Archives for : August2013

A clever idea!

A CERTAIN YOUNG man worked in a factory where heavy machinery rattled the entire building…

Not liking the jarring, he brought a rubber mat to the factory and stood on it.  The vibrations no longer bothered him as they once had.  However, after several days, someone stole his mat.  He responded by getting two pieces of rubber and nailing them to his heels.  He now had two little rubber mats that no one could steal and that went with him everywhere.  The name of the young man was O’Sullivan, the original inventor of rubber heels.

THOUGHT: Like this young man, we as Christians have that which protects us against the jarring of the world.  It is called prayer, and it goes with us everywhere.  (Wade Webster, cf., Stephen R. Covey, Everyday Greatness, p. 220)

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7Philippians 4:6-7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.

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–Mike Benson

Why Am I Afraid of Truth?

 Martha and Mary urged the Lord to check on their brother’s welfare (John 11:3John 11:3
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3 The sisters therefore sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

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). Instead, Jesus tarried for two more days before leaving for Bethany (11:6) to check on his ailing friend.


When He finally did arrive on the scene, Lazarus had been “grave-yard dead” for four days (11:39).

 

 The Lord made His way to the tomb where Lazarus had been buried. He asked that the stone be rolled aside and then shouted, “Lazarus, come forth!” (11:43).


Scripture records wondrously, “And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth…” (11:44).

 

 Some of those who witnessed this awesome scene reported the event to the Pharisees (11:46). What is striking to me is that even the avowed enemies of Jesus admitted His miraculous works. They pondered, “…What shall we do? For this Man works many signs” (11:47).


Did you catch that? The truth of the resurrection was so self-evident and undeniable that even those who hated Him couldn’t deny what He had done.

 

 What is especially telling to me is the fear and concern that the Pharisees experienced. They said, “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation” (11:48), so they conspired to murder Him (11:53).


Let that rattle around in your brain for a while. Why would folks want to kill a Man with the ability to raise the dead?! Why were the Pharisees afraid of Jesus–the embodiment of truth? The answer to these questions also explains why many people fear truth today.


1. Truth threatened their POWER base. The Pharisees said, “If we let him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him…” These men realized that if folks kept seeing what Jesus could do and hear His message then they would forsake their oversight and follow the Lord.

 

 2. Truth exposed their ERROR and SIN. “…From that day on they plotted to put Him to death” (11:53). If there had been no corruption within the Jewish leadership of the day, they would have welcomed Jesus as the Promised One. One of the reasons the Pharisees rejected the Truth was because they were living in a state of unrepentant sin. These “religious” men had murder in their hearts! Had they been living within the will of God they would have had no reason to fight against what the Lord taught and practiced.

 

 3. Truth threatened the STATUS QUO. “…The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” The Jews were afraid that the excitement from the news of Lazarus’ resurrection would incur Rome’s heavy hand down upon them and lead to the loss of what national life still remained in their possession. They weren’t ready or willing to change. Note the phrase, “…Our place…”


Good reader, how do you feel when truth of Jesus Christ is taught and practiced? When the preacher urges you to die to self and “walk in newness of life” (e.g., resurrection– Rom. 6:3-4Rom. 6:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Or are ye ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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), do you get upset? Do you feel threatened? Are you worried that your sin may be discovered? Do you feel the need to fight and keep things “as they are”?


Give it some thought.


–by Mike Benson

MIRACLES, SIGNS AND WONDERS

There’s an old story about a skeptic who continually harassed the local preacher.  His one delight in life seemed to be making the preacher appear inadequate intellectually. The preacher bore those challenges to his theology and faith with great restraint.

One day the skeptic was heckling the preacher about his views on miracles.  “Give me one concrete example of a miracle,” the skeptic taunted.  “One concrete example.”  This preacher hauled off and kicked the skeptic in the shin as hard as he could.

The skeptic couldn’t believe it!  “What did you do that for?”

The preacher asked, “Did you feel that?”

“Yes,” the man said as he nursed his sore leg.

“Well, if you hadn’t,” said the preacher, “it would have been a miracle!”

I’m not sure that was the best way to get a point across regarding miracles, but it is certainly true that miracles are important to those of us who have faith in God!

It may surprise you to know that while there are many miracles recorded in the Bible, the word “miracle” rarely appears in the Old Testament, at least in most translations (only 3 times in the NKJV).  In fact, the word “miracle” rarely even appears in the gospels (only in Mark 9:39Mark 9:39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man who shall do a mighty work in my name, and be able quickly to speak evil of me.

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and Luke 23:8Luke 23:8
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8 Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was of a long time desirous to see him, because he had heard concerning him; and he hoped to see some miracle done by him.

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).  The more common words that are used for miracles throughout the Bible are the words “signs” and “wonders”.

Miracles have the ability to create a sense of “wonder” or awe.  And then, their purpose was to serve as a “sign”.  A miracle is a sign that God uses to point to Himself, the same way that we follow signs to find a museum or an airport.  As John reported, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:30-31John 20:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye may have life in his name.

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Despite the skeptics, those of us who are Christians believe that our God is a God of great power.  We believe that He created this world.  We believe that He led the Israelites through the Red Sea.  And we believe that He raised Jesus from the grave.  Repeatedly, He has demonstrated His power and we take comfort knowing that we have that kind of a Father watching over us.

“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face evermore!  Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth!  O seed of Israel His servant, you children of Jacob, His chosen ones!” (I Chronicles 16:11-13es 16:11-13
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11 Wherefore my heart soundeth like a harp for Moab, and mine inward parts for Kir-heres. 12 And it shall come to pass, when Moab presenteth himself, when he wearieth himself upon the high place, and shall come to his sanctuary to pray, that he shall not prevail. 13 This is the word that Jehovah spake concerning Moab in time past.

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Alan Smith

Sosthenes, 1 Corthians 1:1

SOSTHENES (1 Corthians 1:1) was a common first-century name…

This name also appears in Acts 18:17Acts 18:17
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17 And they all laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things.

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.  There Luke describes how someone with this name was beaten by a Jewish mob because he failed to make a case against Paul.

If the Sosthenes in Acts 18 is identical with the Sosthenes in 1 Corinthians 1:11 Corinthians 1:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 1 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

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, a remarkable conversion took place.  Paul’s companion was the very man who had previously tried to prosecute him because of Christianity.  If the two names refer to the same man, Sosthenes’ opposition to the gospel had been replaced by his active promotion of the gospel.  The fact that only this man’s first name is mentioned indicates the Corinthians were very familiar with him.  It is not too unrealistic to believe Luke and Paul described the same man.  Brad Price, “First Corinthians,” p. 8.

“Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat.  But Gallio took no notice of these things”  (Acts 18:17Acts 18:17
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17 And they all laid hold on Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment-seat. And Gallio cared for none of these things.

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). “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother”  (1 Corinthians 1:11 Corinthians 1:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 1 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

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–Mike Benson

Red words in the Bible

WHILE MILLIONS READ their Bibles, few know why some Bible publishers print the words of Christ in red…

Words in red are neither more nor less important than the words in black.  Jesus said to the seventy, “He who hears you hears Me…” (Luke 10:16Luke 10:16
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16 He that heareth you heareth me; and he that rejecteth you rejecteth me; and he that rejecteth me rejecteth him that sent me.

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).  Jesus meant that every divinely inspired writer or speaker was equally important, since the message originated with God’s Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17
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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: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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The idea of a red-letter Bible originated with Louis Klopsch, the first editor for the Christian Herald.  Its November 1901 issue ran an advertisement offering a red-letter Bible to readers.  Dr. Klopsch based this on Luke 22:20Luke 22:20
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20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.

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, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you,” spoken by Jesus as He instituted the Lord’s Supper.  Reasoning that blood was red, he asked himself, “Why not a red-letter Bible with the red words to be those of our Lord?”  He asked Bible scholars in America and Europe to submit passages they regarded as spoken by Christ while on earth.

The first publishing of a red-letter Bible (copyright 1899 by Louse Klossch) numbered 6,000 copies.  They sold quickly.  Presses were soon running day and night to supply the demand.  The King of Sweden sent a congratulatory cablegram, but the message that thrilled Klopsch the most came from President Theodore Roosevelt.  He was even invited to dine with the chief executive at the White House.

Dr. Klopsch died March 28,  1910, and was buried at Mont Lawn near Tonawanda, New York, where he had established an orphanage.  At the time The New York Tribune said, “He will not be easily replaced.  He lived and died by his own motto: ‘Do all the good you can for all the people you can.’  This, he truly did.”  Mark N. Posey

“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38Acts 10:38
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38  even Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

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Mike Benson

The Savior of the Undesirables

I once preached for a congregation with a shameful past. In previous years, one of the men would stand in the door and not allow anyone of a different skin color to enter.

Decades later, I was blessed to not only welcome an undesirable, but to baptize him into Christ. Thankfully, Christ welcomes those man’s bigotry rejects.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:71 Samuel 16:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 But Jehovah said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have rejected him: for Jehovah seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but Jehovah looketh on the heart.

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, NKJV).

Man divides while God unites. God loves, while man hates and rejects.

Even in the Lord’s church, we find brethren who build walls that they have no right to build. Even Peter, who should have known better than anyone, built racial walls by looking down on the Gentile Christians (Galatians 2:11-21Galatians 2:11-21
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11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid. 18 For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God. 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. 21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.

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Peter had heard specifically from God that he should see all men as equal, yet his sinful nature shone through (Acts 10:9-16,34Acts 10:9-16,34
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9 Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour: 10 and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance; 11 and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: 12 wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. 15 And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. 16 And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven. 34 And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

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). We must stand above the evils of men.

In Mark 2:14-17Mark 2:14-17
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14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the place of toll, and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. 15 And it came to pass, that he was sitting at meat in his house, and many publicans and sinners sat down with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and publicans, said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 And when Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

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, Jesus calls Matthew to be a disciple and dines in his house with Matthew’s tax collector friends. The Pharisees, of course, are there to mock him for eating with sinners.

“When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17Mark 2:17
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17 And when Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

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The Pharisees saw those at the table as scum and wanted nothing to do with them. If the Lord thought as man did, would he allow any of us to be in the Church? Would our skin color, looks, financial status or nationality meet the criterion of the narrow-minded?

Jesus, however, is the Savior of the undesirables. He welcomes those whom man sees as worthless. Those we tolerate, Jesus embraces. The Lord knows that all men are made in his image and posses inherent value (Genesis 1:27Genesis 1:27
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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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The Gospel call is blind to prejudice. It rings through all nations and hearts (Matthew 28:18-20Matthew 28:18-20
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18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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). His plea is for all who will come (Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 11:28-30
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28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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). Accordingly, we must carry the message to all men and accept them with open arms into the family (Acts 2:37-47Acts 2:37-47
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37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do? 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. 39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. 40 And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation. 41 They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. 46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

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; Ephesians 2:19Ephesians 2:19
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19 So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,

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If we wish to be pleasing to God, we have no other choice. We must allow Christ’s blood to warm our frozen hearts before it is too late (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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by Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

If you love Me, keep My commandments

A small, dusty Old West town lived its life under the thumb of a powerful rancher named Hawkins. The old man was surly and wealthy. His cowboys began to grow rowdy as time passed and the town’s people lived in fear.

Finally, the town council decided to grow a backbone and take a stand against the lawlessness.

They hired a sheriff and deputy from another territory to bring law and order to the town. When they arrived, they posted the new laws and demanded obedience. The men from Hawkins’ ranch began to cause problems and several died, as a result.

The new lawmen cleaned up the town and brought peace to the streets. People walked the sidewalks and went to school, without fear of being murdered. The good people of the town relaxed, while the criminals fled.

Citizen today relish a high police presence in their city, while the lawless disdain them. This is typical human behavior.

In our postmodern age, when men wish to overthrow all institutions and ideas, we see rebellion growing in prominence. The children raised on the rebellion of the 1960’s are leaders today and we see the fruits of their dreams.

If we have a rebellious spirit, we will not find solace in the Church of our Lord. Christ asks us to submit to him and to humble ourselves before his Lordship (Matthew 11:28-30Matthew 11:28-30
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28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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; James 4:10James 4:10
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10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.

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Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15John 14:15
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15 If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments.

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). Christ demands that we be broken, so he can reform us into a new creation (John 3:3-5John 3:3-5
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3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!

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; Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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). Christ will be the only Lord in the church (Matthew 17:1-5Matthew 17:1-5
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17 1 And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into a high mountain apart: 2 and he was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his garments became white as the light. 3 And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah talking with him. 4 And Peter answered, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. 5 While he was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

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When the rebellious cannot submit to Scripture, they seek to reshape Biblical authority, until they feel comfortable again. With the unpalatable passages rationalized away or discarded entirely, they feel an acceptable level of control return to their hearts.

Instead of fighting against God, we should instead feel safe in his leadership. Laws and commandments are boundaries. When we are rebellious, and no one will tell us what to do, we see these boundaries as oppressive.

Yet, no one feels the same way when laws keep children out of the busy street.

Like the citizens of the city above, laws created comfort and peace. We can relax in God’s arms, knowing he will protect and guide us. He covers us with love and peace (Isaiah 4:5-6Isaiah 4:5-6
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5 And Jehovah will create over the whole habitation of mount Zion, and over her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be spread a covering. 6 And there shall be a pavilion for a shade in the day-time from the heat, and for a refuge and for a covert from storm and from rain.

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; Psalm 4:8Psalm 4:8
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8 In peace will I both lay me down and sleep; For thou, Jehovah, alone makest me dwell in safety.

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; Psalm 142:5Psalm 142:5
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5 I cried unto thee, O Jehovah; I said, Thou art my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.

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Our hearts should desire the structure and order of discipleship.

Obedience does not save us, in itself (Ephesians 2:8- 9Ephesians 2:8- 9
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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). Yet, good works are the coin of the realm and we cheerfully do whatever we can to bring glory to Christ (Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10
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10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

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; Ephesians 3:20-21Ephesians 3:20-21
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20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

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). We are ultimately saved by the shed blood of Christ (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
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7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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Grace does not obviate the necessity of obedience. Rather, it allows it. Coming to Christ means that we have the privilege of serving him and having a loving Father who establishes boundaries to protect us from Satan and facilitate peace among us.

Boundaries are not to annoy us or keep us from having fun. They empower us in a world where serving Christ is the greatest joy.

We need to lay our rebellious spirits down and immerse ourselves in his gentleness and peace. In doing so, we use all of our energy against Satan, rather than fighting against God’s authority. Let us make peace with Biblical authority today and stop fighting against it.

–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

A sign from God

MANY PEOPLE ARE looking for a sign from God…

They want to know for certain that God is there, that he really is who the Bible says he is.  They are willing to  believe in Him, but first they demand some sort of sign.  They say, “God, if you’re really there, show yourself to me!  Then I will believe in you!”

The truth is that God has given a sign.  It is a miraculous sign — the sign of the empty tomb.  Jesus of Nazareth, also called Christ, claimed to be God’s Son.  His earthly life ended on a wooden cross outside Jerusalem.  The Bible says His death paid the penalty for our sin.  Then Jesus was buried.  If he had remained in the tomb, there would be no sign that Jesus really is the Christ.  But in order to prove that sin is forgiven through the cross and that we can have fellowship with God forever, Jesus was raised from the dead.  His resurrection is the sign that Christianity is true — a sign recorded in Scripture and confirmed in historical accounts from many reliable eyewitnesses.  Philip Graham Ryken

“And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, ‘This is an evil generation.  It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.”  Luke 11:29Luke 11:29
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29 And when the multitudes were gathering together unto him, he began to say, This generation is an evil generation: it seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it but the sign of Jonah.

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Mike Benson

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me

“With his mouth, the godless one would destroy his neighbor” (Proverbs 11:9Proverbs 11:9
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9 With his mouth the godless man destroyeth his neighbor; But through knowledge shall the righteous be delivered.

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ESV).

“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered” (Proverbs 11:13Proverbs 11:13
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13 He that goeth about as a tale-bearer revealeth secrets; But he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth a matter.

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, ESV).

I know you remember this: You were with a bunch of other kids, probably in the school playground and a disagreement erupted. The kids begin to call each other names – “Fat boy,” or “Stupid,” “Dummy” – or worse!

Tears began to sting eyes, vulnerable little hearts were broken, when someone stood, and full of bravado quoted the following proverb:

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”

Making that statement was courageous, and reinforcing, but you know the truth now that you are an adult; it was pure bravado. As that child made his or her way home, the tears of heartbreak spoke to the real truth.

Cruel words do hurt. Name calling bruises. Words cut and shred just as surely as the sticks and stones might. That phrase may be a proverb, but it is not from the book of Proverbs, and is untrue as it can be.

The wise man of Proverbs knew better. He understood the power of words.

Give me the sticks and stones any day. Breaks and bruises on the body can be cleaned and healed; cutting remarks, put downs and gossip will fester and hurt a psyche for a lifetime.

Deep down, we understand the destructive — or uplifting — power of words.

Let’s use them wisely and lovingly!

–Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Is This the Church that Helps People?

Several years ago, the phone rang in my office at the church building and a very timid voice asked, “Is this the church that helps people?”

It startled me a bit at first, but I was glad that I could confidently say, “Yes, it is!” The young lady needed some food, and yes, we helped her with that need.

However, there are so many ways that the church helps people. And we would like to help you.

It helps people know the love of Christ. Paul said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8Romans 5:8
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8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

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How much do you know about the love of Christ? You can learn about it in his church.

It helps people learn about the salvation from sin that God offers. In Acts 2, there were thousands gathered who heard Peter and the other apostles teach the truth about Jesus being the Messiah. These same people had crucified Jesus. They were distraught over their sin.

Peter helped them to believe in Christ and showed them how to come to him by repenting of their sins and being baptized (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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Did you know that the church could help you become free from guilt?

It helps people learn a way that will lead to a better life here and in eternity. While so many struggle with a selfish, materialistic way of life, drunkenness, drug addiction, etc.,

God’s word teaches a way that leads to eternal life with God. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6John 14:6
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6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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). It was Him who said, “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.”

It helps people find the way to deal with frustrating problems. No, becoming a member of the church does not remove all of our problems, but it helps us endure them.

Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”(Philippians 4:11Philippians 4:11
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11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content.

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). Are you weak? The church can help.

It helps people to help each other. Life has lost any meaning for many people. God’s family has a mutual concern for one another. Do you want to go to a place where people genuinely care for one another? We can help as we “love one another” as He loved us (John 13:34John 13:34
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34 A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; even as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

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It helps people who are discouraged. Yes, we are living in discouraging and frustrating times. The church exhorts and encourages one another. (Hebrews 10:24-25Hebrews 10:24-25
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24 and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh.

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If you need a good dose of encouragement, come here for a visit.

These are troubling times and we always want to help. However, the church is really only able to help those who are willing to be helped. How can we help you?

by David Courington – www.forthright.net

 

The coming judgment day

2 Tim. 1:182 Tim. 1:18
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18 ; and in how many things he ministered at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.

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“The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day…….”

These words are part of a prayer from the lips of Paul regarding a man named Onesiphorus.

It is right and it is good for us to pray for the physical health and for the spiritual health of each other (3 John 2). Over the course of my 79 years of life I know that many prayers have been raised in my behalf as it regards my physical well being and I deeply appreciate all of them. But, you know, the greatest prayer that can ever be uttered for any of us is the one that Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, namely, that we find mercy in that day. The fruit of mercy is eternal life (Jude 6). Understand, we seek and ask for the help and mercy of the Lord today. How much more is that mercy needed in that day appointed when he will judge us (Acts 17:31Acts 17:31
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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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). Now, know this, if we are to have mercy in that day, we must seek it today as well (Heb. 4:16Heb. 4:16
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16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.

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All of history moves toward that final day of Judgment (Heb. 9:27Heb. 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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, 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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). If we learn to properly respect and fear that one hour of the Judgment and point our lives toward that one day, then our life on this side of eternity will be a successful one (Phil. 3:13-14Phil. 3:13-14
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13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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, Phil. 2:12Phil. 2:12
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12 So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

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, Rom. 2:5-6Rom. 2:5-6
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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:

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, Rom. 14:12Rom. 14:12
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12 So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

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, Heb. 10:31Heb. 10:31
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31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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On that day all races, all nationalities, all nations will be gathered together (Matt. 25:31-46Matt. 25:31-46
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31 But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: 32 and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; 33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. 46 And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life.

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, Rev. 20:11-15Rev. 20:11-15
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11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

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). On that day the books will be opened (Rev. 20:12Rev. 20:12
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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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). On that day judgment will be rendered by the great judge—Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 4:12 Tim. 4:1
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4 1 I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

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) and he will judge according to his word (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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). Heaven’s record of the lives of all mankind will be opened and every man will stand on his own record (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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).  The Lamb’s Book of Life containing the names of the redeemed will be opened and if a man’s name is not written there, he is lost forever (Phil. 4:3Phil. 4:3
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3 Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

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, Rev. 20:15Rev. 20:15
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15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

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).  I must pause here for a moment and ask, how do I stand, how do you stand today? Is our name written in the Lamb’s book of life? Where will we be in eternity. One day we will stand before the great judge and he will either say to us, come ye blessed inherit the kingdom or he will say, depart from me ye cursed. Which will it be, come or depart?

In reality, all of us are facing the sentence of life or death in that day. The life we live today will determine the answer in that day (2 Tim. 4:6-82 Tim. 4:6-8
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6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure is come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: 8 henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing.

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, Phil. 1:21Phil. 1:21
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21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

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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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Charles Hicks

Running From Authority

In 1981, a Minnesota radio station reported a story about a stolen car in California. Police were staging an intense search for the vehicle and the driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. On the front seat of the stolen car sat a box of crackers that, unknown to the thief, were laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the police and the owner of the VW Bug were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to recover the car.

Why do people run from authority? There are several possible reasons: (1) They know they are guilty. (2) They want to escape punishment. (3) They think they can get away. You might be able to think of a few other reasons, but whatever the reason why people flee authority, it will always comes back to bite them. Whether by the authorities on this earth or by the Lord later. In reality, running from the authorities is a lost cause since God always wins.

How can people actually run from an omnipresent God anyway? While we can never physically run from God, we run from God when resist Him through sin and are not repentant. Jonah is one of the most well known examples of a person running from the Lord (Jonah 1:3Jonah 1:3
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3 But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah; and he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of Jehovah.

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17 And Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

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) and doing what the Lord wanted him to do anyway (Jonah 3:1Jonah 3:1
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3 1 And the word of Jehovah came unto Jonah the second time, saying,

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It is interesting in the above illustration about the stolen car that the authorities wanted to find the man more to save his life than to apprehend him. So often when we run from God, we feel it is to escape punishment from Him or something similar. However, in the end, all we are actually doing is eluding His rescue. Running from the Lord is never the answer. While we may have to face some form of punishment for our actions, is it not better to face temporary and relatively minor punishment here on earth than face the most intense and severe punishment for the rest of eternity? God simply wants to rescue us from our sin and eternal punishment. Let’s remember to never run from authority, but instead to run toward it in repentance.

–Brett Petrillo

Christianity is a journey

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Depart and go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, “To your descendants I will give it.” And I will send my Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people'” (Exodus 33:1-3Exodus 33:1-3
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33 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Depart, go up hence, thou and the people that thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land of which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: 2 and I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: 3 unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiffnecked people, lest I consume thee in the way.

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NKJV).

Whenever I prepare to return to South Asia, I have to deal again with the issue of packing.

Why must I always have to take so much stuff? Why must every trip involve so many details, so much planning and advance work? Can’t I just buy tickets, jump on the plane, and go?

After Moses and the Children of Israel had spent about three months or so on Mount Sinai, the people sinned by having Aaron make them an idol. In his anger, God commanded, “Leave, get away from my holy mountain – go now!”

As the text continues through succeeding chapters, Moses pleaded with God and secured forgiveness for the people, including God’s promise to go with them and bring them safely to their destination.

The remainder of Exodus and all of Leviticus are filled with details of the building of the Tabernacle and the giving of the Law. In Numbers 10:11Numbers 10:11
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11 And it came to pass in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, that the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle of the testimony.

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we finally see God’s command to Moses to depart Sinai.

Their departure did not take place until at least 10 or 11 months after God had first told them to leave. Why the delay? What took so long?

Part of the answer might lie in the fact that when they finally left, God went with them. For that to be possible preparation had to take place. God’s House (the Tabernacle) must be built.

Rules for worshiping him must be delivered. Laws providing for holiness and purity among the people had to be enacted.

Whether it is travel, work, worship or any other human activity, the degree of preparation required is directly related to the purpose of the activity and to the seriousness with which we regard it. It does not require much packing to go to the beach for a week.

But to travel for mission work involving visits to different places, teaching, preaching, etc. demands much more advance effort. The more we are going to do, and the more important such activities are, the more preparation we engage in.

The Israelites could have departed Sinai in a matter of hours or days. After all, they left Egypt in the middle of the night, after hundreds of years of occupation of their territory. But to leave with God in their midst was an entirely different thing.

When we travel, or engage in recreation, or just plan an evening’s enjoyment, do we make plans for God’s presence? If we were to begin to do so would it make a difference in how we prepared? Would it involve extra pains in packing? Paul taught, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17Colossians 3:17
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17 And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Early thoughts for 2014

Instead of making hollow spiritual goals for the New Year, why not actually do something about them? Actions speak louder than words and God is waiting for us to get off our comfy chairs.

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11Romans 13:11
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11 And this, knowing the season, that already it is time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.

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, NKJV).

We must change dramatically if we will see pronounced change in the New Year.

* We recline and whine and that the church is not growing.
* We give less and grouse that the church is broke.
* We attend less and complain about the numbers.
* We stop inviting people and complain that no one is evangelizing.
* We don’t study our Bibles and scream about Biblical ignorance.

In this New Year, let us finally throw off the shackles and work to make this the best year for our congregation. We must stop whining, grousing, complaining, blaming and screaming and put our hands in the dirt and work.

We must repent that we have talked more than we have served the Lord. The transformation process has stopped and we must return to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2Romans 12:1-2
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12 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. 2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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How can we accomplish all of this? We can invest in prayer in 2014 and become stronger and more devoted in the process.

When we make prayer a priority, we give God the keys and allow him to lead. As a result, our entire worldview changes from fleshly to spiritual. We see souls as priorities and we grow smaller as God grows larger in our hearts.

Prayer connects us with God and we give all of our lives to him. How can we do that and not be changed?

Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

Romantic ideas

IT IS IMPORTANT for husband and wife to have fun together…

What do you do for “play time”?  Do you spend your recreational time together or doing your own thing?  There is nothing wrong with having some activities that you do separately; however, there is something wrong with doing nothing fun together.  You need to develop a list of activities that both of you would enjoy doing together.  Once this is completed, sit down (knee-to-knee) and go over the lists.  Then develop a final list of the things both of you have agreed to try together.

Date ideas:

1.  Put on some of your favorite music and work a jigsaw puzzle together.
2.  Rent a movie and pop popcorn.
3.  Take a walk hand-in-hand.
4.  Recreate your first date or when your proposed.
5.  Go to a local high school sporting event.

Romantic ideas:

1.  Pull out old love letters and read them to each other.
2.  Sit by the fire.
3.  Leave a chocolate kiss on his or her pillow.
4.  Kiss for a full minute.
5.  Give her a hug, and don’t let go.  (For more ideas, look for Debbie L. Cherry’s book, “Discovering the Treasure of Marriage”).

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Luke 12:34Luke 12:34
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34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

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Mike Benson

Satan does not quit!

Satan is a dogged pursuer with tireless energy. He comes at us when we are weak or strong. His opportunism knows no bounds and his viciousness, no limits.

Satan is a spiritual being so he does not require sleep or rest. He has tools available to him that we do not have. Human wisdom, wealth or wiles cannot defeat Satan. His powers of deception are too strong (John 8:44John 8:44
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44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

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We must be constantly prepared if we will survive his onslaught. God is our only hope (Revelation 20:11-15Revelation 20:11-15
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11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

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8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, 9 whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world.

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; Ephesians 6:14-18Ephesians 6:14-18
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14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,

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Joseph was a handsome and virile young man far away from home (Genesis 39:1-6Genesis 39:1-6
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39 1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh's, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hand of the Ishmaelites, that had brought him down thither. 2 And Jehovah was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that Jehovah was with him, and that Jehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found favor in his sight, and he ministered unto him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that Jehovah blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of Jehovah was upon all that he had, in the house and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught that was with him, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was comely, and well-favored.

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). Although he was a slave, Potiphar had put everything except his family under his authority. As he went about his work, a temptation arose.

Potiphar’s wife began to desire Joseph and pursued him. Joseph refused to succumb (Genesis 39:7-9Genesis 39:7-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master knoweth not what is with me in the house, and he hath put all that he hath into my hand: 9 he is not greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

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). So she became relentless in her pleadings to wear down his defenses (Genesis 39:10Genesis 39:10
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10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.

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While he stayed strong morally, he may have also been battling his own human passions as a young single man.

Satan attacks where we are vulnerable. Jesus went without food for forty days and Satan appeared offering him bread (Matthew 4:1-3Matthew 4:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he afterward hungered. 3 And the tempter came and said unto him, If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.

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). Spiritually, Jesus refused his offer. However, his body passionately craved the bread.

When we leave a door open, Satan runs in. He saw something in Joseph that gave him hope that this temptation would destroy him.

In the realm of morality, lust has destroyed countless spiritual lives. We must be resolute, so we can withstand the attacks (Ephesians 6:10-12Ephesians 6:10-12
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10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

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“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13Ephesians 6:13
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13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.

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Satan’s arrows will continue to fly so we must remain close to God and armed for battle at all times (James 4:7-8James 4:7-8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.

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). We can never grow smug or overconfident or we will soon find defeat.

Temptation is like water torture, the drops are relentless and maddening. However, we all have weaknesses that we struggle with. This energy contributes to Satan’s power.

We must be fiercely honest if we will close all the doors we have open for Satan. God’s Word will help us every day so we can stand fast in our faith (2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17
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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: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

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Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

Where has the romance gone?

REMEMBER WHEN YOU were dating and romance seemed to be everywhere…?

Whatever happened to that?  For most  couples romance takes a nose dive shortly after marriage.  The focus moves away from wining and dining to eating and sleeping.  We are confident that we have “caught” him or her and proven to him or her that we care.  Then we slack off.  How is our spouse to take that feeling of being treasured from dating into marriage if we don’t continue the behavior that made him or her feel that way?  And even if you weren’t a “Casanova” during dating, why not learn to be one now?  Treasuring your spouse includes being romantic.

Romance involves proving you think about your spouse when you are not together and showing it when you are together.  It involves taking time out of busy schedules to make each other feel loved, cared about, important, and special.  It means taking the ordinary (dinner or walk) and making it extraordinary (candlelit dinner or walk in the moonlight).  Through romantic gestures you tell your spouse that he or she is the one and only one for you and worth the extra effort.

Never forget the importance of dating your spouse.  This may seem elementary, but you might be surprised (or maybe not) how many couples don’t date anymore.  Or, if they do, it is only once or twice a year for special occasions.  If you want your relationship to thrive and your spouse to feel treasured, you must spend quality couple time together.  Debbie L. Cherry

“My lover is mine and I am his.”  Song of Solomon 2:16

–Mike Benson

Buyers Beware!

“Boy I pulled a fast one over him,” the voice said.

I looked up from my meal. The speaker was several tables down from me in the restaurant.

“He didn’t know what hit him,” he continued, deep satisfaction in his voice. “He’ll only know I had him when it’s too late, and that useless junk will be on his hands.”

I gazed at him in dismay. The speaker was a member of my congregation, a businessman known in the community as a church leader. And here he was, boasting about the sharp (or would that be “dishonest”) deal he had just brought off.

“A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight,” (Proverbs 11:1Proverbs 11:1
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11 1 A false balance is an abomination to Jehovah; But a just weight is his delight.

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The image of scales reflects the ancient method of weighing grain or some other product on one scale with a weight on the other. An image that is similar to our picture of Madame Justice, blind-folded and holding even scales before her.

It would be fairly simple for a dishonest businessman to fix the weight in order to increase profits, especially when doing business with those members of society who were unable to protest – the poor, for instance, or the widow.

The Christian businessman does not offer a defective product; he does not charge an extortionate price; he does not take advantage of either his competitors or his customers. Not if the “Christian” part of “Christian businessman” is genuine.

“Come-back” customers are the result of fair and honest business dealing. You only cheat a customer once. He won’t come back to be cheated again!

I always wondered what would have happened if that cheated customer came to church one Sunday and saw my Christian business friend leading in worship. There’s a businessman that would have lost far more than a customer. He would have lost his influence, too!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Protecting Our Spouse

God’s plan for marriage will lead to a beautiful, fulfilling relationship. Scripture teaches us how to find happiness in our marriages (Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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; Ephesians 5:22-25Ephesians 5:22-25
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22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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One-flesh marriages create a powerful bond that will withstand the challenges that arise. We will be glued and cemented together for all-time in joy (Genesis 2:24Genesis 2:24
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24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

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In a one-flesh marriage, we treat our spouse, as we would expect to be treated. We do all that we can to bring joy into their lives. They are a part of our very souls and we cherish and nourish them daily (Ephesians 5:29Ephesians 5:29
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29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church;

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Sadly, many Christian couples live ostensibly as roommates. Their passion has cooled into a form of playing house. The years have robbed the union of the bonds it once rejoiced in. Their arms become lonely and their connection frays.

In 1 Corinthians 7:4-51 Corinthians 7:4-5
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4 The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

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, we see a very important aspect of marriage that may be framed only in selfish terms for many spouses. However, in a one-flesh bond, this passage is vitally important.

Living in a sex-saturated society, we must do all that we can to protect our spouse from temptation. Spouses know if their mate is susceptible to temptation in this area. They need to do what they can to help their spouse remain pure.

Their body now belongs to their spouse and it must be treated with the same love, respect and gentleness that Christ demands (Ephesians 5:25Ephesians 5:25
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25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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Paul writes:

“Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:51 Corinthians 7:5
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5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

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“We are told in this passage that the husband and wife are actually robbing one another if there is not mutual pleasure in the sexual relationship.”/1

In fact, “physical sex in marriage serves to reinforce spiritual fidelity by inoculating the mind against temptation.”/2

We have a responsibility to our spouse in this area. It may require special planning to accomplish these goals with a family and a hectic lifestyle. However, we need to do this in order to maintain a healthy marriage.

Our bodies belong to our spouses. Accordingly, we must keep them free from lust, pornography and adultery. Sanctify them to our spouse and our love.

We need to take care of our bodies so they will remain presentable. Letting ourselves go physically is unfair to our lover.

We need to have a big picture attitude toward marriage. When we do, we will make time for one another and realize that minor disputes pale in comparison with a lifetime together.

We will jealously guard our intimacy and nurture it, becoming educated in ways to thrive.

There are two areas where we must protect our spouse and far too many are failing to do so. First, we must do our part to keep our spouse from temptation, as we have discussed.

Second, we must protect their reputation by speaking well of them in public and with our friends.

If we will do these things, build strong communicative bonds, we will find ourselves in a special place where the one-flesh bond can blossom.

Our children and those around us will see us modeling God’s plan for marriage and Christ will be praised (Ephesians 3:20-21Ephesians 3:20-21
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20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

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–Richard Mansel @ www.forthright.net

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1/ Ed Wheat and Gaye Wheat, Intended for Pleasure (Fleming H. Revell: Grand Rapids, 1977), 30.

2/ Daniel R. Heimbach, True Sexual Morality (Crossway Books: Wheaton, 2004), 168.

US porn revenue

DURING WORLD WAR II, Nazi Germany dropped pornographic pamphlets from the sky over enemy territory…

The reason for this was to distract the soldiers minds with fascinations causing them to ignore the front line.  This has been the strategy of porn from its inception; while we fight the diversionary tactic of pornography, the enemy rolls in behind our backs and destroys our homes.

Imagine conquering an entire nation in less than sixty years by simply planting destructive seed in the minds of a few men and watching it spread to the masses.  That is what Satan did through the likes of Hugh Heffner and Bob Guccione in the 50s when Playboy and Penthouse became nationally distributed magazines.  Over the years, images of undressed women and men engaged in illicit activity have jumped from the pages of embarrassed to purchase magazines to the privacy of our own personal computer screens.  Today, US porn revenue exceeds the revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC combined and contrary to its previous consumer group of mostly adult males; its largest demography today is 12 – 17 year old males and females.

Jesus knew that something as small as gazing at the bait would lead to total entrapment. +– –Paul Kendall

You have heard that it was said to those of  old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:27-28Matthew 5:27-28
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27 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

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Mike Benson