Archives for : September2010

Sunday bulletin article

     This comes from the file of “stupid criminals”:

     Waylon Prendergast, 37, of Tampa, Florida, committed a spur-of-the-moment robbery while on his way home from a late-night drinking session.  A very inebriated Mr. Prendergast forced his way into the house through an open upstairs window, filling a suitcase with cash and valuables before setting the living room on fire to cover his tracks.  He then escaped through the back door and made his way home, chuckling all the way.  Only as he turned the corner into his own street, however, and discovered three fire engines outside his house, did he realize that in his drunkenness he had, in fact, burgled and ignited his own property.  His comment:  “I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.”

     While we may not do anything quite that stupid (at least nothing that makes the national newspapers), there are times when Christians need to stop and reflect, coming to same conclusion Mr. Prendergast did:  “I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.”

     From family and friends to material comforts (like electricity and running water),  from our basic needs (like food) to luxuries other generations never dreamed of (like the computer you’re sitting at right now), from the freedoms we enjoy to the jobs we hold, there is much that we have been blessed with that we take for granted.

     Even beyond the physical blessings, there is so much that God has given us through Jesus Christ.  As Paul wrote,

     “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 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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     Truly, I had no idea I had so many valuable possessions.  “God, forgive me for taking so much of it for granted.”

Alan Smith

Being a good example to fellow Christians

           David Jeremiah relates the true story (i.e., “snoped”) from May of 1992 concerning Michael Murray and his children.  Michael was taking his two infants to see their mother, a nurse in a Massachusetts hospital, and give her a Mother’s Day present.  He put three-month-old Matthew, car seat and all, up on the roof while he secured his 20-month-old daughter and her car seat into place.  Without thinking, Michael got into his Hyundai and drove out of the garage.  He forgot about Matthew!  He drove through several busy streets and onto I-90.  As he accelerated to 50 MPH, he heard the car seat-with baby-slide off the roof and through the rear view mirror he watched it hit the highway and slide toward the oncoming vehicles.  You know how fast people travel on the interstate, and this was a busy day!
            Michael Murray was not a malicious, evil man.  Everything known about the man points to a devoted husband and father.  He just got careless.  He did not mean to do it, but the baby was still negligently left on a roof and bounded off the car onto one of the busiest roads in the state of Massachusetts.

            Peter refers to new Christians as “babes” (1 Pet. 2:21 Pet. 2:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;

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).  Jesus seems to have the spiritual in mind when he refers to the “little ones” in Luke 17:1-2Luke 17:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 1 And he said unto his disciples, It is impossible but that occasions of stumbling should come; but woe unto him, through whom they come! 2 It were well for him if a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, rather than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

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.  New Christians have the fragile qualities, the level of dependency, and the need of care so true of newborn babes.  A careless word, a poor example, a bad attitude, a negative criticism about the church or the elders, or a simple case of neglect can have terrible consequences in the spiritual welfare of a spiritual babe.  Usually, there is no active campaign to destroy the faith of a new Christian.  We just get careless.  But the consequences are just as great.
            Fortunately for Michael, little Matthew came through without a scratch.  There was the “luck” of the bounce as well as the alert response of the antiques dealer, James Boothby, who was following behind Murray.  He slammed on brakes, blocked the road, ran and rescued that precariously positioned infant.  But, what if the bounce had gone differently?  What if someone less attentive had been following Murray down the road?  Jesus said that woeful offenses would come.  Let us each strive to make sure they don’t come from us.  Please help take care of those babes!

Neal Pollard

The world's largest dam

 
Someone who works for Denver Water told me about Three Gorges Dam in China, far and away the largest in the world.  It is five times larger than the Hoover Dam and capable of generating twenty times more power.  It is designed to hold back 5 trillion gallons of water!  Three Gorges Dam has been built along the Yangtze River, visible with the naked eye from space, and the world’s largest hydroelectric power generator ( facts taken from Greenbelt, MD, 6/13/07, article by staff writers of SPX).  There are fears about the potential for disaster, environmental and climate changes, and pollution due to a lack of national regulation to ensure safety measures are employed.
 
Though this may be seen as a dramatic alteration of nature, it is also a testimony to man’s ability and wisdom.  The engineering feat is a marvel to consider.  The impact is also incredible.  The reservoir’s presence and the change in flow of the river has dropped the temperature a whole degree over a 62 mile area.  The entire project also may increase earthquake activity, which might jeopardize the integrity of the dam.  The consequences of that would be devastating.
 
Even though man is made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27Gen. 1:26-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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) and endowed with such creativity and ingenuity (think airplanes, space shuttles, light bulbs, pasteurization, antibiotics, vaccines, etc.), he still falls a far distant second to the Master Designer!  Man’s attempts are subject to failure, lack of foresight and anticipation, wear and tear, and maintenance.  It makes so much of what God has made and sustained that much more incredible, from the placement of earth in our solar system and universe to the many intricacies of our body and our environment.  God even created the best dam builders-beavers!  So much of what we have learned about it has come by observing their precision and ingenuity.  What a Mighty Maker we serve!

— Neal Pollard

Is the word Abilene used in the Bible?

Vote in the following “Bible survey” poll and then check your answer here:  http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/ 

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Robert W. Yarbrough commentary on 1-3 John

Has anyone used the commentary on First-Third John by Robert W. Yarbrough?  This is part of the “Baker Exegetical Commentary Series.”  It is not cheap ($25-$40) depending on where it is purchased, but I have seen one short review that looked promising.

If you have used this commentary, why not review it here to help others?

Baker Exegetical Commentary Series

The God of all comfort

People vainly seek to find their comfort through alcohol, tobacco, drugs, food, sexual immorality, and the like.  People may find some legitimate comfort through sleep, a physical or mental escape, through friendships and relationships, and through precious memories.  In 2 Corinthians one, Paul makes some remarkable statements about the Heavenly Father’s ability to provide comfort to the hurting.

HE IS THE GOD OF “ALL” COMFORT (1:3).  There are the severest trials of life in which we would be thrilled to receive just a fraction of His comfort, a little comfort, some comfort, or much comfort.  But, Paul’s statement is unqualified and unmitigated.  Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 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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says “all spiritual blessings” are “in Christ.”  That means no spiritual blessings are “out of Christ.”  Likewise, God gives “all” comfort, meaning that no legitimate comfort is found outside of God and His providential care.
HE IS THE GOD WHO COMFORTS US IN “ALL OUR AFFLICTIONS” (1:4).  What burdens your heart?  The guilt of past, forgiven sin?  The loss of a loved one?  Persecution for your faith?  A physical malady that will not go away?  A broken marital or family relationship with no seeming ray of hope?  Can you say, “God will comfort me through ____________” (fill that blank in with your most severe, current trial)?  Whatever “it” is, God is able to comfort.
HE IS THE GOD WHO GIVES “ABUNDANT” COMFORT “THROUGH CHRIST” (1:5).  Jesus is the hero of the Bible.  His life, death, burial, and resurrection spell the difference between comfort and being comfortless.  The Christ of the cross is the Christ of the crisis.  He has endured affliction in a human body and is an everlasting personality of the Godhead, thus He can relate to our humanity and He can supply all our needs in His divinity.
As a Sovereign God, He would not have to provide mercy, comfort, and grace.  But, in line with His nature, God wants to comfort us in any affliction in which we may find ourselves.  He knows, He understands, and He cares.  There is no substitute for God’s comfort!
Neal Pollard

old gospel hymn Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper

There is an old gospel hymn that goes like this: Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper, wet your feet in the water of his love”. That is a very interesting song if you think about it in the context of Scripture. I’m not sure where the writer of the hymn got their inspiration, but the memory of the song came to me as I was reading Joshua chapter 3 this past week.

In this passage, after 40 years of wandering through the wilderness is pursuit of the Promise by God of a better life, they finally were going to cross into the promise land. God gives Joshua directions as to what was going to happen. They were to cross the Jordan river during it’s flood stage and enter the land of Canaan.

Now you might think this is not a whole lot different from when they passed through the Red Sea, but it is. When Moses parted the Red Sea, the winds blew all night and there was a path through the sea. In this case they had to physically step into the water before the water stopped flowing. Notice what the scripture says:

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Joshua 3:14-17Joshua 3:14-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over the Jordan, the priests that bare the ark of the covenant being before the people; 15 and when they that bare the ark were come unto the Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brink of the water 16 that the waters which came down from above stood, and rose up in one heap, a great way off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those that went down toward the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of Jehovah stood firm on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan; and all Israel passed over on dry ground, until all the nation were passed clean over the Jordan.

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This time God called upon them to literally make a “Step of Faith” before he would deliver them. When the soles of the sandals on the feet of the priest touched the water the water stopped flowing and backed up for approximately 17 miles upstream. Notice also that the river bed was instantly dry. God worked, but he demanded that the people take a step of faith, before he worked in their lives.

I wonder how many times God doesn’t answer our prayers, doesn’t cause or allow something to happen in our lives, because he is simply waiting for us to take the first step of faith? What is it that you dream of doing or being? What great plan do you have for God or for you life? Are you waiting for the right time to step out, for the perfect conditions to act?

Notice what the writer of wisdom said in Ecclesiastes 11:4Ecclesiastes 11:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

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, “He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.” (KJV) It might have more impact if you notice how it is translated by a modern translation. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.”

What are you waiting for? What is holding you back? Maybe it’s time to “Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper, wet yourself in the waters of his love.”

Russ Lawson

The sermon on the mount

If you were to take the total of all authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene—if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage—if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount. And it would suffer immeasurably through comparison. For nearly two thousand years the Christian world has been holding in its hands the complete answer to its restless and fruitless yearnings.
 
–Psychiatrist J. T. Fisher, 1951

Best friends

 

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I CAN COUNT on one hand my most intimate friends, those with whom I would share anything…
 
I can hardly think of a boundary on our conversations.  We reached that plane of relationship after long hours together and considerable risk.  If a doctor informs me tomorrow that I have a terminal disease, they will be my first calls.
 
Most of my intimate friends live in other cities, and as a result I may see them only once a year.  When we meet, though, we skip the chitchat and go right to the heart of what concerns us most.  I don’t worry about being judged or second-guessed or made the subject of gossip.  With true friends, I feel safe.
 
Friendship with God encompasses each of these levels of communication.  God cares about the ordinary and everyday as well as the peak experiences. I bring to God my failures and sins (confession, repentance) as well as my triumphs and joys (praise, thanksgiving).  I bring to god my worries and concerns (petition, intercession).  The very attempt to hide something from God is folly, for God know all of who I am: the genetics as well as the environment, the thoughts and motives as well as the actions.  (Philip Yancey)
 
“And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God” (James 2:23James 2:23
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23 and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.

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–Mike Benson

Gettin' married's like taking a bath in a tub of hot water

Dan Erickson reported in an online sermon that Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “I read where one wife plans to divorce her husband as soon as she can find a way to do so without making him happy.” In spite of the fact that the Bible says whoever finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22Proverbs 18:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, And obtaineth favor of Jehovah.

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), millions of people find themselves under a mountain of marriage misery. Their experience mirrors what the late great Minnie Pearl once said about marriage — “Gettin’ married’s like taking a bath in a tub of hot water. After awhile, it ain’t so hot.” So it would seem for many. The fire has fizzled and the love didn’t last. These past fifty years have seen America become the most divorce-prone nation on earth. Many who said “I do” really didn’t, at least not “until death do us part.” More like, “until debt do us part.” Instead of “so long as we both shall live” the real truth for many is “until one of us is tired of it.” In spite of the fact that God is on record as saying He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16Malachi 2:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 For I hate putting away, saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, and him that covereth his garment with violence, saith Jehovah of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

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), large numbers of people now view divorce as being morally neutral, a liberating and life-enhancing option to be exercised if/when the marriage magic disappears. Rock star Rod Stewart, himself twice divorced, verbalized the casual attitude toward marriage he and millions of others have acted out. He said, “I think marriage vows should be changed, because they’ve been in existence for 600 years, when people used to live until they were only 35. So they only had to be with each other for 12 years, then they would die anyway. But now, it’s a big commitment because you’re going to be with someone for 50 years. It’s impossible. The vows should be written like a dog’s license that has to be renewed every year.” (http://archivestcm.ie/irisheminer/2001/05/01/story1794.asp).

Stewart’s statement reminds us that millions have simply lost their way as regards marriage and God’s will for it. Men have by and large rejected what the Lord has to say about marriage and divorce. Many criticize the Bible’s teaching on this subject as hard and unfair. While I would never accuse Rod Stewart of being a Bible scholar, he is right about one thing – marriage is a big commitment. Three verses from 1 Corinthians 7 remind us just how big — “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: a wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. . . .A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (verses 10-11, 39). The point in this article is not to deny that marriage is rough, tough work, sometimes more sour than it is sweet, more hurt than it is happiness, more give than it is receive. Anybody who says it isn’t has never been married. But none of that changes the fact that a marriage must be based on commitment, not convenience, if it is to last. A good marriage is not easy but neither is it impossible. What is required is a deep-seated commitment to the will of God and one’s mate.

Dan Gulley

Free Tickets to the Fair

This past weekend, we attended the Tennessee Valley Fair with a couple friends.  As we were leaving the fair and returning to our car, we noticed that there was a long line of people who were in line to purchase entry tickets.  My friend happened to have a few unused, extra tickets, so he went over to the line and said, “I’ll give you two free tickets into the fair if you can tell me how many books there are in the Bible.”  The answers started pouring in, “2!”  “4!”  “16!”  “33!” “50!”  The guesses continued for quite some time.  No one in that long line of people could tell my friend how many books were in the Bible.  It wasn’t like he asked them to name of the books of the Bible, just give the number of books.  No one could do it.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was.  It’s caused me to consider that some day we will all stand before God and have to give an answer in order to obtain something of much greater value than just entrance into the fair.  Friends, how prepared will you be to give an answer then?

Steve Higginbotham
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Do You Fear An Audit?

April 15th has long been highlighted on the calendar of most Americans, either literally or at least mentally. With the age of the internet, E-filing, and on-line tax help and software, we have finally managed to see the “Reduction In Paper Act” become more of a reality in our lives. I guess I am one of those die-hard old-timers who refuses to trust the internet for filing my tax forms. But then, I’m not so sure that the Post Office is all that reliable either. However, I have this sneaky suspicion that the Post Office takes special care of those packages mailed to the Internal Revenue Service if for no other reason than the fact that it is the IRS that collects the funds to pay the salaries of the Post Office; you might call it “self-survival.”

Like a number of you, I placed my tax return in the mail early . Others are determined to procrastinate, and some mail their return in extra early hoping to get their “refund” check sooner (maybe even before the government runs out of money). But whether early or late, last month or next month, electronically or by snail mail, it is only a matter of time until the IRS examines that return. The wheels of government may grind slowly at times, but they do grind. And while I have only been audited one time there remains in the back of my mind the realization that I may have to stand before a representative from the IRS and give an account of my actions for this, or any other tax year. But you know what? Such an “audit” will be nothing compared to that great “audit” that each and every one of us will face come Judgment Day. Oh, to be sure, none will escape; we will all give an account (2 Cor. 5:102 Cor. 5:10
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10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

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). And while the wheels of Divine justice may seem to grind slowly, be assured that God’s judgment will be swift and sure when the time comes for our Lord to return to gather His own. The appointment has been set (Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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), the time and place stipulated by Almighty God Himself. We will not have to provide any records of “business expenses,” or “charitable contributions” because our omnipotent Judge will know the inner most thoughts of our heart (Heb. 4:12-13Heb. 4:12-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

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). While an “at random, computer selected” audit by the IRS is only a mild probability, our appearance before God is an inevitable reality.

Now let me ask you something. Which event do you fear the most? The POSSIBLE audit by an IRS agent, or the INEVITABLE audit by God Almighty? Think about it!

by Tom Wacaster

A demon, a death angel, and an emotional melt down

Tonight I conducted a Bible study with six men and one of these fellows had what I would call an “emotional melt down.”   This person is plagued by many issues and he is searching for peace.

Yesterday the phone rang and the caller was someone I had met a few years ago.  Although this person is now living in a different state, he thought I could help his female acquaintance.  This woman believed she was possessed by the devil and she was seeking peace.  There was also a fellow from about a week ago who thought a “death angel” was after him and he too wanted peace, but I will save that illustration for Sunday morning.

People and circumstances differ but many are seeking the thing called “peace.”  Many would trade fame, money, and even give up good health for “peace.”

The Bible says peace is available.  In Phil. 4:7Phil. 4:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

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Paul said, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.”

No God, no true peace.  Know God and find peace.

Brad Price
http://www.abiblecommentary.com/
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Does it matter which God we worship?

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 I was visiting with someone recently and they told me that they didn’t believe in the same God I did. Yes, their god created the world, but he was seen and felt in his creation. He was appreciated (worshiped) through people’s appreciation of nature and enjoying his creation. Their god was not limited to “church buildings” or by “things written in a book”. They did not believe in “organized religion”, but rather that everyone needed to find God and make peace with him in their own way.

I didn’t say much, but when my wife tried to express a point about our belief, they said, “I already know all about what you believe and I don’t want to hear it.” That pretty much ended the conversation.

I’ve thought a lot about that conversation in the past couple of weeks. This person is not a bad or evil person, but they definitely do have different values than I do. An old illustration/story keeps coming to mind whenever I think of this conversation. The story takes place about 3,000 years ago in the country of Canaan.

“Ishmael and Sarah were married and had a newborn baby boy. Ishmael was a good man, a hard worker, providing a decent life for his family. Ishmael however worships the god, “Molec” who was a terrible and demanding god. At times the priests of Molec told the people that to insure a good harvest; their god demanded the sacrifice of children, which were to be thrown into the fire build before the statue of their god. On the appointed day of sacrifice Ishmael gathered up his newborn son and went to the temple of Molec. Sarah cried, begged and pleaded with Ishmael not to sacrifice their son. Determined however, Ishmael stalked to the edge of the fire pit with Sarah clinging to his legs trying to hold him back and threw their son into the fire.

Ishmael shakes off Sarah and leaves her sobbing at the foot of the idol as he goes to fornicate with the temple prostitutes to give more assurance to the blessing of the harvest by this terrible god. As Sarah lies there sobbing, she looks at the back of her husband walking away from her and says, ‘if he had a different god, he would be a different man”.

Does it make a difference what god you serve? Yes it does! This is not a new question or a new problem. Notice what the apostle Paul points out in Romans 1:20-28Romans 1:20-28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: 25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. 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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, “From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people, or birds and animals and snakes. So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved. When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done.”(NLT)

This is basically the same conversation we had with the one that wanted to worship God in nature. As Paul points out, this is not what God intended. He also points out that once someone abandons serving God the way he intended, then they just as easily abandon his directions for morals and ethics.

Does which God you worship make a difference? Paul the Apostle said that it does! Notice what he wrote to those wanting to follow God in the city of Ephesus: “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”( Ephesians 4:4-6Ephesians 4:4-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.

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, KJV)

OK, what’s the point of all of this? I believe that there are a lot of people in the world who are good, even wonderful people. People who are doing what they believe is right in trying to serve a “higher power”. I also believe very strongly, that just because you believe something is right, doesn’t make it so. The Apostle John wrote these words from God in Revelation 20:12Revelation 20:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.

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: “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done.”

So, does it make a difference which God you worship? I truly believe it does! What is your god? What do you serve, what do you worship? Could it be said of you, “If they had served a different God, they would have been a better person?” There is “only one Lord, one faith, one God and Father of all”. I believe that, because the Bible tells me so!

Russ Lawson

Check out the new “Greek word study blog” at http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/ today!

Greek word studies

Check out the “Greek word study blog. ”  This blog is updated almost daily and is a great “daily devotional” for those who love the Bible!

Studies in the Greek New Testament

Greek New Testament

Bat Man in modern times

 
His Name Was John

Unfortunately, he was known to many as “Bat Man.”

John C. Odom demonstrated tremendous talent as a baseball pitcher.  With a 90 mph fastball, a sharp curve, and a good changeup, John made the team at Tallahassee (FL) Community College as a walk-on.  He later committed to Oklahoma State but signed instead with the San Francisco Giants.  After four bumpy years in the Giants’ system (none above Class A) including some time out with injuries, the Giants released him in spring training last year.  The Calgary (CA) Vipers of the independent Golden Baseball League offered John a job, but because of a criminal conviction back in 1999, John was not allowed to enter Canada.

Jose Melendez, General Manager of the Laredo (TX) Broncos of the United League, proposed buying John’s contract from the Vipers for $1,000.  Calgary team president Peter Young rejected the offer, saying the Vipers didn’t make cash deals because they made the team look financially unstable.  However, the Vipers could use some baseball bats.  So the Vipers traded John to the Broncos for 10 bats valued at $665.

Instantly, John became known as “Bat Man.”

Although he was assured that the trade was not completed to embarrass him in any way, John couldn’t escape the label.  Three weeks after the trade, he abruptly left the team.  Six months later, he was found dead in Georgia from an accidental drug overdose.  He was 26.

Was there a connection between the trade and his untimely death?  No one knows for sure.  Some, like Dan Shwam of the Laredo Broncos, believe there is a connection.  “This trade thing really bothered him,” said Shwam.  “I really believe, knowing his background, that this drove him back to the bottle, that it put him on the road to drugs again.”

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! heard about the trade and offered $10,000 to the Vipers’ children’s charity.  Ripley’s has discussed creating an exhibit around them. *

I say, “Burn the bats!”  No one’s life should be measured in terms of baseball bats!

Each and every person is valuable because each one has been created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27Genesis 1:26-27
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26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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).  Even though that image has been marred by sin in every person, God loved us so much that He gave His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins (John 3:16John 3:16
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16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.

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Because of JESUS WE can be forgiven of our sins when we submit our lives to Him in faith (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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), 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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), confession (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 baptism (immersion) into Christ (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 value of something is often determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.  Open your eyes and LOOK at the price that was paid for YOU and for ME! 

No, he was NOT “Bat Man.”  His name was John!  And God also knows YOUR name, and He wants YOU to be His child and live eternally with Him when this life is over.

Won’t YOU submit your life to Him and be born again into His family?

— David A. Sargent, Minister

What NOT to do if you have an accident

Two young adults were involved in a fender bender and at first they were angry with one another and accused the other of being at fault, but eventually, calmer heads prevailed and they decided to call the police and let them settle the matter. The dispatcher told them that it would be a few moments as all their officers were tied up.

As they waited for the police to arrive, they got involved in a conversation and discovered that both of them were single, and that they had a lot in common, so the chemistry began to flow.

Finally the young woman said, “You know, maybe it was God’s will that we had this accident and we get to meet one another.”

And the young man, who was really attracted to the young woman, said excitedly, “I think you are absolutely right!”

And then the young woman said, “It’s silly for us to stand out here in the cold. Let’s get inside your car and sit where it will be a little warmer.” And, of course, the young man agreed.

As they sat talking in the car the young woman said, “You know, I just happened to be at the store and I bought a bottle of wine and I have some paper cups. Let me go get them and we will have a toast to this chance meeting.”

The young man thought that was a great idea. They made their first toast, he gulped down his wine and then noticed she hadn’t toasted… and he said, “Aren’t you going to drink yours?”

She said, “No, I think I’ll just wait for the police to arrive and assess the damages!”

The Bible warns us in Heb. 11:25Heb. 11:25
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25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

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that the “pleasures of sin are passing.” Satan will use every method he can to allow us to think that everything is going our way and then, WHAM! Just when we least expect it we find ourselves in a predicament that we never saw coming. That’s why Paul writes in I Cor. 10:12 “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Tim Woodward

 PS:  A new “Bible commentary” blog has been launched on the www.bumchecks.com site at this link:  http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary/

Are you one of the few?

ARISTARCHUS, MARK AND Justus were the only Jewish Christians who stood with Paul… 
The others may have been those of whom Paul wrote, “The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains” (Philippians 1:15-16Philippians 1:15-16
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15 Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16 the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel;

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).  Yes, only three!
 
There were only a few saved in the ark (1 Peter 3:20-211 Peter 3:20-21
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20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: 21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

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Only two of those twenty old and upward, who came out of Egypt, entered the promise land (Numbers 32:11-12Numbers 32:11-12
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11 Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: 12 save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun; because they have wholly followed Jehovah.

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).
 
Sardis had only “a few names” who had not defiled their garments (Revelation 3:4Revelation 3:4
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4 But thou hast a few names in Sardis that did not defile their garments: and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy.

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).
 
Jesus said, “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:16Matthew 20:16
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16 So the last shall be first, and the first last.

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He also said “there are few who find” the difficult way and narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14Matthew 7:13-14
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13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.

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May the Lord help us to stand among the few.  (Wendell Winkler)
 
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14Matthew 7:13-14
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13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.

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–Mike Benson

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Church work is like gardening (2 Timothy 2:62 Timothy 2:6
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6 The husbandmen that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits.

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), without the bib overalls and straw hat. The seed is the Word ( Luke 8:11Luke 8:11
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11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.

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). Preachers are patient laborers (James 5:7James 5:7
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7 Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it, until it receive the early and latter rain.

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), seeking to bring their produce to harvest (Matthew 9:37-38Matthew 9:37-38
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37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. 38 Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest.

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; Matthew 13:30Matthew 13:30
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30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn.

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). Making a good garden is dependent upon several factors–the right seed, proper fertilizer, sufficient water, warm sunshine, insect control and periodic weeding, etc. (1 Corinthians 3:61 Corinthians 3:6
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6 I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

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).

Joel Neal Pinion, my old gardening buddy over in White, Georgia, used to laugh and say, “Mike–growing a garden isn’t just about pulling weeds.” His humor had a point. Having spent considerable time in my own vegetable garden and having observed other growers and their produce, I can attest to the truthfulness of his statement. Pulling weeds is but one aspect of what a gardener must perform.

Respectfully, I wish some of my fellow “gardeners” could learn that lesson. To read from the pen of some of my brethren, you would think that weed pulling– i.e., exposing false teachers and false teaching–is a preacher’s sole responsibility; it is THE gospel. Virtually every issue of their bulletin or paper is devoted to “weed-pulling” and little–if anything–is written from the vantage point of optimism or encouragement.

Please don’t misunderstand here–left unchecked, the weeds of false doctrine can choke a congregation and MUST be pulled up (Titus 1:10-11Titus 1:10-11
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10 For there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.

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; Romans 16:17, 18; 2Romans 16:17, 18; 2
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17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. 18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent. 2 1 Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judges another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest dost practise the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that practise such things. 3 And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practise such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 who will render to every man according to his works: 7 to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: 8 but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, 9 tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; 10 but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: 11 for there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; 13 for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified: 14 (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; 15 in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); 16 in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ. 17 But if thou bearest the name of a Jew, and restest upon the law, and gloriest in God, 18 and knowest his will, and approvest the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, 19 and art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness, 20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having in the law the form of knowledge and of the truth; 21 thou therefore that teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? 22 thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou rob temples? 23 thou who gloriest in the law, through thy transgression of the law dishonorest thou God? 24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you, even as it is written. 25 For circumcision indeed profiteth, if thou be a doer of the law: but if thou be a transgressor of the law, thy circumcision is become uncircumcision. 26 If therefore the uncircumcision keep the ordinances of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned for circumcision? 27 and shall not the uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who with the letter and circumcision art a transgressor of the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

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John 9-11; Matthew 7:16-18Matthew 7:16-18
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16 By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

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) in order to ensure the garden’s growth (2 Peter 2:2; 3:182 Peter 2:2; 3:18
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2 And many shall follow their lascivious doings; by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen.

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However, a preacher-writer who devotes 98% of his energies to condemning wrong will never produce the kind of soul-harvest the Master husbandman requires (Hebrews 5:14Hebrews 5:14
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14 But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.

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). It is impossible to grow a garden by simply pulling up weeds. Yes, weeds can choke plants and rob the soil of important nutrients, but if the full range of garden tending efforts are neglected, the herbage will eventually wither and die. And if somehow it survives this imbalanced treatment, it will be incapable of yielding fruit (John 15:16John 15:16
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16 Ye did not choose me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that ye should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should abide: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

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; Romans 7:4Romans 7:4
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4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God.

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Where are the articles about the joy of Christian service? Where are the lessons about the blessings of our fellowship? Where are the sermons addressing the good things about the Lord’s church? Where are the literary treaties on what is positive about the Christian life?

Where are the essays concerning basic, Bible doctrine and how to be saved? (If a preacher isn’t careful, he can prefer condemning to saving– Jonah 3-4; Luke 15:25-32Luke 15:25-32
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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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). The Bible says the “sum” (not some) of God’s word is truth (Psalm 119:160Psalm 119:160
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160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever. Shin.

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ASV). It is not a matter of “either or” brethren, but “both and.”

The sole purpose of teaching through the printed page and internet should not be merely to denounce and attack denominational error and or liberalism. This is to be but a part of the whole commission we are to fulfill (Matthew 28:20Matthew 28:20
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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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). Paul himself said that his gardening efforts involved a complete balance. “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27Acts 20:27
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27 For I shrank not from declaring unto you the whole counsel of God.

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; cf. 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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Those of us who preach through the printed media and internet might do well to heed the advice of one Christian educator of the past who challenged his young students to leaf through their Bibles and underline those passages which they seldom or never addressed and then preach on them. Note Paul’s example, “…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you…” (Acts 20:20Acts 20:20
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20 how I shrank not from declaring unto you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly, and from house to house,

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Joe Neal was right–good gardening requires a comprehensive approach. It’s not just about pulling weeds. May God help us to keep this in mind as we declare the wonderful word of God.

by Mike Benson

My Old Bible

Though the cover is worn,

And the pages are torn,

And though places bear traces of tears.

Yet more precious than gold,

Is this book worn and old,

That can scatter and shatter my fears.

 This old book is my guide.

This is a friend by my side

It will lighten and brighten my way;

And each promise I find,

Soothes and gladdens my mind,

As I read it and heed it each day.

 To this book I will cling,

Of its worth I will sing,

Though great losses and crosses be mine;

For I cannot despair,

Though surrounded by care,

While possessing this blessing divine.