Archives for : March2014

If I had all that money, I might FORGET about my people

Through His Poverty

It is hard to imagine that the son of a slave would be offered a job at $100,000 a year.  It is even more incredible that the same man would turn down the offer, but that is exactly what George Washington Carver did.  Inventor Thomas Edison made the offer.  Henry Ford also tried to persuade Carver to work for the Ford Motor Company, but Carver was unimpressed with the offers of money and prestige.

He chose rather to live in the South, living in relative poverty, wearing the same suit for forty years.  He had earlier given up a promising position at Iowa State University in order to work with Booker T. Washington in his struggling Tuskegee Institute.

When friends argued that he could help his people if he had all that money, Carver replied, “If I had all that money, I might FORGET about my people.”  On his tombstone are carved the following words:

“He could have added fortune to fame, but caring for neither, he found happiness and honor in being helpful to the world.” *

There is Another who gave up much more in order to bless the world…

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor,
that you through His poverty might become rich.”
– 2 Corinthians 8:9

Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a “SERVANT”, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2) because sin separates man from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and condemns man to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).  Jesus became “poor” – setting aside the glories of heaven and becoming a man, a servant, and the sacrifice for sin – so that WE might become RICH with spiritual blessings: the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Titus 1:2).

Jesus will make us “rich” with these spiritual blessings if we will submit to Him on His terms: placing our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

Then, if we will continue to “walk in the light” of His Word… He will continue to cleanse us from our sins and lead us “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, reserved in heaven” for the faithful child of God (1 Peter 1:4).

Through His poverty, YOU can be freed from the poverty of sin and become rich with eternal, spiritual blessings –IF- you will submit your life to Jesus.

Won’t YOU?

David A. Sargent

Let God fill this need in your life

“WHEN YOU’RE MARRIED so long, you know what the other person is thinking before he even speaks…

Your minds are so close that you miss that too,” says Nancy after the death of her husband.

What a blessing to have someone who knew you so well and who loved you just the way you are.

Let God fill this need in your life.  He knows you inside and out.  He knows even the number of hairs on your head (Luke 12:7).  Nothing about you is hidden from God.  Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard in Through a Season of Grief, 124

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.”  Psalm 139:1-4

–Mike Benson

You are created in the image of God

Someone once said, “It is not the difficult passages that give the most problems. It is, rather, those passages that I do understand, and which challenge me to make necessary changes in my life.” One of those “simple” passages that is easy to understand but difficult to keep contains less than two dozen words: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). I fear that most of us have not yet learned the force of this demand upon our lives. The late B.C. Goodpasture commented on this very passage:

“Of all the precepts relative to self, this is one of the most difficult to obey. A man does not deny himself when he merely gives that which he does not need or miss; a man does not deny himself when he refrains from doing that which he really does not care to do. One denies himself when he, like the poor widow, gives that which he needs and will miss; a man denies himself when he, like Moses, turns his back upon that which he likes to do, and that which he finds pleasurable and profitable in the doing. As clear and crisp as a gunshot on a still day, the words of the greatest of all teachers fall upon the ear: ‘If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me'” (Gospel Advocate, July 19, 1973, page 459).

It would seem that just about the time you think you have control of self, the monster sticks its head out of the box and you have to struggle with that inner man so as to master your emotions and overcome the temptations that come your way. It seems to me that, Biblically speaking, there are four principles that are taught with regard to one’s self. Consider each of these.

First, you must know yourself: your weaknesses, your strengths; your good points and your bad points. Knowing our weaknesses we are in a better position to conquer them. Knowing our strengths enables us to march forward with courage and determination.

Second, you must value yourself. You are created in the image of God. Quit feeling sorry for yourself. That “Woe is me” attitude will never find the joy God intended you to have. We are not suggesting an arrogant, haughty attitude toward self where God is excluded and human wisdom exalted. We are created in the image of God. Regardless of the agenda of the liberal left, the environmentalists, and the humanists, there is something unique about man. Half a century of indoctrination in evolution and humanism has accomplished nothing more than the degrading of man and the disintegration of his morals.

Third, it is essential that you deny yourself. Learn to say “No” once in a while. As much as that merchant would seek to convince you, “Go ahead! You deserve it!” there comes a point in the mad rush for things that the child of God has to step out of the race. Jesus told us that a “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15b). Jesus was not speaking of “the things” that are inherently wrong, but those things that, in and of themselves, were right, and even necessary. It is not “things” that are wrong, but the love of things, and the attempt to amass those things that constitutes the danger. Paul wrote, “But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Tim. 6:9). It has been said, “The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.”

Finally, we must consecrate our self. This is something our society knows little about. Webster defines this word ‘consecrate’: “To make or declare to be sacred, by certain ceremonies or rites; to appropriate to sacred uses; to set apart, dedicate, or devote, to the service and worship of God.” It is precisely because our affluent age has sought to amass wealth, and to surround themselves with things, that they have failed to consecrate themselves to a higher and nobler purpose. I challenge you: “Give yourself to a higher purpose than self.” The ultimate consecration is, of course, dedication and commitment to God and His will in your life. Some years ago I came across this little quote that addresses this precise point:

Most of the things we think create happiness, don’t. We get caught in a spiral and life suddenly becomes a race to be won instead of a game to be played and enjoyed. Our focus on ‘success’ as society calls it, blurs our more important intangibles of life-our relationships and experiences. The fear (and sad reality for many) is that we wake up 30 years from now, stressed, unhealthy and unfulfilled, wondering what on earth happened to those wonderful dreams we once dared to dream. I’ll tell you what happened. We fell into the trap of being what others felt we should be as opposed to who we were meant to be. Other’s dreams became ours, only to realize they never mattered to us in the first place. We adopted the world’s definition of success instead of understanding and pursing our own” (Source and author lost).

So, friends, the battle is joined. We have been given the armor. The one great enemy we face is ourselves. Once we have slain self, God will be exalted in our life, and the outcome will an eternal home with the Father. I don’t know who wrote the following, but it is certainly thought provoking, and with it I will close this week’s article:

“Thyself”
(author unknown)

I sought from Socrates the sage,
Whose thoughts will live through every age,
A motto to direct my life,
A hero make me in my strife;
And Socrates said, ‘Know Thyself.’

To know myself did not suffice,
To make me useful, pure and wise;
I sought Aurelius, good and great,
Wise ruler of the Roman state;
And Aurelius said, ‘Control Thyself.’

O, Nazarene, Thou who didst give
Thy life that man might live,
What message dost thou leave for me,
That I may truly follow Thee?
The Savior said, ‘Deny Thyself.’

–by Tom Wacaster

Immersed in a Diving Bell

At the Polytechnic Science Museum in London, there was a diving bell. It had no floor, but there were seats attached to the rim at its base. At various times throughout the day, visitors were allowed to enter the diving bell and occupy the seats.

It was then lowered into a deep tank of water. No water ever came up into the bell, even though the passengers could have easily reached down and touched the water with their fingers.

–Paul Holland

The reason was that air was pumped into the diving bell from above, and the positive pressure kept the water from entering. If a vacuum had existed, the water would have rushed in.

We are all immersed in a world of temptation and sin. Satan works at us from all sides – except the top. There is a positive pressure that comes from above, that is sufficient to keep out the devil and sin.

“Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psa. 119:11). The apostle John says, “Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin [does not continue in a life of sin]; for His seed [the Word of God – Luke 8:11] remains in Him” (1 John 3:9).

If we will fill ourselves with the Word of God, the evils of the world may be beneath us, and even surge around us, but the Word of God is powerful enough to keep them out of our lives.

Thus, God told Ezekiel (3:1-3) and John (Rev. 10:9-10) to consume His word. Let us feed on the Word of God as often as possible. We can’t grow spiritually in a vacuum!

Paul Holland

A chance to steal!

Today offered me an opportunity to cheat a local business.

I picked up a requested item at our local Sam’s Club and then chose to use the do-it-yourself checkout line for payment.  My single item was put on the counter, scanned, and then I was prompted to pay.  The price that came up on the register screen was just under $4.00—a lot less than my item should have cost.  Too, the product showing on the register screen did not match what I had placed on the counter.

After asking a supervisor to come and look into this matter we realized what had happened.  The counter on which my item was resting had several bar-codes which customers could scan for popular items such as ice.  When the handheld laser was directed at my item, it apparently picked up one of these counter bar-codes and thus registered the wrong product and the wrong price.

Once the problem with this transaction was identified I suggested this manager consider getting rid of these bar-codes.

Different people are enticed by different temptations, but we can all be tempted in some way.  Since Christians are to be concerned about temptation and sin, Paul’s inspired teaching in Eph. 6:10-18 is something we should often read and repeatedly seek to heed.

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).  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.  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.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate

NONE SHALL FAIL

Jon Macon

 Isaiah 34:16 says, “Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read: no one of these shall fail, none shall want her mate: for my mouth it has commanded, and his spirit it hath gathered them.”  Only God has the power to declare what will happen in the future and then make it happen.  Isaiah 46:9-10 says, “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.”  Nothing that God has spoken has ever failed, nor will it ever fail.  Thus, fulfilled prophecy is one of the major tests by which we can distinguish between the word of God and the word of man.

An Old Testament test

Deuteronomy 18:21‑22 says, “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”  If a man’s foretelling of the future fails even one time, then he is revealed as a false prophet.  Being 99% accurate with prophecies is not sufficient.  For example, in the days of Jeremiah the prophet, a false prophet named Hananiah stood at the temple in Jerusalem and foretold that within two years, Israel would be free of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, the vessels of the temple would be returned, and King Jehoiakim and the other captives would also be returned from Babylon (Jer. 28:1-4).  Jeremiah replied to him, “The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him” (Jer. 28:8-9).  Of course, Hananiah’s prophecy failed, and he was exposed as a false prophet.  At the same time, Jeremiah was again proven to be a true prophet of God as he foretold that Hananiah would die during that year, and it came to pass as he said (Jer. 28:15-17).  By comparing whose prophecies have been fulfilled 100% of the time with not even one single failure, we know whose words will stand (Jer. 44:29).  God said that when His prophecies are fulfilled, “Ye shall know that I the Lord have spoken it” (Ezek. 17:21).  “And when this comes, ye shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezek. 24:24; see also Isa 46:9-11; 34:16; 41:21-29; Jer. 28:9; Ezek. 6:13-14; 30:8; 32:15; 35:15).

 Also a New Testament test

Fulfilled prophecy serving as proof of Divine inspiration was not limited to the Old Testament.  As fulfilled prophecies by Moses about Christ served to build faith (John 5:46-47), so also fulfilled prophecies by John the Baptist about Christ were designed to build faith (John 10:41-42).  And Christ himself foretold the future so that the fulfillment of his words would prove who he was.  In John 13:18-19, as the Lord foretold who would betray him, he said, “Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.”  Fulfilled prophecy about the resurrection caused the disciples to believe (John 2:18-22).  Christ said to his disciples, “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe” (John 14:29).  Only 100% accuracy in foretelling the future is a “passing grade” for a prophet.  God and the Bible pass 100%, but no other beliefs or writings do.  Only the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God.  Everything else is the word of man, no matter what any man claims.  Because only God’s word never fails.

Your opponent wants you to join him in the shout and shove match

WHEN CHRISTIANS SWITCH from talking about football to talking about Christ, they often kick into a “religious twang” or a “stained-glass voice…”

It doesn’t help.  Sometimes they flip their argument switch when the subject touches religion, as though evangelism were an intellectual wrestling match.  We argue as though Jesus needed defending.  We do it, I think, because our ego is at stake, and we must engage and defeat the adversary at all costs.  We wind up shooting ourselves in the foot.

Generally speaking, a highly argumentative non-believer isn’t anywhere near the Cross.  Entering into heated debate with him will drive him further away.

There’s a basic principle of communication interwoven in this discussion.  The louder the noise, the weaker the argument.  That’s why a confident, gentle spirit can be so powerful.  It exasperates the opposition.  Your opponent wants you to join him in the shout and shove match.  Don’t!  You both lose.  Wives who have spiritually indifferent husbands are told they can win them without a word (1 Peter 3:1-4).  The supernatural wardrobe of a “meek and quiet spirit” can do what nothing else can do.  Joseph C. Aldrich, “Scouting the Other Team,” Gentle Persuasion, 76-77

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”  1 Peter 3:15

Mike Benson

Comparing the Bible to a deck of cards

It was a quiet day; the guns, mortars, and land mines for some reason hadn’t been heard. The young soldier knew it was Sunday, the Lord’s day. As he sat there, he got out an old deck of cards and laid them out across his bunk.

Just then an army sergeant came in and said, “Why aren’t you with the rest of the platoon?”

The soldier replied, “I thought I would stay behind and spend some time with the Lord.”

The sergeant said, “Looks to me like you’re going to play cards.”

The soldier said, “No sir. You see, since I don’t have a Bible and can’t buy one in this country, I’ve decided to think about the Lord by studying this deck of cards.”

The sergeant asked in disbelief, “How will you do that?”

“You see the Ace, Sergeant? It reminds me that there is only one God (Ephesians 4:4-6).

The Two represents the two parts of the Bible, Old and New Testaments (Hebrews 8:6–7).

The Three represents the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14).

The Four stands for the Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (cf. John 20:30–31).

The Five is for the five virgins that were wise (Matthew 25:1–13).

The Six is for the six days it took God to create the heavens and earth (Genesis 1:1–31).

The Seven is for the day God rested after making His creation (Genesis 2:1–3).

The Eight is for the family of Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives—the eight people God spared from the flood that destroyed the earth (Genesis 6–9; 2 Peter 2:5).

The Nine is for the lepers that Jesus cleansed of leprosy. He cleansed ten, but nine never thanked Him (Luke 17:17).

The Ten represents the Ten Commandments that God handed down to Moses on tablets made of stone (Exodus 20).

The Jack is a reminder of Satan, now the joker of eternal hell (1 Peter 5:8).

The Queen stands for the virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18–25).

The King stands for Jesus, for He is the King of all kings (1 Timothy 6:15).

When I count the dots on all the cards, I come up with 365 total, one for every day of the year. There are a total of 52 cards in a deck; each is a week—52 weeks in a year. The four suits represent the four seasons: spring, summer, fall and winter (Genesis 1:14). Each suit has thirteen cards—there are exactly thirteen weeks in a quarter.

So when I want to talk to God and thank Him, I just pull out this old deck of cards and they remind me of all that I have to be thankful for.”

The sergeant just stood there. After a minute, he said, “Soldier, may I borrow that deck of cards?”

“Think on these things.” Philippians 4:8

http://www.housetohouse.com/HTHPubPage.aspx?pub=2&issue=602&section=718&article=4562

685 deaths at the Grand Canyon

If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon, you might have had that certain itching feeling, the crazy urge to walk right up to the edge of the cliff. For those of us who aren’t afraid of heights, there is something extremely invigorating about walking up to the edge. It’s almost as if we get to look death right in the face and say, “Not today!” However, every time we do this, we are taking a risk. Tragically, or maybe foolishly, there have been 685 deaths at the Grand Canyon (azdailysun.com). While not all of these are from falling off the cliff, many are. In fact, John Anderson recently fell off the edge of the Grand Canyon to his death (CBS).

Sometimes as Christians we get a similar itching feeling. We get an urge to walk up to the edge of the sin cliff, just to see how close we can get. Maybe we’re just curious. Maybe we are just foolish. No matter the reason, this is why so many fall into sin. Brethren, we shouldn’t be this way.

We need to be Christians who run away from the sin cliff (Genesis 39:6-12; 2 Timothy 2:22). We need to be Christians who are on the alert and who resist Satan (1 Peter 5:8; James 4:7). We need to be Christian who abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). We need to be Christians who look for the way to escape the sin cliff (1 Corinthians 10:13).

It’s important for us to have a good healthy fear of sin. We need to be afraid to even come close to the sin cliff. What we need today are Christians who are afraid of heights!

So where are we standing? How close are we? Spiritually speaking, are we afraid of heights?

Brett Petrillo

Don’t ever say britches in the pulpit

“You Said ‘Britches’ In Your Sermon”

The late V.P. Black related the circumstances of a preacher who came up to him and asked him for help in finding another place to preach. Brother Black was surprised since the man had not been there very long. Black asked why he felt the need to leave so soon, and the preacher cited a hypercritical attitude among the members. When asked to give an example, the preacher said, “A lady came out the door with her furs on, and she shook me by the hand and said, ‘You just embarrassed the life out of me this morning. I was never so humiliated in all my life.'” The preacher wondered what he said or did, he looked to see if he was properly dressed, and then he asked, “What in the world did I say?” She replied, “In your sermon you used the word, britches.” She said, “That’s such a common word. Don’t ever say britches in the pulpit, always say trousers.” The preacher thought, “I don’t remember saying that.” He asked the lady, “What did I say before I said britches?” “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know what you said before you said britches.” “Well,” he said, “What did I say after britches?” “Oh,” she said, “I don’t know what you said after you said britches.” The preacher said, “Well, I’m thankful I said britches or you wouldn’t have gotten anything out of my sermon” (adapted from “Back To Basics,” 13-14).

What do we get out of worship when we assemble on the Lord’s Day? Can we count the number of cell phones that go off, the number of babies that cried, the awful outfit the lady wore, how low or high the song leader led the songs, or that the services went 8 minutes long? If those are the bench marks of our worship experiences, we are in the same condition and of the same spirit as the woman in V.P. Black’s story.

I just cannot see Isaiah coming before the Great I Am with that sort of outlook in Isaiah six. Can you? Or envision Jesus entering a synagogue or the temple riveted in on the flaws of the Levites or the uneven tailoring job done modeled by a Judean brother. Or imagine a member of the early church, huddled in the catacombs, fighting irritation over a restless child or uncouth brother or sister in Christ.

Let us be sure that why we come to worship is to praise the eternal God, stimulate one another to love and good works, and soak up the fellowship of our spiritual family as we obey the Lord in worshipping in spirit and truth. Having such an approach to worship will cure a lot of the nit-picky, hypercritical ways we can too easily adopt. When our motives and intentions in worship are purified, we will notice how little we notice the minutia.

Neal Pollard

Can we know God’s will

IT SEEMS STRANGE that one can know for sure the basic laws of the land, but he cannot know the basic laws of God…

All people are in agreement that their automobile should have a state license tag. They agree that they should drive their automobile on the right side of a two-way street in the United States. They agree that a traffic light showing red is an indication for them to stop. It may be true that all people do no abide by these traffic rules, but it is not because they cannot know what they should do.

To say that one can know the laws of the land and yet cannot know the laws of God is a reflection on God. Is God incapable of revealing truth that man can understand? Obviously not. The problem is not with the Author of truth, but with man who is the subject of truth. William Wardlaw

“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God exceptthe Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Corinthians 2:11-12

Mike Benson

For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12

DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

A young and foolish pilot wanted to sound cool and show who was boss on the aviation frequencies. It was his first time approaching a field during the night time.

Instead of making any official requests to the tower, he said: “Guess who?”

The controller switched the field lights off and replied: “Guess where!”

It important for a pilot to be able to see the place where he is landing! There is a true story about a pilot who was flying a fighter jet in bad weather and was about to make his instrument approach to an airport. The air traffic controller called and asked how much fuel he had. — “Plenty,” he said.

“Well,” the controller said, “We’ve got a little problem. There’s a young pilot who is not instrument rated. He’s lost in the clouds, and we were wondering if you could intercept him and lead him back to the airport.”

“Sure,” the pilot responded. He found the lost plane and pulled up beside it. He called on the radio and told the pilot to look out to his left. When the pilot of this small plane saw the powerful jet, he burst into tears of relief. As far as he was concerned, his life was about over. He would soon run out of fuel and crash.

“Don’t worry,” the test pilot said. “Everything’s going to be OK. I’m going to pull in front of you several hundred yards. Do everything I do. When I turn, I’ll turn gently. All you have to do is do exactly what I do.”

So carefully the leader and the follower turned toward the airport and slowly descended. When they finally broke through the clouds at 500 feet, the frightened pilot saw the most beautiful sight. There in front of him was the runway, and he was perfectly set up to land. What a blessing that the young pilot had someone nearby that he could look to!

There’s a story in the Bible where an ancient king of Judah must have felt that same sense of relief. Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was being threatened by the armies of Ammon, Moab, “and others” (2 Chronicles 20:1). In fact, those armies were so large and so strong, Judah didn’t stand a chance of surviving an assault. There seemed to be nothing Jehoshaphat could do about it, so he turned to God (which, incidentally, is not such a bad place for us to find ourselves!). Eventually, God rescued the people of Judah by causing the armies of the enemy to turn on one another. But it is the prayer of Jehoshaphat that I think is so valuable. In fact, I think this may become my favorite verse in the Bible:

“For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

Is there a problem you’re facing in your life that just seems overwhelming? Pray along with Jehoshaphat — “God, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you!” Do you have a difficult decision to make and you don’t know which course to take? “God, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you!” Are you suffering the attacks of enemies, those who would seek to do you harm? “God, I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you!” Pray it today and pray it often.

Alan Smith

The ninth commandment

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight” (Proverbs 11:1 NKJV).

I had rarely worried about the accuracy of scales before beginning foreign mission campaigns. In the U.S., we have become so accustomed to federal standards and inspection that most consumers have pretty much developed a blind trust in the scales and other measuring devices used in merchandising.

Oh, we are perfectly aware that some seek to defraud, and we will occasionally check to see if the weights or volumes of a transaction seem to be what they should be, but it is not something that most people worry unduly about.

In other countries, the government is much less active in protecting consumers. Standards may not exist. Systems of checking and protection may be scarce, and even if legally provided for, the enforcement is often lax. Not infrequently, the enforcers themselves perpetrate or assist in fraud.

In South Asia, when we go into the markets to make purchases, in almost every case the local person making the purchase will take merchandise out of its packaging, visually inspect it, and turn it on, or plug it in to see if it actually works.

If work is contracted for, as in the repair of a vehicle, whenever feasible someone is left on site to watch the workers and ensure that the repair is done legitimately and that no substitutions are made and nothing in the vehicle is taken or damaged. In spite of all this caution, we occasionally find that we have been cheated.

No characteristic is more necessary to social interaction than trust. Trust requires truthfulness or honesty. The Biblical concept involved is that of justice. When scales are honest and instruments of measurement are reliable justice is assured.

Another way to express justice is as equity. When punishment or recompense is equal to the wrong done, justice has been achieved. From the positive perspective, when reward matches effort, that is just. We speak of “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.” In this context, honesty is synonymous with justice.

Given the above realities, it is not surprising that the Bible insists upon honesty and truthfulness as absolute necessities for the righteous person.

From the ninth commandment (“You shall not bear false witness” Exodus 20:16) to the verdict that “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8), the Holy Spirit is adamant in his insistence that only truth be spoken and only honesty be practiced.

I have long been impressed with the Old Testament use of the word “Abomination.” I am convinced that this term describes those things which are inherently offensive to God.

No doubt this is at least in part because they are totally opposed to his nature. Our God is “a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Dishonesty is foreign to his nature, and offensive to him in every way.

It is therefore no surprise that the dishonest scales of the fraudulent merchant are hated. Governments may fail to protect their people. Officials may conspire to cheat and rob. But God is a God of justice. He is true, and supports truth. He will protect the innocent and punish the wicked. He is just.

–Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Flee sexual immorality

OFTEN A GIRL who grows up with little or no affection from her father is set up to be tempted to a greater degree sexually than a girl who receives the right kind of male affection at home…

A girl who did not get the love she needed at home may seek it somewhere else. With no conscience decision on her part, male affection may come to mean security to her. The initial feelings she experiences–even in a bad relationship–are so much better than the emptiness she felt before that she gives in over and over again to the sexual invitations of men she knows she should not associate with.

Telling a girl like this that premarital sex is wrong is like cutting off weeds at ground level. It may alter her behavior for a while, but when those feelings of emptiness and insecurity begin to surface again, she will be drawn to get her needs met the way she always has.

Anyone who has brought up in a home where there was a deficiency of parental love will experience a stronger pull toward certain sins than a person who enjoyed a warm, loving home life…

…Unfortunate circumstances in no way relieve people of the guilt or responsibility of their behavior, but if they can understand the connection between their childhood experiences and their present struggles, [they may] be able to deal with the root of their particular temptation.

As long as men and women seek to gain their sense of significance and self-worth from anything other than God, they will be set up for temptation. Certain people, places, or things will always have an inordinate ability to lure them into sin. Until they change their definition of significance and until they transfer their security to Someone who can give them real security, they will never experience lasting victory in their lives. Charles Stanley in Winning the War Within, 29-30

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; cf., 1 Thess. 4:1-8

Mike Benson

The Impulse to Live

The impulse to live runs deep in man. Suicide is considered unnatural.

At some level, war may be considered as an effort to survive and thrive.

Youth is glorified, because old age is seen as one step away from death.

To live for the moment, to wage war, to preserve youth, all gain momentum when the eternal perspective is lost. For man clings to whatever life he has. The impulse runs deep.

Early on, man looked beyond death to another life. The ancient Egyptians attest to preparing in this life for the next.

Humankind wants to keep on living.

This is the cry of one who sees his days “coming to an end” (Psalm 102:11 NET). The psalmist appeals to God to prolong his life because God is eternal. “O my God, please do not take me away in the middle of my life! You endure through all generations” (Psalm 102:24).

If God is eternal, he is the source of life and one to whom we may turn to ask for life.

“But you remain; your years do not come to an end” (v. 27).

So for this reason Peter, with all true and faithful followers, will not abandon Christ, because he has “the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

The essence of eternal life is knowing God and his Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3).

God gave up his Son to the Cross in order that he might give eternal life to those who believe (John 3:14-16).

To possess it, obedience to God is essential for “his commandment is eternal life” (John 12:50).

The impulse to live runs deep, for God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV).

Look into your heart and feel its throb for life. Then look to God and ask for eternity. Live!

by J. Randal Matheny @ www.forthright.net

The preacher is going to lose his place, and then he’ll have to start his sermon all over again

STARTING OVER

During a Sunday-morning worship service, a mother tried everything she could think of – including rewards, scoldings, and threats – to get her fidgety 7-year-old son to be quiet. Nothing worked. Finally, about halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered something in the little boy’s ear.

He immediately stopped fidgeting and sat quietly for the rest of the service. Afterward, a friend sitting in the row behind asked the young mother what she had said to her son.

The mother smiled and replied, “If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place, and then he’ll have to start his sermon all over again.”

As much as little boys (and most of the rest of us) dislike the idea of having the preacher “start over”, it’s not something that any of us like to do in our own lives. But there are times when we need to start over.

When it comes to trying to live godly lives, we all mess up. As good as our intentions are, as much as we promise ourselves that “I’ll never make that mistake again”, we find ourselves at the throne of God time and again, seeking grace and mercy, and having to start over. It’s not easy, and it requires humility on our part, but fortunately, God gives us that opportunity when we truly repent.

Just as difficult are the trials we face that force us to start over. Maybe you’ve had a serious illness or injury, and it finally looks like you’re going to get well, but there’s a setback in your health which requires you to start all over again. That news can be more devastating than the original diagnosis. Or maybe it’s a financial problem you’re facing. And just when it looked like there was a light at the end of the tunnel, your car or the washing machine breaks down or the kids need braces, and you’re back to square one trying to get your debt cleared up.

Such experiences require a perseverance that says, “No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks I have, no matter how many times I have start over, I will not give up.” As Solomon wrote: “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again.” (Proverbs 24:16, NET). It’s not a question of whether we will fall. We will fall, but the righteous man, the wise man, continues to rise up and is willing to start over time and again.

If you find yourself discouraged today because you’ve failed God, may you seek His forgiveness and start over living the life that God wants you to live. If you’re facing trials today that leave you wondering what’s the use in trying any more, may God provide you strength to rise up and start over!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Christ, man’s only hope

ALL OF US know how much comfort and reassuring light can be in certain situations…

Think of the child in the nursery. Light affords a degree of security and comfort.

Think of the patient who suffers though the long, dark night. How often he or she will pray for the dawn and coming of day.

“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” Matthew 4:15-16

THOUGHT: Here is a picture of Christ coming and offering a ray of hope. Yes, He is the light of the world. J. Winfred Clark in Expositions of “The Expositor,” 251

Mike Benson

The discovery of chloroform

The Most Valuable Discovery

In 1847, Sir James Simpson of Edinburgh discovered the use of chloroform as an anesthetic in surgery. Some have claimed that this was the most significant discovery of modern medicine. In his later years, Sir James was lecturing at Edinburgh University and a student asked, “What do you consider to be the most valuable discovery of your lifetime?”

Sir James answered quickly, “My most valuable discovery was when I discovered myself a sinner and that Jesus Christ was my Savior.”

That discovery is very similar to the words of John Newton, author of the timeless song, “Amazing Grace.” At age 82, near death, almost blind, and with fading memory, he spoke these words: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things:
I’m a great SINNER and Christ is a great SAVIOR.”

The book of Romans makes clear these two significant truths that Simpson and Newton articulated. The PROBLEM is SIN. “As it is written, there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And the PENALTY for sin is DEATH (Romans 6:23).

But in Romans 1:16, the apostle Paul declares that the POWER of God unto salvation is the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at this “GOOD NEWS”…

In Christ we have the divine PROVISION. “But God demonstrates His own love
toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
The PRICE that was paid? Look at Romans 5:9: “Much more then, having now
been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”

Now what’s the PROCESS by which we contact that blood? By placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Romans 5:1), confessing Christ (Romans 10:9-10), turning from our sins in repentance (Romans 2:4), and being buried with Christ in baptism (Romans 6:1-4). Then, we are to dedicate the rest of our lives in service to Him (Romans 6:12-18; 12:1). *

The most valuable discovery that YOU can make is that you, too, are a great sinner (as ALL are!) and that Christ desires to be YOUR Savior.

He will save you -IF- you will trust and obey Him.

Won’t YOU?

— Allan Eldridge / David A. Sargent

Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again

STARTING OVER

During a Sunday-morning worship service, a mother tried everything she could think of – including rewards, scoldings, and threats – to get her fidgety 7-year-old son to be quiet. Nothing worked. Finally, about halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered something in the little boy’s ear.

He immediately stopped fidgeting and sat quietly for the rest of the service. Afterward, a friend sitting in the row behind asked the young mother what she had said to her son.

The mother smiled and replied, “If you don’t be quiet, the preacher is going to lose his place, and then he’ll have to start his sermon all over again.”

As much as little boys (and most of the rest of us) dislike the idea of having the preacher “start over”, it’s not something that any of us like to do in our own lives. But there are times when we need to start over.

When it comes to trying to live godly lives, we all mess up. As good as our intentions are, as much as we promise ourselves that “I’ll never make that mistake again”, we find ourselves at the throne of God time and again, seeking grace and mercy, and having to start over. It’s not easy, and it requires humility on our part, but fortunately, God gives us that opportunity when we truly repent.

Just as difficult are the trials we face that force us to start over. Maybe you’ve had a serious illness or injury, and it finally looks like you’re going to get well, but there’s a setback in your health which requires you to start all over again. That news can be more devastating than the original diagnosis. Or maybe it’s a financial problem you’re facing. And just when it looked like there was a light at the end of the tunnel, your car or the washing machine breaks down or the kids need braces, and you’re back to square one trying to get your debt cleared up.

Such experiences require a perseverance that says, “No matter how long it takes, no matter how many setbacks I have, no matter how many times I have start over, I will not give up.” As Solomon wrote: “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again.” (Proverbs 24:16, NET). It’s not a question of whether we will fall. We will fall, but the righteous man, the wise man, continues to rise up and is willing to start over time and again.

If you find yourself discouraged today because you’ve failed God, may you seek His forgiveness and start over living the life that God wants you to live. If you’re facing trials today that leave you wondering what’s the use in trying any more, may God provide you strength to rise up and start over!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Seeking first the Kingdom of God

Several years ago, I baptized a young man who played on a local High School football team. As I walked into the water, I could feel through my rubber wader that the water was really cold! I apologized to the young man and said that I was sorry to tell him that the water heater had apparently stopped functioning and that the water was cold. In a macho sort of way, he said, “No problem, that doesn’t matter to me.” Then he put his first foot in the water. To say it took his breath would be an understatement. He stood there a long time before he ever attempted to put his second foot in, and for about the next 10 minutes, he inched his way into the baptistery. (So much for macho!)

I share that story because I think it illustrates how some people try to serve God. Instead of just giving themselves fully to him, they try to “inch” their way into following him. Friends, God is not looking for “toe testers” to test the waters of discipleship, he’s looking for “cannonballers” who are wholly sold out to Christianity.

Friends, which are you more like? Are you testing the waters, or have you jumped in? Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham