Archives for : December2013

Jesus is the promised King

This will be the last post till 1/2/14.  May all have a great Christmas and a wonderful new year.


Last week our family endured at least forty minutes sitting in line before spending another ten minutes driving through a series of live outdoor nativity scenes. Mixed feelings best describe my reaction.

On the one hand, not only is it quite unlikely that Jesus was born in December, but the original reason for crediting this time of year for Jesus’ birth involved providing society with a Christian alternative to their deeply embedded pagan cosmic celebration. This can hardly be exciting from either an historical or methodological viewpoint.

And yet, although nothing in scripture suggests we should commemorate Christ’s birth, the very fact that many people will pause from their secular flush of activity to permit some reflection on Jesus’ birth to penetrate their brain can only be a good thing. And so, I am grateful for whenever people’s thoughts turn to the Lord.

Matthew’s thoughts are crisp and focused. In his telling of the story of Jesus we discover ancestry, the organization of history, God’s angelic messenger, the cosmos, and prophecy all converging to proclaim the unequivocal message Jesus is King.

Although many might find the genealogy Matthew traces about as exciting as reading an old phone book, this opening to Matthew’s gospel verifies Jesus as being “the son of David, the son of Abraham” (1:1). The Old Testament had foretold of a promised coming ruler who would be from the root of David. Thus this gospel’s commencing claim that Jesus is the Christ, that is the Messiah becomes tenable.

For most Americans, Matthew’s grouping of Jesus’ ancestors into three consecutive batches of fourteen generations might seem like merely a curious footnote. How interesting but also odd that every fourteen generations something enormous happened with Israel.

However, since the letters in David’s name add up to fourteen, first century Jews could have seen another emerging piece of Messianic evidence. It is as though a ball was bouncing through history with king David’s name written all over it with its final bounce landing squarely upon Jesus, the son of David, the promised Messiah.

Furthermore, it is not just dusty ancestral records acknowledging Jesus as son of David; an angel identified Joseph as “son of David.” Although Jesus’ lineage might be traced through Joseph, he is not the father. It is at this point Matthew takes Jesus’ identity to a whole new level, alleviating any doubt about his significance. God’s heavenly messenger informs Joseph that Mary will give birth to a child conceived from the Holy Spirit. Mary’s baby is God’s doing. God is at work in bringing this child into the world.

Immediately we are ushered into realizing that the very cosmos has been crying out that a king has been born to the Jews. Furthermore, when Herod has the scriptures searched to discover where the promised king mentioned in the scriptures would be born, the answer is Bethlehem. This is the very place of Jesus’ birth.

Time and again Matthew heaps up evidence that Jesus is the promised King. Following his resurrection from the dead Jesus announced, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (28:18).

If Jesus is King with all authority in heaven and on earth, he deserves more thought than just a few moments of pause each year. He deserves our riveted attention and devotion throughout the year.

–Barry Newton @

sermon on Psalm 26

Examining the Heart – Psalm 26

Queen Victoria was in the Highlands, visiting her subjects. She stopped at the cottage of an old woman, sitting for a few moments in an old armchair. When the group left, someone told the woman who her visitor was. She was overtaken by the thought of her esteemed visitor, the honor which was given her and she took up the old armchair and carried it to a spare room, saying, “No one shall ever sit in that chair again, because my queen sat in it.”

How much more sacred should we keep the place in our hearts where our Savior and Master dwells? Let us examine our hearts in light of David’s words from Psalm 26.


There are four commands/calls on God in these first two verses:

Command #1 – “Vindicate” – “judge” Why?

For I have walked in my integrity. tom means “perfection, purity, innocence.”

and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.

David’s life was a balance between faith (“trusted”) and works (“walked”) with the right motivation thrown in (“integrity”).

Command #2 – “Prove” – “to test metals by melting; metaph. to examine, put to the test”

Command #3 – “Try” – “to put someone to the test, to give experience, train”

Command #4 – “Test” – “to smelt, to refine (by smelting); to sift”

heart – “kidneys; innermost, most secret part of man”

mind – “heart, one’s inner self; inclination, disposition”

Why? For your steadfast love (he-sed – “loyalty, joint obligation, faithfulness, goodness, graciousness”) is before my eyes,

and I walk in your faithfulness (emet – “firmness, trustworthiness, constancy, duration”)


What I do not do…

Sit with men of falsehood.

Consort with hypocrites

Hate the assembly of evildoers

Sit with the wicked Cf. 1 Corinthians 15:331 Corinthians 15:33
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

33 Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals.

WP-Bible plugin

MY INTEGRITY – 26:6-7:

I wash my hands in innocence (niqqaywon – “cleanness, whiteness, guiltlessness, purity”)

I go around your altar, O Lord

Proclaiming thanksgiving aloud,

and Telling all your wondrous deeds (pl’ – “to do something wonderful, to be too difficult, to be unusual, miraculous acts”).


I love the habitation of your house

the place where your glory (kabod – “heaviness, burden, riches, reputation, glory, honor”) dwells.

What is the house of God today? 1 Timothy 3:151 Timothy 3:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

WP-Bible plugin
. What does it mean to love the house of God? How is that viewed practically speaking? 1 Thessalonians 3:11-131 Thessalonians 3:11-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way unto you: 12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you; 13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

WP-Bible plugin

Command #5 – Do not sweep my soul away with sinners nor my life  with bloodthirsty (dam) men.

in whose hands are evil devices,

and whose right hands. cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16-182 Corinthians 6:16-18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 And what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? for we are a temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, And touch no unclean thing; And I will receive you, 18 And will be to you a Father, And ye shall be to me sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

WP-Bible plugin


“But as for me” – let us separate ourselves from the world…

“I shall walk in my integrity”

Command #6 – “redeem me”

Command #7 – “be gracious” to me

My foot stands on level ground Cf. 1 Cor. 10:121 Cor. 10:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

WP-Bible plugin

In the great assembly I will bless the Lord.

When we are redeemed by the grace of God and are made innocent by the blood of Christ, the natural reaction will be blessing/worshiping God.

–Paul Holland

Daddy, I’m engaged!

Saturday night I received a phone call from my daughter.  After I said “hello,” on the other end of the line I heard my daughter excitedly say, “Daddy, I’m engaged!”

But how can that be?  It was just last week that I was holding her in my arms for the very first time, being surprised by her big dimples.  It was just yesterday that she was swinging on her swing set in the back yard, singing at the top of her lungs for the whole neighborhood to hear.  How could the little girl that I just taught to ride a bike be getting married?

My, how time flies!  But I should already know that.  James told us that when he said our life is like a vapor that appears for a short time and vanishes away (James 4:14James 4:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

WP-Bible plugin
).  The phone call I received from my daughter on Saturday night was a reminder to me to make the best use of the time we have.  Not just with reference to our families, but to our God as well.  Before we all realize it, we’ll all receive a “call” from God.  When that call comes, will you be prepared?  Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham


I want to warn you that “the preacher” who “responded to the invitation” was me.  I cannot remember the exact date, but it was in the early 2000s.  I made the decision that I needed to respond during the middle of my sermon (talk about dealing with distraction when you preach).  I was addressing a very personal, soul-affecting subject, and I knew that a public response was in order.

I coped with the normal concerns one faces when he or she anticipates making a public response.  “What will people think?” “Will they talk about me?”  “Will they make judgments or wonder what else lies beneath the surface?”  “Will I be chastised or piled on by some ‘older brother’ (cf. Luke 15) who meets me up front?”  “What will my children think?”  “What will my wife think?”

The closer it got to the invitation, the faster my heart raced.  Of course, being in control of delivering it, I may have been tempted to prolong it.  I can’t recall now.  But, finally I swallowed hard and said something like, “If you need to respond, why not do so now as we stand and sing.”  With that, I stepped out from behind the pulpit and down onto the front row.  I am sure I heard some people stop singing, maybe even a whisper or two.  I was embarrassed and in tears.  But, in a moment’s time, I also remember hearing the sniffles of some shedding tears.  Quickly, an elder’s arm was around me, consoling me, and assisting me.  He shared my confession with the church, prayed a loving, emotional prayer.  After the last amen, I was swarmed by spiritual family offering encouragement and support.

Did I get special treatment because I was the preacher? Maybe, in a few instances.  But, that cuts two ways.  At times, preachers are held in too high a regard and at times to a much higher standard.  What I anticipated and what I received were two different things.

Every congregation has those “older brother” members who risk losing their own souls for their suspicious, judgmental, hypercritical behavior.  But, the overwhelming majority are like those who faced and embraced me the day I responded to the invitation.

How would you have responded if you were there the day I went forward?  Would you have wondered why I responded when I first sat on that pew?  Would you have loved me and encouraged me?

You may wonder why I answered my own call to respond that day.  You may think you have a pretty good idea.  That says as much about you as it does about me.  My sermon was, “The Need To Be More Evangelistic.”  At the time, I felt I was falling short in that area and I wanted both forgiveness and prayers that I might do better.  But, if it had been a personal, moral, or doctrinal shortcoming, I would have needed the same kind of response that I got the day I made my response.

Every other person assembled every time an invitation is offered needs and deserves the same assurance.  No matter what drives my need to respond, I need love, acceptance, and assurance of help and forgiveness.  You know what I learned that day I responded?  There’s almost an entire church out there eager to give it!

–Neal Pollard



A wayward child is sometimes straightened out by being bent over.

People determine your character by observing what you stand for, fall for and lie for.

Folks who follow the crowd usually get into a jam.

He who lives for himself does not have much to live for.

The Bible has survived the ignorance of its friends and the hatred of its enemies.

There is no moral difference between legal and illegal stealing.

Truth will win every argument if you stick to it long enough.

There are two sides to every question and if you want to be popular take both.

Blessed is the man who does not speak until he knows what he is talking about.

A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge

In a musical production of Dickens’  “A Christmas Carol,” Albert Finney plays the part of Ebenezer Scrooge.  The move is a delightful reproduction of the classic Charles Dickens novel wherein Mr. Scrooge, after being visited by three angels, comes to repent of his past life, and determine that he is, from that point forward, going to live a life that denies self and seeks to bless others.   Of particular interest in the musical to which I referred is the point in the story where Scrooge comes to realize the great blessings he has in life and his determination to “begin again,” putting his past behind him, and focusing instead on making the “new man” he so desperately wants to be.  The idea of “beginning again” has intrigued mankind throughout the centuries.  The search for the proverbial “fountain of youth” has been the focus of myths, music, and movies.  In an attempt to ward off the “angel of death,” scientists have searched for some magical potion, some hidden gene, or some special dietary program that might allow them to recapture their youth and extend their life.

Jesus once confronted a Pharisee who had come to our Lord “by night,” and presented to him the distinct possibility of “beginning again.”  “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3John 3:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin
).  Nicodemus immediately envisioned some kind of a physical rebirth wherein one might “enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again” (John 3:4John 3:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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?

WP-Bible plugin
).  But our Lord assured him that this new birth, this “beginning again,” was not something physical, but spiritual. It is a birth of “water and the Spirit.”   From a further study of the Scriptures we soon learn that this new birth allows man to start over; to put his past behind him, and begin again with a clean slate, a renewed hope, and a purpose in life.  He is provided forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin
), entrance into the body of Christ (Rom. 6:3Rom. 6:3
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?

WP-Bible plugin
), and is clothed with a new set of spiritual garments unstained by the darkness of sin (Col. 3:12-14Col. 3:12-14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14 and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness.

WP-Bible plugin
).   Guilt and shame are shed like some old garment, and the youth of spiritual strength allows the individual to “mount up with wings as eagles… [to] run and  not be weary; and…walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31Isa. 40:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 but they that wait for Jehovah shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.

WP-Bible plugin

The search for that hidden gene that will somehow reverse aging is an exercise in futility.  Medical science might be able to make you look younger, feel better, and even extend your life by a few years.  But deep inside, within the soul of man, there remains that empty feeling that our past still haunts us.  Friend, the only way to truly begin again is to experience the new birth through simple obedience to our Lord.  Hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17Rom. 10:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 So belief cometh of hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

WP-Bible plugin
), believing (Heb. 11:3Heb. 11:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear.

WP-Bible plugin
), repenting (Luke 13:3Luke 13:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

WP-Bible plugin
), making the good confession (Acts 8:36-37Acts 8:36-37
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.]

WP-Bible plugin
), and being baptized into Christ are the necessary steps for this new birth.   Yes, there is a land of beginning again.

By Tom Wacaster

Some Assembly Required

One man had the frustrating experience of ordering a tree house for his children for Christmas. It came in a nice box with complete instructions inside.

Being a methodical man, he laid out all the parts on the floor and began reading the instructions. The “good news” was that he understood the directions perfectly and thought he would have no trouble assembling the product.

The “bad news” was that the instructions told how to assemble a tree house, but the parts inside the box were for a sailboat!

The next day he sent an angry letter to the company complaining about the mix-up. Back came this reply:

“We are truly sorry for the error and the inconvenience. However, it might help you to consider the possibility that somewhere there is a man out on a lake trying to sail your tree house.”

That’s a sad, but funny story. What a shame and frustration to be reading the wrong instructions for your problem. Consider, however, people trying to put their lives together, and they are reading the wrong instructions. People with life problems are reading history books to see where things went wrong before. Others are reading psychology books to see if they can figure out the secret. Others are reading self-help books to determine if there is a short-cut to the good life. Still others are dabbling in false religions that are purely manmade.

The wisdom of the ages won’t necessarily show us the right way, but the wisdom of God will never steer us in the wrong direction.

So, read your Bible! It has God’s answers to life’s problems.

For His Cause,
Tim Woodward

The bee does not die of old age

BEEKEEPERS KNOW THAT a bee’s age is determined by the condition of its wings…

Because bees constantly work, their wings get a lot of wear and tear.  Young bees have wide, well-formed wings, whereas older bees have narrow, torn, and tattered wings.

The bee does not die of old age.  It dies when its wings are completely worn out and it can no longer work or fly.  Near the point of death, the bee points itself away from the beehive and begins to fly, never to return again.  The bee literally wears itself out working!

THOUGHT:  There is a spiritual lesson here for us.  As Christians, we must be diligent servants, doing the work of the Lord.  When Jesus evaluated the spiritual condition of the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2-3), their degree of acceptance was directly proportional to the kind and amount of work they were doing.  Author unknown

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”  1 Corinthians 15:581 Corinthians 15:58
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

58 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.

WP-Bible plugin
; cf. James 1:25James 1:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.

WP-Bible plugin

Mike Benson

Driving in the Snow

We recently drove through freezing rain, sleet, and eventually, snow. One car had flipped entirely over. Another car had turned over on its side. Several cars had slid off the road. Two cars had stalled in the middle of the road. A number of other cars had simply slid off the road on the side. In all, there were probably a dozen or so cars that did not arrive at their final destination.

Before we left on the trip, Ana was especially nervous about traveling in the weather. Jewell encouraged her that Daddy would drive safely. Ana replied that she wasn’t concerned about Daddy’s driving – it was the other nuts on the road that concerned her! (I wonder about her use of the word “other!”) So, Jewell encouraged her to pray about it.

While actually in the car, the girls were not worried much at all. In fact, the whole time (six hours!), they were either reading, playing with electronics, sleeping, or doing other things – writing/drawing. In other words, they exhibited a complete calm and lack of worry during the whole drive. As far as we knew, they never saw the wrecks on the road – the cars that could easily have been us. Granted, we drove 15-45 mph on the interstate, but we arrived safely at our destination.

Spiritually speaking, God is obviously in control. He knows how to get us from point A (our spiritual birth) to point B (heaven). He sees the wrecks along the path, the obstacles, the temptations, the dangers.

Because God is in control, we can rest calmly in the “back seat.” If we focus on ourselves, in the sense of making sure we are faithful to Christ, and live out his word in our lives – serving others sacrificially – then God will safely get us to our final destination. We should have no worries.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25Galatians 5:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 If we live by the Spirit, by the Spirit let us also walk.

WP-Bible plugin
). “Keeping in step” with the Spirit is living by the Spirit’s rule (Galatians 6:16Galatians 6:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

WP-Bible plugin
). That, of course, would be His inspired word, the Bible (Eph. 6:17Eph. 6:17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

WP-Bible plugin
; 2 Timothy 3:16-172 Timothy 3:16-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin

–Paul Holland

What advice would you give?

WHEN SOMEONE HAS just become a Christian and started out in the Christian life, what advice would you give that person about Bible classes…?

Would you say, “Now the church has Bible classes every Sunday and Wednesday, but they aren’t really important.  That the church assembles on Sunday night but you do not have to go if you do not want to”?  Or would you say to a son or daughter, “I know that you would like to go today, but I want to read the paper, or I want to sleep late this morning, and I don’t think those Bible classes are to important anyway”?

What advice would you give…?

THOUGHT: When we willfully neglect the services (as some are doing) we are telling our children and those around us that the church is not important to us.  Our children may even feel the church is not important enough to become members of it.  Then what could we say for ourselves?  Could we say, “Lord, I did my best to teach them the true value of the church–I did this by going and taking them to every service?”  via Main Street Monitor, Manchester, TN

“Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  Matthew 22:37Matthew 22:37
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

37 And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

WP-Bible plugin

Mike Benson

The friends of Job

This is, in my estimation, the most withering of Job’s comebacks to those miserable comforters introduced to us as his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (2:11).  The statement is made by Job in Job 12:2Job 12:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 No doubt but ye are the people, And wisdom shall die with you.

WP-Bible plugin
at the end of the first cycle of speeches by these friends, in all of which are accusations and insinuations that Job was suffering due to sins he had committed.  They were wrong, but they were certain they were right.

Aren’t there more than a few Eliphazes, Bildads, and Zophars today?  There are those who act as though they believe civilization has been holding its collective, bated breath in great anticipation of their arrival.  So many complexities, mysteries, and intellectual quagmires have sat stubbornly, mystifying their forebears, but pliably come forward as mere child’s play for them.  Or perhaps they purport themselves to be experts, demonstrating academic or professional credentials in support of such.  They may even move or speak with the air of unmistakeable confidence.  It might be that they have substantial followings and impressive venues to spout their philosophical triumphs.

But, as the case was for Job, the proof is in the pudding.  God’s Word proved these men wrong.  Job 42 shows that their claims and theories, however confidently asserted, were at odds with His mind.  They spoke words of man’s wisdom.  It may have sounded right on the surface, but it wasn’t right.

Consider Paul’s message to Corinth.  He speaks of preaching, the foolishness of God, coming in the wake of men’s inability to grasp His wisdom.  Then he writes, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,  so that no man may boast before God” (1 Cor. 1:25-291 Cor. 1:25-29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; 28 and the base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things that are: 29 that no flesh should glory before God.

WP-Bible plugin

Humility, teachability, and submission are three indispensable quality traits we must possess when it comes to the Bible and spiritual matters.  Our theology must be formed by the latter and our character is formed by the former.  Let us forever be less concerned with being judged right by others and be consumed with a desire to be right with God.

–Neal Pollard


The Browns were shown into the dentist’s office, where Mr. Brown made it clear he was in a big hurry.  “No fancy stuff, Doctor,” he ordered, “No gas or needles or any of that stuff.  Just pull the tooth and get it over with.”

“I wish more of my patients were as stoic as you,” said the dentist admiringly. “Now, which tooth is it?”

Mr. Brown turned to his wife… “Show him, honey.”

It’s easy to be brave when someone else is the one experiencing the pain!  I wonder as I write and speak about facing trials with a positive attitude if I could be so upbeat if I actually suffer the loss of everything I own in a hurricane or tornado.  It’s easy to be brave when someone else is experiencing the pain!

It’s also easy to believe that someone else is the only one needing treatment.  “Don’t look at me, doctor.  Take care of her!”  As you sat listening to (or delivering) a sermon Sunday, did you find yourself saying, “I sure hope so-and-so is listening, because this is something he really needs to work on!”

Listen to these words of James:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.  But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:23-25James 1:23-25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: 24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing.

WP-Bible plugin

James does not say that the word of God is a magnifying glass or a telescope to look at others.  Rather, it is a mirror.  And a mirror is only used to look at yourself.

I pray that you will take the opportunity today to use the word of God as a mirror, and may your life be changed by it.

Alan Smith


Several years ago, I asked the Winklers to pass along advice for married couples on how to have a successful, happy marriage.  They were very kind to comply and I have the material, in brother Winkler’s easily distinguishable handwriting, in my files.  Their suggestions were broken into two categories, the first being positive things couples can do for their marriages and the latter being habits, actions and attitudes that hurt a marriage.  Here are the answers from a couple who seemed as happily married as any two people I have known (Wendell Winkler passed away in 2005).

Positive things:

1) Put your companion first.
2) Build the confidence of each other, never making the other feel inferior.
3) Maintain a beautiful togetherness [laugh, cry, plan vacations, and work together]. Walk through life together.  Do not ride off in opposite directions [in interests, finance, recreation, etc.].
4) Adjust to your companion’s interests [if he fishes, she learns to fish; if she loves to shop, he learns to shop].
5) Be united in your goals and aspirations [for your children, for your retirement].
6) Cooperate with each other [in disciplining your children, etc.].
7) Make your companion a partner in all things.
8) Be open, free and uninhibited in your communication.
9) Close each day on a positive note.
10) Practice 1 Corinthians 13:4-81 Corinthians 13:4-8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

WP-Bible plugin

Things To Avoid:

1) Excessive debt.
2) “Me” and “I” syndrome instead of “we.”
3) Suspicion and distrust.
4) Failure to understand what is involved in “headship” and “submission.”
5) Misarranged priorities.
6) Failure to be commendatory.
7) Failure to notice and apply the little things
8) Refusal to eliminate annoyances
9) Failure to keep romance in the marriage [never become too old to hold hands].

This material was written down by brother Winkler on February 14, 2004.

Neal Pollard

Hard to Forget

Dana Keeton told this story in The Democratic Union of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee:

The sun had just risen on a hot August day in 1944 in the small village of Plelo, in German-occupied France. The 15-year-old boy did not know why he and the other citizens of Plelo had been lined up before a firing squad in the middle of the town square.

Perhaps they were being punished for harboring a unit of Marquisards, the French underground freedom fighters. Perhaps they were merely to satisfy the blood lust of the German commanding officer who, the evening before, had routed the small group of Marquisard scouts. All the boy knew was that he was about to die.

As he stood before the firing squad, he remembered the carefree days of his early childhood, before the war, spent roaming the green of the French countryside. He thought about all he would miss by never growing up. Most of all he was terrified of dying. “How will the bullets feel ripping through my body?” he wondered. He hoped no one could hear the whimperings coming from deep in his throat every time he exhaled.

Suddenly, the boy heard the sound of exploding mortar shells beyond the limits of his little village. Quickly rolling tanks could also be heard. The Germans were forced to abandon the firing squad and face a small unit of U.S. tanks with twenty GI’s led by Bob Hamsley, a corporal in Patton’s Third Army. A Marquisard captain had asked Hamsley for help.  [Hamsley and his unit overtook the Germans.]

In 1990 the town of Plelo honored Bob Hamsley on the very spot where dozens of the town’s citizens would have died if not for him. The man who initiated the search for Hamsley and the ceremony honoring him was the former mayor of Plelo, that same 15-year-old boy. He had determined to find the man who saved his life and honor him. *

It’s hard to forget your savior!

Consider the fact that because of our sins, you and I deserve to face the “firing squad” and suffer the penalty for our sins. “For the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23Romans 6:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

WP-Bible plugin

But God sent Jesus to rescue us!  In order to rescue us from sin, however, Jesus had to give His life for us and die on the cross to redeem us from sin.  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:241 Peter 2:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.

WP-Bible plugin

Jesus will save those who accept His offer of salvation and life by placing their faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

WP-Bible plugin
), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin
), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

WP-Bible plugin
), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin
).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to demonstrate gratitude for their Savior by walking in the light of His Word (1 John 1:71 John 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

WP-Bible plugin

When we were facing the “firing squad” for harboring sin in our lives, Jesus came to our rescue.  He took our place and suffered the punishment for our sins for us.

It’s hard to forget your Savior!

Won’t YOU accept the Savior’s offer of salvation and eternal life by committing your life to Him today?

David Sargent

* Tim Stafford, Florence, Alabama, quoted in Leadership, Winter Quarter, p. 49 as quoted in “illustrations” in

Black Friday

Market Day Difficulties

“Men of Tyre dwelt there also, and brought in fish and all kinds of goods, and sold them on the Sabbath to the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem… Now the merchants and sellers of all kinds of wares lodged outside Jerusalem once or twice. Then I warned them, and said to them, ‘Why do you spend the night around the wall? If you do so again I will lay hands on you!’ From that time on they came no more on the Sabbath” (Nehemiah 13:16, 20-21Nehemiah 13:16, 20-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, who brought in fish, and all manner of wares, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. 20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of wares lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.

WP-Bible plugin

Most villages and towns in Bangladesh have weekly market days. On those days the roads through the middle of town are usually choked with trucks, rickshaw vans, hand carts and other vehicles used to bring merchandise in for trading.

Additionally, there are all the merchants in booths or sitting on mats on the ground. Often they are on the edge of the road with their wares. Then there are the vast crowds who have come to shop for vegetables, fruits, fish, or other items. As the roads are narrow to begin with, traffic is slowed and long jams are frequent.

A while back as we were traveling through a portion of the country, we passed through several towns whose markets were in full swing, being delayed each time by the congestion.

I commented to those with me, “Now I know why Nehemiah was so angry at the fish merchants from Tyre! It was not just the violation of the Sabbath; it was the traffic jams they caused in the gates of Jerusalem.”

Market scenes are notorious for selfish inconsideration. A year or so ago a store in America was the scene of a mad stampede on “Black Friday” which resulted in some of the shoppers being trampled to death.

Stories abound of fights breaking out between competitors for the same bargain. The attitude of “me first; let me get what I want, regardless of others” prevails in such circumstances.

James teaches:

“Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:1-3James 4:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures.

WP-Bible plugin

The merchants from Tyre cared nothing for God’s law regarding the Sabbath if it interfered with their trade and profit. The citizens of Jerusalem were evidently willing to ignore that same law if it meant a better supply of fresh fish. Both were concerned only with their desires for money, food, or pleasure.

The tragedy is that we can have the things we need and want, if we seek them for the right reason and in the right way. Our greed and lust for pleasure will lead to corruption and failure.

However, if we ask God to supply our needs, and seek to prosper so we may do His will and help others, He is ready to help us. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7Matthew 7:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

WP-Bible plugin

by Michael E. Brooks @