Archives for : May2015

Who Is The Factious Man?

A FACTIOUS MAN – Neal Pollard

Titus had a challenging “local work.” He had to preach and minister on Crete, renowned for its “many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers” (1:10) in a culture renowned for its “liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (1:12). They paid “attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men” and turned “away from the truth” (1:14). Their deeds denied Him, they were detestable, disobedient, and derelict (1:16).
What do you say to a guy who has such a lot in life? Besides expressing sympathy to him, how can you help a man in such conditions? You will notice Paul did not tell him to move on to a new work. He guided Titus in how to appoint the right kind of leaders (1:5-11), how to equip the right kind of members (2:1-10), how to focus on the right things (like grace, godliness, hope, sanctification, the second coming, etc., 2:11-15), and how to restore and maintain the right focus (3:1-15).

Among the troubling and difficult personalities about which Paul writes to warn Titus, there is the “factious man.” Paul has strong, stern words of warning about him. When we explore Paul’s words about him in Titus 3:9-11Titus 3:9-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 but shun foolish questionings, and genealogies, and strifes, and fightings about law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 A factious man after a first and second admonition refuse; 11 knowing that such a one is perverted, and sinneth, being self-condemned.

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, we come to appreciate what our relationship with such a man ought to be.

Who Is The Factious Man? Given the context, he must be the man described in verse nine. He is a man embroiled in “foolish controversies,” “genealogies,” and “unprofitable and worthless disputes.” The literal meaning of “factious” here is “heretical.” He is a heretic, and he is such because of foolish controversies and worthless disputes. What are those? Those are matters a man will not give up fighting about but which cannot be proven to be right or wrong. He may think them right or wrong, but he lacks scriptural support.

What Do You Do With Him? To me, this is the most startling response. Paul says, “Reject him.” Literally, you dismiss him. Why? Because he has proven himself to be an argument-monger. At some point, engaging with such a person is counter-intuitive and counter-productive.

When Do You Do It? Paul lays out a specific plan of action, “after a first and second warning.” Notice that even factious men deserve our patience and forbearance. But, that is not to be indefinite or limitless. Paul’s patience had its limits (cf. Gal. 2:5Gal. 2:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

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). Did you know even God’s patience can be exhausted (cf. 1 Pet. 3:201 Pet. 3:20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water:

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)? There comes a point when one’s efforts with a person is likened to “pearls before swine” (Mt. 7:6Mt. 7:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you.

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Why Do You Do It? You do it because of knowledge. Paul says, “Knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” (11). Such a man will not listen or accept admonition. The inspired analysis of such a man is frighteningly judgmental. With three terms, Paul concludes such a man to be lost!

The man here was hung up about the Law of Moses, but certainly such a man (or woman) can exist today. Scripture is timeless and boundless. Anything without rational, scriptural support that becomes one’s hobby horse and becomes divisive must be avoided. We are to reject it. The factious one must cease or continue at his or her own peril.

Night, With Ebon Pinion

Another song we often sing prior to the Lord’s Supper is “Night, With Ebon Pinion.” Written in 1854, when Schumann and Liszt were composing, Dickens and Thoreau were writing, and Nightingale was nursing, Love Jameson wrote this beautiful hymn. However, its wording has puzzled many a thoughtful singer. Filled with beautiful poetry, it is nonetheless enigmatic at points.

The first verse begins, “Night, with ebon pinion.” The Praise for the Lord songbook has notations for difficult words and phrases. Thus, at the bottom of the song is an explanation. “Ebon pinion” means “wings of darkness.” So, the complicated beginning can hamper our comprehension of the next phrase (“brooded o’er the vale”). Though the word “brood” has several meanings, including those related to birds, the thought here seems to be that dark night hovered closely over the place (which context suggests is the Garden of Gethsemane). The verse paints the picture of darkness and silence, except for the sound of the wind. In that lonely setting, Jesus, in profound sorrow, intensely prayed, completely overcome with emotion and exhaustion (“prostrate”). Jameson appeals to Luke’s record of events in this verse (Lk. 22:44Lk. 22:44
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44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.

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The second verse begins with an allusion to Isaiah 53, blending together several ideas from that prophetic chapter which foretells the events of the crucifixion. It also bears resemblance to Romans 4:25Romans 4:25
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25 who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.

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. But, then Jameson returns to the lonely scenes of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed while Peter, James and John slept (cf. Mark 14:33-37Mark 14:33-37
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33 And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly amazed, and sore troubled. 34 And he saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death: abide ye here, and watch. 35 And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him. 36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; remove this cup from me: howbeit not what I will, but what thou wilt. 37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest thou not watch one hour?

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The last verse begins by again alluding to Mark 14, where Jesus, in deep sorrow, pleads to God, “Abba, Father” (36). This is a special, Aramaic word. It is the language of a child to his father, but its meaning is also of one who is an heir. The songwriter seems to be drawing on the intimate, personal aspect of the relationship between Son and Father. The rest of the verse alludes back to Jesus’ prayer (Mat. 26:39Mat. 26:39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

39 And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.

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and Luke 22:42Luke 22:42
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42 saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

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Taken together, this song is meant to lift a single facet of Jesus’ diverse suffering, His time in agonizing prayer in prospect of His arrest, trial, scourging, mockery, hanging, and all else that He endured. It helps us remember the anxiety our Savior, all-man as well as all-God (Heb. 5:7Heb. 5:7
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7 Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly fear,

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). If we comprehend and contemplate its meaning, it can aid our mental preparation for the Lord’s Supper as well as remind us of God’s great love for each of us!

–Neal Pollard

I know of a preacher who inadvertently agreed to preach two revivals at the same time.

Are You Too Committed?

Have you ever over committed yourself? Or been too committed? I know of a preacher who inadvertently agreed to preach two revivals at the same time. On his way to one location, he passed the other and saw his own name on the church marquee advertising that he was beginning a revival with them on that very day. How embarrassing!

From time-to-time, we take on so many commitments that we become frustrated and irritable–I know, it happens to me.

I recently read about a fellow who did just that. He said, “I was snapping at my wife and our children, choking down my food at mealtimes, and feeling irritated at those unexpected interruptions through the day.” He went on to say, “Before long, things around our home started reflecting the pattern of my hurry-up style.” He described how he remembered a particular supper one evening when his daughter needed to discuss something with him that happened at school. Here’s how it went:

She began hurriedly, “Daddy, I wanna tell you somethin’ and I’ll tell you really fast.” Suddenly realizing her frustration, I answered, “Honey, you can tell me–and you don’t have to tell me really fast. Say it slowly.” I’ll never forget her answer: “Then listen slowly.”

Kids really have a way of hitting us right where we live don’t they?

Sometimes, one of the most difficult words to say is “no.”

Listen, Jesus teaches a valuable lesson about overextending ourselves. He says, sometimes you need to pause and take time for yourself–a time for renewal. Remember these words? “Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat” (Mk. 6:31Mk. 6:31
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31 And he saith unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while. For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.

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Perhaps you need to find your “desert place,” and go there to regroup.

Don’t be like one guy I know, who says if I’m relaxing I feel guilty–like I’m wasting time. Rather, take to heart the fact that Jesus says a little alone time is a good thing.

I hope you have a terrific day!

–Neil Richey

We take a mini trip every day

We all hate the “I know I’m forgetting something” feeling. Yet it comes back up at almost every vacation and trip. This is where a packing list comes in handy.

We may not realize it, but we take a mini trip every day. When we wake up, we have to travel through the influences of our world and culture. Too often Christians have inadequately packed for this trip. For this reason, here is an everyday spiritual packing list:

  • Shoes – To help us stand up for what is right (1 Corinthians 15:581 Corinthians 15:58
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    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.

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    ; 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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    )
  • Nice Clothes – To ensure we present ourselves well to others (1 Peter 2:11-121 Peter 2:11-12
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    11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; 12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

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    ; Colossians 4:5Colossians 4:5
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    5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

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  • Watch – To remind us our time here is limited (Matthew 24:42Matthew 24:42
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    42 Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.

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  • Phone – To stay in contact with the most important person in the universe (Philippians 4:6Philippians 4:6
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    6 In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

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    ; 1 Thessalonians 5:171 Thessalonians 5:17
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    17 pray without ceasing;

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  • Glasses – To clearly see the world for the sinful and temporary place it is (1 John 2:15-171 John 2:15-17
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    15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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  • Blinders – To keep us focused on what is good, and block out what is not (Philippians 4:8Philippians 4:8
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    8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

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  • Umbrella – To keep us more comfortable on life’s rainy days (2 Corinthians 1:3-72 Corinthians 1:3-7
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us, even so our comfort also aboundeth through Christ. 6 But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: 7 and our hope for you is stedfast; knowing that, as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also are ye of the comfort.

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  • Mirror – To help fix flaws we see in ourselves (James 1:22-25James 1:22-25
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    22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. 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.

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  • Toothbrush – To ensure clean speech (Colossians 4:6Colossians 4:6
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    6 Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.

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    ; James 3:1-12James 3:1-12
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    3 1 Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment. 2 For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbleth not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also. 3 Now if we put the horses' bridles into their mouths that they may obey us, we turn about their whole body also. 4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, are yet turned about by a very small rudder, whither the impulse of the steersman willeth. 5 So the tongue also is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how much wood is kindled by how small a fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire: the world of iniquity among our members is the tongue, which defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the wheel of nature, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind. 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the likeness of God: 10 out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth the fountain send forth from the same opening sweet water and bitter? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine figs? Neither can salt water yield sweet.

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  • Deodorant and Cologne/Perfume – To ensure we are a sweet fragrance of Christ to those who do not know God (2 Corinthians 2:15-162 Corinthians 2:15-16
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    15 For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; 16 to the one a savor from death unto death; to the other a savor from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

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  • Vitamins – To keep us healthy (Deuteronomy 5:33Deuteronomy 5:33
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    33 Ye shall walk in all the way which Jehovah your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.

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  • Compass – To keep us traveling in the right direction (2 Peter 1:32 Peter 1:3
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    3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue;

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  • GPS – To navigate through life’s roadblocks and obstacles (Psalm 119:105Psalm 119:105
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    105 Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, And light unto my path.

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    ; Jeremiah 10:23Jeremiah 10:23
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    23 O Jehovah, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

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  • Sword – To slay false doctrine (Hebrews 4:12Hebrews 4:12
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    12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.

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    ; 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.

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  • Armor – To protect us from the Devil’s attacks (Ephesians 6:10-18Ephesians 6:10-18
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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. 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,

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  • Seeds – To place into the hearts of the unbelieving (Matthew 13:1-23Matthew 13:1-23
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    13 1 On that day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And there were gathered unto him great multitudes, so that he entered into a boat, and sat; and all the multitude stood on the beach. 3 And he spake to them many things in parables, saying, Behold, the sower went forth to sow; 4 and as he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the birds came and devoured them: 5 and others fell upon the rocky places, where they had not much earth: and straightway they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 and when the sun was risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And others fell upon the thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked them: 8 and others fell upon the good ground, and yielded fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He that hath ears, let him hear. 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 And he answered and said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables; because seeing they see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing ye shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not. 18 Hear then ye the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the way side. 20 And he that was sown upon the rocky places, this is he that heareth the word, and straightway with joy receiveth it; 21 yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while; and when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, straightway he stumbleth. 22 And he that was sown among the thorns, this is he that heareth the word; and the care of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; who verily beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

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Navigating through this life can be hard. Let’s make sure we pack well!

–Brett Petrillo

Solomon describes a worthless person as one who spreads strife

Who couldn’t use more of any number of things–money, time, opportunities, friends, etc. Our families would be blessed with an increase of precious memories, traditions, vacations, and even those glorious, ordinary moments together? The nation could use more politicians with courage, public figures with proper, moral convictions, and ordinary citizens whose believe in and love for the God of the Bible were strong enough to turn the tide. The church could use more volunteers, more holiness, more qualified elders, more preachers with backbone and compassion, more programs to accomplish God’s purpose on earth, and that list could go on for a while. But, the church does not need more “strife spreaders.”

“Strife spreaders” are those who spread strife. They may do so openly or clandestinely. They may do so directly or even through innuendo and insinuation. They may do so by peddling their side of a two-sided story. They may do so by stirring up the discontent or dissatisfaction of other members. They may do so through gossip or lying. They may do so through assassinating the character of others, whether elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, or other members.
But, they that do so, do so at a tremendous price! Solomon describes a worthless person as one who spreads strife (Prov. 6:14Prov. 6:14
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14 In whose heart is perverseness, Who deviseth evil continually, Who soweth discord.

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). Then, he follows that up by speaking of “the seven deadly sins,” things done by man that are hated by God. Last in the list is “one who spreads strife among brothers” (Prov. 6:19Prov. 6:19
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19 A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

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). Solomon strikes hard at “strife spreaders.” It is fueled by hatred (Prov. 10:12Prov. 10:12
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12 Hatred stirreth up strifes; But love covereth all transgressions.

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). It is fed by pride and arrogance (Prov. 13:10; 28:25Prov. 13:10; 28:25
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10 By pride cometh only contention; But with the well-advised is wisdom. 25 He that is of a greedy spirit stirreth up strife; But he that putteth his trust in Jehovah shall be made fat.

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). It is fired by a hot-temper (Prov. 15:18Prov. 15:18
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18 A wrathful man stirreth up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

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). It is a feature of perversity (Prov. 16:28Prov. 16:28
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28 A perverse man scattereth abroad strife; And a whisperer separateth chief friends.

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). It flies from a fool’s lips (Prov. 18:6; 20:3Prov. 18:6; 20:3
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6 A fool's lips enter into contention, And his mouth calleth for stripes. 3 It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife; But every fool will be quarrelling.

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says, “Any fool will quarrel”). It is a feature of sinful anger (Prov. 29:22; 30:33Prov. 29:22; 30:33
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22 An angry man stirreth up strife, And a wrathful man aboundeth in transgression. 33 For the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, And the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood; So the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.

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). None of those verses mentions adultery, fornication, murder, theft, or false teaching, but strife will have done much harm to the souls of men when all is said and done. It is easy enough to spread strife, but it is exceedingly and eternally unwise. Paul warns that those who practice the spreading of strife will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Gal. 5:20-21Gal. 5:20-21
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20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

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). That should be enough warning for all of us to continually be on guard against spreading strife, instead choosing to be those who sow the seed of peace and produce the fruit of righteousness (Jas. 3:18Jas. 3:18
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18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for them that make peace.

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–Neal Pollard

Do you know what King David did?

Namesake

It’s difficult to receive correction, isn’t it? It’s easy when being corrected to fall into judging the person’s motives for correcting us, taking offense at the way they corrected us, and searching out inconsistencies and errors in the life of the one correcting us.

But I guess that’s why David was said to be a “man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:141 Samuel 13:14
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14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: Jehovah hath sought him a man after his own heart, and Jehovah hath appointed him to be prince over his people, because thou hast not kept that which Jehovah commanded thee.

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). You see, David faced the stinging rebuke by the prophet, Nathan. In fact, Nathan set him up in such a way that David had to have been humiliated and embarrassed. But what did King David do? Did he criticize Nathan for the way he rebuked him? No. Did he make excuses for his conduct? No. Did he seek out a way to discredit Nathan? No.

Do you know what King David did? He named a son after Nathan! Check it out (1 Chronicles 3:51 Chronicles 3:5
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5 and these were born unto him in Jerusalem: Shimea, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon, four, of Bath-shua the daughter of Ammiel;

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). Not only did David not take offense at what Nathan did to him, he later named one of his son’s “Nathan.” That’s true humility and reflects a genuine desire to be right with God. David didn’t hate Nathan for his rebuke, he loved him for it.

Friends, those who have the courage to confront you for your own good aren’t worthy of our hatred or vengeance. In fact, in David’s case, his confronter was worthy of “namesake.” Give it some thought.

By Steve Higginbotham

It’s OK to enjoy life’s pleasures

“If you have found honey, eat only enough
for you, lest you have your fill of it and
vomit it. Let your foot be seldom in your
neighbors’ house, lest he have his fill of
you will hate you” (Proverbs 25:16,17Proverbs 25:16,17
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16 Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, Lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. 17 Let thy foot be seldom in thy neighbor's house, Lest he be weary of thee, and hate thee.

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, ESV).

A modern proverb has it that after three days, both fish and relatives begin to smell bad. It’s one thing to have one’s relatives for a weekend, and quite another to put up with them, waiting for the shower, eating your food, for months!

The Wise Man suggests that pleasures such as honey and the friendship of neighbors are things we should enjoy, but only in moderation. Too much honey makes you sick, and too much visiting, even with a good friend, makes you unwelcome.

The principle here is that we should have moderation in all things. Is this a timely reminder in our age of overindulgence and greed? “Buy more clothes! Get more toys! Collect more gadgets! Supersize that, will you?”  Our society must be the most self indulgent, undisciplined in history.

It’s OK to enjoy life’s pleasures. It’s not OK to saturate ourselves in them.

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

I don’t like organized religion

Organized Religion

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”
(Proverbs 27:17Proverbs 27:17
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17 Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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, ESV).

“I don’t like organized religion,” the man declared. “I can grow just as close to God watching a sunset as I can singing songs and praying in a church building.”

There are those who feel that they can live their Christianity in isolation from others, that in fact their Christianity might be better for living away from “organized religion” (by this term do they mean “other Christians”?).

I always smile when I hear the term “organized”
religion. Have you ever seen how a church committee functions? It would get done a lot quicker if you just gave the job to the church secretary.

Most churches I know get things done more in spite of their “organization” than because of it! Yet when Christians gather for worship and Bible study, when they talk about good things, wholesome things, and spiritual things, they are helping each other to see God’s will more clearly.

It seems to me that what the speaker was really trying to do was to avoid his responsibilities to others. Is there really such a thing as a Christianity where one lives on a deserted beach, communing in a pure fashion with the Creator, yet never reaching out to help or influence his creation?

The only thing that sharpens iron is iron, and the only thing that sharpens people is people!

–by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

Are WE like Jesus?

. We take pride in birth and rank, but Jesus was simply a carpenter’s son.

. We take pride in possessions, but Jesus said, “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head…”

. We take pride in respectability, but of Jesus it was said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

. We take pride in our appearance, but of Jesus it was said, “He has no form or comeliness and when we see
Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”

. We take pride in our reputation, but of Jesus it was said, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber.”

. We take pride in our friendships, but of Jesus it was said, “He was a friend of publicans and sinners.”

. We take pride in our position, but Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”

. We take pride in our success, but of Jesus it was said, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.”

. We take pride in our abilities, but Jesus said, “The Son of Man can do nothing of Himself.”

. We take pride in our self-will, but Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but
the will of Him who sent Me.

–Source unknown

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me

SOMEONE WHO KNOWS US

Right after World War II, a U.S. Army officer and his wife were stationed in Japan. That country had been devastated by the war. The post-war economy was in shambles. Unemployment approached 60%. People came to the Army wife’s door daily looking for work. One man said that he could do wonders for her garden if she would only give him a chance. So, for the first time in her life, this young Army wife hired a gardener. He spoke no English, but the wife, through sign language and pencil and paper gave him instructions about where to plant, prune, and pamper her garden. He listened politely and followed her instructions exactly. The garden emerged as the finest in the neighborhood.

When she finally realized that her new gardener knew far more about the matter than she, the wife stopped giving him directions and let him freely care for the garden. It was magnificent. Then one day the gardener came with an interpreter who expressed the appreciation but the regrets of the gardener. “He will no longer be able to care for your garden. He must leave.”

The wife expressed her regrets and thanked him through the interpreter for making hers such a fine garden. Out of politeness, she asked the interpreter, “Where is he going?”

The interpreter replied that the gardener was returning to his old job as the Professor of Horticulture at the University of Tokyo.

Can you imagine the look that must have been on that Army wife’s face when she discovered, that her gardener was the university professor of horticulture? No wonder he knew so much about gardening! Imagine having someone at your disposal with that amount of knowledge. What a beautiful lawn I could have!

And yet, we have something far greater that we often take for granted. We have someone who has that kind of intimate knowledge about everything in our lives — He knows our purpose, He knows what brings us joy, He knows what we need to do to be fulfilled in life. And He’s close enough to us that He’s willing to listen to us and communicate to us. Imagine taking advantage of having someone with that amount of knowledge. What a beautiful life I could have!

“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…Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:1-3,6Psalm 139:1-3,6
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For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. 139 1 O Jehovah, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou searchest out my path and my lying down, And art acquainted with all my ways. 6  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is high, I cannot attain unto it.

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Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Life without God is like trying to dribble with a football

Today I read the statement, “Life without God is like trying to dribble with a football.”  Have you ever tried to dribble a football?  Most of us would only get a bounce or two in before the ball would bounce off in a different direction.  Dribbling with a football is strange and awkward.  It’s simply not made for dribbling.  A basketball, on the other hand, is the perfect ball for dribbling.  It’s round and even.  It bounces back up into your hand.  It’s relatively easy and effortless to dribble with.  This is what it’s made for.

Everyday people go through their lives without God.  The problem is, these same people are fruitlessly searching for the meaning of life.  They turn to money, possessions, drugs, and sex before soon finding out it wasn’t the answer.  Can life be lived without following God?  Yes.  But that life will be empty, awkward, meaningless, and will result in eternal consequences (Matthew 7:21-23Matthew 7:21-23
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21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

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Solomon also experimented with all the pleasures life had to offer.  He had houses, vineyards, gardens, and other property.  He had flocks and herds.  He had many wives, concubines, and servants.  Not to mention, he had an absurd amount of gold, silver, and other precious materials.  He was extremely wealthy and prosperous.  But what was his response to all this?  “It’s all vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-3Ecclesiastes 1:2-3
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2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity. 3 What profit hath man of all his labor wherein he laboreth under the sun?

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).  It’s all pointless.

Everything we have is a moment closer to being destroyed by fire in the end (2 Peter 3:7, 102 Peter 3:7, 10
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7 but the heavens that now are, and the earth, by the same word have been stored up for fire, being reserved against the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

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).  We can’t take any of it with us.  All that matters is our relationship with the Lord.  Life without the Lord is burdensome, hard, and awkward.  It takes terrible bounces without warning and leaves us feeling empty and exhausted.  Life without God is like trying to hammer in a screw.  It’s like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.  It’s like trying to dribble with a football.  On the other hand, life with the Lord feels light and guilt free, it feels natural, and well, it just feels good!  God made us to serve Him.  This is what we were made for!

No one in their right mind wants to participate in pointless activities.  So why continue this life without the Lord?  There is nothing more awkward and unnatural than life without God.  Let’s quit battling in ourselves and resisting Him.  Because in the end, there is no better use of our time and effort, there is nothing more natural, and there is nothing more valuable than following the Lord (Matthew 16:24-26Matthew 16:24-26
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24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever would save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what shall a man be profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and forfeit his life? or what shall a man give in exchange for his life?

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Brett Petrillo

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people

 We Should Be Ashamed

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34Proverbs 14:34
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34 Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people.

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NKJV).

There are organizations who keep watch on governments throughout the world, tabulating evidence of dishonesty and corruption. Lists are published of “the most corrupt governments” each year.

For several years now one of the nations I visit regularly has been at or near the “top” of that list (or perhaps the most corrupt should be considered to be at the bottom).

I have noticed with interest that whenever I mention that fact among seasoned travelers, they almost invariably respond in ways similar to this: “If you think they are corrupt you ought to go to _______ (any number of countries might be named here). They are really crooked there.”

It is not only visitors who claim top ranking for a nation; often its own citizens are quick to make their claim to the title of most corrupt. One begins to wonder, are we proud of our dishonesty? Are bribe takers, perverters of justice, embezzlers, and other dishonest leaders our heroes?

Sometimes it would appear so. Not only do many seem to take a perverted pride in the dishonesty of their elected officials but they also aspire to some such office themselves, or at least to help their children achieve it, so they can participate in and benefit from the system.

We need to be reminded, “Sin is a reproach to any people.” There is nothing admirable nor beneficial about dishonesty. Corruption destroys society. No nation can long survive the continued abuse of justice and the deprivations of a dishonest leadership. It will become bankrupt not only of money, but of trust, productivity, and character.

What is true of nations is also true of churches, families, or any other social institution. Success depends upon trust among its members. One must be able to depend upon others to fulfill their roles and to serve the common interest of all; not just his own personal ambitions.

Recently I spoke with a businessman who lamented his advanced age and declining health, and described his difficulties with his business. He had just dismissed two employees for theft, and said it was almost impossible to find anyone to work whom he could trust.

His business could not continue under such conditions.

Small businesses are obviously vulnerable to the greed and dishonesty of only a few such employees. We may assume however that nations can absorb the occasional thief without much harm. That is simply not the case.

Sin is shameful. It is a cancer which eats away at the strength and health of any organization or person and will ultimately destroy it.

Let us learn once again this truth. Let us “abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9Romans 12:9
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9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

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Righteousness exalts – sin shames. The choice is clear.

–by Michael E. Brooks @ www.forthright.net

Nepal Earthquakes: A Sign Of The End?

Just a few weeks ago Nepal was hit with a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake. It devastated the nation, causing enormous damage, injuring more than 18,000 and killing more than 8,000. Today, they were struck with another 7.3 magnitude earthquake. 30 minutes later, a 6.3 hit as well. So far at least 1,200st 1,200
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have been injured and 68 killed. Without a doubt, we should pray diligently for these people.

Among the damage and devastation, there are some who believe these earthquakes are signs that the end of the world is near. They point to Matthew 24:7Matthew 24:7
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7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in divers places.

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and how it speaks of “famines and earthquakes.” Doomsayers claim all the warnings of Matthew 24 are signs that the end of the world is coming. Are they right? Are the earthquakes we see warnings of the end?

It’s very helpful to look at the context of Matthew 24. Jesus and His disciples are walking through Jerusalem looking at the buildings (vs. 1), when Jesus throws in a twist, “And He said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down'” (vs. 2).

Jesus just revealed that Jerusalem was going to be destroyed! This was obviously going to raise some questions. Notice verse 3, “As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?'” The disciples are asking three questions here: (1) When will these things [the destruction of Jerusalem] happen, (2) what will be the sign of your coming [in judgment against Jerusalem], and (3) what will be the sign of the end of the age [the end of the world].

In verses 4-35, Jesus answers the first two questions about the destruction of Jerusalem. He tells them they will see several signs that destruction is coming (vs. 4-14). One of which are earthquakes (vs. 7). These earthquakes have nothing to do with the end of the world, and everything to do with the destruction of Jerusalem. In fact, this is why He goes on to say, “woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days” (vs. 19). This is also why He says they should pray that it does not happen in the winter or on the Sabbath (vs. 20). If this is talking about the end of the world, why would it matter if someone was pregnant or nursing? If this is talking about the end of the world, why would it matter if it was in the winter? This make no sense for the end of the world, but perfect sense if the city is about to be destroyed and they need to flee for their lives. Doing so while pregnant, nursing, or during the winter would make things very challenging.

Verses 4-35 specifically address the destruction of Jerusalem, but then notice the major shift in vs. 36, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” Jesus is clearly talking about something very different. He is now addressing the final question about the end of the world. Several times Jesus points out that there are no signs of this event and no one except God knows when it will occur (vs. 36-44). If verses 4-35 were talking about the end of the world as people claim, then they would directly contradict vs. 36-44. Obviously verses 4-35 address the Destruction of Jerusalem, and 36-44 addresses the Judgment Day.

To boil it down, the earthquakes Nepal is experiencing right now are terrible, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the end of the world. Let’s make no mistake, however, the judgment day is coming, we just don’t know exactly when and there will be no warning signs (vs. 36-44). So, let’s make sure we’re always spiritually ready (vs. 45-51).

Brett Petrillo

We often live for months, even years, in which we experience nothing but good things

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither; the Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord—Job 1:20-21Job 1:20-21
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20 Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped; 21 and he said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: Jehovah gave, and Jehovah hath taken away; blessed be the name of Jehovah.

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Satan was given permission to use his powers to induce Job to curse God. His efforts to do so brought financial ruin to Job. That effort on the part of Satan also brought upon Job what must be the deepest, most agonizing pain and grief of heart known to man, the death of his sons and daughters. Yet even in the darkest hour of his life, Job held firm to his faith in God. Satan’s efforts to induce Job to curse God only led Job to bless the name of the Lord. Job was a man with an attitude of total submission to God’s will. He is a great example of a man with a sustaining faith and in this he becomes a great example for you and I.

We often live for months, even years, in which we experience nothing but good things. O, to be sure there are always those momentary aches, pains and burdens of life but nothing devastating. Then one day it happens, some horrific event comes crashing into our life. What will we do? How will we respond? It now becomes a question of how deeply we have been willing to submit ourselves to God’s will (Rom. 8:28, 31, 35-39Rom. 8:28, 31, 35-39
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28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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, Psalms 23, James 4:6-10James 4:6-10
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6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore the scripture saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. 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. 9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you.

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). When tragic events strike our human frame, they bring grief and pain and cause us to hurt. But for one who has submitted totally to God’s will it will never be a question of why did this happen. There are so many things that happen in this life that I do not understand why they happen but one thing I do know, so long as I love and serve my God with all my being he will take care of me and he will do the same for each of you (1 Pet. 5:71 Pet. 5:7
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7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you.

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). The words of Isaiah 40:31Isaiah 40:31
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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.

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have come to mean a lot to me: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary and they shall walk and not faint”. Friends, it is not the tragic events of life that cause us to falter, it is how we handle those events that determines whether we fail or rise to greater heights of faith. The storms of life will not overcome us if we allow the power of God to lift us above them.

I am human, I am flawed, I am fragile—so are you. When everything seems to be chaos, when our hearts are pained so deeply it seems as if all is lost, I pray ours will be a sustaining faith just like Job of old. Don’t panic, pray (1 Thess. 5:171 Thess. 5:17
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17 pray without ceasing;

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, Phil. 4:6-7Phil. 4:6-7
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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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, 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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). Recognizing how great our God is will impart to us the strength and courage needed to sustain us all the way every day.

Charles Hicks

New York City has the highest numbered street in America

The fathers of New York City were trying to plan for growth.  They figured the city was going to grow, but they just weren’t sure how much.  So, they decided to go on the liberal side and give themselves more room than they thought they would need.  The city already had six or seven numbered streets, and so they expanded it all the way out to 19th Street.  The named 19th Street “Boundary Street,” because they were sure New York City would never get larger than that.  Today, New York City has the highest numbered street in America, numbering all the way to 271st Street.  Clearly New York grew much larger then they ever could have imagined.

It is interesting how we place hard boundaries and expectations on things.  We feel we have limitations we can’t exceed.  We do it in our own lives, we do it to others, and we do it in the church.  Too often I see people give up on growth and improvements because they have made up in their minds that they have reached their limits.  People seem to limit themselves long before their actual boundaries even come into sight.  As one man said, “Know your limits, but never accept them” (Anonymous).

Keep in mind that God works through faithful Christians and God is not bound by limitations.  There is no telling how much God will expand our congregations and our own abilities.  The last thing we should do is sabotage our own growth by limiting ourselves.

These powerful words of 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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have never been more true: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

–Brett Petrillo

Rejection makes us vulnerable

Bikers Galore: Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (1:5)

After a hike up the turkey path, in Leonard Harrison State Park, Pennsylvania, I was approached by a woman on a motorbike. She was clothed like so many of the bikers in the region, in jeans and a leather jacket. As she took her helmet off her head, I noticed tattoos all over her arms.

She seemed eager to talk, and she told us she had visited Watkins Glenn, NY that same morning. She was now at Pennsylvania’s Grand Canyon, and by evening she hoped to explore Pennsylvania Route 666. She had a goal, and was determined to achieve it.

She said that the night before she had been unable to find lodging, so she had spent the night in a cemetery. You and I might think this is creepy, but at least she was in the company of those who do not snore at night. She said it didn’t bother her, she slept well, and that’s all that was important to her.

I was surprised when I heard that although there was a bikers’ convention going on in the region, she indicated that the bikers ignored her. She was not part of their “group”, and was thus not welcome. I could see she felt lonely. Perhaps this is why she sought our company! When she left for her next destination, she waved at us with a big smile.

It’s amazing how people open up when they feel accepted. There is a hunger in each one of us to find acceptance. Rejection makes us vulnerable. Acceptance makes us bloom, it makes us feel good about ourselves.

I find it strange that the One who unconditionally accepts us is the One most people try to avoid. Would we be able to boldly say: “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37John 6:37
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37 All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

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We all have people in our lives who we try to avoid at all cost. There’s Aunt Augusta, for example, who constantly spits in your face when talking, or Uncle John who bickers about everything. There is also your school friend Henrietta who talks like a locomotive speeding through the prairies. And the list goes on. We always tend to reject others if they don’t quit fit our mold.

But not Jesus! He accepts anyone unconditionally. This is what God calls grace. His love for us goes way beyond accepting us with open arms. You see, we may at times accept people in our lives that may be annoying, but how willing would we be to take the punishment of the crimes that they committed?

Yet this is what Jesus did! And He did it without hesitation! That’s grace, real grace!

“Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace.” (Rom 1:5Rom 1:5
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5 through whom we received grace and apostleship, unto obedience of faith among all the nations, for his name's sake;

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“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:21 John 2:2
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2 and he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

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If we are feeling rejected by those around us, and discouragement roams the hallways of our minds, may we remember that there is One who will accept us unconditionally.

“Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37John 6:37
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37 All that which the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

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“By the way, do you know of a good cemetery where I could sleep?”

How will we respond?

“I have another tent with me. Why don’t you join us at our campground?”

Rob Chaffart

The day of one’s death is better then the day of one’s birth

DEATH IS BETTER THAN BIRTH

I suppose that most of us would prize birth and abhor death. With a birth there is optimism and anticipation. Death is bleak, depressing and mysterious. So why does Solomon say that death is better than birth?

First, death brings an end to a life well lived. Solomon will note later (7:8) that the “end of a matter is better than its beginning.”

In the Parable of the Talents, when the master returned he noted with two of his slaves that they had done well (Matt. 25:21, 23Matt. 25:21, 23
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21 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

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). Paul looked over his life with satisfaction, knowing he had lived well (2 Tim. 4:82 Tim. 4:8
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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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). Obviously death is not “better” if the wife was lived for self. But if it was lived for God, death is a “victory” (1 Cor. 15:571 Cor. 15:57
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57 but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Second, death brings rest and the end of suffering. Solomon frequently bemoaned widespread oppression and injustice (3:16; 4:1; 5:8; 7:7). It is a sad state of affairs that men continue to mistreat others. With death one no longer has to deal with mistreatment. Solomon says, “better…is the one…who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun” (4:3). However, if one is evil, death will be no escape whatsoever (Matt. 10:28Matt. 10:28
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28 And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

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). But for the righteous, death brings rest (Heb. 4:1Heb. 4:1
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4 1 Let us fear therefore, lest haply, a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.

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; Rev. 21:4Rev. 21:4
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4 and he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more; neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain, any more: the first things are passed away.

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Frequently at funerals there are many tears and much sorrow. Yet, considering Solomon’s words, this death is better than the day of birth.

–Denny Petrillo

13,000 stolen diapers

Diaper Thieves

I get it. Being the father of two young children who have filled diapers with the best of them, I understand the unending, insatiable need for diapers. The thought of stealing diapers, however, is about as petty as it gets. Nevertheless, last year the Diaper Bank of North Carolina had 13,000 diapers stolen. Apparently the thieves aren’t even planning to put them to “good” use on their own children (if they have any). The diapers are showing up at garage sales and on the streets for $4 per package, bringing a potential profit of $24,000 from the 6,000he 6,000
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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stolen diaper packages (Fox News).

It’s sad to think about the petty sins people commit. If they weren’t already, these thieves’ souls are now in eternal jeopardy for stealing diapers! These crooks are apparently willing to throw heaven away just to make a few bucks and possibly cover a few baby bottoms (1 Corinthians 6:9-111 Corinthians 6:9-11
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9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

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Sometimes a little perspective is in order. Are stolen diapers worth eternal punishment? If this sounds completely and utterly ridiculous, then we get the point — no sin is worth going to hell for (Luke 16:19-31Luke 16:19-31
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19 Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: 20 and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; yea, even the dogs come and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham's bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23 And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted and thou art in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. 27 And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house; 28 for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.

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It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of a tempting moment (James 1:14-15James 1:14-15
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14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.

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). We can lie and convince ourselves the most silly and ridiculous sins are actually worth it. We can persuade ourselves into thinking the sin really isn’t all that bad. No matter what we tell ourselves, there is never, ever a sin that is worth risking the eternal reward of heaven (Revelation 21:10-27; 22:1-5Revelation 21:10-27; 22:1-5
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10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: 12 having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he that spake with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. 17 And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. 23 And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. 24 And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. 25 And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day : 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it: 27 and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb's book of life. 22 1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no curse any more: and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be therein: and his servants shall serve him; 4 and they shall see his face; and his name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And there shall be night no more; and they need no light of lamp, neither light of sun; for the Lord God shall give them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.

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Brett Petrillo

There was once a man who owned a general store

Brass Tacks

Mike Schneider writes: There was once a man who owned a general store. In this store was a wooden counter over which all merchandise passed. Nailed to the top of that counter were two brass tacks, supposedly 36 inches apart, which were used for years to measure everything sold by the yard. The man was a good, honest, and respectable citizen. He operated his business as uprightly as he knew how.

When the man died, his son took over the business, carrying on the honest traditions of his father. One day a salesman came into the store and pitched a yardstick onto the counter. When the yardstick slid across the surface and bumped into both of the tacks, that young man suddenly faced the greatest decision of his life. Though he was by no means looking for fault in his father, the reality gripped him that his father’s standard of measure had been one inch short for over 30 years! The knowledge of this truth now laid a heavy responsibility on the son.

If he corrected the error, moving one of the brass tacks to the proper distance, a mark would be left on the counter for all to see. By doing the honest thing, the young man stood in jeopardy of tarnishing his father’s honest reputation. But if he left the tacks as they were, he would be guilty of doing something his father never did – deliberately selling people short. You see, his father never knew he was in error, but the young man did! *

What do you think? Should the son move the tacks?

Many people find themselves in a similar circumstance when they consider obeying the Gospel. The Bible teaches that in order to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus and to receive the gift of eternal life, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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

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), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
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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. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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Schneider points out that “By conceding that baptism is indeed a necessary step toward salvation, or by conceding some other doctrinal point, [some] feel that they may be condemning their parents who were in error on these issues. But, by trying to justify their departed parents, these people become guilty of a sin their parents would never have committed – intentionally refusing to obey the commands of the Lord! This is a case where two wrongs certainly do not make a right!”

“It is not ours to pass judgment upon those who have finished their course. It does not change present circumstances to believe they served the Lord to the best of their ability, even as we hope to do. As Paul said, ‘Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls’ (Romans 14:4Romans 14:4
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4 Who art thou that judgest the servant of another? to his own lord he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be made to stand; for the Lord hath power to make him stand.

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). The eternal abode of our departed friends is beyond our control – they are in the hands of a faithful judge. But our lives are yet to be lived and our decisions are yet to be made on the basis of our knowledge, not theirs.”

Schneider concludes: “I hope the young man moved the tack – I think his father would be pleased!”

The Heavenly Father will also be pleased if WE place our trust in Him and act upon His instructions as to how to have our sins washed away by the blood of Jesus and to live for Him.

Won’t YOU?

David A. Sargent

Christianity Versus Other Religions

“I find it far more rational to regard the universe itself as the ultimate revelation of God and to agree with [Johannes] Kepler that in the most fundamental sense, science is theology and thereby serves as another method for the discovery of God” (399, emphasis in orig.). So ends Dr. Rodney Stark’s book Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief. Dr. Stark taught comparative religion for years, mainly at the University of Washington.

In his chapter on Christianity, Stark discusses four “unavoidable concerns” that deal with the New Testament Scriptures. Their historical reliability, the sources of the accounts, their falsifiability, and why some writings were excluded.

After briefly dealing with the New Testament’s critics, Stark writes: “…the major results of the many unrelenting scholarly attacks on the historical reliability of the New Testament has been to frustrate the attackers because again and again scripture has stood up to their challenges. For one thing, the New Testament provides a very accurate geography, not only of Israel, but of the Roman Empire” (296).

On the subject of the reliable transmission of the New Testament, Stark focuses on the Gospel accounts and the so-called “Q” source which, supposedly, is a source quoted and cited by anonymous men who called themselves “Matthew,” “Mark,” and “Luke.” “Q” is short of the German word Quelle which means “source.”

Stark concludes, referring to the Jesus Seminar: “their approved list [is] becoming shorter and more trivial. Fortunately, more objective scholars have begun to reject the whole Q enterprise as misguided and futile. In summary: there are no compelling reasons to believe that ‘problems’ of transmission distorted the Gospels. …Hence, the reliability of the Gospels really comes down to a question of truthfulness” (302).

So what about the Scriptures being fraudulent? Changed over the years? The oldest existing copy of Julius Caesar’s work The Gallic War dates to about 900 A. D. Caesar died in 44 B. C.! The Gallic War consists of seven volumes, each covering a year in his campaign in Gaul. Observe that the oldest dates to 900 years after his death! The same is true with the ancient historical work of Tacitus. But the New Testament? There are many papyri which date to the second or third century after the completion of the New Testament. One or two hundred years after its completion! Plus, many so-called “church fathers” quote much of the New Testament and some of them date very close to the time of the apostle John.

On why some writings – like the Gospel of Judas – were excluded by the early Christians, Stark writes, “the early Church fathers were correct to dismiss these texts as ill-conceived heresies. …it is closer to the truth to say that they were ignored and discarded. …the representative Gnostic works include almost no historical or geographical content and take place in an ‘enchanted’ setting typical of pagan ‘mythology’” (325/6).

So, Stark concludes: “at the very least, the New Testament provides a truthful and reliable account of what the first generation of Christians believed to have taken place” (305).

Clearly, Dr. Stark, himself, has given us reason to make a much stronger statement of faith than just that. The New Testament scriptures are absolutely reliable. There is no reason to believe they are “compilations” by second, third, or later century writers. Plus, our oldest manuscripts date to very close to the original authors.

Certainly, God has provided us with the right amount of evidence – quantitatively and qualitatively – to believe that the New Testament (and Old, for that matter) is inspired of God so that we might trust its message – to the saving of our souls.

–Paul Holland