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A survey about women

ACCORDING TO A poll conducted by SELF magazine…

1.  Percentage of women using the internet to find a sex partner:  12%  (of 18 to 25 year-olds), 18%  (of 26 to 35 year-olds), 21% (of 36 to 50 year-olds), and 27% (of 51 year-olds and older).

2.  Percentage of women using the internet to learn more about sex and sexuality:  57%

3.  Percentage of women using the internet to find a date:  29% (of 18  to 25 year-olds), 52% (of 26 to 35 year-olds), 51% (of 36 to 50 year-olds), and 68% (of 51 year-olds and older).

4.  More than 30% of women ages 26 to 50 have flirted with a stranger online while in a relationship.

5.  Percentage of women who say they are more likely to be sexually explicit or flirtatious when texting or online than they would be in real life:  40%.

6.  Percentage of women who clear their browser history after viewing explicit content online:  75% (of 18 to 25 year-olds), 63% (of 26 to 35 year-olds), 49% (of 36 to 50 year-olds), and 48% (of 51 year-olds and older).

7,  Percentage of women who have emailed or used their cell phone to send explicit images of themselves:  41%.

8.  Percentage of women who have had cybersex:  38%.

9.  Percentage of women who have sent explicit text messages:  22%.

10.  Percentage of women who have undressed for a webcam:  18%.

Bible message: “…Keep yourself pure.”  1 Timothy 5:22b; cf., Matthew 5:8; Psalms 24:4-5; 51:10; 119:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:5

Mike Benson

Is it wrong to go to the prom?

“Alcohol Enforcement Stepped-Up For Prom Season” (wowt.com, 4/7/14).  Why?

“Prom Season Can Be Dangerous Time For Teens” (www.martinsvillebulletin.com, 4/11/14).  Just one statement in the article reads, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website adds that statistics indicate alcohol-related peer pressure is strongest at prom time, due to the large number of parties in a short period.”

“Some Schools Prohibit Party Buses For School Buses” (tbo.com, 4/7/14).  A principal in the Tampa Bay area interviewed in the article said, “…the most common discipline-worthy incidents at school dances tend to be drinking alcohol before or during the event, fighting, trespassing and inappropriate dancing. ‘The dancing is not like it was when I was in high school,’ he said.”

“Prom And Wretched Excess” (Chicago Tribune, 10/23/05).  A Long Island, New York, principal, Kenneth Hoagland, interviewed for the article says, “Twenty years ago…seniors went to the beach after their prom dance and then to someone’s house for breakfast. Now, he says, prom is a weekend-long orgy that every year has become incrementally more excessive, with small fortunes spent on ostentatious attire, stretch limos stocked with liquor, and ‘booze cruises’ from a local harbor.”

“It’s Your Prom! Make It Safe, Healthy, And Fun” (www.cdc.gov/family/prom/index.htm).  The information page includes cautions about the pressures teens who attend the prom feel to drink alcohol, use drugs, and have sex during the weekend’s activities.

“What Happened To Modest Prom Dresses?” (CNN, Carl Azuz, 5/9/12).  The article reveals that 35% of prom dresses sold by David’s Bridal are from the line called “Sexy,” a style defined by “low-cut backs, high-cut hemlines, and skin-showing cutouts.” Houston Chronicle blogger Mary Jo Rapini, interviewed by Azuz, says a shift in parenting values where parents allow their kids to wear on such occasions what their own parents would not have explains some of what has happened to “modest prom dresses.”

Headlines like these are to be found ad nauseum.  They demonstrate that even the world acknowledges that Prom Night promotes immoral behavior.  I cannot help but ask why we as Christians either encourage or permit our children’s participation in an event with so many elements clearly “over the line.”  Why we would want to associate with something that involves a fundamental compromise of what is right in so many areas of Christian living?

In Romans 12:1-2, Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Paul teaches us that our bodies and minds belong to God.  That means that there are circumstances where the world will urge and pressure us to do things and go places that are worldly.  Let us carefully deliberate and always strive to be transformed rather than conformed.  Distinctiveness can certainly be unpopular with this world, but it may well give us the opportunity to “prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

–Neal Pollard

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it

GOD DIDN’T SAY Adam and Eve should avoid any flowering shrubs over a cubit tall…

He didn’t say to also avoid any plant life that is green on every other Wednesday, and on the opposing Wednesdays to avoid the red stuff.  None of the “leaves of three, let it be” nonsense.  Whether we are okay with what He did or not, God was clear: “Stay away from that one tree, all of the time.”

I have come to appreciate the risk of that tree for God — and the necessity of that tree for us.  Simply put, that tree made is real: it gave us choice.  God wasn’t looking to make some complicated hamsters that He could set up in a sweet cage.  He created us for real relationship with Him.  Real relationship simply cannot exist if you cannot choose something else other than that relationship.  We pity a woman whose husband or boyfriend keeps her locked in their house, monitors the few phone calls he allows her to have, and keeps even her family at arm’s length.  No one would call that love.

Had God not offered the tree and with the opportunity to rebel against Him, He would have been that guy.  Love that isn’t chosen is forced.  In giving us that tree and making the warning very clear, He gave us choice, even the option to reject His guidance and companionship.  He knew very well that decision would cost Him dearly, but it was what was best for us.  Jim Pace, “How Could He?”, Should We Fire God?, 60-61

Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 3:15-17

Mike Benson

Accident Forgiveness

Josie wishes she could go back to bed. She searched for thirty minutes for her keys, only to find that her five-year-old had hidden them in the cookie jar.

Her sister asked her to keep her nieces, when Josie and her husband had their own date planned. Finally, their air conditioner appeared to be acting up.

As she hurried to the preschool, she reached for her phone. It was not there. Turning her head to look for it, she felt a huge jolt, bouncing her head back and forward. She screamed at the pain and shock, as she realized she had rear-ended another vehicle. She laid her head on the steering wheel, overwhelmed by frustration.

These type accidents can devastate our insurance rating and premiums. However, some insurance companies currently offer, “Accident Forgiveness.” In other words, “A program offered by some insurance companies that doesn’t raise premiums after an accident, regardless of who is at fault.” /1

We may not all have traffic accidents. However, in the spiritual world, we all have accidents. We are told that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV). Moreover, when we sin, we separate ourselves from God and cannot return, on our own ability (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 5:10).

When we have a traffic accident, we can debate endlessly who was at fault. However, spiritually, we have no one else to blame. We are all responsible for our own sins, whether accidental or intentional (Ezekiel 18:20).

When we make a mess of our lives, we find ourselves chained to them. There is nothing we can do, on our own, to remove the chains. We are alone with our sins.

Yet, God completely forgets our accidents, and they disappear completely from our record (Jeremiah 31:34).

We can come to Jesus and have our sins remitted through immersion, we are born again (John 3:3-5; Romans 6:3- 4). Christ died on the cross, so we can receive salvation (Romans 5:8-9). Afterward, we continue to live for Christ, in faith (Hebrews 11:6; Ephesians 4:1).

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).

In other words, as long as we live in Christ, God forgives all of our future accidents before they happen!

No company can ever match that plan! (2 Corinthians 9:15).

1/ http://tinyurl.com/266h2of

–Richard Mansel

Effective versus ineffective fathers

THE GENESIS ACCOUNT says Lot went to his sons-in-law and told them that there was trouble ahead (19:12), that the city was doomed, and that they’d better evacuate while the going was possible…

This is what the Bible says about their response:

“But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking” (Genesis 19:14).

The most serious moment in Lot’s life turned out to be a hysterically funny joke.  And why not?  What did they have to go on when Lot tried to offer special leadership?  His lifestyle?  The way he had lived in the past in Sodom?  He hadn’t talked about these things before; why should they be so excited when he suddenly raised these issues now?  Lot was no one to be talking about judgment; it certainly hadn’t marked his life before this.  He must be kidding.

Children do observe.  What do they see?  The answer separates the effective from the ineffective fathers.  The former takes note of the importance of exposure to his children — that every moment he is with them is a chance to make a positive impression for the purpose of character building and spirit development.  But the latter doesn’t see this.  His view of the family is one of simply living together and finding the home to be little more than a meeting place in which to eat, sleep, and have a little fun.  Gordon MacDonald, “Wear Shoes You Want to be Filled,”  The Effective Father, 99-100

“Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured…”  2 Timothy 3:10-11

–Mike Benson

Something God DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR!

ALMOST IMMEDIATELY AFTER crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites all got sick…

They all caught a deadly virus.  It was far more virulent and lethal than the SARS virus that brought death an destruction to our world.  It was the G virus — the “grumble” germ…

All but two occurrences of “grumbling” in the Old Testament are found in six chapters of the Pentateuch: Exodus 15, 16, and 17, and Numbers 14, 16, and 17.  Of all the sins of the fathers, God counted this one of the worst.  It is one of Satan’s most effective weapons because it robs us of God and robs God of us!

Sometimes learning what God thinks about our grumbles helps us to deal with them.  First of all, God hears us when we gripe and grumble.  Numbers 11:18 says, “The LORD heard you when you wailed.”  Over and over again the Bible says that God heard the Israelites’ griping and their grumbling.  We need to know that God doesn’t want to hear it!

Our son and daughter-in-law have seven children.  There is a sign displayed in a prominent place in their kitchen that says briefly and succintly: “No whining!”  Whining is unacceptable behavior to those parents, and it is unacceptable to God .  It poisons the environment and spoils relationships.  It makes God sad to hear us whine, and it also makes Him mad!  “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD.  And when He heard them His anger was aroused” (Numbers 11:1).  God wants us to know that wailing and whining are unacceptable behaviors.  Jill Briscoe, “The Other Side of Redemption,” Here Am I Lord…Send Somebody Else!, 80-81

“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Mike Benson

The story of Esther

IF I PERISH, I PERISH

The young people in one church had been studying the Book of Esther.  It was obviously that one boy had been paying attention when his family had Brussels sprouts for supper.  Spearing one and looking at it distastefully, he placed it in his mouth, saying, “If I perish, I perish.”

The story of Esther is one of the greatest stories of courage in the Bible.

When Mordecai realized that there was a plot to kill the Jews in Persia, he saw only one possibility to save them, and that was through Esther.  He asked Esther to go before the king and request that he rescind the decree and save the Jewish people.  But Esther was hesitant to do that because there was a law that said that anyone who went into the king’s court without an invitation could be put to death, and she hadn’t been invited for a month!

Mordecai sent another message to Esther that said, in effect, “Think, Esther.  The decree says all Jews.  It doesn’t exclude anybody in the king’s household.  You are a Jew and that means you’ve already been condemned to death.  If the king receives you, you’ve got a chance.  But even if he doesn’t, you’re no worse off.”

One of the most powerful verses in all the Bible is found in verse 14.  It’s a question that I believe every Christian should ask himself when he’s facing a difficult situation:  “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

“Esther, have you ever thought that maybe this is the reason why God put you in the position of being queen?  Did you think he did it just so you could have an easy life?  This is the reason God has brought you where you are.  Your presence in the palace is not by accident but by divine appointment.”

The time had come for Esther to make a choice.  She could approach the king and possibly lose her life, or she could remain silent and allow the annihilation of herself and her people.  She decided to stand for what was right.  And with the heroic words, “If I perish, I perish!” (4:16), she went to the king.

Has God put you in a position to make a difference to the people around you?  Like Esther, will you have the courage to respond, regardless of what the consequences may be?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

I love you, too

Harsh Words by Stan Mitchell

I remember in college (extremely good memory, right?) going out after studies with friends. We were young and energetic, and with typical youthful zest, we would kid and tease each other.

Mostly this was all in good fun, but there were times when the teasing went too far, and someone was hurt. It was at this point that one friend made use of a gentle answer that kindly, yet effectively, put an end to the joking.

He would say, “I love you, too.”

The wise man of Proverbs says something similar:

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” (Proverbs 15:1, ESV).

We’ve all been there. In a marriage, or a discussion with friends, with a church problem, the emotions rise, the disagreements heats up, emotions are raw. Then, someone rises in anger, a bitter denunciation on his lips, on the cusp of being delivered.

This is a decisive moment, the instant when an angry word will ignite an explosion, or a gentle answer will douse the flames.

Next time you’re in that situation, think of a gentle answer.

www.forthright.net

Earliest Known Human Ancestors Lived Thousands Of Years Apart

Never mind Genesis 2:18-24.  In a Reuters story with the above title is also the subtitle, “Earliest Known Human Ancestors Lived Thousands Of Years Apart.”  You may ask, “How could this be?”  That is exactly the question expressed in the article.  Along comes Peter Underhill and his Stanford University colleagues with some very interesting answers.  Underhill said, “They had different molecular clocks.”

They believe Eve lived 143,000 years ago.  Adam came much later.  According to Underhill’s research, “genetic bottlenecks” in the male genetic legacy may have shortened it.

Now, I am not a doctor or even a Stanford researcher.  But as I read the article, I immediately had a question that the article does not even attempt to answer.  “If woman appeared tens of thousands of years before man, how did they have children?”  When was there a shift in the biology of the male and female anatomy from the way children were born then to the way we get them today?  When did a woman have a male child, and how?  Or did man evolve separately?”

Evolution cannot explain how a fertile “homo sapien” male and fertile “homo sapien” female could appear in the same generation in the same place, come together, and begin to perpetuate the human race.  Perhaps this is their attempt at an end run around the plain record of the Bible.  But it raises more questions and provides fewer answers.  But, so many times, the point does not seem to be providing positive proof of anything so much as it is disproving the accuracy of the Bible.  It seems to me that they have done neither.

Long ago, Paul warned Timothy to beware of “worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’” (1 Tim. 6:20, NAS).  While the KJV uses the word “science” rather than knowledge, the Greek word is “gnosis” (which it translates “knowledge” the other 28 times it appears in the New Testament).  The Underhill project would certainly seem to be “worldly chatter,” undertaken to prove a godless theory.  It also seems like “empty chatter,” a fruitless discussion about matters already firmly settled by the Bible.  It is, by definition, an opposing argument from that stated in the Genesis account.  And, without doubt, it is “falsely called ‘knowledge.’”  1 Timothy 2:13 says, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.”  Underhill says, “For Eve was first formed, then Adam.”  Remember when God warned Adam and Eve that, if they ate the “forbidden fruit,” they would “surely die”?  The serpent came along and contended, “You surely shall not die!” (Gen. 3:4).

Science, medicine and technology have brought us so far in increasing the quality and quantity of our lives today.  For that, be thankful!  But, be able to recognize arrogant attempts to disprove God and the Bible in favor of a rebellious humanism which desires to give no account of self to anyone.  Stay tuned, as there will certainly be other “stunning revelations” like this in the years ahead.

–Neal Pollard

Christian hymn *Almost Persuaded*

One Minute Late For The Plane

“Last call for Henderson and Hernandez.”  It was eleven minutes until the plane was scheduled to depart.  At ten minutes to departure, the airline released the seats for this party of two and allowed two passengers who had been victims of an oversell to board in their place.  At nine minutes to departure, here come Henderson and Hernandez.  They were husband and wife, and they had been swallowed up by the long security lines at George H.W. Bush International.  They were livid.  They were in disbelief.  They used very foul language.  They threatened.  They pleaded.  She was told of airline policy (actually, airlines can release seats fifteen minutes before departure), to which she responded, “But, we were only one minute late!”

One of the most sobering songs in our songbook is entitled “Almost Persuaded.”  The wording is drawn from Paul’s conversation with Agrippa in Acts 26, with the idea that many will come very close to becoming Christians but will tragically decide that Jesus is Lord too late (cf. Phil. 2:9-11).  Have you ever wondered who will be the last person deliberating the decision to become a Christian when the trumpet sounds and the dead in Christ rise?  Why do we delay?  And at what cost do we procrastinate?

I was not privy to what had happened to them that caused them to miss their flight.  Did their alarm fail them?  Were they involved in an auto incident?  Did they get lost?  That could explain things.  Or, they could have waited too long to leave the house, overslept, or failed to leave themselves the time to encounter a TSA terror.  But, one thing is certain.  Their tardiness kept them from boarding their flight.

What keeps many from success?  What will keep many from heaven?  They were going to do what they should, but they did not get around to it in time!  That has pertinence to our daily schedules and our overall success.  It has relevance to whether or not we go to heaven.  Do not live decide to live for Jesus even one minute too late!

–Neal Pollard

Be careful to maintain good works

Good Works Are Never Little

As Paul concluded his letter to Titus, he urged him to remember something very important:

“This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8, NKJV).

“Be careful to maintain good works.” Have we been on the receiving end of good works because of a death in the family, a major illness or surgery, or some other setback?

Have we watched Christian brethren come forward in various ways to express concern and sympathy? Each of these good works have been “good and profitable” to us.

Let us reflect on what we learned from our experiences in such times:

• Expressions of concern really mean something. It’s often hard for the one writing the card or making the telephone call to see its significance. “It’s just a little thing,” we think. But those who are hurting see more. The hand stretched out in love is a welcome sight. It’s a reminder that sunshine is still present in our dark world.

• Visits from those who care are enormously helpful. The visit may be virtually silent; no appropriate words come to mind. But the fact that someone cared enough to be there is a powerful message. Whether it’s an hour- long visit or just two or three minutes, it shows love and support.

• Casseroles and loaves of bread nourish more than the body. The fact that someone took time to prepare food is a reminder that they care. The benefits yielded by gifts of food are many, not the least of which is the freedom to spend more time with family and friends. That bowl of beans and the coconut cake were more delicious because they were served with love.

• God touches us through human hugs and handshakes. Once we refrained from visible shows of affection, thinking it might send the wrong message. Now we understand, better than before, that a hug or a firm handshake can often communicate more powerfully than words.

We’ve not described anything extraordinary or heroic in these examples. They are, however, reminders of the truth of Paul’s admonition to Titus.

It’s a truth learned most clearly when we’re on the receiving end. But when our lives are going smoothly, let’s not forget that others may be struggling. By taking notice of their plight and by doing the “little things” we each can do, we help greatly in their moment of need.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9,10).

–by Tim Hall

KNOWING THE BIBLE FROM COVER TO COVER

Once upon a time there was a church without a pastor.  (Here I appropriate the use of the word “pastor” as it is used in most denominational churches, not as it is used in the New Testament.)  The Board of the church had interviewed several prospective ministers, but so far none were to their liking.  Some were too bold, some were too quiet, some were too harsh, some were too flashy, and some, they thought, were just not pretty enough.

The last prospect stood before the Board.  His name was Sam.  One of the Board members asked Sam if he knew his Bible.  Sam replied, “I sure do – I know my Bible from cover to cover, from Generations to Revolutions.”  When someone asked him which part of the Bible he liked best, Sam answered, “The Book of Parables.”  The Board members exchanged glances, then one of them asked Sam which parable he liked best.  Sam replied, “I like the parable of the Good Samaritan best.”  The Board asked Sam if he would tell the story of the Good Samaritan, and here is the way Sam told it.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when he fell among thieves, and thorns grew up and choked the man.  He didn’t have any money and the Queen of Sheba came along and gave him a thousand talents and a hundred changes of raiment.  He got in a chariot and rode furiously along, and as he rode his hair got caught on the limb of a tree and he hung there many days, and the ravens brought him food to eat and water to drink.  Finally, Delilah came along and cut off his hair and he fell on stony ground, and it rained forty days and forty nights.  So he went and hid himself in a cave and the dogs came and licked his sores.

As he returned to Jerusalem, he saw an old hen trying to get her chickens under her wings, but some of them would not.  He went a little farther and met a man who asked him to have supper with him, but he said, “I can’t, because I have married a wife,” but he compelled him, so he ate supper with him and they had locusts and wild honey.

As he was going down the street, he looked up and saw Jezebel in a window, and when she saw him she laughed at him.  When she laughed, he said, “Fling down Jezebel.”  And they flung her down.  And he said, “Fling her down again – seventy times seven.”  So they flung her down seventy times seven, and of the fragments they picked up twelve baskets.  Now in the judgment whose wife is she going to be?

The Board members smiled at one another and dismissed Sam.  The time had come to cast their votes for the best candidate for pastor of the church.  They reflected on each individual they had interviewed.  When the votes were tallied it was unanimous.  Sam was the new preacher.  All agreed that he would be an outstanding pastor for their church.  He met all their qualifications, and, most important, he “knew his Bible from cover to cover”!

The above humorous parody has been around for several years.  All of the isolated facts that are strung together in Sam’s “parable” are found in the Bible, yet the “parable” is a sterling example of biblical illiteracy.  The same thing continues to happen today as people read a bit here and a bit there in the Bible without ever really “connecting the dots” and seeing the beauty and continuity of God’s revelation to mankind or considering the context of a given scripture passage.  They mix and mingle Old Testament instructions intended only for the Hebrews/Jews with New Testament instructions intended for every creature in all nations (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:19), and fail to rightly divide or handle aright the word of truth (II Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 1:1-2).   As a result, they weave fanciful theories and come to unwarranted conclusions.  Many wind up royally confused, throw up their hands in despair, and say, “I just can’t understand the Bible.” How sad.  “Therefore do not be unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

Hugh Fulford

If I had all that money, I might FORGET about my people

Through His Poverty

It is hard to imagine that the son of a slave would be offered a job at $100,000 a year.  It is even more incredible that the same man would turn down the offer, but that is exactly what George Washington Carver did.  Inventor Thomas Edison made the offer.  Henry Ford also tried to persuade Carver to work for the Ford Motor Company, but Carver was unimpressed with the offers of money and prestige.

He chose rather to live in the South, living in relative poverty, wearing the same suit for forty years.  He had earlier given up a promising position at Iowa State University in order to work with Booker T. Washington in his struggling Tuskegee Institute.

When friends argued that he could help his people if he had all that money, Carver replied, “If I had all that money, I might FORGET about my people.”  On his tombstone are carved the following words:

“He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.” *

There is Another who gave up much more in order to bless the world…

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor,
that you through His poverty might become rich.”
– 2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a “SERVANT”, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) because sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and condemns man to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  Jesus became “poor” – setting aside the glories of heaven and becoming a man, a servant, and the sacrifice for sin – so that WE might become RICH with spiritual blessings: the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Titus 1:2).

Jesus will make us “rich” with these spiritual blessings if we will submit to Him on His terms: placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

Then, if we will continue to “walk in the light” of His Word… He will continue to cleanse us from our sins and lead us “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, reserved in heaven” for the faithful child of God (1 Peter 1:4).

Through His poverty, YOU can be freed from the poverty of sin and become rich with eternal, spiritual blessings –IF- you will submit your life to Jesus.

Won’t YOU?

David A. Sargent

Let God fill this need in your life

“WHEN YOU’RE MARRIED so long, you know what the other person is thinking before he even speaks…

Your minds are so close that you miss that too,” says Nancy after the death of her husband.

What a blessing to have someone who knew you so well and who loved you just the way you are.

Let God fill this need in your life.  He knows you inside and out.  He knows even the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).  Nothing about you is hidden from God.  Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard in Through a Season of Grief, 124

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”  Psalm 139:1-4

–Mike Benson

You are created in the image of God

Someone once said, “It is not the difficult passages that give the most problems. It is, rather, those passages that I do understand, and which challenge me to make necessary changes in my life.” One of those “simple” passages that is easy to understand but difficult to keep contains less than two dozen words: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). I fear that most of us have not yet learned the force of this demand upon our lives. The late B.C. Goodpasture commented on this very passage:

“Of all the precepts relative to self, this is one of the most difficult to obey. A man does not deny himself when he merely gives that which he does not need or miss; a man does not deny himself when he refrains from doing that which he really does not care to do. One denies himself when he, like the poor widow, gives that which he needs and will miss; a man denies himself when he, like Moses, turns his back upon that which he likes to do, and that which he finds pleasurable and profitable in the doing. As clear and crisp as a gunshot on a still day, the words of the greatest of all teachers fall upon the ear: ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me’” (Gospel Advocate, July 19, 1973, page 459).

It would seem that just about the time you think you have control of self, the monster sticks its head out of the box and you have to struggle with that inner man so as to master your emotions and overcome the temptations that come your way. It seems to me that, Biblically speaking, there are four principles that are taught with regard to one’s self. Consider each of these.

First, you must know yourself: your weaknesses, your strengths; your good points and your bad points. Knowing our weaknesses we are in a better position to conquer them. Knowing our strengths enables us to march forward with courage and determination.

Second, you must value yourself. You are created in the image of God. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. That “Woe is me” attitude will never find the joy God intended you to have. We are not suggesting an arrogant, haughty attitude toward self where God is excluded and human wisdom exalted. We are created in the image of God. Regardless of the agenda of the liberal left, the environmentalists, and the humanists, there is something unique about man. Half a century of indoctrination in evolution and humanism has accomplished nothing more than the degrading of man and the disintegration of his morals.

Third, it is essential that you deny yourself. Learn to say “No” once in a while. As much as that merchant would seek to convince you, “Go ahead! You deserve it!” there comes a point in the mad rush for things that the child of God has to step out of the race. Jesus told us that a “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15b). Jesus was not speaking of “the things” that are inherently wrong, but those things that, in and of themselves, were right, and even necessary. It is not “things” that are wrong, but the love of things, and the attempt to amass those things that constitutes the danger. Paul wrote, “But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). It has been said, “The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.”

Finally, we must consecrate our self. This is something our society knows little about. Webster defines this word ‘consecrate’: “To make or declare to be sacred, by certain ceremonies or rites; to appropriate to sacred uses; to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God.” It is precisely because our affluent age has sought to amass wealth, and to surround themselves with things, that they have failed to consecrate themselves to a higher and nobler purpose. I challenge you: “Give yourself to a higher purpose than self.” The ultimate consecration is, of course, dedication and commitment to God and His will in your life. Some years ago I came across this little quote that addresses this precise point:

Most of the things we think create happiness, don’t. We get caught in a spiral and life suddenly becomes a race to be won instead of a game to be played and enjoyed. Our focus on ‘success’ as society calls it, blurs our more important intangibles of life-our relationships and experiences. The fear (and sad reality for many) is that we wake up 30 years from now, stressed, unhealthy and unfulfilled, wondering what on earth happened to those wonderful dreams we once dared to dream. I’ll tell you what happened. We fell into the trap of being what others felt we should be as opposed to who we were meant to be. Other’s dreams became ours, only to realize they never mattered to us in the first place. We adopted the world’s definition of success instead of understanding and pursing our own” (Source and author lost).

So, friends, the battle is joined. We have been given the armor. The one great enemy we face is ourselves. Once we have slain self, God will be exalted in our life, and the outcome will an eternal home with the Father. I don’t know who wrote the following, but it is certainly thought provoking, and with it I will close this week’s article:

“Thyself”
(author unknown)

I sought from Socrates the sage,
Whose thoughts will live through every age,
A motto to direct my life,
A hero make me in my strife;
And Socrates said, ‘Know Thyself.’

To know myself did not suffice,
To make me useful, pure and wise;
I sought Aurelius, good and great,
Wise ruler of the Roman state;
And Aurelius said, ‘Control Thyself.’

O, Nazarene, Thou who didst give
Thy life that man might live,
What message dost thou leave for me,
That I may truly follow Thee?
The Savior said, ‘Deny Thyself.’

–by Tom Wacaster

Immersed in a Diving Bell

At the Polytechnic Science Museum in London, there was a diving bell. It had no floor, but there were seats attached to the rim at its base. At various times throughout the day, visitors were allowed to enter the diving bell and occupy the seats.

It was then lowered into a deep tank of water. No water ever came up into the bell, even though the passengers could have easily reached down and touched the water with their fingers.

–Paul Holland

The reason was that air was pumped into the diving bell from above, and the positive pressure kept the water from entering. If a vacuum had existed, the water would have rushed in.

We are all immersed in a world of temptation and sin. Satan works at us from all sides – except the top. There is a positive pressure that comes from above, that is sufficient to keep out the devil and sin.

“Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psa. 119:11). The apostle John says, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin [does not continue in a life of sin]; for His seed [the Word of God - Luke 8:11] remains in Him” (1 John 3:9).

If we will fill ourselves with the Word of God, the evils of the world may be beneath us, and even surge around us, but the Word of God is powerful enough to keep them out of our lives.

Thus, God told Ezekiel (3:1-3) and John (Rev. 10:9-10) to consume His word. Let us feed on the Word of God as often as possible. We can’t grow spiritually in a vacuum!

Paul Holland

A chance to steal!

Today offered me an opportunity to cheat a local business.

I picked up a requested item at our local Sam’s Club and then chose to use the do-it-yourself checkout line for payment.  My single item was put on the counter, scanned, and then I was prompted to pay.  The price that came up on the register screen was just under $4.00—a lot less than my item should have cost.  Too, the product showing on the register screen did not match what I had placed on the counter.

After asking a supervisor to come and look into this matter we realized what had happened.  The counter on which my item was resting had several bar-codes which customers could scan for popular items such as ice.  When the handheld laser was directed at my item, it apparently picked up one of these counter bar-codes and thus registered the wrong product and the wrong price.

Once the problem with this transaction was identified I suggested this manager consider getting rid of these bar-codes.

Different people are enticed by different temptations, but we can all be tempted in some way.  Since Christians are to be concerned about temptation and sin, Paul’s inspired teaching in Eph. 6:10-18 is something we should often read and repeatedly seek to heed.

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual (hosts) of wickedness in the heavenly (places).  13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.  14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil (one).  17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate

NONE SHALL FAIL

Jon Macon

 Isaiah 34:16 says, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it has commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.”  Only God has the power to declare what will happen in the future and then make it happen.  Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  Nothing that God has spoken has ever failed, nor will it ever fail.  Thus, fulfilled prophecy is one of the major tests by which we can distinguish between the word of God and the word of man.

An Old Testament test

Deuteronomy 18:21‑22 says, “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”  If a man’s foretelling of the future fails even one time, then he is revealed as a false prophet.  Being 99% accurate with prophecies is not sufficient.  For example, in the days of Jeremiah the prophet, a false prophet named Hananiah stood at the temple in Jerusalem and foretold that within two years, Israel would be free of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, the vessels of the temple would be returned, and King Jehoiakim and the other captives would also be returned from Babylon (Jer. 28:1-4).  Jeremiah replied to him, “The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jer. 28:8-9).  Of course, Hananiah’s prophecy failed, and he was exposed as a false prophet.  At the same time, Jeremiah was again proven to be a true prophet of God as he foretold that Hananiah would die during that year, and it came to pass as he said (Jer. 28:15-17).  By comparing whose prophecies have been fulfilled 100% of the time with not even one single failure, we know whose words will stand (Jer. 44:29).  God said that when His prophecies are fulfilled, “Ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezek. 17:21).  “And when this comes, ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezek. 24:24; see also Isa 46:9-11; 34:16; 41:21-29; Jer. 28:9; Ezek. 6:13-14; 30:8; 32:15; 35:15).

 Also a New Testament test

Fulfilled prophecy serving as proof of Divine inspiration was not limited to the Old Testament.  As fulfilled prophecies by Moses about Christ served to build faith (John 5:46-47), so also fulfilled prophecies by John the Baptist about Christ were designed to build faith (John 10:41-42).  And Christ himself foretold the future so that the fulfillment of his words would prove who he was.  In John 13:18-19, as the Lord foretold who would betray him, he said, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”  Fulfilled prophecy about the resurrection caused the disciples to believe (John 2:18-22).  Christ said to his disciples, “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29).  Only 100% accuracy in foretelling the future is a “passing grade” for a prophet.  God and the Bible pass 100%, but no other beliefs or writings do.  Only the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God.  Everything else is the word of man, no matter what any man claims.  Because only God’s word never fails.

Your opponent wants you to join him in the shout and shove match

WHEN CHRISTIANS SWITCH from talking about football to talking about Christ, they often kick into a “religious twang” or a “stained-glass voice…”

It doesn’t help.  Sometimes they flip their argument switch when the subject touches religion, as though evangelism were an intellectual wrestling match.  We argue as though Jesus needed defending.  We do it, I think, because our ego is at stake, and we must engage and defeat the adversary at all costs.  We wind up shooting ourselves in the foot.

Generally speaking, a highly argumentative non-believer isn’t anywhere near the Cross.  Entering into heated debate with him will drive him further away.

There’s a basic principle of communication interwoven in this discussion.  The louder the noise, the weaker the argument.  That’s why a confident, gentle spirit can be so powerful.  It exasperates the opposition.  Your opponent wants you to join him in the shout and shove match.  Don’t!  You both lose.  Wives who have spiritually indifferent husbands are told they can win them without a word (1 Peter 3:1-4).  The supernatural wardrobe of a “meek and quiet spirit” can do what nothing else can do.  Joseph C. Aldrich, “Scouting the Other Team,” Gentle Persuasion, 76-77

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  1 Peter 3:15

Mike Benson

Comparing the Bible to a deck of cards

It was a quiet day; the guns, mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn’t been heard. The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the Lord’s day. As he sat there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.

Just then an army sergeant came in and said, “Why aren’t you with the rest of the platoon?”

The soldier replied, “I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord.”

The sergeant said, “Looks to me like you’re going to play cards.”

The soldier said, “No sir. You see, since I don’t have a Bible and can’t buy one in this country, I’ve decided to think about the Lord by studying this deck of cards.”

The sergeant asked in disbelief, “How will you do that?”

“You see the Ace, Sergeant? It reminds me that there is only one God (Ephesians 4:4-6).

The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments (Hebrews 8:6–7).

The Three represents the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14).

The Four stands for the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (cf. John 20:30–31).

The Five is for the five virgins that were wise (Matthew 25:1–13).

The Six is for the six days it took God to create the heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1–31).

The Seven is for the day God rested after making His creation (Genesis 2:1–3).

The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives—the eight people God spared from the flood that destroyed the earth (Genesis 6–9; 2 Peter 2:5).

The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten, but nine never thanked Him (Luke 17:17).

The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone (Exodus 20).

The Jack is a reminder of Satan, now the joker of eternal hell (1 Peter 5:8).

The Queen stands for the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18–25).

The King stands for Jesus, for He is the King of all kings (1 Timothy 6:15).

When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year. There are a total of 52 cards in a deck; each is a week—52 weeks in a year. The four suits represent the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter (Genesis 1:14). Each suit has thirteen cards—there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.

So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.”

The sergeant just stood there. After a minute, he said, “Soldier, may I borrow that deck of cards?”

“Think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

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