SUBSTANCE ABUSE

Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, “They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?” —Proverbs 23:29-35

· 35% of NH 12-20 year olds report drinking alcohol in the past 30 days by comparison, nationally the number is closer to 25% and 29% in the Northeast

· The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that the Northeast is ranked highest in Alcohol abuse with 57.7% of teens 12 or older

· 11.3% of NH 18-20 year olds have admitted driving with someone under the influence of alcohol which is slightly higher than the national average of 11.2% http://www.checkthestatsnh.org/new-hampshires-stats/

In a recent conversation with a local law enforcement official I was told that there have been 50 arrests this year at the local beach in a town of only about 4,000 people. Alcohol, drugs and sexual immorality were the three main causes for those arrests. Do people really think our culture is getting better? If so, what is their measurement? What used to be done in the dark is now being openly practiced in the daytime. No wonder when leaders in government are making and have made practices that were done in the dark now legal to practice in the daylight. Abortion, out of marriage pregnancies, homosexuality and drug use are practices the government is openly supporting through its law-making. No wonder the 12-20 year olds are looking for some solution to escape the culture crisis.

Alcohol abuse will only bring sorrow. How many pregnancies occur with those under the influence of alcohol? How many rapes take place? How many robberies? How many domestic disturbances? How many health issues? How many deaths? All these do occur when people are under the abusive influence of alcohol.

People under the influence do things and say things that they would not normally do. Alcohol abuse is a controlling substance. It controls a person. There is nothing so pathetic as to be around a person who is drunk. Just this past week Elaine and I had dinner on a patio at a local golf course just up the road from us. It was a beautiful evening and we were enjoying the location until some young guys sat near us. They just got off the golf course and they were not looking to have dinner. No, they ordered beers and shots of liquor. It was not long before the decibels rose and the language changed. I was wondering if they had a designated driver…

Now it is argued that marijuana is no worse than alcohol. Now think about that argument to get this drug passed off as being legal. Anyone who has used pot in the past knows the negative influence it has and that it is just a gateway drug to hard drugs. We are a culture that is killing itself. We are rotting from the inside out. Only Jesus is the answer. Only Jesus gives life and purpose. Only Jesus can save us from ourselves.

Dear Father, please help me to encourage those around me to call on the Name of Jesus. Oh that they would come to an understand of who He is and what He has done for them. May it be so!

BE ENCOURAGED!

BE ENCOURAGED!

That night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged, Paul. Just as you have been a witness to me here in Jerusalem, you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” —Acts 23:11

Are you encouraged by the Lord in the work He has for you to do? Do you know what He has for you to do… today? Will you do it? Are you questioning it? How excited are you about serving the Lord? Is it your earnest desire to serve Him today? At work? At school? In the neighborhood? To friends? To relatives? To strangers? May you be faithful today and every day!

The Apostle Paul was faithfully consistent in his life to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. He did so when the circumstances were comfortable and also when the circumstances were uncomfortable. There were joyous times of service with brothers and then there were also very difficult times. Paul said, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (II Corinthians 1:8). There is no doubt that the Apostle Paul and his companions went through great emotional difficulties at times. So don’t be surprised when you do as you serve the Lord. Just be faithful through it all. The Lord said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20) and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

The Lord Jesus seeks to encourage you today with the work He has for you. Just as you have served Him in the past so He has work for you now and in the future— until you take your last breath. Just be faithful to what He desires of you— whatever that may be!

Dear Father, may I be faithful to what You desire of me today, then tomorrow and for the rest of my life. Out of loving gratitude to my Lord Jesus, may this be so!

CITIZENSHIP

When they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to the officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?” —Acts 22:25

Here in the U.S. people are given many rights through the Founding Documents. In the Declaration of Independence we read that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” The First Amendment of the Constitution reads that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Much is said about people’s rights in these statements.

As a Roman citizen, the Apostle Paul had rights as well. The context of the verse above occurred when there was a great disturbance in the temple because of Paul being there. The people wanted to kill him but he was rescued by soldiers. Paul was going to be whipped by the soldiers to find out what he had done. But when they found out he was a Roman citizen, they withdrew immediately. It was against the law to do what they were doing to Paul as stated in Roman law— “None but the whole Roman people could pass sentence on the life of a Roman citizen. No magistrate could punish him by stripes or capitally. The single expression, “I am a Roman citizen,” checked their severest decrees.” http://www.tribunesandtriumphs.org/roman-life/rights-of-roman-citizens.htm

There are times when followers of Jesus Christ remind those in authority of the rights we have as citizens. The law is the law and even those in authority are to obey it. Let us be wise in how we claim our rights as a citizen.

Dear Father, help me to know when to use my rights as a citizen of this nation. Thank You that our real freedom comes through Jesus and that it is in heaven where we will experience that perfect freedom. Until then may I faithfully follow Him and be and do what He desires. May it be so.

SELF-DESTRUCTION

Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise. —Proverbs 20:1

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit… -Ephesians 5:18

Alcoholism and drug addiction are major blights on our culture. Adults (ages 18+): 16.6 million adults ages 18 and older3 (7.0 percent of this age group4) had an AUD (alcohol use disorder) in 2013. This includes 10.8 million men3 (9.4 percent of men in this age group4) and 5.8 million women3 (4.7 percent of women in this age group4). About 1.3 million adults received treatment for an AUD at a specialized facility in 2013 (7.8 percent of adults who needed treatment). This included 904,000 million men (8.0 percent of men in need) and 444,000 women (7.3 percent of women who needed treatment).5 Youth (ages 12–17): In 2013 an estimated 697,000 adolescents ages 12–176 (2.8 percent of this age group7) had an AUD. This number includes 385,000 females6 (3.2 percent of females in this age group7) and 311,000 males6 (2.5 percent of males in this age group7). An estimated 73,000 adolescents (44,000 males and 29,000 females) received treatment for an alcohol problem in a specialized facility in 2013 http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics “Illicit drug use in the United States has been increasing. In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older—9.4 percent of the population—had used an illicit drug in the past month. This number is up from 8.3 percent in 2002. The increase mostly reflects a recent rise in use of marijuana, the most commonly used illicit drug. Marijuana use has increased since 2007. In 2013, there were 19.8 million current users—about 7.5 percent of people aged 12 or older—up from 14.5 million (5.8 percent) in 2007.” http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends

Substances are not meant to be induced to control us. Yet our culture is set on getting drunk and high. This is not a surprising outcome though of a nation who is turning/has turned its back on God. Now our government is moving in the direction of legalizing marijuana. We are becoming more and more a drugged up, dumbed down, death inoculated culture that is internally destroying itself.

I was talking with a brother and friend that works in the medical field yesterday. He was telling me of a new drug that has hit the streets. It is 100x more potent than heroin. When you shoot yourself up with it you instantly die. That drug is illustrative of where our nation is headed— a self-induced death.

The above verse in Proverbs tells us that this is foolishness. There are those who are pushing these laws to legalize drugs who think they are wise, but they are fools according to the verse above. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. He is the One who is to be controlling our lives. But, Satan is the “god of this world” and is out to use whatever he can to blind people from the truth about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross and through the resurrection (II Corinthians 4:4). Satan is the one who ensnares people into addictions, holding them captive to do his will (II Timothy 2:25-26). Let there be no mistake about it. This is spiritual warfare.

Dear Father, be pleased to work through me to help others who may be addicted to substances or headed in that direction. I thank You that that You protected me from becoming an addict in my early years. Yes, I am so grateful that You saved me from that life and gave me new life in Jesus!

HUNGERING AND THIRSTING

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight…. Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. —Acts 20:7, 11

Awhile back I read “Heavenly Man” which is about the underground church in China. The author told of westerners coming over to China to help, but when the westerners spoke it was for only an hour or less. It was greatly appreciated that these people would come to China to help the church, but they were eventually asked not to come unless they could speak for at least 2 ½ hours minimum.

When was the last time you and I listened for 2 ½ hours as the Word of God was taught? Or, when was the last time we taught God’s Word for at least 2 ½ hours? This is common not only in China, but in many place outside the United States. In the passage above Paul may have spoken through the night for up to 10 hours or more. Some people I have heard say they cannot even sit for more than an hour for worship on a Sunday morning yet they can sit for hours watching T.V. or a sports event or a concert or something else they enjoy and are interested in. What does this say about our priorities? Do we only hear or teach the Word of God during worship on Sundays or are we connected during the week with others to hear, study and/or teach God’s Word?

So do we just sing the song “As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you” or do our souls really thirst after the Lord God Almighty and His ways? What is it that is more precious to me? Where are my priorities? Is wealth more important to me than the Word of God? (Psalm 119:72). Do I work more than I need to just to have a more affluent lifestyle or do I seek to listen, apply and share the Word of God? Oh, may my priorities and your priorities be right?

Dear Father, may I hunger and thirst after You and Your ways. Thank You that You have given us Your Son, Your Spirit and Your Word. Now, may I be faithful for what You have called me into Your Son’s kingdom for. May it be so.

STUBBORNNESS!

But some became stubborn, rejecting his message and publicly speaking against the Way. —Acts 19:9

If atheists do not believe in God then why do they believe they have to speak against Him? Are they out to save the world? Do they believe it is needful to encourage others to not believe in God as well? Are they seeking to force their godless religion on others? Why do they think they have to push their wicked, stubborn rebellion on others?

There are those, as in the verse above, that just feel the need to not only be stubborn and reject the good news about Jesus, but that they must also speak against the message and the messengers. Stubborn-hearted people are far from doing right (Isaiah 46:12), they follow their own ideas (Psalm 81:12). They do not listen or pay attention but instead follow the inclinations of their own stubborn hearts (Jeremiah 7:24). Jesus was angered by people’s stubbornness (Mark 3:5; 16:14). Stubbornness and an unrepentant heart of a person are storing up wrath against themselves for the day of God’s wrath (Romans 2:5).

In I Samuel 15:23 we are told that “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.” Wow! Stubbornness is as bad as worshipping some idol. So, in reality, atheists are worshipping the god of their own making. Their rebellion falls into the same category as witchcraft. They are satanically motivated.

Followers of Jesus Christ are told to “Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants” (II Timothy 2:25-26). Whether those who have not trusted Jesus know it or not, and most do not, they have not come to their senses, they are in the devil’s trap, they are being held captive by the devil and they are doing what the devil wants! Wow! What a terrible place to be. May the Lord give those of us following Jesus wisdom to serve these people and share the good news with them. May it be so!

Dear Father, please help me to encourage those around me to trust the Lord Jesus and to live for Him. Yes, may You be pleased to work through me this way— for Your glory.

YOU ARE GOD’S FRIEND OR ENEMY

…there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. —Acts 10:36

And he ordered us to preach everywhere and to testify that Jesus is the one appointed by God to be the judge of all—the living and the dead. He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.” —Acts 10:42-43

Sin puts a person at odds with God. Romans 5:10 tells us that before a person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ they are an enemy of God because of being a sinner. But, “we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory” (Romans 5:1-2). We move from being a sinner to being a saint or holy one (Colossians 1:4, 12, 26; I Thessalonians 3:13; II Thessalonians 1:10; Philemon 1:7).

You and I are in only one place with our relationship to God. We are either his enemy (Romans 5:10) or His friend (Luke 12:4; John 15:14-15). We have either called on His Name for salvation (Romans 10:13) or we are trusting in ourselves. You and I are either going through religious or non-religious motions only or we are resting in the finished work of Jesus at the cross and through His resurrection (Isaiah 53; Acts 8:26-38).

Are you at peace with God because you have called on the Name of the Lord Jesus to have your sins forgiven, turning from them? If so, you are His friend! If not you are His enemy and you are in an eternally dangerous situation. Call on His Name today!

Thank You dear Father that I am at peace with You through Your Son Jesus. Oh, may I truly have a grateful heart and live faithfully for Him.