Archives for : July2009

What is the church?

1) 1 Cor. 2:131 Cor. 2:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words.

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says God has used “spiritual terms” to communicate “spiritual truths.”
2) If we are going to know God and know what is right, there are some words we need to know.
3) One of the words on God’s vocabulary list is the word “church.”
4) This is the word we want to think about this morning. What is the church?
5) The church is a “spiritual body.”
a) The world often understands the word “church” as a physical structure.
b) People “go to church” to worship.
6) The church is not a place where go; the church is a body of people.
7) The church is a group of people that is closely connected to Jesus Christ.
a) One might think that if Jesus is the head of the church, there will not be any problems.
b) If the head (Christ) is perfect, will not the body (the church) be perfect? No.
c) In 1 Cor. 11:181 Cor. 11:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and I partly believe it.

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Paul said the Corinthians were gathering “in the church.”
8) Archaeology suggests that church buildings as we know them were built about 100 years after Acts 2.

9) As we look at Corinth, we see the word “church” being used in the sense of a local congregation.
10) There was the church at Thessalonica, the churches of Galatia, the church at Philippi, etc.
11) In addition to describing a local congregation, the word “church” is used in some other ways.
a) Sometimes this term describes all the saved.
b) Listen to what Paul said in Eph. 5:23Eph. 5:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.

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– READ
c) Jesus is the “savior of the church.”
12) This point is not well understood by the world.
a) The world often struggles with knowing who is in the church and who is not.
b) At funerals it is common to hear a preacher to speak of a non-religious person in a favorable way.
c) Eph. 5 tells us that Jesus is the savior of the church (those who are in Jesus’ spiritual body).
13) Someone might say, “How do I come to Christ and this thing called the church?
14) We first have to be taught.
a) This is what we see in Acts 2, a place that mentions the church.
b) Acts 2:22Acts 2:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God unto you by mighty works and wonders and signs which God did by him in the midst of you, even as ye yourselves know;

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.
c) Peter said, “hear these words.” What words, Peter? “Jesus of Nazareth.”
15) A time came when Jesus died – verse 23 – READ
a) Acts 20:28Acts 20:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.

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adds that Christ “purchased the church with His blood.”
b) In Acts 20 church and Christ go together, just as we find in Acts 2.
16) Verse 32 in this chapter – READ
17) Jesus has been “raised up.” What is the Lord doing now since He is no longer in the grave?
18) We heard one of His activities earlier from Eph. 5 – He is now the head of His church.
19) This information was shocking news for these people on the Day of Pentecost.
20) Verse 37 – READ
21) Earlier it was noted how we must come to Christ. Verse 38 – READ
22) These people wanted to do what was right – let’s see what these believers did – verse 41 – READ
23) Christ was preached; do we see the church in this chapter?
24) Verse 47 – READ
25) The “Lord” (Jesus) “added to them.”
26) What would Jesus be adding people to? What institution is Jesus in charge of?
27) We have already answered this question from Eph. 5—it is the church.

Overcome evil by being good

The story is told of a motorcycle patrolman who was rushed to the hospital with an inflamed appendix. The doctors operated and advised him that all was well. However, the patrolman kept feeling something pulling at the hairs on his chest. Worried that it might be a second surgery the doctors hadn’t told him about, he finally got enough energy to pull his hospital gown down enough so he could look at what was making him so uncomfortable.

Taped firmly across his hairy chest were three wide strips of adhesive tape, the kind that doesn’t come off easily. Written in large black letters was the sentence. “Get well quick ….. from the nurse you gave a ticket to last week.”

There is a part of us that is anxious to repay someone else for hurt they may have caused us in the past. We almost view it as a virtue in our culture to “get even”, to refuse to be someone else’s doormat, to stand up for our rights. The result is that while any Christian qualities are viewed favorably in the world, the quality of a forgiving spirit is seen by many as a sign of weakness. But the words of Paul are clear: “Repay no one evil for evil….Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath….Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans
12:17,19,21).

It is a natural response to repay evil with evil, but that is not a quality of Jesus Christ and it must not be a quality of those of us who are his followers. So, how do you treat those who have done you wrong? Don’t respond by telling me how you treat your friends. Jesus says that anybody can do that (Matt. 5:46Matt. 5:46
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

46 For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

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). That doesn’t make you any different from an atheist or a heathen. The question is, are we willing to strive to have a quality that will quickly set us apart as a follower of Jesus Christ?

That’s not an easy path to follow, but then again, Jesus never promised that it would be!

–Alan Smith

Skankoween

Have you heard someone use the above word? If not, you have probably seen what it means. Kids who go out “trick or treating” are dressing in provocative clothing. Scary has been replaced with sexy in the costumes of people, especially the young. Modest has been swapped out for mini. Fun has been turned into flirty and foxy. This practice has gotten to the point where various media outlets are now paying attention to it.

If you are a parent–and especially a Christian parent–let Christ and the Bible be your directive for proper clothing choice 365 years a day. There is no “night off” for modesty and that includes tomorrow (such is especially true in the summer months). At work or play live as a Christian example and teach your children to do the same. We cannot control what the world does, but we can be responsible for ourselves and our families

PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE?

The story is told of a Russian named Ivanovich who visited the Moscow zoo for the first time. To his amazement, he found a little lamb sharing the cage with a big fierce lion.

Ivanovich expressed surprise to his guide. The guide smiled and said, “That is peaceful coexistence.”

When Ivanovich shook his head in a doubtful way, the guide explained, “Of course, we have to put in a fresh lamb every morning.”

As much as we should strive for peace, there are some things which simply cannot coexist peacefully — truth and error, righteousness and ungodliness, morality and immorality. If we try to combine two such things in our lives, they will only coexist “peacefully” only if one gobbles up the other. That’s why James was so forceful in his warning:

“You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4James 4:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.

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, NASB)

This verse frightens me more than just about any verse in the entire Bible, because I see the influence that “the world” has on me and on Christians around me. We have just as much interest in accumulating “things” as the world does. We often don’t do a better job of taking care of those in need than the world does. We worry just as much as the world does. We value the same things as the world does. We imitate the world to such an extent that if you were to go into an average workplace and ask the boss, “Which of these men and women working for you are Christians?”, he wouldn’t be able to identify us.

Let us beware lest we make the mistake of thinking that our association with and imitation of “the world” doesn’t affect our relationship with God. Some things can’t live in peaceful coexistence, and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God”!

Alan Smith

SHARING WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU

What is the most important thing to you in your life? Normally, after spending just a few minutes with someone you will know the answer to that question. You will hear about their children or grand children. Perhaps they will tell you about their club or social network group. It could be that you will learn very quickly about their love for or involvement with some sport. The point is that we are anxious to share what is of real interest to us or of real importance. It’s not a problem for us to learn the rules to the games, to learn the player’s names, the type of crocheted patterns you like or the hunting or fishing technique you especially like. We share what is important to us!

Think about this: Some years ago a commuter on the Long Island Railroad was know to every regular rider of the 5 p.m. local run. He was a well dressed, soft spoken young man who lived at Jamaica. Every evening after the train left the subway; he would stand up and go to the front of the car. He would speak to every passenger, saying, “Excuse me; but if any of your family or friends are blind, tell them to consult Dr. Garl. He restored my sight.”

You see, he was sharing what was really important to him with courage and confidence. He didn’t argue or try to persuade anyone he was right. He told each person about the one who had opened his eyes. He had good news and he shared it with everyone he could.

Each of us who profess to be Christians have good news even more important to share! Why don’t we do more of it? After Jesus healed the man possessed with many demons in Mark 5 notice what took place: “When Jesus got back into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go, too. But Jesus said, ‘No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been’.” (V. 18-19)

How often do we remember what wonderful things the Lord has done for us or how merciful he has been to us? Far too often we take it for granted, it seems it is normal for us as humans to forget, even when great things are done for us. Could it be time to recommitting yourself today, to begin sharing the Good News with others around you whenever you have the opportunity?

JUSTICE OR MERCY?

I heard about an 80-year-old woman who was arrested for shoplifting. When she went before the judge in Cincinnati he asked her, “What did you steal?”

She replied “A can of peaches.”

The judge asked her why she had stolen the can of peaches and she replied that she was hungry. The judge then asked her how many peaches were in the can.

She replied, “Six.”

The judge said, “Then I will give you six days in jail.” Before the judge could actually pronounce the punishment, the woman’s husband spoke up and asked the judge if he could say something.

The judge said, “What is it?”

The husband said, “She also stole a can of peas.”

It’s so true that whenever others are found guilty, we want to make sure they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I sometimes ask people the question, “Do you want a judge (or a police officer) who shows mercy or one who administers justice?” The answer I get is almost always the same — if we are standing before the judge or pulled over by the police officer, we want mercy; if others are standing there, we want justice.

The interesting thing about God is that He is perfect in His justice while at the same time full of mercy. How can He be both? When we are guilty of sin, He finds us guilty to the full extent of the law. The penalty for our sin is death — spiritual death, separation from God (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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). But, in His mercy, God has found a way to pay the price Himself.

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor. 5:212 Cor. 5:21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

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)

Praise God for being the just and holy God that He is, but praise Him as well for being full of grace and mercy.

— Alan Smith

A study of the apostle Peter

HE WASN’T EXACTLY a great prospect…

His resume had some rather obvious “gaps” in it. He was an uneducated (Acts 4:13Acts 4:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

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) fisherman (Matthew 4:18Matthew 4:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.

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). He was quick-tempered (John 18:10John 18:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 Simon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant's name was Malchus.

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; Matthew 26:50-51Matthew 26:50-51
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, do that for which thou art come. Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear.

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), impetuous and impulsive. He was prone to break his word (Mark 14:29Mark 14:29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

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; Matthew 26:74Matthew 26:74
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

74 Then began he to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And straightway the cock crew.

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). He made promises that he didn’t keep; in fact, he lied. He started things that he didn’t finish (Matthew 14:28-30Matthew 14:28-30
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the waters. 29 And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me.

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). He was prone to fear and doubt (Matthew 14:30-31Matthew 14:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

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). He couldn’t always be counted on in a pinch (Mark 14:53-54Mark 14:53-54
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and there come together with him all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter had followed him afar off, even within, into the court of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers, and warming himself in the light of the fire.

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). He could be cowardly (Luke 22:54-60Luke 22:54-60
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

54 And they seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. 56 And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. 57 But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And after the space of about one hour another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. 60 But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

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a) and undependable (Matthew 26:40-41Matthew 26:40-41
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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; Mark 14:37Mark 14:37
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest thou not watch one hour?

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). He couldn’t always control his tongue (Mark 14:71Mark 14:71
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

71 But he began to curse, and to swear, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

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). He couldn’t always see the “big picture” (Matthew 16:23Matthew 16:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men.

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; John 18:11John 18:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 Jesus therefore said unto Peter, Put up the sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

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), but was often preoccupied with the urgent and immediate. He was a narrow-minded racist (Acts 2:39; 10:13-14Acts 2:39; 10:13-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean.

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; Galatians 2:11-14Galatians 2:11-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

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) and a male chauvinist (John 4:27John 4:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 And upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why speakest thou with her?

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).

Let’s be brutally honest—Simon Peter (Matthew 16:17Matthew 16:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

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; John 21:15-17John 21:15-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

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) wasn’t “the right man” for leading the early church. Right? The Lord needed an entirely different breed of man. He required an uncommon stock—a man with minor blemishes, a near-perfect specimen, a spiritual giant. He needed a man with a long track record of spirituality and maturity—or did He (Luke 6:12-14Luke 6:12-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples; and he chose from them twelve, whom also he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he also named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew,

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a)?

At Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, there was Peter—boldly preaching the first Gospel sermon with his fellow apostles (Acts 2:14, 38Acts 2:14, 38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them, saying, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and give ear unto my words. 38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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)! Yes, Peter! However, it didn’t stop there. The very same man who fled for his life when he was identified as a disciple of the Lord was the very same man who, despite the threat of imprisonment, fearlessly proclaimed the risen Lord (Acts 3:11-4:20, 29-31Acts 3:11-4:20, 29-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. 14 But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, 15 and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: 21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old. 22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. 23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. 25 Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities. 4 1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being sore troubled because they taught the people, and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in ward unto the morrow: for it was now eventide. 4 But many of them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6 and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders, 9 if we this day are examined concerning a good deed done to an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole; 10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 He is the stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner. 12 And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. 13 Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: 20 for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard.

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). When the counsel commanded him not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, this once reluctant disciple replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (cf. Acts 5:29Acts 5:29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men.

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).

Think for just a moment; how can we account for this incredible transformation? How did this milque-toast Galilean fisherman become a notable force in the kingdom of the first century? How did he get from catching fish to catching men? How did Simon get to be Cephas (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:51 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 22 whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 5 Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 5 and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve;

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; Galatians 2:9Galatians 2:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision;

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) the Aramaic for “stone” (John 1:42John 1:42
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

42 He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas .

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)? How did this common man with an unsubmissive personality become a rock-like leader—one of the greatest preachers among the apostles and in every sense the dominant figure in the first twelve chapters of Acts? Most significantly, what does Peter tell us about ourselves? Consider the following:

1. No matter what your previous background, the Lord can use you as a vessel in His service. Our faults can be molded and fashioned into virtue. Failure yesterday is not necessarily fatal tomorrow. Weakness can become strength. “Mustard-seed faith” (Matthew 17:20Matthew 17:20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

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; Mark 4:31Mark 4:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth,

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; Luke 13:19; 17:6Luke 13:19; 17:6
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19 It is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his own garden; and it grew, and became a tree; and the birds of the heaven lodged in the branches thereof. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you.

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) can be enhanced to move mountains. “[The Lord] specializes in transforming hearts, redirecting our self-centered energy, and reshaping our raw talent and abilities to achieve His purposes in the world” [Gene A. Getz, “Peter,” The Apostles, 21- 22]. This He did for Peter, and this He can do with/for you. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10
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10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

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; cf. Isaiah 64:8Isaiah 64:8
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8 But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

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).

2. It takes time to become the person Jesus wants you to become. Evolving a Christ-like spirit is a l e n g t h y process (1 Peter 2:2; 21 Peter 2:2; 2
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2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; 2 1 Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; 3 if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: 4 unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, 5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. 7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; 8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; 12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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Peter 3:18; cf. Hebrews. 5:12Hebrews. 5:12
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12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.

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ff). No one is shaped into a leader overnight. Peter certainly wasn’t. In fact, approximately twenty years after his service during the Lord’s personal ministry, Peter as an apostle, a Gospel preacher and an elder (1 Peter 5:11 Peter 5:1
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5 1 The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

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) still needed some “internal refinement” (Galatians 2:11-12Galatians 2:11-12
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11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.

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). Whenever the Jews came to visit, Peter only ate with the Jews. However, when the Jews went home, he practiced open fellowship with his Gentile [uncircumcised] brethren and ate with them. Paul immediately recognized Peter’s hypocrisy and rebuked his fellow-apostle to his face (Galatians 2:14Galatians 2:14
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14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

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). Isn’t that ironic? In Acts 2, on the birthday of the church, Peter had taught, “…For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off [i.e., Gentiles]…” (v. 39). Then some eight-to-ten years later it took a vision from heaven (Acts 10:9-16Acts 10:9-16
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9 Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour: 10 and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance; 11 and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: 12 wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. 15 And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. 16 And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven.

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) to convince him that God, in fact, accepted all men—including Gentiles—into the faith (Acts 10:34-35; 11:18Acts 10:34-35; 11:18
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34 And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. 18 And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life.

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). Later yet [perhaps another eight-to-ten years] in Galatians 2, Peter still struggled with the concept of the Gentile equality. He was a slow learner. You might say he suffered from SADD—spiritual attention deficit disorder. Growth was an incremental element for Peter. The same is true for each of us today.

3. Jesus seeks a willing spirit. Peter’s problem wasn’t his lack of desire and zeal; it was how he employed these qualities that often got him into trouble. One of the reasons Jesus chose Peter was because he was a man of devotion, determination and passion.* Granted, his passion was misdirected at times, but once Peter came to terms with the concept of the risen Lord (1 Peter 1:31 Peter 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

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), that same fervency was channeled in a very constructive and powerful way.

The good news is—the Lord sees beyond what we are to what we can become. We see spiritual resumes that are tarnished by transgression, failure and neglect (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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). We see rank sinners; Jesus sees holy saints. We see humiliation; Jesus sees exaltation. We see despair; Jesus sees a living hope. We see Simon the crumbling disciple; Jesus saw Peter the rock-solid leader who would help stabilize the first century church.

Dear friend, are you looking for a job? Do you feel incapable? Is your work-history marred by defeat? Yes? Great! You automatically qualify. The Lord is hiring new laborers at this very moment! You can start your new work now (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 4:162 Corinthians 5:17; 4:16
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17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. 16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

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). (Mike Benson)

HOW GULLIBLE ARE WE?

A freshman at Eagle Rock Junior High won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair, April 26, 1997. He was attempting to show how conditioned we have become to the alarmists practicing junk science and spreading fear of everything in our environment. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical “dihydrogen monoxide.” And for plenty of good reasons, since:

1. it can cause excessive sweating and vomiting
2. it is a major component in acid rain
3. it can cause severe burns in its gaseous state
4. accidental inhalation can kill you
5. it contributes to erosion
6. it decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes
7. it has been found in tumors of terminal cancer patients

He asked 50 people if they supported a ban of the chemical dihydrogen monoxide. Forty-three said yes, six were undecided, and only one knew what the chemical was…

WATER!!!

The title of his prize winning project was, “How Gullible Are We?” The conclusion is obvious.

Religion is another area where people have a tendency to be gullible. Extreme examples can be found in David Koresh’s followers and the Heaven’s Gate cult. But it can happen any time we believe someone without checking out God’s Word to see if what is being taught is the truth. Faith does not mean blindly accepting whatever anyone (even a preacher) says.

The apostle John warned, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1John 4:1
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4 1 When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John

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). Use God’s Word to discern between what is true and what is false. And
if you feel like living dangerously today, pour yourself a big tall glass f dihydrogen monoxide.

— Alan Smith

No Black Dots

When Benjamin Franklin was 27 years old, he decided he would take control of his life. He selected 12 virtues he wanted to acquire, and kept a daily chart of his progress in the development of each one. Whenever he missed the mark, he put a black dot beside that virtue. His goal was to ultimately have no dots on the chart. This method contributed to Franklin’s success as an inventor, publisher, and statesman.

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THE FOOLISHNESS OF MATERIALISM

In the Perils of Prosperity is an ironic forecast from an economic expert, a man from Yale University named Irving Fisher. When asked about the future of the stock market as it related to the condition of the American economy, Fisher confidently boasted, “Stock prices have preached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” What is so ironic about that? He spoke these words a mere two weeks before the famed stock market crash of October 1929. The result of that was a decade of financial woe commonly called “The Great Depression.”

David, though a wealthy man in his own right, underscores the foolishness of trusting in finances over the Father in Psalm 49. The focus of his inspired thoughts are “those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches” (6). What of them? David reminds them–and us–of the limitations and frivolity of those who put their faith in earthly wealth.
THEY CANNOT REDEEM THEIR FELLOWMEN WITH THINGS (7). This is certainly not to say that money cannot be used for accomplishing the salvation of souls (cf. Matt. 28:18-20Matt. 28:18-20
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18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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). What does it mean? It is the attitude that says, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing” (Rev. 3:17Rev. 3:17
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17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and have gotten riches, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art the wretched one and miserable and poor and blind and naked:

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). David reminds us, “none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him–for the redemption of their souls is costly.” Indeed! Christ was the price of ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:61 Tim. 2:6
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6 who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times;

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). No less can redeem the everlasting souls of men (Ti. 2:14).

THEY CANNOT TAKE IT WITH THEM (10). Mankind mistakenly thinks that the empire of his personal wealth will always stand, and that he will always be the curator of his museum of material things. No! Wise man and fool alike die. What happens to their wealth? It is left to others. Ibsen said, “Building one’s life on a foundation of gold is just like building a house on foundations of sand” (cf. Matt. 7:24-27Matt. 7:24-27
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24 Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: 25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. 26 And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.

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).

THEY ARE BETRAYED BY THEIR VANITY (11). “Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever, their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands by their own names.” The rich farmer was duped by his possessions. When he looked into his future, he saw only good times and great prosperity (Lk. 12:19Lk. 12:19
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19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, be merry.

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). He never considered that it might be taken from him at any moment (Lk. 12:20Lk. 12:20
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20 But God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night is thy soul required of thee; and the things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?

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). An inordinate pursuit of material things is vanity (Ecc. 4:4Ecc. 4:4
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4 Then I saw all labor and every skilful work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.

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).

THEY CANNOT BUY MORE TIME (12). Regardless of a man’s “net worth,” he “does not remain.” Life is as much a vapor for the rich as it is the poor (Js. 4:14Js. 4:14
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). Paul says, “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-191 Tim. 6:17-19
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17 Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 that they do good, that they be rich in good works, that they be ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on the life which is life indeed.

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Spiritually, man is even more foolish than Fisher who boasts of riches as his Savior. By God’s Holy Spirit, David was moved to warn us of the foolishness of materialism. May we truly listen!

Self-Control Means Saying “Yes” As Well As “No”

Don’t you normally associate self-control with self-denial? Certainly, Jesus says that following Him means denying self in a variety of ways (Matt. 16:24Matt. 16:24
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24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

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). Gluttony, sexual sin, alcoholism and other physically detrimental habits, cursing, and the like involve this negative dimension of self-control. Yet, how many times have you heard a preacher or teacher emphasize the positive sphere of this fruit of the Spirit? Doesn’t it take self-control to get up out of the chair on Tuesday night and visit that non-Christian who came to church services the previous Sunday? Doesn’t it take self-control to work up the nerve to speak to a co-worker about the Bible? Doesn’t it take self-control to make time for daily Bible study and prayer? Doesn’t it take self-control to spend quality time with your spouse and children? My experience tells me that most people say “no” more often than they say “yes.” Many times, our saying “no” to bad things needs to be quickly coupled with saying “yes” to better and righteous things. Neither evangelism, edification, nor benevolence get done without this positive side of self-control! May I encourage us all today to say “yes” to opportunities to serve our Lord, His people, and the lost (cf. Gal. 6:2,10Gal. 6:2,10
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2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

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). He will bless us for such self-discipline.

— Neal Pollard

Can a Christian fall from grace?

WHEN I WAS a young teenager, a neighbor kept several cattle in a large pasture behind our house…
 
Perhaps it be would more accurate to say, “…A neighbor TRIED to keep several cattle in a pasture behind our house.”

One particular bovine found a broken strand in the barbed wire fence which separated the pasture from our property. Occasionally I would come home from school and find her traipsing around the backyard, browsing on the occasional patch of herbaceous vegetation, and scattering free fertilizer. Having spent my childhood in the streets of Dayton, Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of experience corralling large livestock, but eventually I would manage to direct her back to her side of the enclosure — at least, temporarily, until she decided to try the Benson backyard buffet again.

Once she discovered the way out, it was difficult to keep her in where she belonged. For “Bossy”, that twisted, three-strand barrier was the cow equivalent of the Berlin Wall and had to be breached. Those of you who have raised cattle know what I’m talking about.

Stay with me for a minute.

I’m always taken back when I hear denominational preachers teach the “once-saved, always-saved” doctrine. Essentially they’re saying, “You can’t leave if you’re ‘in’, and if you do in fact leave, you were never ‘in’ in the first place.” People aren’t cattle, but experience, observation, as well as the Bible tells us that sometimes folks, unfortunately, do wander (Heb. 2:1Heb. 2:1
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2 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.

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; Psm. 119:176; Isa. 53:6Isa. 53:6
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6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

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) from their saved state in the church (
Acts 1:25Acts 1:25
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25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place.

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; 8:20-22; Gal. 5:2-4Gal. 5:2-4
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2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

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; Heb. 5:12-6:6Heb. 5:12-6:6
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12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. 6 1 Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

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). For them, the grass appears greener on the other side and they want to “taste” what the world has to offer.

Remember the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32Luke 15:11-32
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11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: 19 I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called to him one of the servants, and inquired what these things might be. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 But he was angry, and would not go in: and his father came out, and entreated him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, and I never transgressed a commandment of thine; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but when this thy son came, who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou killedst for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that is mine is thine. 32 But it was meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

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)? A young man approached his father and asked for the immediate payment of his inheritance (v. 12). The request was granted and the son then left for a distant land. There he wasted his fortune, and then found himself on hard times (v. 13). Penniless, the young man was forced to seek employment feeding pigs (vv. 14-15). Eventually he came to himself, acknowledged his foolish ways, and headed back home (17-19). His grieving father saw him in the distance, ran to meet him, embraced him, and then gave a lavish party in his honor (vv. 22-23).

Now study the text carefully. The head-strong son “struck out on his own” and in so doing, severed his relationship with his father. The Bible says the lad journeyed to a “far country.” Now watch it. He was “in” (saved); then he was “out” (lost). He had once enjoyed the privileges of sonship, but later found himself an estranged, destitute, swine-feeding servant. Did the young man leave — did he, in essence, “break out of the fence?” Obviously, he did. What was his status while he was gone? Jesus said he was “dead” (v. 24), lost, separated.

Calvinism says, “You can’t leave…you can’t be lost.” Bossy left, at least, every once in a while. (A cow can’t leave a pasture she was never in in the first place). The Prodigal left. (A son can’t return to his father if he’s never left in the first place).

Some of you reading this very message have left the faith. You’ve either departed (1 Tim. 4:1; 1:6; 3:1; 4:21; 5:71 Tim. 4:1; 1:6; 3:1; 4:21; 5:7
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4 1 But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; 3 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 7 These things also command, that they may be without reproach.

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; Heb. 3:12Heb. 3:12
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12 Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God:

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) from the truth by embracing religious error (Col. 2:8Col. 2:8
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8 Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:

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; 2 Tim. 4:3-42 Tim. 4:3-4
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3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

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;
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14 not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;

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Pet. 3:17) or you have left in a practical way by engaging in sinful practices (Rom. 8:12-13Rom. 8:12-13
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12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: 13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

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; 1 Cor. 5:1-131 Cor. 5:1-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing, 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ: 8 wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in my epistle to have no company with fornicators; 10 not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world: 11 but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat. 12 For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

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; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; 21 Thess. 4:3-7; 2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6 that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 2 1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain: 2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; 6 nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children: 8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblameably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe: 11 as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, 12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe. 14 For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews; 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. 17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence not in heart, endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire: 18 because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and our joy.

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Pet. 2:20-22) — or both. In either case, you’ve left the safe (Eph. 1:3Eph. 1:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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) heaven of the body of Christ and alienated yourself from your Father in heaven.

Whatever your sin, you can come home again. Your Father is anxious for you to return. Come now.  (Mike Benson)

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4Gal. 5:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

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The preposition UP in the Bible

1)      Our beginning point is found in Acts 1:2Acts 1:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

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2)      Luke says Jesus was “received up” into heaven.

a)      If Jesus is still “in” a grave, we have no reason to assemble.

b)      The word “up” in Acts 1:2Acts 1:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 until the day in which he was received up, after that he had given commandment through the Holy Spirit unto the apostles whom he had chosen:

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reminds us that Jesus is no longer in a tomb.

c)      The word UP also reminds us that Jesus was not the only one to be raised.

d)     At an unspecified future time, we also will be raised “up.”

e)      Up reminds us that we, like Jesus, do not die.

3)      Notice our next reference – Acts 2:24Acts 2:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pangs of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

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– READ

a)      Heaven “loosed” Jesus from the pangs of death.

b)      Death has never been any barrier to God.

c)      No matter when we die, where we die, how we die, or why we die, we will all be raised up.

d)     In fact, the Bible actually promises that God will destroy death – Rev. 20:14Rev. 20:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire.

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4)      If we are going to be raised *up,* this suggests that we want to be ready for this future time.

a)      First century Christians understood this point and acted accordingly.

b)      Next on our list of verses to read is Acts 4:24Acts 4:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is:

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.  READ.

c)      People knew who Jesus was and they responded to Him.

5)      God was honored in many different ways by the first century saints.

6)      Preaching lifted up God’s name and gracious acts of salvation.

7)      Prayers lifted up requests to God as well as praise.

8)      Singing lifted up vocal praise to God – the beauty of the human voice was offered in worship.

9)      Col. 3:16Col. 3:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

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says “singing unto God.”

10)  The Lord’s Supper offered up a memorial to what Jesus did on the cross.

11)  Giving was making a financial offering to God.

a)      Some were offering up good things in the first century.

b)      Others were offering up some things that we not so good.  Acts 5:5Acts 5:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it.

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– READ

12)  When the Bible says “gave up the ghost,” a writer is describing death.

13)  Luke described a man and his wife who both died.

14)  They “gave up the ghost” because they “lied to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:4Acts 5:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God.

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a)      As we go through life we are going to present our life to God.

b)      Something is going to be offered up to God.

15)  If we could put a percentage on how much of life is being offered up to God, what would the amount be?

16)  The right time to start offering up as much of our life to God as possible is as early as possible.

a)      Acts 26:4Acts 26:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 My manner of life then from my youth up, which was from the beginning among mine own nation and at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

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says “my manner of life then from my youth up.”

17)  If we do not make the right choices, God will eventually “give up” on us.

a)      This is what we find in Rom. 1:24Rom. 1:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves:

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b)      God says people can be given up to a “reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:28Rom. 1:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

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18)  Jesus was “delivered up” (Rom. 4:25Rom. 4:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

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) so we could be saved.

19)  We should be motivated to “rise up” to serve God versus serve sin – 1 Cor. 10:71 Cor. 10:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

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a)      The choice of many is to “rise up and play” (1 Cor. 10:71 Cor. 10:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

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20)  Jesus “gave Himself up for the church” (Eph. 5:25Eph. 5:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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), and now He wants us to give ourselves to Him.

21)  This means we “take up” God’s armor (Eph. 6:13Eph. 6:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

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22)  We “build one another up” (1 Thess. 5:111 Thess. 5:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 Wherefore exhort one another, and build each other up, even as also ye do.

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23)  We “lift up” our prayers to God (1 Tim. 2:81 Tim. 2:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 I desire therefore that the men pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and disputing.

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24)  We want to “lay up a crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:82 Tim. 4:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

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25)  This world is one day going to be “rolled up” like a garment (Heb. 1:12Heb. 1:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 And as a mantle shalt thou roll them up, As a garment, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, And thy years shall not fail.

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26)  Heb. 12:12Heb. 12:12
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12 Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees;

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27)  Offer “up” a sacrifice of praise to God continually (Heb. 13:15Heb. 13:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name.

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28)  “Gird up” the loins (1 Pet. 1:131 Pet. 1:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

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29)  Be a “holy priesthood” that “offers up” spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Pet. 2:51 Pet. 2:5
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5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

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30)  The world is going to be “burned up” (2 Pet. 3:102 Pet. 3:10
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10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

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); are we ready for that?

Be Strong

Be Strong!

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;

We have hard work to do, and loads to lift;

Shun not the struggle–face it; ’tis God’s gift.

Be Strong!

Say not, “The days are evil. Who’s to blame?”

And fold the hands and acquiesce–oh shame!

Stand up, speak out and bravely, in God’s name.

Be strong!

It matters not how deep entrenched the wrong,

How hard the battle goes, the day how long;

Faint not — fight on!

Tomorrow comes the song.

–I believe this is from an older hymn and the words are by Maltbie D. Babcock – If you have additional information, please feel free to post it

A sermon on the Good Samaritan

OUR TEXT COMES FROM LUKE 10.  THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE WE READ ABOUT A SAMARITAN.

 1)      Jesus’ story begins in Lk. 10:30Lk. 10:30
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30 Jesus made answer and said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho; and he fell among robbers, who both stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead.

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– let’s first read verses 30-32 –  READ

2)      Imagine the last time that we were so sick we could hardly get out of bed.

3)      It may have been difficult to hold a glass of water.  Maybe when we sat up our head was spinning.

4)      Most of us have had a time or two when we felt half-dead.

5)      This fellow was on a roadside and in no condition to go and seek out assistance.

a)      Jesus now introduces a new character into this dramatic story – verse 33 – READ

b)      Most translations have the word “but” at the start of verse 33 because this forms a contrast.

c)      Two religious men would not help BUT a Samaritan would and did.

d)     Most of us know the Samaritans were a despised race; the Jews hated them.

6)      This Samaritan not only saw the wounded man, he was “moved with compassion.”

7)      He felt a deep pity for this fellow.

8)      This fellow acted like some mothers would act.

9)      Jesus gives us specific information on the compassion offered by this Samaritan – verse 34 – READ

10)  The first part of this verse says the Samaritan “came to” the robbed man.

a)      The road these men were on was dangerous.

b)      Robbers sometimes used fake victims to lure people into traps.

c)      This also reminds us of wives and mothers – they are usually willing to go and help.

d)     If someone has a need, they will spend the time and energy to go and offer assistance.

e)      That assistance may mean they have to travel several miles to go aid someone.

11)  This Samaritan Jesus described may have been traveling for a while and was possibly tired.

12)  Moms are sometimes tired or exhausted when they are asked to do something.

13)  Not only did the Samaritan come to this man, he used some of his resources.

a)      He “bound” the man’s wounds and then offered some medical treatment.

b)      He used “oil and wine” on this man’s injuries.

c)      Mothers and wives often act in this same type of way.

14)  Offering to help this man on the road was one thing.

15)  This fellow really went the second mile.

16)  Verse 35 continues the story – READ

17)  The Samaritan did all he could for this fellow.

a)      A wife, mother, husband or father may be so good in so many areas.

b)      Because of our culture, we are tempted to put in the little word “but.”

c)      “My wife is good, but.”

d)     “My mom is good but.”

e)      “My husband is ‘good,’” but.

f)       “My father is ‘good’” but. 

18)  No wife, mother, father or husband is going to be perfect.

19)  We want to be like the Samaritan – people who know what is right and do what is right, even when that is not always good and convenient.

Become a better student

Summer is not the time anyone still in school wants to hear such an admonition as “be a better student.”  Most of us who have been out of school for while do not feel much warmer or fuzzier about the idea.  But, biblically, all of us stand on the common ground of needing to be a better student.  We will never master the book by which we will some day be judged.  So, what are some practical suggestions that will help make us a better student?

1.  Be familiar with the textbook (2 Tim. 2:152 Tim. 2:15
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15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

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2. Get to personally know the instructor (Hos. 6:3Hos. 6:3
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3 And let us know, let us follow on to know Jehovah: his going forth is sure as the morning; and he will come unto us as the rain, as the latter rain that watereth the earth.

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; Phil. 3:10Phil. 3:10
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10 that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death;

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; cf. Jn. 8:32Jn. 8:32
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32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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3. Take copious notes (cf. Dt. 6:7-9Dt. 6:7-9
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7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. 9 And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.

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4. Do not drop out of the course (2 Tim. 4:72 Tim. 4:7
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7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith:

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5. Consider the long term benefits of the study (1 Tim. 4:161 Tim. 4:16
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16 Take heed to thyself, and to thy teaching. Continue in these things; for in doing this thou shalt save both thyself and them that hear thee.

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6. Work on making practical use of the material (Phil. 4:9Phil. 4:9
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9 The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

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; cf. Acts 1:1; 10:38Acts 1:1; 10:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The Acts of the Apostles 1 1 The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach, 38  even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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7. Be prepared to share your knowledge with others (1 Pet. 3:151 Pet. 3:15
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15 but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord: being ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear:

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8. Use your knowledge when it is time for tests (Js. 1:2-5Js. 1:2-5
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2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for Jehovah hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. 4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil-doers, children that deal corruptly! they have forsaken Jehovah, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are estranged and gone backward. 5 Why will ye be still stricken, that ye revolt more and more? the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

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9. Make it personal through dedication (2 Tim. 3:14-152 Tim. 3:14-15
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14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. 15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

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10. Study with alertness and zealousness to eliminate laboriousness (Heb. 2:1Heb. 2:1
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2 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.

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Remember that you will fail along the way, but God wants you to “pass” in the end!  He has paid the highest price with that goal in mind.  Just apply yourself and do your best.

kindergarten teacher asks her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of homosexuals

A CALIFORNIA SCHOOL system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign “pledge cards” in support of homosexuals…
 
During a celebration of National Ally Wee, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, California, passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartner. 
 
The cards asked signers to be “an ally” and to pledge to “not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer school efforts.
 
THOUGHTS: 1)  It was WRONG to indoctrinate these innocent hearts and minds by teaching them to endorse perversion.  2)  We certainly would not want our children, or anyone for that matter, to speak unkindly of others.  3) Since God’s Word speaks against homosexual behavior, will we one day be held accountable by man for upholding and defending what it says?  4)  Whom should we obey — God or man?
 
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”  Isaiah 5:20Isaiah 5:20
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20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

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–Mike Benson

What is Man's Greatest Achievement?

CNN producers armed with television cameras recently stopped passersby in Berlin , Madrid , Roman, Bangkok , Tokyo , New Delhi , and Paris . To each participant, CNN posed the question: “What is man’s greatest achievement?”

 Since July 20 was the 40th anniversary of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, it was supposed that many would nominate the moon landing as one of man’s greatest feats. Answers given, however, were quite diverse. One woman in Germany suggested the computer. “It has opened up my world. I can stay in my house and travel all over the world,” she said. The internet was specifically stated by more than one participant to be man’s greatest invention.

Another suggested the airplane. “It’s the easiest way to get from one country to the other. Imagine if you would be able to only take the ship. It would take you ages to go somewhere, so it makes humanity more flexible.”

 Fire was also proposed. “Everything started there right?” said one man in Spain . There was agreement in Italy : “I think the most important is that man discovered fire because it’s bringing a lot of life.”

 The written word was also nominated in Italy , as were architecture and sanitation. In New Delhi , video games got one man’s vote. “It allows you to be whomever you want, in whichever world you want, and lets you live an alternate fantasy life,” he said.

Despite all of the tremendous achievements of mankind since the beginning of time, there is ONE THING that man could never achieve on his own… Even though man has been able to navigate the approximate distance of 240,000 miles to the moon, there is STILL one expanse that he has not been able to negotiate independently: the distance between GOD and MAN.

 Our SIN separates us from the Holy God (Isaiah 59:1-2Isaiah 59:1-2
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59 1 Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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). ALL of mankind’s advancements in technology are powerless to traverse the GREAT GULF between God and sinful man. But God loved us so much that He crossed that great divide and “stepped into our world” (see John 1:14John 1:14
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14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us , full of grace and truth.

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). God became Man in the person of Jesus Christ. Then Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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 Through Jesus, man can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-212 Corinthians 5:18-21
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18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. 21 Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

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). We are reconciled to God when we: by faith in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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; Galatians 3:26-27Galatians 3:26-27
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26 For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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).

The blood of Christ continues to cleanse us from our sins as we continue to walk in the light of His word (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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). Man has accomplished great things, but the GREATEST accomplishment is RECONCILIATION with God. God accomplished this for us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Now, we must accept His offer on His terms! Won’t YOU? David A. Sargent

"Vanishing Print"

  The Associated Press has a story about the “Ann Arbor News”, the only daily newspaper of the hometown of the University of Michigan. Today marks the last day this 174-year-old newspaper will be published as a daily edition. Print editions will come out on Thursdays and Sundays and an online version will be updated daily. But there will be no more newspapers pitched onto the porches of Ann Arbor subscribers. It’s a day few would have predicted just a few years ago.

 This is not an isolated event. Readers of newspapers all across the nation have watched the size of their hometown publications shrink as cost-cutting measures are imposed. The daily paper my mother receives in Eastern Kentucky recently dropped its Monday edition, going to a six-day-per-week format. The national news magazine to which I’ve subscribed for years stopped weekly publication months ago. The “Daily” on its masthead is now a misnomer.

  Most analysts point to the rise of the Internet as the reason for the decline of newspapers. There are dozens of sources for news that can be found, most of them free for anyone with Internet service. The younger generation sees little reason to sign up for home delivery. Not one of my three children, all now living on their own, receive a newspaper.  For those of us who are older, sitting down to read our newspaper is a ritual. We may not always like what we read, but we want to be informed of what is happening down at city hall as well as in the White House. To think that newspapers and news magazines may disappear entirely is unsettling.

  Will this trend spill over to the Bible? Will there come a time when Bibles are no longer printed and copies cannot be purchased?  There have been those who expected the Bible to disappear. Voltaire’s (1694-1778) prediction is perhaps the most famous: “One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.” Such skeptics view the Bible as outdated and are certain that it will one day go the way of all old books.

 The Bible, however, is not like any other book. Paul stated that Scripture “… is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:162 Timothy 3:16
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16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness:

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). That means that God “breathed” His message into those who wrote it down. Peter affirmed this view of the Bible: “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:212 Peter 1:21
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21 For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.

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). The source of the Bible is God, not man.  Jesus spoke of the durability of God’s word: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35Matthew 24:35
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35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

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). One might also add newspapers to that list of things that will pass away. But God’s word is here to stay.

 There is one more statement by Jesus on this subject that must be observed: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48John 12:48
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48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my sayings, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I spake, the same shall judge him in the last day.

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). It’s in our best interests to get familiar with the Bible. It’s the standard against which our lives will one day be judged.  Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24John 4:24
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24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

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). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

UNRECOGNIZED WORKERS

   One afternoon a man came home from work to find total mayhem in his house. His three children were outside, still in their pajamas, playing in the mud, with empty food boxes and wrappers strewn all around the front yard. The door of his wife’s car was open, as was the front door to the house.   

Proceeding into the entry, he found an even bigger mess. A lamp had been knocked over, and the throw rug was wadded against one wall. In the front room the TV was loudly blaring a cartoon channel, and the family room was strewn with toys and various items of clothing. In the kitchen, dishes filled the sink, breakfast food was spilled on the counter, dog food was spilled on the floor, a broken glass lay under the table, and a small pile of sand was spread by the back door.

   He quickly headed up the stairs, stepping over toys and more piles of clothes, looking for his wife. He was worried she may be ill, or that something serious had happened. He found her lounging in the bedroom, still curled in the bed in her pajamas, reading a novel. She looked up at him, smiled, and asked how his day went.   He looked at her bewildered and asked, “What happened here today?”   She again smiled and answered, “You know every day when you come home from work and ask me what in the world I did today?”   “Yes” was his incredulous reply.   She answered, “Well, today I didn’t do it.”

   There is no doubt that those of us who are husbands tend not to appreciate all that our wives do (and the converse may be true at times as well). But I think we often do the same thing in the church as well. There are certain members whom we regard to be valuable because they are always visible, always in the spotlight.   There are other members whom we don’t regard with the same value because the work they do is done quietly, behind the scenes. But the person who cleans the church building or fills the communion trays is no less valuable than the one who preaches or leads singing. And if we ever showed up one Sunday and none of those “little” things were done, we’d find ourselves in a state of confusion.   Paul described the church as a body and said that like a body has many parts, so the church has many members who all have different talents. But then he added this thought:   “Those parts of the body that seem to be the weaker are really necessary.” (I Cor. 12:22, NCV)

  I encourage you to take a look around you and find someone who is doing a job quietly, without recognition, and let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.  Alan Smith