Daily Archives: July 1, 2014

Counseling Related Questions: How Can I Stop Having Negative Thoughts? How Can I Overcome Negative Thinking?

 

Chronic negative thinking, depression, anxiety, and similar disorders are on the rise all over the world. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults in the U.S. are affected, which is nearly 20 percent of the population. Of that number, many are professing Christians.

Fear seems to be a root cause of many of these problems. It’s no wonder people are fearful in a world where it appears nothing is reliable. It can be quite disturbing for a person to realize almost everything in life is ultimately out of his control—from the weather to his bank account balance. All the things people rely on for their security will sooner or later fail them. But the Christian who confesses the sovereignty of an Almighty God who works all things for his good (Romans 8:28) has the antidote to negative thinking.

When a Christian’s thinking is primarily negative, anxious, or doubtful, it’s a sign of a serious lack of faith. The author of Hebrews states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and, according to Proverbs 29:25, fear is a trap but trust in the Lord keeps a man safe. Jesus, when boating with His disciples during a terrible storm, asked them, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26). Those who struggle with negative thinking should do the same thing they would do with any other sin—confess it (agree with God that negative thinking is wrong because it reveals a lack of trust) and make every effort to change the behavior.

Prayer is a key part of overcoming negativity. Jesus taught that prayer should include praise to the Father and a focus on His holiness (Matthew 6:9; see also Psalm 95:2). As we pray “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6), we focus on the blessings we have received and leave no room for negative thoughts. The Holy Spirit will be faithful to help the repentant believer overcome negative thinking (Matthew 7:7–11).

Daily Bible reading, particularly studies which focus on the promises of God, are of great help in overcoming negative thinking. It’s helpful to remember that, no matter how dismal the present circumstances, Christians have been promised God’s love and victory in Christ (Romans 8:37–39; 2 Corinthians 2:14).

The Scriptures are bursting with admonitions from God to His people to overcome fear and doubt—over 350 commands to “fear not.” As a matter of fact, the one verbal encouragement Jesus gives more than any other is a call to fearless living (e.g., Matthew 6:25; 9:2; 10:28; 10:31).

The struggle against negative thinking is a battle for the mind. The apostle Paul tells believers what to think about: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Besides defining what thoughts should fill our minds, this text implicitly teaches that we can control what we think about. When a negative thought comes, the thinker who has the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) has the ability to push it out of the mind and replace it with godly thoughts. This takes practice, but with persistence, it gets easier. Christians must think about what they’re thinking about and not allow their minds to have free reign. In our spiritual warfare, we’ve been given the helmet of salvation—spiritual armor for the mind.

As long as Christians live in a fearful, stressful world, negative thoughts will come. We have the option of either stamping out those thoughts or nurturing them. The good news is, negative thoughts can be replaced with positive ones, and the more that godly substitution takes place, the more peace and joy we can experience.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Commentary: Who Were the Sons of Korah in the Old Testament?

 

The story of the sons of Korah in the Old Testament is truly a tale of two fathers and two destinies. The story begins with the Israelites of Moses’ time as they journeyed through the wilderness just after leaving Egypt. In Numbers Chapter 3, God set aside the Levites, out of the tribes of Israel, for full time service to Him. They were ordained to take care of the tabernacle and all of its implements, as well as the Ark of the Covenant. Only the descendants of Moses and Aaron, however, were allowed to serve as priests.

The three sons of Levi were Gershon, Merari and Kohath. The Gershonites were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent, its coverings, the curtain at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the curtains of the courtyard, the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard surrounding the tabernacle and altar, and the ropes—and everything related to their use. The Merarites were appointed to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, its crossbars, posts, bases, all its equipment, and everything related to their use, as well as the posts of the surrounding courtyard with their bases, tent pegs and ropes. The Kohathites were responsible for the care of the sanctuary. They were responsible for the care of the ark, the table, the lamp stand, the altars, the articles of the sanctuary used in ministering, the curtain, and everything related to their use. They were under the direct supervision of Eleazar, son of Aaron.

Unlike the Gershonites and the Merarites, who were allowed to transport the items under their care on carts, the Kohathites had to carry their items, the holy things of the Tabernacle, on their shoulders. They had the hot, arduous burden of transporting these items from place to place as the camp moved, but they were not allowed to actually touch the items or they would die. The priests had to wrap the sacred objects in special coverings before they were transported (Numbers 4:15). Many of the Kohathites began to disdain this task and to covet the role of the priests.

Korah was the grandson of Kohath, and he began to run with another group of Reubenite malcontents, namely, Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth. In pride, they roused a group of 250 men together to challenge the rights of Moses and Aaron to the priesthood (Numbers 16). Moses summoned the rebellious men to stand before God and burn incense. God warned Moses to let the assembly know to get away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, their households and the other rebels. Then a remarkable and terrifying event happened.

“Then Moses said, ‘This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt.’ As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, ‘The earth is going to swallow us too!’ And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense” (Numbers 16:28–35).

Although this clearly marked the end of Korah, we discover that Korah’s sons, perhaps too young to understand their father’s uprising or maybe too cognizant of God’s authority to join in the revolt, were spared (Numbers 26:9–11). God judged those who turned against Him in active rebellion and purified His people, but He still had a purpose and plan for even the line of Korah. After seven successive generations, the prophet Samuel arose from the line of Korah, the genealogy of which is recorded in 1 Chronicles 6:31–38, 1 Chronicles 6:38, and 1 Samuel 1:1, 20. The Korahites became doorkeepers and custodians for the tabernacle (1 Chronicles 9:19–21, 1 Chronicles 2.) One group of Korahites (1 Chronicles 12:6) joined King David in various military exploits and won the reputation of being expert warriors. However, the most remarkable thing to note about the sons of Korah is that during the time of King David, they became the great leaders in choral and orchestral music in the Tabernacle and the Temple. Heman the Korahite had a place of great importance as a singer, along with Asaph (Gershonite) and Ethan or Jeduthan (Merarite). These individuals played an important role in the thanksgiving services and pageantry when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem. David formed an elaborate organization for song, instrumental music, and prophesying through these men.

Of all of the Psalms, about 25 are attributed to the sons of Korah. These beautiful Psalms express a spirit of great gratitude and humility to an awesome, mighty God. They express a longing for God and deep devotion. These poetic songs include Psalms 42–49, 50, 62, and 72–85. Psalms 42:1 contains the beautiful line, “As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” Psalm 84:1 states, “How lovely is your dwelling place, O God.” Psalm 46:1–3 conveys the powerful message, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

One wonders if the poet who penned these lyrics was remembering his ignoble beginnings, his distant ancestor who perished in an earthquake for his pride and rebellion. Perhaps it was that reflection that prompted the following words of the Psalms: “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth’ ” (Psalm 46:10). For each of us, our own songs of renewed purpose and redemption should flow out of a heart of humility as we remember the fallen state from which He raised us and the redemption that we experience through His grace. This was certainly the case for the sons of Korah.[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Significance of Jesus Eating with Sinners?

 

In Mark 2, soon after calling Matthew to follow Him, Jesus ate a meal with “many publicans and sinners” in Matthew’s house (verse 15). Matthew had been a tax collector (publican), and these were his friends and acquaintances who were now spending time with Jesus (cf. Luke 5:39). The scribes and the Pharisees complained, but Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinnerstranscendedHis culture and actually shoulddefineChristian culture as we know it.

In Jesus’ day, rabbis and other spiritual leaders were the highest members of Jewish society. Everyone looked up to the Pharisees. They were strict adherents to the Law and tradition, and they avoided those whom they deemed “sinners” because they had a “clean” image to maintain. Tax collectors, infamous for embezzlement and their cooperation with the hated Romans, definitely fell into the “sinner” category.

As Jesus’ ministry grew, so did His popularity among the social outcasts of society. Now that Matthew was part of His inner circle, Jesus naturally had more contact with the pariahs in Matthew’s circle. Spending time with the publicans and sinners was part of Jesus’ mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). If Jesus was to reach the lost, He must have some contact with them. He went to where the need was because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Praise the Lord, the Great Physician makes house calls.

Sitting at Matthew’s dinner table, Jesus may have broken some societal taboos, but His presence there shows that He looked beyond culture to people’s hearts. Whereas the Pharisees wrote people off simply because of their profession or their past, Jesus looked past all that and saw their need.

Jesus also transcended culture when He conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well—even His disciples were surprised by that one (John 4:27). Other telling incidents: Jesus forgives an immoral woman in Luke 7, He helps a Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7, He touches a leper in Luke 5, and He enters Zacchaeus’s house in Luke 19.

Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 19:10). Tradition, cultural bans, and the frowns of a few do not matter when a soul’s eternal destiny is on the line.

The fact that Jesus saw individuals, not just their labels, no doubt inspired them to know Him better. They recognized Jesus as a righteous man, a man of God—the miracles He performed bore witness to that—and they saw His compassion and sincerity.

Jesus didn’t let social status or cultural norms dictate His relationships with people. As the Good Shepherd, He sought the lost sheep wherever they had strayed. When Matthew hosted the dinner party, Jesus gladly accepted the invitation. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the good news of the kingdom with those who most needed to hear (see Matthew 4:23). Yes, He would be criticized for His actions, but what prophet ever lived without criticism?

Jesus transcended cultural norms and was not above spending time with the outcasts of society. He spoke truth to sinners and loved them; He offered them hope, based on their repentance and faith in Himself (Mark 1:15).

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus didn’t require people to changebeforecoming to Him. He sought them out, met them where they were, and extended grace to them in their circumstances. Change would come to those who accepted Christ, but it would be from the inside out. Jesus knew better than anyone that the kindness of God leads sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Jesus showed us that we shouldn’t let cultural norms dictate whom we evangelize. The sick need a physician. Lost sheep need a shepherd. Are we praying the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field (Luke 10:2)? Are we willing to go ourselves?[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Bible Translations: What Is the Bishops’ Bible?

 

The Bishops’ Bible—History The Bishops’ Bible was an English translation of the Bible produced under the authority of the established Church of England in 1568, whose bishops were offended by the Geneva Bible, the notes of which were decidedly Calvinistic in tone. Since the Great Bible, the only authorized version in use in the Anglican Church, was considered deficient because it was translated from the Latin Vulgate, a new translation was authorized by the Anglican bishops and came to be known as the “Bishops’ ” Bible. The first edition was exceptionally large and included 124 full-page illustrations. It was substantially revised in 1572, and this revised edition was to be prescribed as the base text for the Authorized King James Version of 1611, which became the standard for the Church of England.

Along with the Great Bible and the King James Version, the Bishops’ Bible was authorized to be read in church, although the Geneva Bible remained the favorite of the people for reading at home. The text of the revised 1572 version carefully excluded the offending Calvinistic notes and cross-references. The wisdom of the common people is evident from the fact that the Bishops’ Bible went through more than fifty revisions, while the Geneva Bible was reprinted intact more than 150 times.

The Bishops’ Bible—Translation method Under the direction of Queen Elizabeth I, who had no love for the Puritans and their Calvinistic doctrine, the archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, himself a scholar, took on the task of coming up with an alternative to the Geneva Bible. Portions of the text were assigned to various revisers, the majority of whom were bishops. In spite of their prejudice against the Geneva Bible because of its blatant advocacy of lay elders and church leaders—as opposed to the clergy-led paradigm embraced by the Anglican hierarchy—the Geneva Bible was the basis for the Bishops’ Bible, although the offending anti-episcopal notes were removed. No doubt this is partly why the Bishops’ Bible never achieved the support among the common people enjoyed by the Geneva Bible.

The Bishops’ Bible—Pro’s and Con’s Because there was lax supervisory editing for the work completed by the various translators, translation practice varies greatly from book to book. Some used the Geneva Bible as their base text; some used the Great Bible, resulting in translational inconsistencies. For example, in most of the Old Testament the tetragrammaton YHWH is represented by “the Lord”, and the Hebrew Elohim is represented by “God.” But in the Psalms the practice is the opposite way around. Describing the translation, one commentator remarked that where the Bishops’ Bible reprints the Geneva Bible it is acceptable, but most of the original work is incompetent, both in its scholarship and its verbosity. Unlike Tyndale’s translations and the Geneva Bible, the Bishops’ Bible has rarely been reprinted and the archaic language makes it all but unusable for the modern reader.

The Bishops’ Bible—Sample Verses John 1:1, 14—“In the begynnyng was the worde, & the worde was with God: and that worde was God.” “And the same word became fleshe, and dwelt among vs (and we sawe the glory of it, as the glory of the only begotten sonne of the father) full of grace and trueth.”

John 3:16—“For God so loued the worlde, that he gaue his only begotten sonne, that whosoeuer beleueth in hym, shoulde not perishe, but haue euerlastyng lyfe.”

John 8:58—“Iesus sayde vnto them: Ueryly, veryly I saye vnto you, before Abraham was, I am.”

Ephesians 2:8–9—“For by grace are ye made safe through fayth, and that not of your selues, it is the gyft of God: Not of workes, lest any man shoulde boast hym selfe.”

Titus 2:13—“Lokyng for that blessed hope and appearyng of the glorie of the great God, and our sauiour Iesus Christe,”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.