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What Would You Do with Space in Your Life?

Aug 27, 2019 | |Andy Nash

When Jesus was on earth, He told us not to worry about tomorrow—what we’ll eat and drink, what we’ll wear, how we’ll pay our bills, how we’ll have time to get everything done. But what happens when we place ourselves in situations where we can’t help worrying about these things? Perhaps Jesus’ admonition not to worry also means to be wise and cautious with the things of earth so that our minds are not constantly filled with anxiety about them—so that they don’t become too important to us.

A Christian doctor, Richard A. Swenson, wrote a powerful book, Margin, about having spaciousness in our lives and finances, so when the unexpected happens we’re not completely stressed out.

The conditions of modern-day living devour margin,” writes Dr. Swenson. “Marginless is being thirty minutes late to the doctor’s office because you were twenty minutes late getting out of the bank because you were ten minutes late dropping the kids off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from the gas station—and you forgot your wallet.

Margin, on the other hand, is having breath left at the top of the staircase and money left at the end of the month.

Marginless is the baby crying and the phone ringing at the same time; margin is Grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. Marginless is being asked to carry a load five pounds heavier than you can lift; margin is a friend to carry half the burden. Marginless is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress; margin is having the time to read it twice.

Marginless is fatigue; margin is energy. Marginless is red ink; margin is black ink. Marginless is hurry; margin is calm. Marginless is anxiety; margin is security. Marginless is the disease of the new millennium; margin is its cure.[i]

Cutting Back

Isaiah 30:15 text on a blue screenThe doctor who wrote this book practices what he preaches. Working in a stressful medical practice, he cut back his workweek to just three days. It meant giving up a big income and lifestyle,  and it put him out of step with the heavy workload typically expected of physicians. But he has never regretted it.

Now a lot of us probably wish we could back down to a three-day workweek! But the issue isn’t necessarily just the number of hours or days we work. A lot of times it’s the type of work we do, and the levels of mental and emotional stress associated with it.

Dr. Swenson writes:

A person can work 12 hours a day, six days a week for an entire life at physical labor and suffer no ill effects—as long as that person has decision control over the work schedule. Actually such hard physical labor would usually have salutary health benefits. But if the strain is mental and a person is constantly being frustrated, the negative healthy effects can be catastrophic. . . . In one study that compared physical exertion with mental exertion, a patient was first given a cardiac treadmill exam. Despite vigorous physical exercise, the patient’s cardiovascular status remained normal throughout. He then was asked to (stand still and) subtract seven from 777 serially for 3.5 minutes. His blood pressure went up forty points.

Swenson explains that no one talked much about stress prior to the 1950s. But since that decade we’ve been increasingly inundated with not only mentally taxing work but a bombardment of noise from our culture and media. Our minds and bodies weren’t designed to handle such a frantic pace. We were created to follow the natural cycle of the day: working with the sunlight and then resting in the evening shadows. Jesus Himself modeled this schedule: “In the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet.” (Luke 21:37, NKJV). But with the invention of electricity, our workdays never really  end.

In the wired-up culture in which we live, we may not even realize the pressure we feel to be doing multiple things at the same time. Once when I was speaking at a church, I asked the congregation, “How many of you have used your phone or other gadget since the start of our worship service today—either to text, talk, or surf?” Of the approximately 300 congregants, about 100 of them raised their hands—many of them students.

I didn’t ask that question to condemn anyone. I’ve used my phone during church too. And as someone who works with students, I’ve actually come to see that doing several things at once isn’t necessarily a sign of blatant disrespect as it used to be. It’s often just the way we’re conditioned: we’ve become accustomed to doing several things at once—to filling any possible gaps with busy-ness.

The Happiest Place on Earth

A few years ago an ecological group called the New Economics Foundation decided they were going to try to find out what was the happiest place on earth. They set up what they called a “happy planet index” that tried to measure what people put into a place (the resources) vs. what they get out.

quote on a blue screen with white textOut of 178 nations surveyed, the happiest place on earth was determined to be the small Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Vanuatu was followed by Columbia, Costa Rica, Dominica, and Panama. Out of 178 nations, the U.S. ranked 150. In fact, none of the G-8 industrialized nations made the top 50.

Prior to this study, the island of Vanuatu was known primarily for inventing bungee jumping. (They use vines, not elastic ropes.) But the happy planet index cited other reasons for happiness, such as the moderate pace of life. In Vanuatu, things are done in the time they naturally take, and people have great respect for the land they live in. Vanuatu has beautiful coastlines and rainforests. (It also has no income tax.)

Here’s the interesting part. Vanuatu actually has high unemployment rates and poverty. It’s a third world county. It’s economy is ranked 207 out of 233. But as one expert noted, “If you don’t have money in Vanuatu you can still live happily. You can grow everything you need to eat. If people have an opportunity to make money, they will take it, but it is not their ultimate aim.”

The national motto of Vanuatu is “We stand with God,” and the national anthem is called “Yumi, Yumi, Yumi,” which means “We, We, We.”

We don’t have to live in Vanuatu to be happy. We can choose a more spacious lifestyle wherever we live and work. A few years ago, a friend of mine I’ll call Tom was telling me how much pressure he used to feel to keep up with other families: to have a lucrative job and all the toys. For many years he strived to attain this level of living and eventually took a job in which he traveled most of the week. Finally, he just decided, “No.” I’m going to let go of this stress and just be me. He took a modest paying job at a mobile phone store, which he enjoyed. His family bought a small house, his wife homeschooled, and he was home each day by 4:30 without bringing with him much stress from work. Tom was a new person, and his family was a new family.

Having space in your life might mean saying no even to good things. Having space in your budget might mean settling for a house or lifestyle that humbles you, but humility too is part of the kingdom of God that Jesus told us to seek.

The title of this piece is “What would you do with space in your life?” In a way, this was a trick question. The answer is: Nothing. If you can achieve spaciousness in your life, protect it. Preserve it. Do whatever you have to do to put your earthly needs at rest so you can devote your minds to seeking the kingdom of God.

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isa. 30:15, NKJV).

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[i] Swenson, Richard A. Margin: Restoring Emotional Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. NavPress, 2004.

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Andy Nash  is an author, professor, and pastor who leads summer study tours to Israel.

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The Premier Collection from Thomas Nelson and Zondervan offers beautiful Bibles created with premium materials, fine designs, and the exclusive Comfort Print® fonts. Learn more at  www.PremierCollectionBibles.com.

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Claiming the Bible’s Legacy of Hope

God compiles a remarkable résumé in the pages of Scripture—not just for His own glory, but for our benefit as well. Time and time again, He proves Himself to be faithful. He honors His Word. He fulfills the terms of His covenants.

God Comes Through Even When It Seems Impossible

God proved Himself faithful to Abram (Abraham) and his descendants. Genesis 12 records the covenant God made with Abram. He instructed Abram to leave his homeland of Ur for a new land—a land called Canaan, where Abram and his descendants would dwell. Descendants were part of the covenant, too—a nation of descendants as innumerable as the stars in the night sky (Genesis 15:5).

Abram and his wife Sarai (Sarah) were childless at the time. Abram was 75 years old. Yet Abram took God at His word and moved his household to Canaan. Twenty-five years passed.

During that period, Abraham and Sarah lost sight of God’s timetable and concocted a plan whereby Abraham would father a son (who was given the name Ishmael) with Sarah’s handmaid. They convinced themselves that it was the only way for God’s covenant to be fulfilled.

And then Sarah became pregnant.

She was 90 years old. Abraham was 100.

They named their son Isaac. Isaac later fathered a son named Jacob, also known as Israel. Jacob, in turn, fathered 12 sons—and a nation was born.

Abraham learned that God’s faithfulness isn’t bound by time or the laws of nature.

God Comes Through Even When His People Don’t

Abraham’s descendants—the nation of Israel—proved themselves to be anything but faithful. They turned their backs on God and embraced idols. They rejected His kingship and demanded human rulers. They abandoned His teachings and forgot the stories of His great works.

Through it all, though, God remained faithful. He sent prophets to warn them of the dire consequences of their disobedience. When the people wouldn’t listen, He allowed their enemies to conquer them and carry them away into captivity.

Even at that point—arguably, Israel’s lowest—God would not give up on Abraham’s descendants. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God Comes Through Even When It Costs Him Dearly

God’s faithfulness didn’t stop there. Passages such as Isaiah 49:5-6 reveal the extent of His love for His people—and for all people. Through His prophet Isaiah, God promised to send a Savior, One who would “restore the preserved ones of Israel,” serve as a “light to the Gentiles,” and bring God’s “salvation to the ends of the earth.” He fulfilled His promise centuries later by sacrificing His only Son to pay the price for sin—faithful beyond measure.

Malachi 3:16 assures us that God doesn’t change. He is still faithful to His people. So there is always hope to be found, no matter how bleak things may seem. We may not know what that hope will look like, when to expect it, or how it will change our circumstances, but we can put our trust in a faithful God.

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This commentary is from the New King James Study Bible. With more than 2 million copies sold, it’s no secret that the NKJV Study Bible is a reliable guide for your journey into God’s Word. This Bible provides a complete resource for study, including thousands of notes, articles, extensive cross-references, and features contributed by top evangelical scholars.

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Why Does the Legacy of the King James Bible Still Endure?

Apr 21, 2019 |

In 1604, King James I commissioned a new version of the Bible, translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts by the leading scholars of the day, for the English-speaking world. The impact of that decision—and of the monumental work that it produced—is incalculable.

 

A wide array of famous people have testified to the legacy of the King James Bible. Victor Hugo, the French author of Les Miserables was referring to the King James Version when he said, “England has two books, the Bible and Shakespeare. England made Shakespeare, but the Bible made England.” H. L. Mencken described the King James Version as “a mine of lordly and incomparable poetry, at once the most stirring and most touching ever heard of.” Abraham Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, and Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “I Have a Dream” speech, both tried to approximate the cadences, rhythm, and language of the King James Bible.

Part of its legacy can be found in its contributions to the English language. The King James Version is quoted every day—often by people who don’t realize they’re quoting it. Many common phrases in western culture can be found in the book King James commissioned over four hundred years ago. Estimates vary, but many scholars put the number of phrases it spawned at around 250.

Here’s a brief sampling of well-known phrases that come from the King James Bible:

 

Though some of these phrases appeared in earlier Bible translations, it was the King James Version that made them popular.

How do we properly summarize its impact and legacy? To say that it shaped cultures, influenced history, and changed the world doesn’t quite do it justice. The King James Bible changed lives. Who can begin to estimate how many people have been impacted by its words over the past four centuries?

The King James Bible continues to change lives. Four hundred years after its publication, hundreds of millions of people still turn to it every day as their preferred version of Scripture. In its words, they find strength. They find purpose. They find inspiration and encouragement. They find hard truths and soothing assurances.

For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isa. 55:10–11)

The final word on the Bible’s legacy belongs to Jesus. In Matthew 24:35, He says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” For four hundred years, the King James Bible has ensured that the Word of God would not pass away.

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This article includes material from the King James Study Bible, Full-Color Edition from Thomas Nelson.  To learn more about this Bible, watch the video!

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10 Bible Passages and Prayers That Will Impact Your Holy Week

Apr 7, 2019 |

If you’re looking to add variety to your commemoration of Good Friday or your celebration of Easter Sunday, here are a few places to start.

6 Bible Passages:

 

Isaiah 53:3–5

Nothing about Christ’s suffering was fair. What he endured, we deserved.

He is despised and rejected by men,

A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;

He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs

And carried our sorrows;

Yet we esteemed Him stricken,

Smitten by God, and afflicted.

But He was wounded for our transgressions,

He was bruised for our iniquities;

The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,

And by His stripes we are healed.

John 11:25–26

A simple yes changes everything.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Acts 4:33

The disciples told anyone who would listen what they had seen. God’s grace took it from there.

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

Luke 24:2–3

If there had been a body in the tomb, the story of Jesus would have ended right then and there. Because the tomb was empty, His story will go on forever.

But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

1 Corinthians 15:3–8

The apostle Paul understood the arguments that would be raised to sow doubts about Jesus’ resurrection. He also understood the power of more than five hundred eyewitness accounts of the event.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

Romans 6:8–11

Death no longer has any power over those who put their trust in the one who conquered it.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Jesus tomb empty easter

4 Prayers:

 

Christ is Risen: The world below lies desolate
Christ is Risen: The spirits of evil are fallen
Christ is Risen: The angels of God are rejoicing
Christ is Risen: The tombs of the dead are empty
Christ is Risen indeed from the dead,
the first of the sleepers,
Glory and power are his forever and ever

– St. Hippolytus (AD 170–235) 

 

Hymn: Alleluia! Alleluia!

1 Alleluia, alleluia!
Hearts to heaven and voices raise.
Sing to God a hymn of gladness,
sing to God a hymn of praise.
He who on the cross a victim
for the world’s salvation bled,
Jesus Christ, the king of glory,
now is risen from the dead.

2 Alleluia, Christ is risen!
Death at last has met defeat.
See the ancient powers of evil
in confusion and retreat.
Once he died and once was buried;
now he lives forevermore—
Jesus Christ, the world’s Redeemer,
whom we worship and adore.

3 Christ is risen, Christ and first fruits
of the holy harvest field,
which will all its full abundance
at his second coming yield.
Then the golden ears of harvest
will their heads before him wave,
ripened by his glorious sunshine
from the furrows of the grave.

4 Alleluia, alleluia!
Glory be to God on high;
alleluia! to the Savior,
who has won the victory;
alleluia! to the Spirit,
fount of love and sanctity:
alleluia, alleluia!
to the triune Majesty.

– The Exultet

 

How blessed is this day, when earth and heaven are joined and humankind is reconciled to God! May the light of Jesus shine continually to drive away all darkness. May Christ, the Morning Star who knows no setting, find his light ever burning in our hearts—he who gives his light to all creation, and who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

– Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer – 1979, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America

 

Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son
to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin,
and also an ensample of godly life;
Give us grace that we may always
most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit,
and also daily endeavor ourselves
to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty Father,
who in your great mercy gladdened the disciples
with the sight of the risen Lord:
Give us such knowledge of his presence with us,
that we may be strengthened
and sustained by his risen life
and serve you continually in righteousness and truth;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Living God,
your Son made himself known to his disciples
in the breaking of bread.
Open the eyes of our faith,
that we may see him in all his redeeming work;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Almighty Father,
you have given your only Son to die for our sins
and to rise again for our justification:
grant us so to put away the leaven of malice and wickedness
that we may always serve you
in pureness of living and truth;
through the merits of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lord God our Father,
through our Saviour Jesus Christ
you have assured your children of eternal life
and in baptism have made us one with him:
deliver us from the death of sin
and raise us to new life in your love,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

– Church of Ireland

 

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