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Forum Summary: The Temptations of Leadership

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

For the last forum of the second semester, Mr. Jonathan McNair wanted to express that the next generation of God’s Church will need leaders, and the Living Education–Charlotte program has given the students the opportunity to fill that role.

God will give the ability to lead to those called to do so. However, Satan will also tempt them to use their abilities and reputation for selfish gain. Mr. McNair referred to the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4 as a prime example of this. Noting that this trial immediately followed Christ’s baptism, he encouraged the students to consider that when one is successfully growing as a Christian, they should prepare for increased temptations. He then examined the three temptations that Christ faced, which we too will have to face throughout our lives.

Temptation 1: Pain and Pleasure

Mr. McNair defined maturity as the ability to delay pleasure and endure pain. The mark of immaturity is just the opposite. We live in a very immature culture that is driven by the immediate pleasures of sin and strives to avoid pain at any cost. Looking to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:2–4 that after forty days of fasting, He was incredibly hungry. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry, and Christ certainly had the power to make bread for Himself, but Satan was tempting Him to use His powers for selfish reasons. Paralleling this with our own lives, Mr. McNair explained that God did not give us our gifts and abilities for our benefit, but the benefit of others. He then asked the students to consider how they are using their abilities. Sometimes, to serve others, you must delay gratification, even going without it entirely. 

Mr. McNair then explained that another aspect of this temptation is self-reliance. We must look to God for our unmet needs because we will never be able to fully solve our problems without Him. As Matthew 6:25–39 tells us, God knows exactly what we need, so we should focus on growing as Christians and have faith that He will provide.

Temptation 2: Popularity and Praise

The second test is a test of integrity. Mr. McNair defined having integrity as being the same person in public and in private, having your beliefs match your actions. Success is a powerful measure of integrity because those who achieve it are put in the spotlight, and people will be watching them. If handled poorly, success can destroy people. However, it is possible to be a successful leader and maintain your integrity. 

Looking again to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:5–7 that He was taken by Satan to the temple. This is significant because the temple was one of the most public buildings in Jerusalem. In tempting Him to jump, Satan was goading Christ to prove Himself and show that He was the Messiah in a dramatic fashion. This was a temptation to use His abilities to draw attention to Himself. 

Mr. McNair then asked the students to consider whether they use their abilities to glorify God or glorify themselves. How we react when we receive praise and when others receive praise is a test of character. If we don’t concern ourselves with popularity and maintain an attitude of humility, we can keep praise from going to our heads.

Temptation 3: Prosperity and Possessions

This is a test of priority. As potential members of God’s family, we have the opportunity to attain great possessions and honor. But Mr. McNair warned that our goal should be to live such a life that we can serve with Christ in helping others, not so that we can attain riches. Christ is going to be King, but His goal was to redeem humanity and bring them into His family, not to attain the riches and glory that come with kingship. In verses 8–9 we can see that Satan was tempting Christ with compromising His purpose in life by worshiping him and avoiding the suffering He would have to go through to attain kingship. Mr. McNair prompted the students to consider how they will handle these things. 

The key to overcoming this temptation is to develop a generous heart and spirit. To illustrate this further, Mr. McNair referred to Matthew 16:24–26, explaining that the desire for success and riches can consume us, so we must be careful that we don’t get our priorities mixed up in life. How we use our blessings will reflect where our priorities are. Mr. McNair warned the students to not let their stuff become their world, but to generously use the things they have to impact others positively.

None of us are immune to temptation. Mr. McNair warned the students that as they begin the next phase of their lives, they may have to face challenges that will surprise them, and some of those challenges will revolve around leadership. Mr. McNair explained that we will only be able to serve as leaders if we can properly handle these temptations, as Christ only began His ministry after He overcame Satan. We will have to prove ourselves and practice dealing with these challenges. If we do, we will be able to lead effectively and successfully, just like our example, Jesus Christ.

Forum Summary: The Seven C’s for Navigating Life

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

With the Living Education–Charlotte semester drawing to a close, Dr. Douglas Winnail wanted to share with the students seven principles—all starting with the letter C—that would help them through life.

He explained that if we focus on these things periodically throughout our lives, they’ll keep us from making some common mistakes, and our lives will be better for it.

1. Character

Character is who you are. Dr. Winnail asked the students, “How would you describe yourself? How do [others] see you?” He then referred to Exodus 18:21 to illustrate that character is a very important quality God looks for in leaders and potential members of His Family. If we are to lead in the Kingdom, we’ll need to develop the kind of character God can trust. Dr. Winnail emphasized that character is one of the most important qualities we can develop in this life. The way we can do this is by making the right choices. Our choices guide our character development, so, when faced with temptation, we must stand strong.

2. Competence

“Whatever field you go into, strive to become the best.” Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the skills they’ll need and get the best information and education on whatever career they choose. But we should apply this approach to every aspect of our lives, not just our careers. Dr. Winnail referred to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 as an example of competence. He encouraged the students to try many things and, when they find something that fits them, try to develop the skills they need to be the best in it.

3. Commitment

Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us that whatever we decide to do, we should do it with all our might. Dr. Winnail advised that we carefully consider what it is that we’re going to put that effort into. We should think about where we want to go in life and why we want to go there, asking God to help guide us to where He can best use us. Once we’ve decided on a path and have determined that it’s the right way to go, we must be committed to it to find success. When we’re baptized, we’re committing to a way of life—but, as with Abraham and Isaac, God may test us to see how committed we really are.

4. Courage and Conviction

It will take courage and conviction to follow through on that commitment. Dr. Winnail referred to 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to explain that when it comes to our beliefs, we must take the time to prove them. We need to prove that there is a God and that He has a plan because it will take courage and conviction to live His way in this world. There will be trials and temptations, but we can have that courage if we trust in God.

5. Compassion and Concern

In the end times, people will only care about themselves. However, we have been called to come out of this world and care for other people. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to consider how what they do in life can help other people. We should look for ways to serve others and notice their needs. Dr. Winnail advised that we should ask God to open doors for us that will allow us to serve others in a greater capacity.

6. Communication

Referring to Proverbs 31:26, Dr. Winnail explained that we can develop kindness as we speak to people and that we can learn to speak wisely by reading through the Proverbs. Many social issues stem from a lack of communication, and the Bible has a lot to say about that. For instance, if we have a problem with someone, the Bible admonishes that we talk to them. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the capacity to talk and build relationships with people.

7. Conversion

What does it mean to be converted? Signs of conversion are the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:15-26 and a desire and determination to do things God’s way as opposed to our own. Conversion also involves being teachable and a willingness to forgive—including going to someone to apologize for an offense you caused. 

Dr. Winnail expressed that these principles will help us navigate through life. He encouraged the students to consider these “Seven Cs” and the lessons we have learned this year so our lives will be richer and more successful.

Digging Deeper: Lydia – The Purple Seller

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that the first European convert in Paul’s ministry was a woman?

Her name was Lydia. She was also the first female convert Luke described in the entirety of his Book of Acts. Lydia was a businesswoman from Thyatira who traveled to Philippi to sell her valued products. This Digging Deeper profiles this exceptional woman who blessed Paul’s ministry.

Through divine direction, Paul was forbidden by the Holy Spirit to travel to Asia Minor and Bithynia in the early 50s AD to preach the gospel (Acts 16:6-12). Instead, he was guided by a vision to travel across the sea from modern Turkey to Greece. There he preached at a river outside the city of Philippi in the Roman province of Macedonia where women gathered for prayer on the Sabbath because there were not enough men making a quorum to establish a Jewish synagogue (Acts 16:13).

Our focus verses for this study are Acts 16:14-15 (KJV throughout) “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.  (15) And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.”

Lydia and purple dye

Luke reported that she worshipped God. The NIV Study Bible explains her status: “Lydia was a Gentile who, like Cornelius (10:2), believed in the true God and followed the moral teachings of Scripture. She had not, however, become a full convert to Judaism” (Tecarta Bible App). As such people were called then, she was a “God-fearer”—a Gentile who associated with Judaism.

Being “a seller of purple,” she was a merchant of dyed garments. Oriental dyeing was prominent in Paul’s world. Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight reports: “The Orientals have some very fine dyes. Their favorite color is a bright crimson, and the dye they use to make this color comes from a worm or grub that feeds on oak and other plants. Indigo is made from the rind of pomegranate. Purple is made from the murex shellfish which can still be found on the beach at the city of Acre” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

The NKJ Study Bible describes the painstaking effort to create this dye: “Purple dye had to be gathered drop by drop from a certain shellfish. Because it was so expensive, purple dye was used on garments worn by royalty. As an artisan in purple dyes, Lydia was a wealthy woman who had come to Philippi to practice her trade” (Tecarta Bible App).

Word Pictures in the New Testament by A.T. Robertson associates this color with a modern term: “There was a great demand for this fabric as it was used on the official toga at Rome and in Roman colonies. We still use the term ‘royal purple’” (e-Sword 13.0.0). However, not everyone was authorized to wear this color, as explained by The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable: “During the Roman Period, laws restricted who could wear clothes dyed purple because it was the most precious of all colors. Thus Lydia undoubtedly dealt with an exclusive and affluent clientele” (Ibid.).

Lydia’s home town

Manners and Customs of Bible Lands by Fred H. Wight connects this process to her home city of Thyatira: “She was a merchant who sold the purple dye to tanners, weavers, and others. This business of dyeing with which she was connected, had long been centered in the city of Thyatira. Inscriptions have been discovered that refer to ‘a guild of dyers’ that was located in that vicinity”(Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22).

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible describes her home city: “Thyatira in western Asia Minor was strong in textiles; it was in the region of ancient Lydia, making Lydia a fitting name for this woman. Some scholars believe that 10,000 crushed shellfish were needed to yield a single gram of the costliest purple dye, the sort from Tyre. Some believe that dyers in Thyatira and Macedonia used a less expensive substance (the madder plant, for Thyatira)”  (Tecarta Bible App).

Daniel Whedon’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments narrates the extent of the trade of this product: “The purple traffic in this region was earlier than Homer, and women were the purplers. By the great Roman roads the traffic between Thyatira was, at this time, easy; and inscriptions are still extant describing the trade as it once existed” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Fausset’s Bible Dictionary associates Thyatira with Philippi: “Thyatira being a Macedonian colony had much contact with Philippi, the parent city” (Ibid.).

A responder to the call

Acts 16:14 declares the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. The Holman KJV Study Bible explains this divine-human interaction: “Luke combined both human and divine initiative in the description of Lydia’s response. The Lord opened her heart, but she attended to what Paul said” (Tecarta Bible App).

The Dake Annotated Bible Notes defines the condition for responding to God’s calling: “Some people are honest and yield to the Lord to open their hearts and others refuse all offers of God’s dealings and are hardened” (Bible Analyzer 5.4.1.22). The Pulpit Commentary, edited by H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, explains this miraculous opening: “To open (διανοίγειν) is applied as here to the heart (2 Mace. Philippians 1:4); to the eyes (Luke 24:31); to the ears (Mark 7:34-35); to the understanding (Luke 24:45); to the Scriptures (Luke 24:32) …” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Her baptism in Acts 16:15 was noteworthy for Paul’s ministry, as explained by the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary: “The mention of baptism here (for the first time in connection with the labours of Paul, though it was doubtless performed on all his former converts) indicates a special importance in this first European baptism. Here also is the first mention of a Christian household” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Acts 16:15 details that her household was also baptized. The Holman KJV Study Bible explains: “If the leader of a household converted, perhaps others of the household (children, servants, spouse, etc.) were persuaded to respond in the same way. It is assumed on the basis of Lydia’s response (16:14) and her question to Paul after her baptism that her confession of faith preceded her baptism. This suggests that only those of the household who were mature enough to make their own positive response to the gospel would have been baptized” (Tecarta Bible App).

Her “household” consisted of various adults, as suggested by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Who constituted Lydia’s household is uncertain; it could have included servants, freedpersons, or workers. She apparently heads her own household, which could mean that she was widowed, divorced, or a prosperous freedwoman” (Tecarta Bible App).

A courageous hostess

Acts 16:15 describes Lydia’s inviting Paul and his traveling companions to stay in her Philippian home. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides important cultural background: “Dealers in purple could be persons of means, although Lydia is technically a foreigner in the city. Hospitality was a prized virtue in the ancient Mediterranean world, and Lydia would count it an honor for this ministry team to stay with her. It would not be unusual for Jewish people to provide guests lodging for three weeks if they found the guests trustworthy. Inns were notorious for prostitution and other issues that made them less than ideal for Jewish travelers. Perhaps 10 percent of ancient benefactors were women …” (Tecarta Bible App).

Acts 16:15 notes that Lydia “constrained” Paul and his associates to abide with her. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges explains this term: “Used only by St Luke in N. T. here and Luke 24:29 of the two disciples at Emmaus. The force used was that of a prayer which would hear no ‘Nay’” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, edited by Joseph S. Exell, offers reasons Paul may have been hesitant to accept her offer at first: “Up to this time the four teachers may have supported themselves by their own labours, Paul as a tent maker, Luke as a physician, Silas and Timothy in ways unknown. That Paul was reluctant to accept Lydia’s invitation has been argued from the words, And she constrained us (compare Luke 24:29); and this he may well have been, not because of unwillingness to partake of the hospitality of others (see Romans 16:23), or to receive assistance from them when his circumstances required (Acts 24:23; 28:10; Philippians 4:15), but because he wished to avoid the imputation of being actuated by mercenary motives (Acts 20:34; 2 Corinthians 12:17,19)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

In the early 50s AD, Lydia hosted the Philippian church’s meetings in her house (Acts 16:40). Paul and his associates had just been imprisoned and released there (Acts 16:16-39). This displays her courage in the face of growing civic opposition. She and other converts formed the nucleus of that church, to whom Paul wrote an entire epistle in the early 60s AD. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary notes: “Lydia may have been also one of ‘those women who laboured with Paul in the gospel’ at Philippi (Philippians 4:3)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Lydia was a devoted female disciple of Paul’s ministry and a generous member of the early Church of God. Her legacy lives on today in the lives of many Christian women who follow her lead.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Course Spotlight: Proselyte

Do you know what the word “Proselyte” means? Take a quick look at the definition, and a peek into our course on the Apostolic Tour if you haven’t already!

COURSE SPOTLIGHT FROM ACTS OF THE APOSTLES: (UNIT 2) APOSTOLIC TOUR

Forum Summary: The Importance of Learning History

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

History is important, and our understanding of history can shape our view of the world.

But if we judge the men and women of history by our standards, we learn only about ourselves. We must shed our modern biases to better understand history. Having said all of that, and in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine raging on, Mr. Dexter Wakefield took the Living Education–Charlotte students on a tour through Russian history to bring clarity to current events, as history isn’t just about the past, but also about the present and future.

The Rise of the Soviet Union

Russia has a long history of expansionism. By the end of the Russian monarchy, it was an empire covering a vast territory, yet it wasn’t until Vladimir Lenin and the rise of the Soviet Union that it became a world power. Lenin led the Russian Revolution and overthrew the monarchy. He was considered a great thinker, a highly influential writer, and an utterly ruthless leader. However, as Mr. Wakefield explained, Lenin’s successor, Joseph Stalin, was far worse. From 1928 to 1953, Joseph Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist. It is estimated that twenty to thirty million people were killed under his regime—almost twice the carnage of Hitler’s administration! This was due to Stalin’s harsh dealings with those who disagreed with him, as anyone who was in any way opposed to his government was to die by firing squad or be sent to the dreaded gulag.

Mr. Wakefield took a few minutes to reflect on the Soviet Union and Communism by reading a collection of quotes from individuals who either lived through that time or looked back on it. He explained that Stalin’s version of Communism—commonly referred to as Stalinism—focused heavily on not only control of people’s actions, but also control of their thoughts. He illustrated how they could do this with a quote from George Orwell’s novel 1984: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” Mr. Wakefield warned the students that this is exactly what many are doing today through revisionist history—seeking to control our thoughts so that they can control our actions. While Vladimir Lenin was the father of the Soviet Union, Karl Marx was the father of Communism. As Mr. Wakefield put it, “Marx built the cart, and Lenin put the wheels on.” The Soviet Union was the ideology of Marxism put into practice on a massive scale, and its impact on the world is felt even today.

The Iron Curtain and a European Reset?

Near the end of World War II, Germany was on the decline. With victory imminent, the Allies met to determine the state of postwar Europe. Mr. Wakefield explained that when Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Stalin designed postwar Europe, Stalin promised to provide democratic freedoms to the nations that fell under Russian control. But in truth, he had other plans. While the nations were allowed to elect their leaders, only Communists were allowed to run. Any other party that tried to rise would be swiftly crushed with military action. Thus, Russia absorbed the nations entrusted to it under a unified military command. As the Soviet Union rose in power, NATO was formed for the protection of Europe. These events led to the Cold War, a time through which Mr. Wakefield lived. It is generally accepted that the Cold War ended with the Soviet Union’s fall due to economic pressure and the increasing political freedom of its people. However, Mr. Wakefield expressed that a kind of Cold War is now back on; with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there’s a concern that tactical nuclear weapons—small nukes intended for battlefield use—will be deployed, which presents the risk of escalation into a full nuclear exchange. Mr. Wakefield remarked that, until recently, he hadn’t heard these things mentioned in the news since the collapse of the Soviet Union. 

The invasion of Ukraine has prompted many European nations to reconsider their place in world politics. For example, Germany has reversed decades of policies overnight and begun rebuilding its military. Catholicism has pushed to bring the Eastern Orthodox religion—which holds sway over much of Russia—into its fold. Vladimir Putin understands the power religion has over Europe and has accused the West of trying to split Russia. The growing alliance between Russia and China could spell trouble for the United States, Mr. Wakefield said, as both nations yearn to see America’s decline and aim to replace the American dollar as the national reserve currency. 

Mr. Wakefield stressed that things can happen fast. Biblical prophecy tells us that ten European nations, lending their power to a religiously backed autocrat, will dominate the world scene primarily through finance and trade. They will be in conflict with two powerful alliances from the Middle East and Asia. Could the invasion of Ukraine be the catalyst that leads to a reorganization of the European Union and solidifies a European identity among the nations? Could the Russian territory west of the Ural Mountains be split from Eastern Russia due to political and religious pressure and join the EU as one of the ten end-time nations subservient to the Beast power? Stranger things have happened lately—only time will tell. 

In conclusion, Mr. Wakefield told the students that while history is occurring all around us, we must get the facts. He warned us to beware of revisionist history and to critically examine what we hear and see—and above all, to keep Jesus’ charge found in Mark 13:37: “Watch!”

Course Spotlight: Roman Spectacle in Second Temple Jerusalem

Here’s a description of some of Herod’s building works and activities during the early church period…

COURSE SPOTLIGHT FROM ACTS OF THE APOSTLES (UNIT 1) THE CHURCH BEGINS

Assembly Summary: Living a Life of Creativity


Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Jonathan McNair opened his Assembly lecture by asking a series of questions: “How small is your life? How narrow is your experience? How far have you exercised your creativity?” 

To illustrate his point, Mr. McNair showed the students a video of songwriter Ben Folds composing an orchestra piece in ten minutes. The host of the program solicited the audience to select the piece’s key, tempo, and the main lyric line—an obscure sentence from the program booklet. Once the audience had given their answers, Ben Folds was given ten minutes to create a song. As we watched the composition take place, we saw a creative mind come up with music on the spot.

            After the video, Mr. McNair emphasized that creativity started with God and His design. God also created creativity in humans, and we have the capacity to create many things that we put our minds to. We see examples of biblical creativity in Noah’s ark, the Tabernacle, the priests’ garments, and even Herod’s temple.

Mr. McNair gave us three principles for living a life of creativity:

  • Use Patterns for success: This step is a critical one in expressing creativity. One cannot be creative and yield results by fiat. Instead, patterns must be developed and practiced in order for us to accomplish whatever it is that we would like to achieve. If a person wants to build something, they must learn the proper codes to make sure that the building is safe. We must take to heart the patterns and principles that God gives us for success. Not all knowledge comes from the Bible, but all knowledge is framed by the Bible. Mr. McNair strongly urged the students to not stop being curious or asking questions about how things work.
  • Get the little things right: God started off the commandments by stating the obvious, revealing to Israel who He is and reaffirming His authority in Exodus 20:1. Similarly, we need to start with the basics and get those right before we are able to live a life of creativity. If we are not faithful in getting the little things done, how are we going to get anything else right? To illustrate his point, Mr. McNair quoted a caption from a photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa: “Mediocrity takes a lot less time, and most people will not notice the difference until it is too late.”
  • Work in harmony with others: Creativity does not equate to doing our own thing. Instead, it is most productive when we synchronize and involve ourselves with other people. In Philippians 2:1-4, we are admonished to be of like mind with the brethren, and in order to achieve that, we must esteem others better than ourselves. We are not to use relationships as stepping-stones, but willing to share and harmonize with others. We must be willing to lead, but also to follow.

Mr. McNair closed his lecture by showing the students another short video. This one showed Elton John composing a song in front of a live audience. An audience member had an electric oven manual with him, and he asked Elton John to compose a song using this manual. Elton John succeeded marvelously, regaling the audience with an on-the-spot pop song about using an electric oven! Mr. McNair challenged the students to use their God-given gifts and intellect to build a life of creativity.

Assembly Summary: Biblical Imperatives for Young People

Author: Yolanda Watt | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22


Estimated Reading Time: 6 min.

Mr. Kenneth Frank opened his lecture to the Living Education students by stating that the Bible is a very big book and has many instructions in it that are geared toward young people.

Throughout this lecture we focused on God’s imperative to young people on how to seek Him. Mr. Frank quoted from a brief article in McClintock and Strong: Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, by John McClintock and James Strong which states “the ancients considered youth in a much more extended view than we do. They regarded it relatively with strength, activity, vigor; and while a man retained those attributes he was reckoned a young man, or a youth, without reference to the number of his years.”

Mr. Frank then gave examples of men who were referred to as youth or a young man, regardless of his age such as Benjamin who was in his thirties and Joshua who was in his forties. The young lack the wisdom and experience of the elders and therefore they are repeatedly considered in the book of Proverbs as “sons”. There are times that the Proverbs describe the young as being simple. This is not meant to be an insult but is used to describe one who is inexperienced. God gives many instructions to young people throughout Scripture, as Mr. Frank explained. In the remainder of the presentation, he highlighted fourteen of these “imperatives” in the following list:

Fourteen Imperatives for Young People from the Bible

1. Study God’s Word

We are told in Psalm 119:9-16, that in order to cleanse our way and not sin we must study the Word. The cleansing here is a spiritual one which cleanses the mind and heart. It is vitally important for us to know God’s word in our hearts so we can strive to overcome sin. The more we know of God’s instruction, the less likely we are to stray away from it.

We must also meditate on God’s word. When we meditate, we do not empty our minds like in Eastern meditation, but we fill our minds with God’s instructions. We see examples of this in  Psalm 71:17-18 and Job 29:1-5.

2. Praise God

In Psalm 148:1-6, 12, is the admonition to praise the Lord—beginning with the angelic host, the creation, and finally young men and women. All people, regardless of social status, are united in that we should all praise God. In the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13, Christ set the example that even our prayers should begin with praising God, followed by our request, and end with praising God again.

3. Honor your parents

This is a command listed in Exodus 20:12. We are to always honor our parents, regardless of our age. However, as young people we should especially consider that parents have given us much, and God expects us to honor and respect them.

4. Obey your parents in the Lord

Ephesians 6:1-3 commands us to obey our parents, and as Mr. Frank explained, this applies as long as we are under our parent’s roof. When we are married and move away the relationship with our parents changes, because now we are bound to a new family with our spouse. To obey means that we recognize the authority of those who are over us.

5. Fear God

We are commanded in Psalm 34:11-14 to fear God. Fear involves revering, and being in awe of God, but it also involves being afraid to disobey God and break His commands. There is a danger in not fearing God and that should motivate us to fear Him. He has the power of life and death over us. The fear of God is also defined as the beginning of wisdom in Proverbs 9:10 and in Proverbs 8:13 it is defined as hating evil.

6. Trust in God

In Psalm 71:5-6, we see the psalmist was loyal to God from his youth. God should be our trust as it was for this psalmist.

7. Seek God

In Proverbs 8:1-2, 12-17, wisdom is depicted as a lady who extends an invitation to the inexperienced to learn from her. She promises life and not death, and she is very public and spiritual. 

8. Rejoice in your youth

Ecclesiastes 11:9-10 admonishes us to rejoice in our youth, while we are yet physically able to gain a variety of experiences.

9. Put evil away

We are also admonished of this in Ecclesiastes 11:9-10. We are to let the timely recollection of God’s judgment and the fleeting nature of youth influence our conduct, and to stay away from that which will cause lifelong sorrow and regret.

10. Forget the shame of your youth

In Isaiah 54:1-5, God is telling Jerusalem that when she repents and returns to Him, He will have mercy on her and help her forget the shame of your youth. If we have made mistakes in our past, we can turn to God with a repentant heart and put those things behind us to we can move forward in our lives.

11. Bear the yoke of responsibility in your youth

In Lamentations 3:25-27, we are admonished to accept responsibility and work hard in our youth.

12. Be sober minded

In Titus 2:1-8, we see that we are to be sober or wise. This admonition is geared towards the older men and women in teaching the younger to be sober.

13. Submit to spiritual elders

In 1 Peter 5:1, the apostle urges his audience to submit to their spiritual elders. The elders have the responsibility to feed the flock and to set good examples. The young must submit to elders, which could be either the physical elderly or it could be the spiritual elders, our ministers.

14. Overcome Satan, the devil

1 Peter 5:8 warns us to be sober and vigilant because our enemy is always looking for a way to accuse the brethren. We also read 1 John 2:12-14, where John as an elder writes to the church encouraging the young to be strong because they have overcome the wicked one. As Mr. Frank brought out, this instruction also connects to his first point—to study God’s Word.

God provides directions and instructions for young people. We, as young adults, have the potential to achieve great things for God in our years of service to Him by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Work of God’s Church depends on the next generation being properly trained. The students were encouraged by Mr. Frank to enjoy the special time we have and to make the most of our fleeting youth, as it will serve well for the rest of our lives in our service to God and to His Church. 

Course Spotlight: Burial Box of James the Brother of Jesus

Did you know there was a discovery of a burial box that James the brother of Jesus Christ may have been buried in? In the fall of 2002 this discovery incited much scholarly debate over it’s inscription’s authenticity, which stated, “James the son of Joseph the brother of Jesus.” 

Course Spotlight From The General Epistles: (Part 1) The Letters of James and Peter

Digging Deeper: Teach Us to Number Our Days

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education


Estimated reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that Moses composed a prayer asking God to teach him to number the days of his life?

Deep inside, humans know they have limited life spans. Nonetheless, people go about their daily affairs as if there would be no end of days. God inspired a psalm to remind us that, because of sin, human life is limited. He wants believers to make the most of their limited time serving Him. This Digging Deeper challenges its readers to think deeply about the brevity of mortal life while anticipating life eternal.

Our focus verse comes from a psalm that frames Moses’ prayer: Psalm 90:12 KJV throughout: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Moses was not the only man of God to make such a request. David prayed a similar prayer in Psalm 39:4 “LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.”  By contrast, notice how God views time in Psalm 90:4 “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

Notice the immediate context of Psalm 90:12 in v. 10: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” The NKJ Study Bible explains this lesson of counting our years: “The point here is not to set a maximum, but to present a context for the brevity of human life. No matter how long people live, it is inevitable that they will fly away to death” (Tecarta Bible App).

Life spans shortened in the wilderness

B.H. Carroll’s An Interpretation of the English Bible provides some background for this psalm: “The author of Psalm 90 is Moses. He wrote this psalm while he was in the wilderness of Arabia. The internal evidence that Moses wrote it at this time is that it bears the stamp of the wilderness period all the way through” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Henry Morris in his Days of Praise commentary for Psalm 90:10, entitled Threescore Years and Ten, wrote: “When Moses wrote these words near the end of his life, he was 120 years old (Deuteronomy 34:7), but all the rest of the people of Israel (except Caleb and Joshua) who had been over 20 at the beginning of the 40-year wilderness wanderings, had died there (Numbers 14:28-34), and so there were no others over 60 years old…Thus, the normal lifespan by Moses’ time was down to 70 or 80 years, and he prophesied that this would continue. It is remarkable that, with all the increase in medical knowledge, this figure has stayed about the same, and there seems to be little the gerontologists can do to increase it.”

F.B. Meyer in his Through the Bible Day by Day pictures the Israelites’ trauma as they witnessed the older generation dying off because God judged them for refusing to enter the Promised Land as He instructed: “The ceaseless succession of graves was the bitter harvest of Israel’s rebellions. Oh, that we might apply our hearts to wisdom that we may not fail of God’s rest” (e-Sword 13.0.0)! The Treasury of David, by C.H. Spurgeon, elaborates further: “Poor Israel was greatly afflicted. These deaths in the wilderness made her a perpetual mourner, but Moses asks that God will return to his people, cheer and encourage them, and let the few days they have to live be bright with his presence” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

B.H. Carroll’s An Interpretation of the English Bible notes a fascinating correspondence between this psalm and a section of Deuteronomy: “There are several parallels between this and Moses’ Song and Blessing in Deuteronomy 32-33. For example, Psalm 90:1 equals Deuteronomy 33:27 a: Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations (Psalm 90:1). The eternal God is thy dwelling-place, And underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27 a). Psalm 90:12 equals Deuteronomy 32:29: So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12.) Oh that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end, (Deuteronomy 32:29.)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Moses had properly instructed the people in God’s ways, but their rebellion resulted in multiple graves instead of blessing.

Apply your hearts to wisdom

Even so, there is hope for all sinners. Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible provides broader context for understanding this psalm: “Psalm 90:7-12 This strophe clearly admits that YHWH’s judgment on His people is the direct result of their sin. However, His people trust and hope in the basic character of God—mercy! To me, Psalm 103:8-14 is a sure hope in the character of God (cf. Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 4:31; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 145:8)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Among his final statements, Moses admonishes the repentant to pray: “Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil (Psalm 90:15) “.

In Psalm 90:12 God’s people are counseled to apply their hearts to wisdom. The NET Bible defines heart: “The Hebrew term ‘heart’ here refers to the center of one’s thoughts, volition, and moral character” (e-Sword 13.0.0). The Jamiesson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary describes what wisdom entails in this context: “The ‘wisdom’ meant is that which flows from a right consideration of the brevity of life, and our guiltiness as the cause of God’s, anger against us; and consists in ‘fearing God’ and ‘departing from evil’ (Job 28:28)” (Ibid.). This is the essence of repentance.

The Sermon Bible Commentary, edited by W. Robertson Nicholl, enhances the meaning of wisdom: “Wisdom is a great word, because the idea it symbolizes is great. Wisdom represents that finer power, that higher characteristic of mind, which suggests the proper application of facts, the right use of knowledge, the correct direction of our faculties. He whose heart is applied to wisdom has put himself in such a position that he can think divinely—think as God would think in his place” (e-Sword 13.0.0). The Expository Notes by Dr. Constable then summarizes wisdom: “A heart of wisdom refers to discernment of Yahweh’s purposes” (Ibid.). Bible study and prayer reveal the mind of God to the faithful.

The Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon illuminates true spiritual wisdom: “That is the great matter, after all, to get the heart applied to wisdom, to learn what is the right way, and to walk in it in the practical actions of daily life. It is of little use for us to learn to number our days if it merely enables us to sit down in self-confidence and carnal security; but if our hearts be applied to true wisdom, the Lord’s teaching has been effectual” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

W. Robertson Nicholl’s The Expositor’s Dictionary of Texts elaborates with practical steps: “It means to gauge and test our own career in the light of its moral and spiritual issues. And as God teaches us this we understand the secret of true wisdom. For wisdom lies in a just estimate of the real values of things. T. H. Darlow, The Upward Calling, p. 436” (e-Sword 13.0.0). God’s wisdom teaches His adherents the things that really matter to prepare them for service in His eternal Kingdom.

Seeking eternity in a short life

Daniel Whedon’s Commentary specifies what God is trying to accomplish: “This looks to the end of all divine judgment. Lamentations 3:39-40. God’s displeasure is manifested to awaken a salutary fear of him, which shall turn men from sin, and lead to the practice of wisdom. So long as men treat sin as a trifle they will treat God with irreverence and themselves with abuse. Revelation 15:4” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The Sermon Bible Commentary, edited by W. Robertson Nicholl, presses upon devotees the right use of their limited time: “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour. Neither are we sure of enough of life to justify us in procrastinating for a moment. If we were wise in heart we should see this, but mere head wisdom will not guide us aright” (e-Sword 13.0.0). God gives Christians limited time – use it wisely!

Henry Morris’ Defender’s Study Bible makes an impressive comparison: “Compare Deuteronomy 32:29 in Moses’ valedictory address to the children of Israel. A person has only about eighteen thousand days in which he could apply his life to eternal values, so it is vitally important to be ‘redeeming the time’ (Ephesians 5:16)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible provides reassuring words to begin to bring this brief study to a close: “Once we realize our frailty and His permanence, then and only then, can we live a life of joy, peace, and trust. Our hope is completely in Him. Our service to Him brings meaning to life” (e-Sword 13.0.0)! The time that God does provide believers should be expended in His service. The NKJ Study Bible pinpoints the central lesson of Psalm 90:12: “This is more than just having a sense of mortality; it means valuing the time we do have by using it for eternal purposes” (Tecarta Bible App).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.