Archives for : November2011

Do You Have Rabies?

I’m sure you’ve heard the story about the man who was bitten by a dog. He went to the doctor to be checked over, and sure enough, the doctor returned with the news that the man had indeed been infected with rabies.

The man then asked the doctor for a piece of paper and a pen, and he began writing. The doctor was taken back by this request and finally assumed that this man was writing out his will, so the doctor said, “Sir, I know being told you have rabies is something you never want to hear, but be assured, medicine has advanced through the years, and this is no longer fatal. Therefore, there’s no need to make out your will. You’ll be fine in just a few weeks.” Upon hearing this, the man looked at the doctor and said, “My will? I’m not making out my will. I’m making a list of people I’m going to bite before I’m cured!”

We probably all know people who are like this man, and if we’re perfectly honest without ourselves, we may sometimes succumb to this attitude too. However, the apostle Paul said, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32Ephesians 4:31-32
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.

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If you were infected with rabies, would you be asking your doctor for a pen and piece of paper? Give it some thought.

by Steve Higginbotham

Having An *Empty Nest*

Thanksgiving break is over for my youngest child. She will drive off into the sunset today, back to Freed-Hardeman University. She is enjoying her freshman year, and for that I am glad. My husband and I treasure the few moments when we see her these days. Parents who share the bittersweet times when the children leave the nest know what I mean.

It’s always a source of wonderment to me at this time of year to notice the empty nests in the branches of our dozen or so trees on our property. It’s a sort of forlorn feeling as I imagine the baby birds with their mouths wide open, waiting to be fed by Momma and Daddy birds. Where are they now? Did they make it? Do they ever see their siblings or their parents? When did they leave that nest? I remember with a smile the furtive way the adult birds would look around, worm in beak, right before they flew to that exact spot, nest unseen.

One thing is for certain now that the sheltering screen of leaves is gone, the nest is most definitely deserted. The one in my hedge up against the front porch sits half-skewed and a little broken on one side. Its bit of red string dangling off of it is reminiscent of Rahab’s signal to the Israelites. But no one remains in the nest to be rescued. The fates of my melodious little friends are sealed, for good or for ill, for their short lives. This little home has served its purpose. It will be put into the trash can after this gardener takes off the Christmas lights that now adorn the trees and shrubs.

Another thing that is certain is that the mother and father bird are no longer in the nest. In my fascination with the baby birds’ flights, I never contemplated before now that the parents also move on. They don’t sit in the nest pining for their young. They leave also. While their lives are not over, they are most definitely not stuck in the past, nor in those shabby old nests.

This newly realized fact must have some meaning in my life, now that I am a new empty-nester. I never did picture myself playing bingo or sitting in a rocker and pining for the good times gone by. There is so much to do! God has a new plan for me that does not necessarily involve child-rearing.

Our children’s births were spread out over an unusually long span of time, and that is probably why I can also see the value in the empty nest. This week has been wonderful having some of our children back in the nest for a little mothering! Conversely, I will also enjoy the peace of the coming solitude. The quietness is also sweet, after 34 years of children in the home. My husband and I get a little alone-time at last!

Isn’t it wonderful how our lives can have different phases, and that we can move to new good works time after time? I do miss my children, but I choose to embrace this stage in life.

“His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me,” says the old song. Jesus highlights God’s knowledge of these little events in a sparrow’s life to illustrate God’s tender care for us (Matthew 10:29Matthew 10:29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them shall fall on the ground without your Father:

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–31). Just as He never stops caring for us, we don’t ever want to stop serving Him and increasing our talents for service.

Mommy and Daddy birds have wings, too. Look, I’m flying!

–Christine Berglund http://wp.me/p1HIjv-1Xo

I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table

TWO MEN WERE walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull…

Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence.  The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.  Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”  John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”  “But you must!” implored his companion.  “The bull is catching up to us.”  “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ’O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful…’”

If there is one sin that most prevalent today, it is the sin of ingratitude.  God does so much for us.  Our indebtedness to him is enormous and yet we rarely or at least infrequently offer thanks for what he has done.  In fact, many Christians fail offer thanks over their meals much less offer thanks over all that God does in their lives.  We are much like the little boy who was given an orange by a man. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?”  The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”

For a child of God thankfulness is not confined to a day or a season, it is an attitude that we should have everyday and every hour.  Michael Belcher

11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”  Luke 17:11-19Luke 17:11-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And it came to pass, as they were on their way to Jerusalem, that he was passing along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, who stood afar off: 13 and they lifted up their voices, saying, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go and show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, as they went, they were cleansed. 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, with a loud voice glorifying God; 16 and he fell upon his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answering said, Were not the ten cleansed? but where are the nine? 18 Were there none found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger? 19 And he said unto him, Arise, and go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

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–Mike Benson

What one factor destroys many marriages?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3Philippians 2:3
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3  doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself;

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Sadly the elderly minister showed the young couple to the door, and returned to his desk. You could still smell the gun smoke of rancor and accusation in the room. He feared for these kids.

He had been in ministry for almost fifty years, and in that time had counseled with literally hundreds of couples. He leaned back in his chair, laced his fingers behind his head, and reflected. What one factor, he thought, most commonly destroyed marriages? Was it adultery? Physical abuse? Money?

The pretty young woman had complained that her husband did not make enough money, and compared him to her brother, a stockbroker, who made hundreds of thousands a year, and kept his wife in new cars, new clothes, and a beautiful house. The young man, broad in the shoulders and in the prime of his life, accused her of complaining whenever he spent time fishing with his buddies.

There was no headline material in this session, no steamy stories of betrayal discovered, or passion.

Just plain selfishness.

Neither person was willing to offer himself completely to the other; neither was willing to consider his partner’s needs first.

It was she who had put it into words: “I thought the point of our marriage was for him to make me happy.” Well, when life is all about what you get, and not what you give, he thought, then this is the result. It was so sad, the solution so simple, and it was so hard to make them see.

Long before the affair, or the big blowout fight, or the breakup of the marriage, there was always selfishness.

–Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

A panicked bride

The day after a young couple had returned from their honeymoon, the bride called her mother in a panic.

“What’s the matter, dear? Was the honeymoon dreadful?”

“No, but oh, Mama! As soon as we got home, he started using the most horrible language! Horrible four-letter words!”

“Darling, shh,” said her mother. “Calm down and tell me what he said that was so awful.”

“Oh, Mama, it’s so embarrassing,” cried the still sobbing bride. “He said words like COOK, IRON, WASH, DUST!”

A cheerful heart is good medicine… (Prov 17:22Prov 17:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.

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GCFL.net: The Good, Clean Funnies List
A cheerful heart is good medicine… (Prov 17:22Prov 17:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 A cheerful heart is a good medicine; But a broken spirit drieth up the bones.

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Mail address: GCFL, Box 100, Harvest, AL 35749, USA

I'll see you on Easter

There are some things that I’m sure run through the minds of every preacher, but they are suppressed by our better judgment before they are ever spoken. For me, one of those unspoken thoughts occurs every Sunday prior to Christmas. I always find myself suppressing the urge to say, “Good to see everyone today. I hope to see some of you again next Sunday, and for the rest of you, I’ll see you on Easter.” – (See why those thoughts need suppressing?)

While the problem of only attending church twice a year is a problem that should not be addressed in the above fashion, it is a problem that does need to be addressed. The “twice-a-year church goer” is so common place in our society that today’s Urban Dictionary has given such people a name. They’re called “CEO’s” (Christmas & Easter Only).

Don’t misunderstand, I’m thankful when people think of Jesus, even if it is only twice a year. They need to think of him more, but twice is a starting point. I don’t want to criticize their movement in the right direction, but I don’t want them to think that such shallow commitment is equivalent to discipleship and sufficient to please God.

Being a Christian is so much more than attending church services twice a year. It is total commitment. It is self-denial. It is sacrifice. It is a pattern to be lived so others may follow. It is a life lived in response to the death of an innocent caused by our negligence. It is a sacred trust of one’s life into the hands of God.

Upon reflection, how could anyone seriously think that “twice-a-year” is an appropriate response to the eternal redemptive working of God which culminated in the horrific death of His Son? How could anything less than our entire lives – all we have to offer – be an acceptable response to God?

Next Sunday, our churches will be filled with CEO’s. What will we do with this opportunity? Certainly we must use “tact,” but not to the exclusion of “contact.” God’s word gives us the solution, “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15Ephesians 4:15
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15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

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–Steve Higginbotham, MercEmail

It won't happen to me

Some time ago, Cliff May started his article, “Future Shockwave,” this way:

“If you don’t live in Washington, New York, or another big city, you may think: ‘Even if the terrorists do strike again on American soil, my hometown and my family probably aren’t in danger.'”/1

Won’t happen to me. I’ll let New York go down the tubes, but I’ll be OK.

Human nature thinks it will happen to the other guy, or it will happen sometime down the road, so I don’t have to worry about it.

People get killed, maimed and mangled on the streets and highways every day, but plenty of souls refuse to wear seat belts and drive carelessly because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Drugs burn out users’ brains, and alcohol robs life from millions, but people keep drugging and drinking, because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Singles and marrieds have sex with multiple partners and never dream of getting a disease from their immorality, because they tell themselves, “It won’t happen to me.”

Good king Hezekiah got his life extended by 15 years and bungled when he showed the Babylonians all his treasures. When Isaiah told him his wealth would be carried away to Babylon and his descendants would be made eunuchs, he thought, “At least there will be peace and stability during my lifetime” (2 Kings 20:192 Kings 20:19
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19 Then said Hezekiah unto Isaiah, Good is the word of Jehovah which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, Is it not so, if peace and truth shall be in my days?

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Even good guys can think it won’t happen to them.

Israel had suffered from Babylon’s incursions, exiles lived far from their homes and Ezekiel still spoke of more judgment to come from God’s hand. But they thought, “Ah, this is too far ahead to think about.”

“The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Take note, son of man, the house of Israel is saying, “The vision that he sees is for distant days; he is prophesying about the far future.” Therefore say to them, “This is what the sovereign Lord says: None of my words will be delayed any longer! The word I speak will come to pass, declares the sovereign Lord”‘” (Ezekiel 12:26-28Ezekiel 12:26-28
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26 Again the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, 27 Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he seeth is for many day to come, and he prophesieth of times that are far off. 28 Therefore say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: There shall none of my words be deferred any more, but the word which I shall speak shall be performed, saith the Lord Jehovah.

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A rich man had his portfolio stuffed with stocks and futures, so he decided to retire and live the good life. Death? Won’t happen to me!

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20-21Luke 12:20-21
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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? 21 So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

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I mustn’t tell myself it won’t happen to me. If the Israelites of Ezekiel’s day and the rich fool are any indication, the Lord may MAKE it happen to me for payback for my foolishness and arrogance.

The worst spot to think this is about my soul.

I can lose it before I blink. So I must be prepared. Every minute. Every place.

Here’s my paraphrase of an apostle.

“Don’t let your salvation slip between your fingers. God said, ‘I heard you in the nick of time, I helped you when it really mattered. Salvation Day.’ When is that day for you? It’s right now. Today. This very minute. Act now. Get right with God.”

Now go read 2 Corinthians 6:1-22 Corinthians 6:1-2
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6 1 And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain 2 (for he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succor thee: behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation):

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— J. Randal Matheny via www.forthright.net

Don't tell people about the cross, it doesn't work

A WELL-KNOWN preacher once gave the following advice to a group of churches concerning their approach to evangelism:

“Don’t tell people about the cross, it doesn’t work.  Too many evangelistic efforts fail because they focus too much on the cross.  Just tell them God loves them and has a plan for them.”  He continued, “The message of a crucified Jew is ridiculous to the modern mind.  So move onto something better.  A crucified Messiah is stupid, but promise them prosperity, give them emotional experiences, provide them with self-esteem and then you’ll fill the pews.”

THOUGHTS: Avoiding the cross and catering to people’s external needs might “fill the pews,” but they will be pews filled with people still dying in their sins.  Without the cross, the Bible is just another neat story book.  Without the cross, Christianity is no more than a self-help seminar.  It was the cross that God displayed His wisdom and power.  (Mitchell Skelton)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:181 Cor. 1:18
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18 For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.

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–Mike Benson

Do you have a *slave card*?

Should we be amazed that Americans willingly sell their freedom for a measly price? Yet, many Americans eagerly swipe their slave card simply because they are impatient, to impress others or to make themselves feel good. Even Hebrew slaves gained more when forfeiting their liberty.

With red, white and blue flapping in the breeze above our heads while echoes about this being the land of opportunity still ringing in our ears, we often might wonder why any ancient Hebrew slave would have willingly rejected his right to go free. Scripture offered a powerful reason.

If the slave had been given a wife and she had bore him children, after the seventh year he could go free but his wife and children could not. However, this newly emancipated individual could chose, out of love for his family, to perpetually sacrifice his independence in order to remain with them (Exodus 21:2-6Exodus 21:2-6
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2 If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. 3 If he come in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he be married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4 If his master give him a wife and she bear him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself. 5 But if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 then his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the door-post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

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What is more difficult to fathom involves Americans willingly selling their independence merely to stimulate temporary feelings of self-worth or because they are too impatient to wait. Yet, according to the principle in Proverbs 22:7Proverbs 22:7
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7 The rich ruleth over the poor; And the borrower is servant to the lender.

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(“the borrower is slave to the lender”), that is the price for swiping your credit card when you can not pay the bill in full.

During this holiday season, liberty will once again be undervalued as modern slavery thrives. For an embarrassingly small value, Americans will make a Faustian bargain trading their future time and work in order to satisfy an immediate desire. Long after the borrowed amount has been repaid, they will continue to toil enabling their masters to reap their own dreams at the expense of slave sweat.

–Barry Newton @ www.forthright.net

Extra Terrestrial Commission *welcome wagon*

Faith In The Far-Fetched While Skeptical Of The Sure

“Shall the voters for the City and County of Denver adopt an initiated
Ordinance to require the creation of an extraterrestrial affairs commission
to help ensure the health, safety, and cultural awareness of Denver
residents and visitors in relation to potential encounters or interactions
with extraterrestrial intelligent beings or their vehicles, and fund such
commissions from grants, gifts, and donations?”  Yes___ No ___

Jeff Peckman, a Denver resident, was able to secure ten thousand signatures and get this ballot title drawn for next year’s elections. Peckman created the Extra Terrestrial Commission to be a “welcome wagon” when the aliens show up in the Mile High city.

This is not a joke.  At least, I am not joking with you.

This raises a question that is intriguing.  How many people in this nation believe there are extraterrestrial beings out there and/or down here?  What is the basis for their faith? We have seen TV specials or magazines or photos of alleged space ships or aliens.  People claim to have been abducted or to have had close encounters with them.  Some even suggest that aliens are responsible for the creation and design of this planet and its inhabitants (dodging, though not artfully, the tough question of how the aliens came into being).  Some, though I dearly hope a scant minority, earnestly believe there are “extraterrestrial intelligent beings” out there.

A growing number seem strident in their denial of what the Bible proposes.  The Word of God gives a simple, logical explanation for our origins.  It explains the purpose of mankind on this earth.  It speaks of a God in heaven and an eternal future either with Him or separated from Him.  People scoff away such a possibility, ridiculing the intelligence and sanity of those who trust this to be true.  They can be the butt of jokes.

The proposed alternative to special creation by an uncaused, eternal, and intelligent being is uncaused, eternal matter giving rise to design, intelligence, morality, procreative abilities, and much more.  How did that dust get here?  How did it grow more complicated?  How did some of it gradually become a fern or a hippopotamus or a barnacle or a rock or a human being? How did an octillion more things happen to get us from that power-packed, uncaused mass of stuff to the boundless, ordered universe in which we now live, breathe, and comprehend?

The most reasonable explanation involves a loving God who created man in His own image, who created for mankind a world fit to be inhabited–complete with food and water and the other essentials to make life perpetuated from generation to generation.  Not only does it best explain design, the cosmos, morality, intelligence, and the like, it makes reasonable the idea that such a Being, God, could communicate His thoughts, intentions, and will through scripture and superintend the process of revelation that gives us, even today, precisely what He wanted us to know.
Mindless chance, aliens, or a loving, limitless God.  What seems most reasonable?

=-Neal Pollard

We ought to live holy and godly lives

A tiny but dignified old lady was among a group looking at an art exhibition in a newly opened gallery.  Suddenly one contemporary painting caught her eye.

“What on earth,” she inquired of the artist standing nearby, “is that?”

He smiled condescendingly. “That, my dear lady, is supposed to be a mother and her child.”

“Well, then,” snapped the little old lady, “why isn’t it?”

I’ve seen some of that “modern art”, so I can relate.  But it makes me stop and wonder:  Does the same thing ever happen spiritually in my life?  I’m “supposed” to be a Christian, a child of God, a person whose life dedicated to serving God.

Peter reminds me:  “You ought to live holy and godly lives.” (2 Peter 3:112 Peter 3:11
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11 Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness,

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But is there anyone who looks at my life and says, “I know what he’s supposed to be, so why isn’t he?”

“Father, please forgive me for those times I have let you down, those times I have not set an example of holiness that You intend for me to.  Please strengthen me in my desire to live in such a way that others around me will have no doubt that You come first in my life.”

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

You're dressed like a prostitute!

In his book about forgiveness, Brazilian author Hernandes Dias Lopes tells about a bride who made detailed preparations for her honeymoon. On that special night, she presented herself to her husband, dressed all in silk.

Instead of the endearing terms and gesture of tenderness she expected, he said, “You’re dressed like a prostitute!”

For 20 years that wife carried the wound of those words. She never felt pleasure in her relationship with her husband. Her bitterness led her into adultery.

The lack of forgiveness produces resentment and bitterness. In the fertile ground of forgiveness, love grows.

“The one who forgives an offense seeks love, but whoever repeats a matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9Proverbs 17:9
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9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; But he that harpeth on a matter separateth chief friends.

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Besides indicating, by its inclusion, the difficulty of forgiveness, the Lord’s prayer shows the interdependence of our forgiveness and God’s.

“and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12Matthew 6:12
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12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

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). Luke’s rendering makes it clear that debts refer to sins (Luke 11:4Luke 11:4
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4 And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.

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The more we understand the enormity of God’s forgiveness, the easier we will be able to forgive.

And God’s continuing forgiveness of his people depends upon their imitation of his disposition to forgive.

The love of God explodes any attempt to limit or extend forgiveness on a human basis (Matthew 18:21- 22Matthew 18:21- 22
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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). While Peter thought seven pardons was a merciful and gracious number, Jesus shows us that the forgiving heart stops counting altogether.

Forgiveness trumps health (Matthew 9:2Matthew 9:2
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2 And behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven.

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). Extended to others, it must come “from the heart” (Matthew 18:35Matthew 18:35
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35 So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.

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Forgiveness is the key to restoring and cultivating relationships. The experience of God’s salvation comes “through the forgiveness of … sins” (Luke 1:77Luke 1:77
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77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people In the remission of their sins,

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). Redemption is summed up as the forgiveness of 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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; Colossians 1:14Colossians 1:14
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14 in whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins:

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). This is true in our relationship to God, and to one another.

Failure to forgive, then, destroys relationships. Only when we refuse to hold others’ failings against them will we be able to build lasting and intimate relationships in the home, in the church and in the world.

Because honeymoons end, sometimes, before they begin.

–J. Randal Matheny @ www.forthright.net

Is Jesus showing up in dental x-rays?

There has been a rash of “sightings” lately with which unbelievers have been having a field day.  I refer to “Jesus sightings” people are claiming in such things as clouds, Cheetos, dental X-rays, cooking utensils, windows, walls, and trees. Wikipedia even has an entry for it (“Perceptions of religious imagery in natural phenomena”). People vehemently defend the idea that these are intentional, divinely sent images. Meanwhile, secular and agnostic witnesses to such claims gather up baby and bathwater together, using such superstitiousness to show how deluded those in Christendom really are. Yet, while responding to superstition in religion would be a fitting use of time, another thing comes to mind when hearing these sad stories.  It is a reminder that people are looking for Jesus in all the wrong places.

They want some heavenly sign, some overwhelming feeling, some sensory sensation, and some sort of religious fireworks to create or validate their faith.  While God has embedded plenty of these in the marvels of nature and creation, through the product of answered prayer that defies logic or explanation, and by the amazing process of transformation that occurs when people follow Christ, He calls on us to seek for Him in a much less electrifying and cataclysmic place.

When we pick up God’s Word and regularly, intently read, meditate, and study (cf. Psalm 1) it, we see Jesus come alive in powerful, sustaining ways!  When we walk with the Lord each day, the resulting relationship built on His character and our trust in Him is powerful!  When we actively serve Him and others and put into practice what He teaches us through the Bible, we see Jesus in a vivid way.  Daily Christian living, the longer we practice it, brings Jesus into unmistakable, clear focus.  Maybe that is what these “seers” truly desire, and what they need is our help to truly find Him.  Let us take that as a challenge and help people really “see Jesus” (cf. John 12:21John 12:21
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21 these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

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; Heb. 2:9Heb. 2:9
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9 But we behold him who hath been made a little lower than the angels, even Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God he should taste of death for every man.

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).

Neal Pollard

A drop of Pope John II's blood

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, presented a drop of the late Pope John II’s blood to the St. Mary Roman Catholic Church in Greeley, Colorado, last month.  The Associated Press reported that this is a highly-prized relic for the church, especially in light of rumors that the Vatican will soon name the late pontiff a “saint.”  Father Pawel Zborowski, of the Greeley church, said that Dziwisz “presented the drop of blood on a cloth encased in a decorated gold cross last month in Poland” (via Colorado Springs Gazette online).

The discerning Bible student will find much in the above paragraph to deconstruct, but focus for a moment on the value some have attached to the blood of a man venerated by a sizable percentage of people around the globe.  They carefully encase it, preserve it, and desire to display it.  They call it a “relic” (i.e., a part of a deceased holy person’s body or belongings kept as an object of reverence). It is a rarity to be prized and treasured.

My purpose is not to debate the good and bad qualities of John Paul II.  He will stand before “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:151 Tim. 6:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

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), the same as you and me.  It is amazing, though, that much ado is made over inefficacious, ordinary blood, while the vast majority reject the only blood that can save.  His blood redeems (Eph. 1:7Eph. 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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), washes away sins (Rev. 1:5-6Rev. 1:5-6
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5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; 6 and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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), acquits (Rom. 5:9Rom. 5:9
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9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him.

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), makes holy (Heb. 10:29Heb. 10:29
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29 of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

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), brings near (Eph. 2:13Eph. 2:13
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13 But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ.

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), cleanses (1 Jn. 1:71 Jn. 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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), cancels our sin debt (Mt. 26:28Mt. 26:28
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28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.

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), clears our conscience (Heb. 9:14Heb. 9:14
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14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

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), and purchased the church (Ac. 20:28Ac. 20:28
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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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).  I cannot literally contact that blood.  Jesus died 2,000 years ago, 8,000 miles from here.  In four different ways, God ties the blood of Christ to baptism (see John 19:34John 19:34
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34 howbeit one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and straightway there came out blood and water.

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+ Romans 6:3Romans 6:3
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3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

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; Matthew 26:28Matthew 26:28
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28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.

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+ 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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; Revelation 1:5Revelation 1:5
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5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood;

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+ Acts 22:16Acts 22:16
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16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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; Hebrews 13:12Hebrews 13:12
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12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate.

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+ Ephesians 5:25-27Ephesians 5:25-27
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

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).  Christ’s is the only blood that matters!

–Neal Pollard

The cross

A young Christian rationalizes his cursing, expressing his “need” to fit in with his peers.  Someone habitually falls asleep during Bible study or worship.  A Christian woman tends to talk bad to her friend about their mutual companion.  A middle-aged couple forms the habit of missing evening assemblies to be with friends or pursue others interests.  Several Christians silently fret over their inability to focus while partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  Some of the brethren seem indifferent to the work of the church.  What is happening with these precious children of God?

Several scenarios have been portrayed, but there is in them but a single issue.  Why do people, even Christians, slip away from the Lord?  The first several words of George Bennard’s famous hymn are, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.”  So, what does one do when it seems that Christ died on a hill too far away?

The most dangerous thing that can happen to anyone is for the cross of Christ to lose its meaning.  It CAN lose its meaning for people.  Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor. 1:171 Cor. 1:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.

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Does the cross have much meaning for the Christian’s friends and colleagues whose words and actions assault that for which the cross stands?  Willful sin is against the cross (cf. Heb. 6:4-6Heb. 6:4-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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).  People hurt Christ all over again because the cross means, if their actions accurately reflect their hearts, little more to them than does a fairy tale or ancient history.  Because of a desire to please the world, the Christian can develop such an attitude toward the cross.  In this moral quandary, he can choose to be close to the enemies of the cross instead of the One who died there.  But, when one chooses the world over Christ, HE becomes God’s enemy, too (cf. Ecc. 8:11Ecc. 8:11
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11 Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

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; Js. 4:4Js. 4:4
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4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by the spirit of justice, and by the spirit of burning.

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Perhaps a few brief facts will help children of God, especially when the hill far away seems too far away.

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REAL.  Paul taught this without equivocation (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-41 Cor. 15:1-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 1 Now I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, 2 by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures;

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).  Contemporaries of the cross attest to its historicity.  Atheists and skeptics only have blind eyes for the plain facts because they know that acceptance of them means they must obey the doctrine of Christ (cf. Rom. 6:17Rom. 6:17
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17 But thanks be to God, that, whereas ye were servants of sin, ye became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching whereunto ye were delivered;

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).  But the fact, according to Paul, are simple; namely, Christ really died, He was buried, and He arose!  What the Bible teaches that Christ did for humanity as a whole and the individual in particular is true!  The cross is real!

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!

–Christ died for everyone’s sins on the cross (Rom. 8:8Rom. 8:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 and they that are in the flesh cannot please God.

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).  He died for the seemingly insignificant, seemingly minor sins.  He also died for the big, ugly, embarrassing, shameful sins!

–Christ died to bring man back to God on the cross (Rom. 8:34Rom. 8:34
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34 who is he that condemneth? It is Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

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).  Because of his sins, man was rejected by God.  God wanted nothing to do with any vile person (note: Rom. 3:23Rom. 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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).  But, because of Christ, anyone can come back to God who obeys Him.

–Christ died to be the ruler of the human heart on the cross (Rom. 14:19Rom. 14:19
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19 So then let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.

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; Gal. 2:20Gal. 2:20
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20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.

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).

–Christ died to show the individual how much He loves him on the cross (2 Cor. 5:14-152 Cor. 5:14-15
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14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15 and he died for all, that they that live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again.

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; John 14:23John 14:23
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23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

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–Christ died to open the door to heaven, shut by the separating power of sin, on the cross (1 Thes. 4:141 Thes. 4:14
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14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

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; Isa. 59:1-2Isa. 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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).  Thus, in its importance the cross exceeds all else!

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS IS REALLY SPECIAL.  Only Christ could have hung there.  No one else was qualified.  Only the blood of Christ was right in God’s sight for cleansing man from his ugly sins.  Only His love, as shown by the cross, is strong enough to bring one’s love of this world.

REMEMBER THAT THE CROSS WAS REALLY NECESSARY.  Christ had to die to satisfy God’s perfect justice.  Though all sin, no sinner, of himself, has anything to offer God to satisfy His just requirements.  Everyone needs what Christ gave on that hill far away (cf. Eph. 2:8-9Eph. 2:8-9
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8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not of works, that no man should glory.

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).  There’s no good news to obey without the cross (cf. Rom. 1:16; 5:5-9Rom. 1:16; 5:5-9
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16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 5 and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us. 6 For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him.

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).  If no cross, then no hope, no joy and no heaven!!

What can we do when the cross seems so distant from us in our spiritual lives?  Understanding the reality, the importance, the uniqueness and the necessity thereof, we will be prompted to renew our zeal and dedication to the suffering servant who died there for us (Heb. 5:8-9Heb. 5:8-9
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8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 and having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation;

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).  Matchless love led God to Calvary.  It is love that leads us back to Calvary!

–Neal Pollard

Displaying the Bible is not enough!

For many years the Bible has been the best selling book, not only in America, but in every country where God’s word is allowed to have free run. Non-profit organizations such as the American Bible Society have devoted untold man hours, and millions of dollars to see to it that the Bible is made available to anyone and everyone who desires to feed on the Book of books. The fact is, the Bible is the most widely printed, the most sought after, and the most influential book the world has ever had the blessed privilege of reading. The Bible is, without doubt, the greatest book ever written.

Consisting of 66 books, it stands as a monumental representation of heaven’s love for mankind. From the moment that God’s word has gone forth to man, Satan has scrutinized, criticized, de-emphasized and sought to minimize the Holy word. Critics have assailed its “contradictions” and “inconsistencies.” But the honest seeker knows that all such attempts to find fault with Scripture are mere subterfuge, and a whistling in the wind. The Bible has survived the onslaught of critics, and the more scrutiny and examination the Bible receives, the more it shines. It has withstood the hammers of infidelity, and weathered the howling winds of higher criticism. While history books become outdated, and science books re-edited, the Bible remains as fresh today as when it was written and needs no addition, subtraction, or rewriting. So long as men hunger and thirst after righteousness, the Bible will find a place in their hearts.

Have you ever thought of the amazing availability of Scripture in our modern age? We have ready access to God’s word, in print, and on the internet. Software is available for those who prefer studying at the keyboard of a computer that provides dozens of translations, dictionaries, commentaries, maps, illustrations, and study helps. I have on my personal laptop four Bible software programs, two of which are absolutely free. At the click of a button I can look up words, search the meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek words, consult the wisdom of brethren who blazed the trail in our country in order to restore the church of the New Testament and provide generations to follow a sound and solid footing in the word, and scour the internet for literally thousands of websites and blogs by faithful brethren. What an amazing age we live in! And yet, sadly, far too many saints still neglect their sacred responsibility and privilege of studying the word. In a time when our world needs a strong church to counteract the onslaught of the devil, it seems that we are the weakest we have been in decades; all because of negligence and apathy on the part of members of the Lord’s body. Some years ago I came across the following poem that addresses the problem of which I speak:

“UNREAD”
by Cleah Boaz

I am a Bible proudly displayed
for all the world to see.
With my leather cover and gilded pages
I am open at Psalm 23.

But no one ever picks me up
and lovingly turns a page,
And the place that is open at Psalm 23
is growing brittle with age.

I am a Bible proudly displayed
On a beautifully carved teak stand.
But no one ever reads the words
that were penned by an inspired hand.

My owner thinks my presence
is his ticket to Paradise,
But he has never consulted me
or heeded my advice.

I am a Bible proudly displayed
open but never read.

My owner’s soul will starve to death
for lack of its daily bread.

–by Tom Wacaster

Do you remember Captain Kangaroo?

A small child waits with impatience the arrival home of a parent. She wishes to relate some sandbox experience. She is excited to share the thrill that she has known that day. The time comes; the parent arrives. Beaten down by the stresses of the workplace the parent often replies: “Not know, honey, I’m busy, go watch television.”

The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages.

We give her designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give her what she wants the most, which is our time. Now, she is fifteen and has a glassy look in her eyes. Honey, do we need to sit down and talk? Too late. Love has passed by.

The person who wrote these words was Robert Keeshan, better known to America as Captain Kangaroo.

–Author unknown

Three things to think at holiday time

May I suggest two things for your consideration this holiday season?  (1) Consider what you have, not what you lack.  Most of us enjoy material possessions far and above that of the average world. Be grateful for God’s provisions, and even more thankful for those little “extras” that make life enjoyable.  (2) Spend some time this week to meditate upon God’s goodness to you. Get off by yourself and say a little prayer to Him from Whom all blessings flow, and that in rich abundance. (3) Finally, realize that with increased blessings come increased responsibility.  Read Luke 16:19-27Luke 16:19-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: 20 and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; yea, even the dogs come and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. 27 And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house;

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, Matthew 25 and Luke 12:45-48Luke 12:45-48
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45 But if that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and the maidservants, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he expecteth not, and in an hour when he knoweth not, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint his portion with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant, who knew his lord's will, and made not ready, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes; 48 but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.

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.  Then ask yourself if you are properly sharing what you have with those who have not.

I’ll close with this thought provoking analysis of how blessed many of us truly are:

If you own just one Bible, you are abundantly blessed. 1/3 of the world does not have access to even one.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people around the world.

If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest or torture of death, you are more blessed that almost three billion people in the world.

If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.

If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing touch.

If you prayed yesterday and today, you are in the minority because you believe in God’s willingness to hear and answer prayer.

If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

–by Tom Wacaster

A "failed" judgment day

A little over five months ago, Harold Camping and his followers combed through the countryside telling everyone that the Judgment Day was going to happen on May 21st, 2011.  When the morning of May 22nd rolled around, everyone raised an eyebrow toward Camping.  In response, the doomsayers then claimed that God have given a brief period of grace, but both the Judgment Day and the destruction of the world would happen five months later on October 21st, 2011.  Well, obviously that date, too, has passed by without incident.  Now folks are raising both eyebrows toward Camping.  Harold Camping and his followers have since removed any doomsday predictions off of their radio show website (familyradio.com) and have basically left well enough alone.  Once again a Judgment Day prediction has proven to be nothing but empty chatter.

It seems people need another reminder of at least three Scriptures:

“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-31 Thessalonians 5:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that aught be written unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.

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“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.  Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives” (1 Peter 3:10-111 Peter 3:10-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 For, He that would love life, And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips that they speak no guile: 11 And let him turn away from evil, and do good; Let him seek peace, and pursue it.

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“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36Matthew 24:36
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

36 But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.

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Do people think the Lord is joking in these passages?  I couldn’t help but think about God’s reaction would be when people found out that Camping’s predictions were wrong.  I imagined God standing and saying, “See, I told you so.”  God has made it very clear in the Bible that we will not know when Judgment Day will be.  It’s sad that people try to get around this.  The problem is, people constantly try to get around many of God’s other commands and not just this one.

The Lord isn’t kidding when He gives us a command, whether it is about Judgment Day, baptism (Mark 16:16Mark 16:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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; 1 Peter 3:211 Peter 3:21
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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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; etc.), or any other command (Matthew 7:21-27Matthew 7:21-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 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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).  Our role is not to question or to look for a detour, but to obey.  After all, when Judgment Day does finally occur, we will be judged by Jesus’ words and if we followed them or not (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 time we stop trying to get around God’s commands and just do them.

Brett Petrillo

Being thankful before Thanksgiving

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,

For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.

We have so much to be thankful for that it staggers the imagination. To be alive and breathing is reason enough to shout to the heavens. Our health, even if failing, still has us above ground in a world of extraordinary beauty.

To contemplate Thanksgivings past is to languish in a mound of warm blankets, to sip tea with our remembrances and rejoice in their reverie. Scenes of childhood flash across the canvas and smells and sounds permeate our minds.

I remember Thanksgivings of days past and family members whose seats are now empty. They still linger in our minds as we thank God for memories. We walk with them as we age and seek to be the best people we can be. We hope that we make them proud, as we carry their names forward in time.

The physical blessings of our lives are stupendous. We have received more blessings than we can enumerate and yet we complain and seek after more opulence. Wealth hijacks our minds and points us to the wrong goals in life. A return to simplicity would reclaim our innocence and appreciation for what we have ( Matthew 6:25-34Matthew 6:25-34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? 26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? 28 And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

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People who cannot be satisfied will never find fulfillment. It will always be elusive, as nothing that is in the hands will satisfy. Dreamers never settle on a treasure. There will always be new hills to climb and verdant valleys to possess.

Israel was hungry after leaving Egypt. God provided them with manna, but they soon began to complain and wanted something new (Numbers 11). God blessed them with Quail, only to see them gorging themselves in excess. He then made them sick with a plaque.

How is our gratitude? Do we need a plague to wake us up?

May we all renew our commitment to simplicity, godliness and thankfulness. In the process, our regenerated spirits will soar, the flowers will bloom and the sun will shine. In the end, we will finally realize the glorious world our God has given us!

Thanks be to God for his marvelous love!

–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net