Bible Study for Feb. 3: When Substances Take Over

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Ephesians 5:15-21
Gregg Potts, lay minister

A preacher was winding up his sermon on alcohol with great fervor.

He said, “If I had all the beer in the world, I’d take it and throw into the river.”

The congregation replied, “Amen!”

He continued, “If I had all the wine in the world, I’d take it and throw it in the river.”

Again, the congregation replied, “Amen!”

He continued, “If I had all the whiskey, I’d take it and throw it in the river!”

Again, the congregation said, “Amen!”

Then, the preacher sat down.

The minister of music got up and sheepishly said, “Let’s all stand and sing, ‘Shall We Gather At The River.’”

Well, we might need to gather at the river for baptism but not for liquor.

Life is filled with challenges and people cope with those challenges differently. Several years ago I was working a part-time job at a place that booked condominiums in Florida. There were a couple of other people who worked there as well.

One day, a lady was talking about an upcoming trip she was taking. She remarked that she was a bit nervous about flying. A young man working there said, “Oh, once you have a few drinks, you will be all right.” Then, he added, “Just need a few drinks.” He wasn’t talking about Diet Dr. Pepper either.

“Just have a few drinks and you will be alright …” That’s what the world thinks. For this young man, the answer to life’s challenges was just to have a drink. There are many who share his view… If you just have a drink or drinks, life is good.

Well, drinking can lead to substance abuse problems for people. I was once pastor of a church located in an area where there was a ministry for men and women dealing with substance abuse. These were people just like you and me who became addicted to alcohol or drugs.

In Ephesians 5:15-21, the Apostle Paul challenges us to stay away from drugs and alcohol. He provides us with direction on living for the Lord while refraining from substance abuse.

Paul challenges us to live wisely

Paul says “Pay careful attention, then, to how you live… not as unwise people but as wise… “

Life is filled with choices. Every day, we make choices and our choices eventually make us.

John Wooden, legendary basketball coach for the UCLA Bruins, once said, “There is a choice you make in everything you do; remember that the choice you make, makes you.”

Deciding to drink is a choice. No one is forced to drink alcohol. Paul challenges us to live wisely and that means refrain from alcohol.

Paul challenged us to be filled with the Spirit

Paul says, “Don’t get drunk with wine which leads to reckless living but be filled with the spirit.” In a world that celebrates drunkenness, Paul says “don’t get drunk with wine.” Instead of getting drunk with wine, Paul challenges us to “be filled with the Spirit.”

Those words “be filled with the Spirit” do not represent a one-time event. The verb suggests continuing action. It means to “go on being filled” indicating a daily process of submission to the Spirit. Every day, we are to ask the Lord to fill us with the Spirit and as we are filled, the Lord helps us to live wisely and to refrain from alcohol or substance abuse.

If you or someone you know is trying to beat substance abuse, you or they will need help. That helps comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul reminds us to walk with the Lord

As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will govern our tongue. Paul says “…speaking to one another in Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” A lady told me recently that she started smoking at the age of 12. She was with a group of people and someone encouraged her to smoke. That person’s words led someone to begin a lifetime of smoking. We need to be careful what we say.

As we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will influence our attitude. Paul challenges us to “give thanks for everything.” Thankfulness helps us overcome feelings that may lead to alcohol or drug abuse.

Super Bowl Sunday is coming up. Lots of alcohol will be consumed by people watching the ball game. According to a 2016 study done by Time magazine, 325 million gallons of beer are consumed by Americans on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s roughly one gallon for every man, woman, and child in the country.

Some who aren’t Super Bowl fans enjoy watching the ads. Unfortunately, some of the best ads may be by the liquor industry. Advertisements will make people think if you drink that particular brand of alcohol, your life will be filled with fun. But it doesn’t tell you how many lives are destroyed due to alcohol abuse.

Life is filled with challenges. Instead of turning to liquor, let the Lord help you with the challenges of life.

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