Don’t Talk Your Dreams To Death

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

“In all toil (labor) there is profit”
Diligent work always leads to some result or profit of benefit to the worker. Most work is neither easy nor fun but it does pay the bills and provides money for doing good and having fun. Even if you have a job you enjoy, there will be  unpleasant duties. People who love to garden still must get dirty, sweaty, and dig through the soil if they want to have the flowers or produce of the garden.

“Mere talk leads to poverty”
In contrast to diligent labor, talk without action leads to poverty. Idle talking does not pay and has gotten some people fired. Grandiose plans and slick presentations may impress others but it does not pay one cent if no labor is expended to make the dream a reality.

The first obvious application—indeed the natural application—of this verse is to the business world. In the early days of personal computers —before the average person could access the Internet—a man I knew had great plans to work with realtors to put pictures of houses for sale on videodisc (pre-DVD) with sale information for agents and customers. He had a prototype system, good marketing plan, and enthusiastic presentation. He talked with people in the office about his plans and the unlimited potential for profits. One problem: he did not have customers or profit from the work because he did not get out and talk to the customers who needed the system. In short, he planned and talked his way to poverty while other people, through hard work, were able to profit from similar ideas.

The world is made up of  poor creative geniuses and  rich people of average intelligence. The difference is not what they know but by what they do.

This principle is especially important for spiritual growth. Is your spiritual life the product of hard work or mere talk?

Some people talk about “getting their life right” or “straightening up” but still hang out with ungodly friends, feed their minds with filth, and do not change. Some say they want to pray or study more—and do so year after year. Some talk about doing more things with their brethren, helping the sick or needy, or getting involved with some work in the church but do not act.

Some people realize their life is displeasing to God, is yielding undesirable consequences, and is unsatisfying so they change their behavior. Some want a closer relationship with God and execute a plan to study and pray more frequently. Some take action to involve themselves with their brethren so they can have richer and deeper fellowship with other Christians.

If you want to have a rich and meaninful spiritual life, you’ll have to work for it.

  • Romans 13:11-14 – Awake and get busy
  • Thessalonians 5:4-8 – get busy with good things
  • Ephesians 5:14-17 – wake up and make good use of your time

 “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.” Proverbs 28:19 (NIV)

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” How sad it will be for those who dreamed of a close relationship with God and their brethren, a close loving family, and a meaningful life’s work to fail because they only dreamed and did not act.

Dumbing Down Christianity

Guest Post by Phil Robertson

Did you know that 10% of church goers in America believe that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife? That really should not surprise us, since less than 20% of “church goers” will attend Sunday school this week. A lack of biblical knowledge in churches seems to be a sign of the times.

Popular Christian researcher George Barna claims people are soft when it comes to committing to God. “Americans are willing to expend some energy in religious activities such as attending church and reading the Bible, and they are willing to throw some money in the offering basket. Because of such activities, they convince themselves that they are people of genuine faith. But when it comes time to truly establishing their priorities and making a tangible commitment to knowing and loving God, and to allowing Him to change their character and lifestyle, most people stop short. We want to be ‘spiritual’ and we want to have God’s favor, but we’re not sure we want Him taking control of our lives and messing with the image and outcomes we’ve worked so hard to produce” (www.barna.org – April 18, 2006).

As frustrating as this may be for church leaders, we need to ask ourselves, “Are we seeking ways to reverse this trend or are we contributing to the problem?” It seems churches have resorted to entertaining the masses instead of educating. You may be more likely to get a drama or extravaganza when you “go to church” than a Bible class or a sermon. In fact, a local news station recently ran a story on a church that had replaced all preaching with plays.

Jesus was faced with a similar dilemma during His ministry. He knew people were not following Him for the right reasons. So, He refused to feed them. “Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:26-27).

Instead of seeking to emulate theaters and concert halls, maybe churches would have better attendance and more commitment if they to looked and acted like a church. In its infancy, Christianity was grounded in teaching and preaching the gospel of Christ. Young evangelists were admonished to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:2). Why was there such an emphasis on education? Because the gospel, and only the gospel, “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

In conclusion, this may be the most disturbing statistic. About one-third of Americans who describe themselves as “born again” believe that if a person is good enough they can earn a place in heaven. That is scary! Many in churches do not understand the most fundamental biblical doctrine – grace. No one will ever be “good enough” to go to heaven (Ephesians 2:4-9). The gospel is “good news” for this very reason. Jesus died in our place and then was raised from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8). We are saved by His blood not our own goodness (Romans 6:3-10).

However, if we do not preach it, people will not learn it. Biblical faith begins with the word of God (Romans 10:17). That is why the apostle Peter said, “Beware lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:17-18). (All statistics from http://www.barna.org)

Bible Reading With Purpose

Have you ever said or heard someone say, “I don’t understand the Bible,” or “I read the Bible, but I don’t come away with anything,”? Bible study is clearly important for the Christian because the Scriptures reveal the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-13), reveal all we need (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and will judge us (John 12:48-50). So, what can we do to profit more from our Bible study? How can we insure that we come away with something each time we read the Scriptures? Try answering these questions whenever you read the Bible:

  1. What commands are there to obey?
  2. What examples are there to follow?
  3. What sins are there to avoid?
  4. What promises are there to receive? Are those promises conditional or unconditional?
  5. What prayers can I make my own?
  6. What do I learn about God?

While this method of Bible study may not result in a complete understanding of any particular passage, it will insure that we gain something each time we read the Bible. Also, if we will apply what we learn we will grow in our faith and be pleasing to our Father. So, try reading with a purpose the next time you sit down to read the Scriptures; read to find out what God is telling you.

Simple Bible Study Principles

Prayer and study are two important ways we grow closer to God and become more like Jesus.  In prayer, we humbly come before God and bring our praise and supplications to Him.

 In study, we humbly receive His word that was revealed by His Son and the writers inspired by the Holy Spirit.  We learn principles for living by reading and meditating on God’s word.
Paul gave Timothy some advice that we should heed: give time to reading, exhortation and doctrine, 1 Timothy 4:13.

  • Reading is simply reading the word of God to know what it teaches.  We read and reread the Bible to plant the word of God in our hearts.  We may not always remember what we read, but our mind is better for having the pure thoughts of God going through it instead of the base things of the world.
  • Exhortation is the comfort and consolation taught by the word of God and motivation to do God’s commands.  We must meditate on what we read to determine how to bring our thoughts and actions under God’s rule.  We should be encouraged by what we read and endure all things for the heavenly reward.
  • Doctrine is the instruction and teaching about what we believe.  We must be able to defend our beliefs and refute false teaching.  We can only do this if we know what is commanded.  We must study doctrine to know what we must practice.

No one can study for us.  We will be accountable before God for our preparation while on earth.  This duty must not be shirked. The more we study the more we will appreciate the wonderful book and will desire its company often.

Problems With Greek Word Studies: Word Origin

A problem that contributes to our misunderstanding of the Bible and disagreements with one another is misuse of the ancient languages in which the Bible was written: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Usually, Greek is the most misused since most students can grasp basic Greek much easier than Hebrew or Aramaic. Additionally, there are many Greek language resources—lexicons, dictionaries, and word studies—available to the average student.

However, the availability of Greek resources may be the source of the problem. Those who know little Greek may often boast that they can still do a word study. As Phil Roberts said in a lecture at Florida College, linguists would argue that only someone with intimate knowledge of the Greek should do a word study. A true word study considers the use of the word in both the Bible and extra-biblical literature as well as its varied uses. Yet the origin of the word is of little use in determining what a word means in a specific context.

Words have meaning. However, Bible students are often accustomed to thinking that Bible words have a real or true meaning that is somehow missing in the English text. Often a study of a Bible passage involves much time looking for the true meaning of the words in the text. This approach fails to recognize that words only have meaning within the larger structure of the sentence, paragraph, or entire text.

Consider the word hot. What does it mean? Many probably thought of a temperature but others may have considered other meanings. What does the phrase it is hot mean? Again, we may have an idea that comes to mind but consider these sentences:
1. Do not touch that pot, it is hot.
2. I love that new song; it is hot.
3. I do not like that Mexican spice; it is hot.
4. Do not buy the television from that burglar; it is hot.

We do not know what it is hot means without a broader context. This should emphasize the folly of studying words in isolation. Words do not have meaning without context.

Etymology (Word Origin)

Etymology, the study of word history, became popular in the late 1800’s and in recent years, the focus of the real meaning of words is very popular. A far back as the Greeks, Stoic philosophers believed that if they went back in time far enough, the real meaning of a word would become evident. As J.P. Louw says, “If this method were correct, then everyone would need to know Greek in order to understand the true meaning of words.” I’ll go further and say that it means that we must know Greek in order to know what the Bible really says. I believe this conclusion would be wrong.

Do you know the origins of every word that you use? We probably do not know the origin of hardly any of the words that we use in everyday conversation. Yet we expect that when the Greeks talked and wrote they knew the historical development of each word they used. In fact, language—any language—is dynamic and changing; we can instantly give a familiar word new meaning if we put it in a new context. Of course, we cannot do this haphazardly for we would confuse our audience. However, as we mature, we can adapt our language to a variety of circumstances.

One problem we face with etymology is the failure to take into account this adaptation within language. For example, If I say I ran out of milk so I ran to the store to buy some more, does anyone think that in an act of running my milk was emptied? It is doubtful that anyone would think that I ran to the store, they would know that I drove to the store. Yet the basic meaning of run is to move your legs faster than when you walk. We recognize this with the English language, but often do not see its use in the Greek. We forget that “etymology is concerned with the history of a word, not its meaning in a specific context.” (Luow, 26. Emphasis mine-rfd)

Related Article: Problems with Greek Word Studies: “Real Meaning”

Reference Works

Studies in the Greek New Testament.  Stanley E. Porter.  Peter Lang:  New York, 1996.

Semantics of New Testament Greek.  J. P. Louw.  Fortress Press:  Philadelphia, 1982.

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