business executive, the author of New Man Journey (newmanjourney.com) and the founder of Men’s Golf Fellowship.

Free Friday! 4000 Questions and Answers on the Bible

4000 Questions and Answers on the Bible, wordsearch bibleHappy Friday everyone! Today’s free download, usually $7.95, is 4000 Questions and Answers on the Bible by A. Dana Adams.

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  • Quick guide to learning about the people and stories of the Bible
  • Explanations of the Bible as the cornerstone of Christianity
  • Descriptions on how the Bible was written and compiled
  • Detailed listings of verses that contain the essence of God’s message and a helpful summary of each Bible book

4000 Questions and Answers on the Bible has led generations of Christians into a deeper knowledge of the Bible with an easy-to-use question-and-answer format. In addition to 4000 questions and answers, you’ll find sections on how to study the Bible, the Bible as a basis of religious belief, a short history of the Bible, and a new practical course in Bible reading. This book is educational, fun, easy-to-use, and a great reference for anyone seeking answers to their Bible questions!

After you have read the book, we would love to hear what you thought in the Customer Reviews box on the bottom of the book’s page. Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Let us know!

How to Enjoy Even Deeper Discounts for Bible Tools Already On Sale

gift card, wordsearch bibleOver the next several weeks, WORDsearch will be releasing some outstanding new content for your digital library. Like we often do, these new resources will be offered at reduced prices for a short period of time. Today I’ll share a way you can enjoy an additional 17% off anything you purchase. You can do this by purchasing WORDsearch Bible Gift Cards. These are electronic gift cards for your WORDsearch account. For the next 14 days, we are offering our $120 gift cards for $100. Click here for complete details.

These Gift Cards put credit in your account for future purchases. These credits never expire, and this positive balance stays on your account until you’re ready to use it on any WORDsearch products. And, of course you can use these digital cards as gifts by emailing them to anyone, just like you would with an electronic gift certificate from other online services like Amazon.

Using a Gift Card on Any Purchase Saves You an Additional 17%
Through September 8, we’ve put our $120 gift cards on sale for just $100. That’s right. Spend $100 on a gift card (for yourself or anyone else), and what you’ve purchased will be $120 you can spend in the future. For example, let’s say you spend $100 for this $120 gift card. A month from now you might find a $200 commentary on sale for $120. Simply apply your gift card credit and it will be like you got your new commentary for half-off!

New Releases Coming That You’ll Want to Purchase with Gift Cards:
Because you subscribe to my weekly emails, I can give you advanced notices and ways of saving money like this. In the coming weeks, we are scheduled to release some highly-requested resources such as:

  • The WORD Biblical Commentary
  • Expositions on Prayer
  • Adrian Rogers Preaching Videos
  • The Ancient Christian Commentary On Scriptures
  • John Butler’s Sermon Starters
  • Pulpit Pages
  • And More!

Email a Gift Card and Bless Someone Today
When you purchase WORDsearch Bible Gift Cards, you’ll notice that within your shopping cart you’ll have the option to email your gift (with a personal note) immediately. Perhaps you know someone who uses WORDsearch or would like to start building an electronic library. Imagine his or her surprise to receive this unexpected gesture of your generosity. Just click here to get started. If you prefer to order by phone, call us at 1-800-888-9898 and mention special offer 8367. We’ll be happy to set it up for you. But hurry. This sale on $120 gift cards is only good through September 8.

expositor's bible commentary, commentary, wordsearch bibleSale Ends Sunday on The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – 65% Off
There’s still time to save 65% off The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. The EBC is one of the most respected and consulted modern commentaries in print, with the 12-volume set retailing for $364.95. Through August 31, you can add it to your digital library for only $129.95. Contributors to this commentary on the entire Bible read like a Who’s Who of Bible scholars, with names like: Carl F.H. Henry, F.F. Bruce, Walter C. Kaiser, Bruce M. Metzger, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Gordon D. Fee, and many others. Just click here. Or, call us at 1-800-888-9898. Mention special offer 8367.

WORDsearch Lesson Sale Ends Monday
This Monday is your last chance to take advantage of the WORDsearch Lesson Sale. We’ve selected 16 of our best Bible Lesson packages and put them on sale to supply you with resources for your small group studies and Sunday school. You’ll also find these packages ideal for your own personal studies of the Bible and biblical topics. Click here to browse the Lesson Sale Collection. Or, call us at 1-800-888-9898 and mention special offer 8367.

In His Service,

Jim Baird

Free Friday! Conquering Depression

wordsearch bible, christian living, booksHappy Friday everyone! Today’s featured free download is Conquering Depression: A 30-Day Plan to Finding Happiness by Mark A. Sutton and Bruce Hennigan, M.D. Click here to download.

You’re not alone in your depression. We understand! And the news gets even better. Read again 1 Peter 5:7. Did you know that God wrote that verse just for you? That’s right! God loves you. He cares for you. And that’s why you can win the battle against depression, because you’ve got God on your side. And he understands! Even if you have difficulty believing God loves you, take a moment to begin stretching your faith. We want you to pray and thank God for his love and care.

Happiness seems forever elusive as people look for the more abundant life but seem unable to find it. Depression can be a much misunderstood disease, yet there are vast numbers of Christian men and women who are looking for help with their problem.

Finally, with an interest stemming from their own experiences, Mark Sutton and Dr. Bruce Hennigan take an approach to overcoming life’s difficulties that is grounded in both spiritual and medical principles. Conquering Depression provides step-by-step encouragement and instruction to manage and win over depression.

Mark Sutton is the author of Thirty Days to a Better Marriage, and he has been a contributing author to other books. He teaches marriage seminars nearly every month across the country. He currently resides in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Bruce Hennigan is a Christian physician, a gifted playwright, and the author of Montana Holmes, a book of plays Hennigan currently makes his home in Shreveport, Louisiana.

After you have read the book, we’d love to hear what you thought in the Customer Reviews box on the bottom of the book’s page. Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Let us know!

The Pastor/Teacher’s Toolkit: Bible Dictionaries

pastor, teacher, toolkit, bible dictionary, wordsearch bible

A few weeks ago we kicked off our new Pastor/Teacher’s Toolkit series, and looked at all the ways Bible surveys can help with sermon and lesson preparation.

Today, we look at another important tool in the kit, Bible dictionaries.

The Bible is full of names, places, and terms that aren’t familiar to modern readers. But Bible dictionaries provide important background information to illuminate these, including:

  • Concise definitions of unknown words
  • Cross-references to other occurrences in Scripture
  • Historical and cultural information
  • Original language insights
  • Customs and descriptions of daily life
  • Theological observations and practical applications.

Delving into this material helps us understand what the Bible is actually saying. Bible dictionaries in print are helpful and informative, but using them in WORDsearch unlocks their potential even more.

Imagine this scenario:  You are studying Revelation 3 for a sermon or Bible study next week. When Jesus addresses the church in Laodicea in verses 15-16, He says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth”(ESV). What does Jesus mean here when he uses the term ‘lukewarm”? What would that mean to the original audience? And what is Jesus wanting the church to be like?

To begin finding answers, open Revelation 3  in WORDsearch, and right-click on the  word “lukewarm.” From there, select the option “Definition for lukewarm.” The Word Definition box opens, providing you with definitions from all of the dictionaries you own that contain an entry for that term. You can easily switch between your dictionaries to compare the various definitions and explanations.

For example, the Holman Bible Dictionary states:

LUKEWARM: Tepid; neither hot nor cold (Rev. 3:16). The city of Laodicea received its water from an aqueduct several miles long. The lukewarm water which arrived at the city served as an appropriate illustration for a tasteless, good-for-nothing Christianity.

Suppose now that you’d like to find out more information about the city of Laodicea. You can repeat the process by right-clicking on Laodicea to once again access your dictionaries and a definition. Here you learn more about the original audience and how they would interpret and understand what Jesus was saying.

Looking again at the Holman Bible Dictionary, you find:

…Laodicea is best known today to readers of Revelation where Jesus criticized Laodicea, using imagery drawn from its daily life (Rev. 3:14-22). First, Jesus said Laodicea is neither cold (like the cold, pure waters of Colossae) nor hot (like the therapeutic hot springs of Hierapolis). Laodicea is lukewarm and provides neither refreshment for the spiritually weary nor healing for the spiritually sick (Rev. 3:15-16). Despite their apparent spiritual uselessness, the Laodiceans were claiming a spiritual wealth equal to their material wealth; and further, they were claiming to have acquired both by their own efforts. In reality, however, the Laodiceans, while they may have had material wealth, were spiritually poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17)—an obvious reference to the textile and banking industry and medical school of Laodicea. According to Jesus, what the Laodiceans needed more than anything else was the true gold, white (not black) garments, and ointment that only Christ could give (Rev. 3:18). A true spiritual foundation is laid only in Christ, not human effort.

Now that you’e found these helpful insights, you can copy and paste any of the information into your word processing program – using WORDsearch’s or a different one. Having read the definitions of just two words, you now have several specific insights that help you understand Jesus’ meaning and how it can be applied to believers today.;

It is obvious from these entries that Jesus’ metaphor would have been well-understood by the Laodicean church: be hot and healing, or cool and refreshing, but don’t be lukewarm and complacent. Instead, make yourself useful to the Lord and others. Jesus is also telling the Laodiceans not to trust in their material wealth, but in Him and His saving work.

As this example shows, Bible dictionaries are an essential tool for studying God’s Word. Not only that, but looking up words in WORDsearch is easy and fun! Any time you need to know more about a person, place, event or term, you are only a few clicks away from becoming more knowledgeable student of God’s Word.

 

Free Friday! Waiting on God

andrew murray, wordsearch bible, andrew murrayHappy Friday everyone! Today’s featured free download is Waiting On God by Andrew Murray. Click here to download.

Dear soul! learn to wait on the LORD, more than watchers for the morning. All within you may be very dark; is that not the very best reason for waiting for the light of God? The first beginnings of light may be just enough to discover the darkness, and painfully to humble you on account of sin. Can you not trust the light to expel the darkness? Do believe it will. Just bow, even now, in stillness before God, and wait on Him to shine into you. Say, in humble faith, God is light, infinitely brighter and more beautiful than that of the sun. God is light: the Father. The eternal, inaccessible, and incomprehensible light: the Son. The light concentrated, and embodied, and manifested: the Spirit, the light entering and dwelling and shining in our hearts. God is light, and is here shining on my heart. 

Learning to wait on God does not happen overnight but when the discipline is learned, the life is radically changed.

In this book, Waiting on God, Rev. Andrew Murray shares his thoughts and insights to develop the discipline of waiting on God’s timing.

Andrew Murray Jr.(1828-1917) was the second child of Andrew Murray Sr., a Dutch Reformed Church missionary sent from Scotland to South Africa. Andrew Murray Jr. was Born in Cape Town, South Africa. His mother had connections with both French Huguenots and German Lutherans. Andrew was sent to Aberdeen in Scotland for his initial education together with his elder brother, John. Both remained there until they obtained their M.A. in 1845. From there they both went to the University of Utrecht where they studied theology. Both brothers were ordained by the Hague Committee of the Dutch Reformed Church on May 9, 1848 and returned to the Cape.

Andrew pastored churches in Bloemfontein, Worcester, Cape Town and Wellington, all in South Africa. Murray married Emma Rutherford in Cape Town, South Africa, on July 2, 1856. They had eight children together, four boys and four girls. He was an amazingly prolific Christian author. All of his publications were originally written in Dutch and then translated into English. As his popularity grew, Murray’s books found their way into more than twelve foreign languages during his lifetime alone.

In 1889, he was one of the founders of the South African General Mission (SAGM), along with Martha Osborn and Spencer Walton. After Martha Osborn married George Howe, they formed the South East Africa General Mission (SEAGM) in 1891. SAGM and SEAGM merged in 1894. Because its ministry had spread into other African countries, the mission’s name was changed to Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965. AEF joined with SIM in 1998 and continues to this day. Murray was an alert and intense man, and he died on January 18, 1917, four months before his eighty-ninth birthday. His burning desire to transpose all that lay on his heart and spirit to paper was revealed in the presence of several manuscripts in various stages of completion at the time of his death.

After you have read the book, we’d love to hear what you thought in the Customer Reviews box on the bottom of the book’s page. Have you read anything that has inspired you lately? Let us know!