Archives for : June2015

Let us learn to recycle, as God does.

“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-212 Peter 2:20-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. 21 For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

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NKJV).

People in undeveloped countries are frugal from necessity. They never purchase a thing new if they can find a serviceable substitute at less cost, or even better, for free.

Students at Khulna Bible College like to keep filtered water in their rooms for personal use. They can get water free from our filtration system downstairs. But they need containers. Whenever anyone is off campus and forced to purchase bottles of water, they are carefully kept for refilling. It is an understood rule here: you just don’t throw away a good bottle.

Satan also recycles. Just because a person comes to faith in Jesus and obeys the Gospel, having his or her sins removed, does not mean that the Devil will give them up as un-claimable. Paul warned Christians to keep their guard up against his darts (Ephesians 6:16Ephesians 6:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one.

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).  Peter compares him to “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:81 Peter 5:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,

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Sin will reclaim us as it did Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-10Acts 5:1-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, 2 and kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land? 4 While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. 5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down and gave up the ghost: and great fear came upon all that heard it. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him round, and they carried him out and buried him. 7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. 8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much. And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 But Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to try the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them that have buried thy husband are at the door, and they shall carry thee out. 10 And she fell down immediately at his feet, and gave up the ghost: and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her by her husband.

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) and Simon of Samaria (Acts 8:13,18-23Acts 8:13,18-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip; and beholding signs and great miracles wrought, he was amazed. 18 Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee. 23 For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.

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). He is clever, persistent, and powerful. We must always be watchful against his deceptions.

But Satan is also not alone in recycling. God practices it too. He calls it forgiveness. After listing a number of sins that will keep souls from heaven Paul proclaimed, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:111 Corinthians 6:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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What a glorious thought. Just because a person has been used by sin, that does not mean his fruitfulness is ended. God can redeem him. He can create him again as a new creature “in righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24Ephesians 4:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.

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). He operates the world’s only perfect recycling center.

People may also recycle their relationships. It is done exactly like God does it, through the practice of forgiveness. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

None of us has failed to hurt or offend someone for whom we care. Sometimes that has meant the end of trust and therefore closeness. Marriages, friendships, parent-child relationships and many others are tragically marred or ended by our blunders.

Rarely is such separation intended or desired, but it happens. And all too often pride, stubbornness, and plain hurt feelings prevent either party from seeking to heal the breach or to make restitution for the wrong done.

The late beloved Marshall Keeble once said something like this, “Marriages often fail because neither party will back up; I wouldn’t buy a car without a back-up gear.” That was his folksy wise way of saying we must learn to apologize and ask for forgiveness.

No one stays married happily, nor does any other relationship last, without an “I’m sorry” and “You are forgiven” being exchanged from time to time.

If water bottles are too precious to throw away after only one use, how much more true is that of souls, and of precious and rare relationships? Let us learn to recycle, as God does.

–by Michael E. Brooks

 

Many husbands are going to have to answer to God for how they have treated their wives

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22Proverbs 18:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, And obtaineth favor of Jehovah.

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NASB).

Many husbands are going to have to answer to God for how they have treated their wives (cf. 1 Peter 3:71 Peter 3:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.

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). It is sad how many husbands do not recognize the precious gift they were given and end up demeaning and criticizing their wives in their homes and in the public.

Wives are a gift from God (cf. Proverbs 19:14Proverbs 19:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 House and riches are an inheritance from fathers; But a prudent wife is from Jehovah.

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) and should be treated accordingly. A prudent woman of good, honorable character greatly blesses a man’s life and becomes the crown of his life (Proverbs 12:4Proverbs 12:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 A worthy woman is the crown of her husband; But she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.

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). Her greatest value does not come from her beauty or even her personality, but from her service to God.

Notice how the Book of Proverbs ends: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates” (Proverbs 31:30-31Proverbs 31:30-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

30 Grace is deceitful, and beauty is vain; But a woman that feareth Jehovah, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; And let her works praise her in the gates.

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). Instead of criticizing and talking down to his wife, a husband needs to praise her and show her how much he appreciates her.

–Jeremy Sprouse

Give me your arm, preacher man. I’m chaining you up

“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ”(Philippians 1:12,13Philippians 1:12,13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13 so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest;

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, ESV).

I remember a man who smuggled Bibles into the Soviet Union describing what happened when the authorities questioned him. He would be in one of those rooms with a glass window, rather like the police interrogation room depicted on police shows on television.

Realizing that there were probably several of the interrogator’s superiors on the other side of the glass window, he decided to preach the Gospel. Thus he neatly turned the tables, changing them from captors to captive audience.

I can just picture Paul, chained to a grim Roman soldier. He would have been a member of the Praetorian Guard, a sort of Green Beret division of the Roman army. Every day, while Paul consulted with Christian brethren who visited, he was forced to listen.

When Paul offered Biblical solutions to church problems, he overheard. He couldn’t help it! When one of Paul’s antagonists entered, he would observe Paul use scripture and Christ-like love to win him over.

So what could Roman authorities do? Replace an increasingly sympathetic soldier with another? Sure! And Paul would influence him, too! And the next, and the next, until the whole “palace guard” had heard the Gospel!

I can almost detect the twinkle in Paul’s eye when a new guard – the evening shift – would come in and growl: “Give me your arm, preacher man. I’m chaining you up.”

Soldiers changed from physical to spiritual warfare. Captors became captive to Christ. Iron chains became bonds of God’s love. What hordes of Barbarians had failed to do in a frontal attack on the Imperial Palace …the prisoner-preacher had done with his message.

Stan Mitchell

 

Providence worked for Paul

Providence happens in a messy world

God is all-powerful, all-knowing and continually active in this world (Jeremiah 32:17,27Jeremiah 32:17,27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 Ah Lord Jehovah! behold, thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power and by thine outstretched arm; there is nothing too hard for thee, 27 Behold, I am Jehovah, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?

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; Psalm 103:19Psalm 103:19
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19 Jehovah hath established his throne in the heavens; And his kingdom ruleth over all.

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; 1 John 3:201 John 3:20
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20 because if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

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; Psalm 139:7-12Psalm 139:7-12
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7 Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm me, And the light about me shall be night; 12 Even the darkness hideth not from thee, But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

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). He accomplishes his will by acting through providence.

“Providence is the continuous activity of God in His creation by which He guides and governs it for His people’s good and His own ultimate glory.”

Faith in God means that we trust him completely. We allow him to work through and for us because of his divinity and goodness (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6
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6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

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; Romans 11:33Romans 11:33
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33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!

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Despite God’s power and wisdom, he has limits because he’s given us freewill (1 John 3:41 John 3:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Every one that doeth sin doeth also lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

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; Romans 1:20-21Romans 1:20-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

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; John 8:28-29John 8:28-29
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28 Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me; he hath not left me alone; for I do always the things that are pleasing to him.

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). We can choose to do good or evil (Hebrews 6:4-6Hebrews 6:4-6
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4 For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

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). God offers us righteousness, but we must accept his gift.

One of Satan’s greatest weapons is suffering and pain.  Even Christians succumb to his lies (John 8:44John 8:44
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father thereof.

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). Satan tells us that a loving God (Titus 1:2Titus 1:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;

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), will not allow evil to happen to us.

On the contrary, Jesus said, “sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34Matthew 6:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

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, NKJV).

Faith tells us that God is always working and cannot fail. Yet, we must remember that he works in a sinful world.

Providence worked for Paul. Yet, he was arrested, beaten and executed (Acts 21-28).

Providence worked for David. Yet, he was on the run for his life (1 Samuel 18-31)

Providence worked for Esther. Yet, she was taken from her home and sent to the King’s bed (Esther 2).

Providence worked for Daniel and Joseph. Yet, they languished in prison (Genesis 39-40; Daniel).

All these men and women found good at the end of their difficult journey and so will we. We just have to trust God’s Word (Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

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). He will accomplish his work and promises despite the choices and failures of men.

As Christians, we just have to keep walking through the mud to get to the fountain of life. But when we are finally clean and saved, all the heartache will melt away (Revelation 21:1-6Revelation 21:1-6
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21 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God: 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. 5 And he that sitteth on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he saith, Write: for these words are faithful and true. 6 And he said unto me, They are come to pass. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.

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Richard Mansel

Other people’s affairs are nothing to us to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business

While they were getting the fish onto shore, Jesus prepared a meal for them. Peter joined the men in getting the fish onshore so they could be counted and divided. Once again, John’s eyewitness details add texture to the narrative.

We compare this passage to an earlier one found in Luke 5:1-11Luke 5:1-11
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5 1 Now it came to pass, while the multitude pressed upon him and heard the word of God, that he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret; 2 and he saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen had gone out of them, and were washing their nets. 3 And he entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes out of the boat. 4 And when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Put out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answered and said, Master, we toiled all night, and took nothing: but at thy word I will let down the nets. 6 And when they had done this, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes; and their nets were breaking; 7 and they beckoned unto their partners in the other boat, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. 9 For he was amazed, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken; 10 and so were also James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left all, and followed him.

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. There, Jesus directed them to cast their nets and they drew up a bountiful catch of fish that was breaking their nets.  In John 21, they pulled in 153 fish and the nets did not break.

Jesus trained these men to become something better than they could ever be on their own. In Luke 5, the nets were breaking and here, they do not. Jesus has a new mission for them. Now, he had been crucified and was about to leave them to return home (Acts 1:9-11Acts 1:9-11
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9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven.

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The apostles would have to go into a hostile world alone. Jesus assured them that they would have the Holy Spirit and his full support from heaven (John 14-17).

They could go out and do amazing work because he would never leave them (Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:5
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5 Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.

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).

No matter how many people they brought to the Lord, the net would not break. The kingdom was for all (2 Peter 3:92 Peter 3:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

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) and since he had overcome death, they could be fearless (1 Peter 5:6-111 Peter 5:6-11
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6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; 7 casting all your anxiety upon him, because he careth for you. 8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, 9 whom withstand stedfast in your faith, knowing that the same sufferings are accomplished in your brethren who are in the world. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you. 11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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). Peter needed this message and he certainly took it to heart.

The triple denial of Peter is here answered by the triple query of Jesus. The Savior has a purpose for Peter and has to restore him in his own sight and in the eyes of the others.

Jesus calls Peter, Simon, a name given to him by Jesus in Matthew 16:18Matthew 16:18
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18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

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. By calling him Simon, Jesus has taken Peter back to a time before he even knew Jesus (John 1:40-42John 1:40-42
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40 One of the two that heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He findeth first his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messiah . 42 He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas .

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). This had to cut Peter deeply.

Jesus asks, “…do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15John 21:15
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15 So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

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, NKJV). No matter how many commentators speculate otherwise, we simply do not know to whom “these” refers. We just know that Peter’s heart and emotions are being laid bare.

Peter replies to the first question, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” (John 21:15John 21:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

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Peter pleads with the Lord to give him a reprieve on the scouring of his soul. He is being knocked down from his plateau, so humility can take hold of him. In addition to the triple query, Jesus is probing deep into Peter’s heart to re-ignite his fire.

“Jesus said to him, ‘feed my lambs,’ and ‘feed my sheep,’ thus both classes, the old and the young, the mature and the immature.”/1 Jesus needed Peter to return to his place, with a sober mind, renewed purpose, framed with confidence and humility.

Finally, Jesus prophesies the final sacrifice of Peter as a martyr for the faith. It appears that Peter and Jesus had been walking together apparently followed from a distance by John. It is difficult to grasp where everyone is from the information we are given.

After Peter is told about his coming martyrdom, he wonders about his good friend, John. He asks literally, “Lord, and this man, what?”/2

Jesus’ reply: “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? Follow thou me” (John 21:22John 21:22
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22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me.

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Peter needed to be concerned about himself rather than John.

“Other people’s affairs are nothing to us to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business.”/3

Peter, great warrior for the faith, is restored and commissioned for service. Will we be able to overcome our failures and walk again in the light?

_____________

1/ Guy N. Woods, “A Commentary on the Gospel According to John” (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1984), 442-443.

2/ B.F. Westcott, Westcott, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 305.

3/ Matthew Henry, http://tinyurl.com/cwvaf9w

Richard Mansel

Proverbs 19:3

“The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord” (Proverbs 19:3Proverbs 19:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 The foolishness of man subverteth his way; And his heart fretteth against Jehovah.

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NASB).

God has been blamed, cursed; and denied because of pain and suffering in this world that is mankind’s fault. The Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, and Salem Witch Trials didn’t come from God’s Word but from mankind’s foolishness.

God’s Word tells us to love our enemies, pray for them and to strive to be at peace with all men… not fight with and burn them (Matthew 5:44-48Matthew 5:44-48
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44 but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; 45 that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. 46 For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the Gentiles the same? 48 Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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, Romans 12:17-21Romans 12:17-21
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17 Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men. 19 Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord. 20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

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).

A chain smoking father who suffers and dies of lung cancer did so because of the choices he made. A drunk driver who kills a family caused suffering by the decisions he made–God’s Word forbids drunkenness.

Murder and violence come from the pride and unbridled desires of man (cf. James 4:1-3James 4:1-3
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4 1 Whence come wars and whence come fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your pleasures that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and covet, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war; ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures.

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). God has loved us enough to give us free will and let us choose our paths; we are not forced to do anything.

Mankind as a whole, unfortunately, has chosen to do evil and pain and suffering results from it. Mankind in general and us as individuals need to stop blaming and start taking responsibility for our mistakes.

We need to be strong enough and wise enough to admit our mistakes and learn from them.

–by Jeremy Sprouse

Proverbs 19:3Proverbs 19:3
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3 The foolishness of man subverteth his way; And his heart fretteth against Jehovah.

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Which would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus?

By way of introducing my subject of study today, let me tell you a cute little story from which we’ll draw what I hope will be an interesting and thought-provoking lesson.

A little boy listened to his Sunday School teacher tell the story of the rich man and Lazarus. After telling the story, the teacher asked the class, “Which would you rather be, the rich man or Lazarus?” This particular little boy, being very honest, replied, “I would rather be the rich man while I live and then be Lazarus when I die.”

To echo some words of Jesus, “out of the mouth of babes….” (Mt. 21:16Mt. 21:16
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16 and said unto him, Hearest thou what these are saying? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea: did ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou has perfected praise?

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citing Psalm 8:2Psalm 8:2
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2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou established strength, Because of thine adversaries, That thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

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) we can learn some great lessons and I believe that will be the case today as we look at the situation of trying to please the world and God at the same time and here is how we’ll go about it.

If we open our Bibles to the 16th chapter of Luke we’ll find the story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus and I think that we should be able to see some interesting thoughts in and around the story. Notice that I cited the 13th verse as an intro into this lesson and I’d point out to you that Christ said this to the Pharisees who were continually around trying to expose Jesus as some sort of charlatan.

Our study of this story will show us that Jesus was spiritually debunking a popular principle, one advocated by the Pharisees, that wealth is God’s blessing for being “righteous.” Of being very religious. A principle popularly espoused that said that those who were rich are those whom God loves.

Also, along with that notion, was that the poor not only suffered from want, they were not worthy of God’s blessing. This idea of wealth being a sign of God’s approval and the poor somehow out of God’s favor was pretty much accepted by society back then. Remember when Jesus healed the blind man (John 9) He was asked “What sin” he or his parents had committed to cause his condition?

Today is really no different than back then. People are still following that same false principle. That if you’re blessed with having riches, then God loves you. He’s smiling on you. However, if you’re poor, then somehow you’re not religious enough, therefore not being blessed by God. (This is the principle behind the inducement used by many radio & television evangelists in their pleas to followers to “send us more money” and you’ll be blessed, too.)

To show how pervasive this idea was in Christ’s day, even his disciples were astonished at what he told the Pharisees as they asked, if this is true, “Who then can be saved?” (Mt. 19:23Mt. 19:23
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23 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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) And, since this was a doctrine advocated by the Pharisees of Christ’s day, then I can only surmise that they are still flourishing and operating today.

Before I leave that point, notice how Christ spoke to them regarding that doctrine in Luke 16:15Luke 16:15
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15 And he said unto them, Ye are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

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: “You try to justify yourselves before men. But God knows your hearts. For that which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Following that came the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

Another point seen in this story is this: that death makes it impossible to change the state of a soul. In other words, we die as we have lived. Thus, it’s the condition of one’s heart at the time of death that determines the eternal living conditions of the soul.

The final point I’m going to make from the story, basically, is the crux of the matter. Rich or poor is not the determining factor in the condition of the soul – it’s the condition of the heart.

Which, when you think about it, is why Jesus talked about the “camel and the eye of the needle.” Explaining why the rich have a harder time “entering the kingdom of God.” (Mt. 19:23Mt. 19:23
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23 And Jesus said unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

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-24) And why is that? Because their heart is set more on obtaining the riches than on being obedient to God. Yes, it’s really that simple.

But, just as in Jesus’ day, people are still trying to make earthly gain more important that spiritual gain. They’re still trying to be worldly and appear righteous at the same time. Figuratively, they are still trying to hold hands with the world and God at the same time. To make a succinct point and reference Matt. 25:33Matt. 25:33
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33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

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at the same time let me just say it this way: you can’t live like a goat and die a sheep.

Just as Jesus told the Pharisees (and us) you “can’t serve God and mammon at the same time.” One will have rule over the other. A similar picture is seen in the account where Christ said to a man who wanted to take care of some earthly business before following Him: “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62Luke 9:61-62
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61 And another also said, I will follow thee, Lord; but first suffer me to bid farewell to them that are at my house. 62 But Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

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)

Basically, Christ by His teachings on this subject, is talking about an impossible and an unworkable situation. That situation being – God will not share a person’s soul with the world. That’s why “luke-warm” Christianity is condemned. (Rev. 3:16Rev. 3:16
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16 So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth.

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)

In fact, since we’re already there in Revelation 3, let’s just close this lesson with the reading of verse 17.

“For you say, I am rich. I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.”

Respectfully submitted,
Ron Covey

I have a not-so-private confession.

I don’t know that I’ve ever said a good thing about the Pharisees.

Pharisees have always been easy prey. From my rather one-sided perspective, they–in totality–were the religious bottom-feeders of ancient Jewish sects. They were constantly peering over Jesus’ shoulder trying to find fault with his teachings and practices.

They claimed Jesus ate with the wrong people (Matthew 9:11Matthew 9:11
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11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Teacher with the publicans and sinners?

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); that his power could be attributed to demonic forces (9:34;12:24); that his disciples, and he by extension, were guilty of breaking sacred tradition (15:2); that he endorsed withholding income taxes from the Roman IRS (Luke 23:2Luke 23:2
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2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.

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); that he violated the Sabbath (John 9:16John 9:16
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16 Some therefore of the Pharisees said, This man is not from God, because he keepeth not the sabbath. But others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such signs? And there was division among them.

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); and that, perhaps worst of all, he was not from God.

Jesus, the most loving man who ever walked the earth, called them “hypocrites,” “blind guides,” “white-washed tombs,” and “serpents” (cf. Matthew 23).

If he could denounce them with such bold and unpalatable metaphors, then surely I could do the same in my sermons and Bible classes. And so I admit it, Pharisees have always been my first choice as go-to verbal punching bags.

The problem is–not all Pharisee’s were the wicked men I’ve always portrayed them to be (see David Chadwell’s, “Beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees,” published by Quality).

Despite my enthusiastic willingness to stereotype all Pharisees as religious charlatans, not all of them could or should be so characterized.

Take the curious example of Nicodemus:

John 3 records a very respectful home Bible study between our Lord and a notable Pharisee (John 3:1John 3:1
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3 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

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ff).

There was no acidic rancor, no deceptive or misleading questions, and no obvious condescension–in fact, quite the opposite. Nicodemus began his lesson with the Lord in a very respectful, honorable fashion. He said, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2John 3:2
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2 the same came unto him by night, and said to him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that thou doest, except God be with him.

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). Don’t miss that–Nicodemus admitted, at the very least, that Jesus’ power came from above. Granted, he didn’t fully recognize the Lord’s identity, nor did he initially catch on to what was being said about the new birth, but his questions (John 3:4, 9John 3:4, 9
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4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born? 9 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

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) didn’t bear the obvious marks of Pharisaic hostility.

John 7 chronicles how the Pharisees at large sought to arrest Jesus because of his Messianic claims and the fact that many had believed on him (John 7:10John 7:10
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10 But when his brethren were gone up unto the feast, then went he also up, not publicly, but as it were in secret.

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ff). On this occasion, Nicodemus not only intervened on the Lord’s behalf, but he pointed out that his peers were about to break the very Law which they claimed to uphold. John writes in John 7:50John 7:50
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50 Nicodemus saith unto them ,

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, “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, ‘Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?'” While Nicodemus may have displayed a certain caution on this occasion, the fact remains that he did defend Jesus.

John 19 recounts how two men were involved in preparing Jesus’ dead body for burial (John 19:38John 19:38
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38 And after these things Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked of Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took away his body.

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ff; cf. Acts 9:37Acts 9:37
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37 And it came to pass in those days, that she fell sick, and died: and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper chamber.

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; Mark 15:46Mark 15:46
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46 And he bought a linen cloth, and taking him down, wound him in the linen cloth, and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of a rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.

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; John 20:7John 20:7
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7 and the napkin, that was upon his head, not lying with the linen cloths, but rolled up in a place by itself.

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). One of those men, not surprisingly, was Nicodemus. Unlike the twelve who ran for their lives when the events of the crucifixion began to unfold (Matthew 26:56Matthew 26:56
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56 But all this is come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him, and fled.

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), this once seemingly discreet Pharisee came right out into the open and took part in this benevolent endeavor.

It’s a safe interpretation to say that many, perhaps even the majority of Pharisees, were closed-minded about the Lord. But it is not accurate to say that all Pharisees were so inclined. Nicodemus was a precious exception.

–by Mike Benson

Toddler rules of ownership

You might have seen this recently by Kevin McHugh:

Toddler Rules of Ownership and Sharing 1. If I like it, it’s mine. 2. If it’s in my hand, it’s mine. 3. If I can take it from you, it’s mine. 4. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine. 5. If it’s mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way. 6. If I’m doing or building something, all the pieces are mine. 7. If it looks just like mine, it’s mine. 8. If I saw it first, It’s mine. 9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, automatically it becomes mine. 10. If it’s broken, it’s yours. 11. If it is broken, but you are having fun playing with the pieces, it’s mine again. 12. If there is any doubt, it’s mine.

We smile indulgently because these are, after all, toddlers, as oblivious of their surroundings as a puppy playing with his tail.

It’s sad, however, when an adult exhibits this sort of selfishness.

I suppose that almost every human relationship that disintegrates does so because either one or both was selfish. I suspect a high proportion of church problems, too, stem from selfishness.

As a matter of fact, how many sins can you think of that do not begin with the sin of selfishness? Someone walks out of a marriage because he would not consider the other’s feeling. Someone walked away from a church because it did not meet his expectations.

Note that the “Golden Rule” depends on our ability to see the other person, his needs, her fears, his point of view, how an action encourages her.

“So whatever that you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12Matthew 7:12
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12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.

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, ESV).

Oh, and why should a Christian differ from a toddler? “If it’s mine, it’s mine.” Actually, we all belong to Christ (1 Corinthians 3:161 Corinthians 3:16
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16 Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

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). “We were bought at a price.” None of this is mine, it belongs to God.

Stan Mitchell

We are not formed or influenced by our experiences, but by our interpretation of them.

Twins grew up with an abusive alcoholic father. One of them became an alcoholic. The other refused to touch drink and maintained a respectable lifestyle.

The two were asked why they turned out the way they did. They both gave the same answer. “With the father I had, how else could I turn out?”

Although they gave the same answer in words, they meant very different things by them. One made it his excuse; the other, his reason.

We are not formed or influenced by our experiences, but by our interpretation of them. It is not what happens to us, but how we frame events in our minds that determines how they will affect us. Perspective is everything.

This is not a new insight. But we are tempted to blame events for what we become.

Scripture provides us the framework for life events and experiences. The Bible gives us a context to fit it all into a big picture.

The mind works within the framework we give it. This is why we must take utmost care to what we expose our minds. Scripture must be a constant feed for our brains.

The great reality is the divine project to redeem and sanctify man for a heavenly habitation. God works to move us forward toward eternity.

The materialistic mindset sees only the visible. The eye of faith knows there is more than can be seen. Invisible forces are at work, pulling toward opposite ends. No matter how peaceful the scenery, the world and the ground we walk on are subject to the fiercest contest of wills and weapons.

If we ignore the battle, we will fall on the field.

Satan will convince us that we can be gods in our own right.

He will slip into our consciousness resentment at the success of the wicked.

His success will be complete when he convinces us that the immoral have all the fun.

He knows he’s won when we believe that this one time won’t hurt anyone.

When we classify other people’s sins as major and ours as venial, it leaves him laughing all the way to hell.

God has given us a history to work with. Failures and successes, both, provide us with powerful frames for our own walk.

* A couple who saw desirable fruit and thought they could be gods. * A man who rushes into the sanctuary of God to understand the destiny of the wicked. * A king lounging on the rooftop when he should have been leading his army during the season for war. * A people marching in circles in the desert and getting nowhere as they rant and rave about their menu. * A suspicious ruler who mistakes good will for an evil plot and loses it all.

Scripture is perspective, and it is more. It is power to save and transform. It is revelation to draw the ponderer near to its author. It is the mind of God enveloping the willing into his sphere of influence of love and goodness. It is the spiritual ark of the covenant where divine glory is witnessed and from which a mission of shining lights is launched.

We can never overemphasize the need for the Word of God. For when we come to know the heavenly Father, we will be like him, for how else could we turn out?

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls” James 1.21 NLT.

–J. Randal Matheny

Pornography dehumanizes in three ways

Richard Mansel goes to the Bible to answer … “The
Most Important Question.” Great for classes, groups,
evang

God created us as sexual beings (Genesis 1:31Genesis 1:31
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31 And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

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).
However, sex is a gift to be enjoyed only within the
confines of marriage (Hebrews 13:4Hebrews 13:4
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4  Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

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; Matthew 5:27-28Matthew 5:27-28
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27 Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 but I say unto you, that every one that looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

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).

God wants husbands and wives to enjoy the sexual union
within the one-flesh marriage (Song of Solomon; 1
Corinthians 7:1-5; Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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; Ephesians 5:22-29Ephesians 5:22-29
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22 Wives, be in subjection unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so ought husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his own wife loveth himself: 29 for no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as Christ also the church;

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).

Naturally, Satan took the beautiful creation of God and
turned it into something evil and enslaving. Thus,
pornography was born.

Pornography dehumanizes in three ways:

1. Porn turns people into appliances

It teaches that desirable men and women are animate
bodies available only for our pleasure. In other words,
vibrant human beings, created in God’s image (Genesis
1:26), are to be used and discarded as so much garbage.

Countless people have degraded themselves based on this
lie. The psychological wounds from pornography are
inestimable.

2. Porn distorts reality

Pornography is founded on lies and deception and
presents a false ideal that cannot be attained beyond
the camera’s eye.

Porn makes promises that cannot be fulfilled. Fantasies
are often nothing more than elaborate hoaxes that lead
to frustration and hopelessness. It sends us after an
ideal that does not exist.

Porn is a drug where we become obsessed with the next
hit only to find that it never satisfies.

3. Porn destroys pleasure and intimacy

Since it chases a manufactured ideal, real human
spouses cannot compete. In time, sexual satisfaction in
marriage becomes impossible. Satan takes sex out of the
bedroom and into the pits of depravity.

Lies and deception have no place in marriage, but they
are the lifeblood of porn.

Sex, as created by God is beautiful but the version
conjured by Satan will take away everything we have.

Moments of pleasure cannot match a lifetime of joy
together within the bond of matrimony. If we will trust
God’s plan, we will find the true power of pleasure and
we will forever be grateful.

–by Richard Mansel

Killed by a cave

Trapped

On January 30, 1925, Floyd Collins climbed into a huge system of interconnected caves in Kentucky. He was trying to discover a new entrance into the cave system when he became trapped. In his attempt to get free, he accidentally knocked over his lamp, smothering his only source of light. As he continued to get himself free, he dislodged a rock which fell and pinned his left leg. Now Collins was lost, trapped, alone, and in darkness.

Amazingly, some of his friends found him the next day. It turns out he was only 150 feet from the entrance to the cave, but he was still in trouble. They brought him food and water but they could not get him free. Collins remained trapped for over a week. Sadly, the cave passage that was used to reach Collins collapsed. After a total of about 14 days trapped in the cave, Collins tragically died from thirst and hunger.

Like Collins, many in this world are trapped in darkness. In fact, you and I were also at one time trapped in darkness. We were trapped by our sins and on our way to spiritual death. Then, God stepped in. He freed us from the sin that trapped us (Hebrews 12:1Hebrews 12:1
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12 1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

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). He rescued us from the domain of darkness (Colossians 1:13Colossians 1:13
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13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;

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). We were called out of this terrible darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:91 Peter 2:9
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9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

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). God then became a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (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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).

It’s so much sweeter to be free to walk in spiritual light. Let’s be mirrors for God and shine His wonderful light (Matthew 5:14-16Matthew 5:14-16
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14 Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house. 16 Even so let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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). Let’s also make sure that we never again become trapped in sin’s darkness (1 John 1:5-71 John 1:5-7
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5 And this is the message which we have heard from him and announce unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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).

Brett Petrillo

 

Listen to the mother of Jesus

Surely all of us have received, or maybe even given, this piece of advice at some time or another. The reason that this advice is noteworthy is because most mothers desire the very best for their children, and the advice they give, generally speaking, is advice that if followed, will benefit their child.

Well, if it’s a wise thing to “listen to your mother,” how much more so might it be to “listen to the mother of Jesus?” Today, most of what is said about Mary, the mother of Jesus, is fictional, rooted in the imagination of men. But there is trustworthy information about Mary, and that is contained in Scripture. In fact, Scripture records a piece of advice given by Mary, that I think is noteworthy. With reference to her Son, she said, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

I don’t know of any better “motherly advice” you’ll ever hear. Though given roughly 2000 years ago, that motherly advice is just as relevant and wise today as it was when it was first spoken.

So do yourself a favor and “listen to your mother.” But beyond that, you would do well if you would “listen to His mother” as well!

Steve Higginbotham.

Time to replace the preacher?

The elders were at a loss. After a congregational meeting, a retreat, sermons and several meetings with the deacons, the congregation still was not growing.

Their latest meeting was getting testy. One of the elders wanted to fire the preacher. Another touted a new book that claimed to have just the right program.  The final elder just wanted to stay quiet and keep the peace. Disgusted, they just went home and grumbled to their wives.

Congregations are constantly running after the perfect preacher, program and publicity campaign to help them grow. However, most of them overlook the most successful plan available to them.

The New Testament provides a plan that will work. Yet, it requires more than many brethren are willing to give. It asks for a sacrifice more personal than money and a commitment more tangible than a surrogate.

Church growth must be organic, emanating from the inside of a congregation. If a congregation is cold, comfortable, lifeless and bored, church growth is impossible no matter how much money is spent on preachers and programs. No one wants to be with the dead.

As God’s people, we live in Christ through his blood (Acts 2:38,47Acts 2:38,47
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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. 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

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; Galatians 3:27Galatians 3:27
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27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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). We enjoy all the spiritual blessings available to us (Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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) as we glorify Christ (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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) and walk in him daily (Ephesians 4:1Ephesians 4:1
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4 1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called,

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).

United in the Spirit, we learn from Scripture how to bond together in unity and peace (Ephesians 4:3Ephesians 4:3
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3 giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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). We build a church family and community that loves being together and we depend on one another in everything (Colossians 3:12-15Colossians 3:12-15
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12 Put on therefore, as God's elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering; 13 forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if any man have a complaint against any; even as the Lord forgave you, so also do ye: 14 and above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to the which also ye were called in one body; and be ye thankful.

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). Worship and Bible study become spiritual feasts.

Our love for the Word and each other (Colossians 3:16Colossians 3:16
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16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

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) will naturally spill over into all of our lives and we will share that with others. Accordingly, people will be intrigued by such joy and want to come and see whether they can be part of a special harvest of blessings.

Can we not see why evangelism must emanate from within?
Please, allow the light of Christ to shine into a dark and sinful world and people will flock to its warmth!

Richard Mansel

WHY ARE YOUR CO-WORKERS UNHAPPY?

Have you noticed that your co-workers are unhappy?  Maybe there is the guy (or gal) whose lips are loose and who lets you and everyone else know why.  Yet, statistics indicate that a great many workers are unhappy, staying in their current position only because of economic uncertainty and high unemployment rates.

Matthew Wong of Inc.com reports that site’s findings about the source of dissatisfaction.  It is not their co-workers, boss, or amount of vacation time.  It is, in order, “on-the-job stress,” “health benefits,” and “salary.”  The study goes on to say men most want more money and a promotion, while women want reduced and flexible hours. Gen X-ers want a higher job title, but millennials ask for more training.  Asked about what perks they want in addition to basic benefits, they said, “free beverages,” “a tablet or smartphone for personal use,” and “free massages.”  Author and Harvard professor, Teresa Amabile, says, however, that one thing matters to many people more than either benefits and perks, and that is “real job satisfaction” (via infographic on ragan.com).

There is quite a bit to mull over in that release.  Instead of bemoaning the obvious spoiled attitude, materialism, and greed reflected in these answers, consider what at least one expert (and many others besides her) believe make us happier.  That is job satisfaction.

That is more than being thankful for employment.  It means doing something you feel like is making a viable contribution, that is as fulfilling as it is enjoyable. All of us want to feel like we have made a difference in the world during our time in it.

But, whether you are a street sweeper or CEO, a sacker of groceries or supervisor, you can find profound purpose in your “real” profession.  The King James Version refers to the Christian life as a “profession” four times (1 Tim. 6:121 Tim. 6:12
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12 Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

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; Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 10:23Heb. 3:1; 4:14; 10:23
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3 1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus; 14 Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 23 let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not; for he is faithful that promised:

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). In each instance, the word used is some form of the Greek word meaning to “say the same thing as another.” But, as used in each verse, the idea is of recognizing ourselves and showing others than Jesus reigns in our lives.  That is a lifelong process, something we carry with us wherever we go-including our job.  We see our occupation as a means to an end.  Our true profession is Christianity.  The perks, promotions, and profit are yet to be realized, but they will be!  Let us ever be faithful in His employ!

Neal Pollard

What about you?

Consider the following truth: “Jesus went more readily to the cross of Calvary than we do to the throne of grace in prayer.” But why is that so?

Is it because of a lack of faith? A spirit of independence? Carelessness?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Friends, when I meditate upon that opening statement, I am put to shame.  What about you? Well, if you’re like me, you have a choice to make. Will you go your own way and act as though you were never confronted by this truth, or will you decide to do better?

If my Lord could willingly face the horrors of the cross, then surely I can with more consistency approach the gracious throne of God with my petitions and intercessions. What about you? Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham

 

When Woodpeckers Say “Ahh”

The woodpecker is the perfect wood drilling machine. In the previous article, we detailed out all the parts needed to allow the woodpecker to drill holes and also to keep it from going blind and killing itself with the 1000g of force it sustains when pecking. This just touched the surface of the problems the woodpecker poses for evolution. Namely, the woodpecker is equipped with one of the world’s most perplexing body parts, its tongue.

To start, the woodpecker has a very long and sensitive tongue (some are around 6 inches). This is extremely useful to find and reach bugs buried deep inside a tree (i.e. wood-boring beetle larvae). With most animals, the tongue simply runs back into the throat, not the woodpecker. The woodpecker has two little tubes that start at the back of the throat, circle around the back and top of the head, and then end together in the right nostril. The woodpeckers tongue forks back in its throat where it enters these two tubes (See Picture). This incredibly unique design give the woodpecker the proper equipment to reach bugs burrowed way down in their holes. A long tongue is great for reaching bugs, but these little bugs don’t usually come out willingly. A long tongue by itself can’t pull bugs out who are holding on for dear life.

The woodpeckers tongue functions somewhat like a harpoon or a fishing hook. At the end of the woodpecker’s tongue are many little barbs facing backwards (See Picture). This is perfect for hooking bugs and pulling out even the most stubborn ones. There is more though. For extra bug catching insurance, the woodpecker produces sticky saliva. If the barbs don’t get the bug, then the sticky saliva most likely will. Amazingly though, this saliva is composed in a certain way where it sticks to bugs but it won’t stick to the woodpecker’s beak or cause it to choke or swallow its own tongue. The woodpecker will simply use its sticky tongue to catch a bug, bring it back into its mouth where the bug will release and this bird gets a tasty meal.

In order for the woodpeckers’ abilities to make sense, nearly all of them had to be fully functioning and completely formed. It’s tail, feet, eyes, beak, neck muscles, skull, and specialized tongue all had to be in full working order just for a woodpecker to make a little hole and eat a bug. There are so many complex features working together in the woodpecker that this puts evolution in an impossible situation. Evolution simply cannot prove nor demonstrate with evidence how features so unique and dependent on each other could have come from time and chance.

Once again, God is the answer to this amazing bird’s existence. God has displayed one more example of a perfectly designed and created animal. In 1 Chronicles 29:111 Chronicles 29:11
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11 Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and thou art exalted as head above all.

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David spoke these beautiful words, “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.” This world belongs to God, and His power is shown through the complexity and awesomeness of His creation. He deserves to be praised for what He is, “the Head over all.”

Sources:

Hilton Pond.

–Brett Petrillo

Your wings are really coming in!

150,000. This number may not mean much to some, but it has significant meaning to me. See, this number reminds me of a sweet old couple I grew up with. As a kid, the wife was the sweet lady who always had a piece of candy tucked away for me in her purse. The husband would always take time to come talk to me. I remember how he would softly pinch my shoulder blades and say, “Your wings are really coming in!” They were active and vibrant in the church, truly a couple who loved the Lord.

So, why does this number remind me of them? Shortly before they passed away, this sweet couple decided to give me their car. It happened at a time when I was hurting for a vehicle before I started school at Bear Valley. I received their 1991 Honda Accord in pristine condition with a measly 50,000 miles on it.

Just the other day, I hit the 150,000he 150,000
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja! Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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mile mark on this car. Which means I’ve put 100,000 miles on it. So for me, the number 150,000 brings back fond memories of this sweet couple. It makes me think their Christian love, generosity, and selflessness. It reminds me of their kindness and good Christian example. It also reminds me of a passage of Scripture:

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10Galatians 6:9-10
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9 And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

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It’s wonderful to have people in the church, like this sweet couple, who are so generous and helpful to other members in the church. They deserve our love and appreciation. We need more people like this.

Let’s strive to live the words of Galatians 6:9-10Galatians 6:9-10
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9 And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith.

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. No, we aren’t required to give away our cars, though there is no limit to what we could do. Let’s simply be looking for opportunities, even small ones, where we can do good to others, especially Christians!

P.S. The names of this sweet couple were Cliff & Louise Phillips.

Brett Petrillo

Five tips for a woman

Someone shared this “anonymous” snippet with me a while back. It is entitled, “Five tips for a woman.”

* It is important that a man helps you around the house and has a job. * It is important that a man makes you laugh. * It is important to find a man you can count on and who doesn’t lie to you. * It is important that a man loves you and spoils you. * It is important that these four men don’t know each other.

What is so funny about that, ladies? I suppose that the punch-line of that is that no one such man exists. That may be true. However, despite the weak attempt at humor, there are some important nuggets contained in it. There are some basic fundamental needs every man and woman have that marriage can supply. While each marital partner should focus on how to give these to his or her spouse, everyone needs these.

* Dependability-Someone who will help out and “pull their weight.” * Humor-Someone who can dispense this heart medicine regularly. * Honesty-Someone whose words and deeds can be trusted implicitly and without doubt. * Affection-Someone who will genuinely desire them, body and soul. * Spiritual Assistance-Someone who will help them grow closer to God and get to heaven.

It is interesting that most people value these even more than money, material things, a great social life and popularity. Friends come and go. Family passes into and out of one’s life. Co-workers change constantly throughout our career. The one constant for a married person, through all the stages of life, is one’s mate. Only with one’s spouse can one have a friend, a lover, and a spiritual sibling. If you are married, talk to your mate today. Ask him or her what they think is truly important. Then, get to work.

-Neal Pollard

“The trouble is that I am in a hurry,” he replied, “but God isn’t.”

The great New England preacher Phillip Brooks was known for his calm demeanor, but even he could have his patience tried at times. One day a friend observed him pacing the floor like a caged lion.

“What’s the trouble, Dr. Brooks?” Asked the friend.

“The trouble is that I am in a hurry,” he replied, “but God isn’t.”

There aren’t many masterpieces by microwave. Yet we still become impatient with the deliberate manner in which God operates. We want an eighty-foot oak tree to grow in six months.

We want a church to mature yesterday. We want a teenager to behave like a fully mature adult.

A few years ago some African preachers I knew began to refer to themselves as “Dr. Smith” and “Dr. Jones.” When I inquired as to their impressive PhD degrees, they answered:

“We took a six month correspondence course from Michigan in the USA! And what is more, this correspondence course is accredited!”

Which, of course, raised the important question, “Accredited by whom?”

Genuine graduate degrees are earned, not given away, and they take years of research and sacrifice.

There are no special formulas for growth. In fact, “quick grow” solutions, in nature and spiritual matters tend to be unnatural, and probably fatally flawed.

I’m sure the foolish builder of Matthew 7:24-27Matthew 7:24-27
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24 Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: 25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. 26 And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: 27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.

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, could have pointed out the length of time it took the other guy to cut a foundation out of bed rock, and to make his deliberate, painstaking preparations. But you know what happened when the wind and the rains came; the guy who was in a hurry was homeless!

It took Jesus three years to develop his apostles. It took eighty years to prepare Moses for leadership. It took thousands of years for the right time for God to send his son (Galatians 4:4Galatians 4:4
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4 but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

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And we want results yesterday. At the soonest.

Like the rabbit in the children’s tale, we pull our white gloves on and off, and mutter, “I’m late, I’m late.”

I wonder if the Lord operates on Greenwich Mean Time or Mountain? I wonder who sets God’s deadlines? I wonder if it wouldn’t be better if we began to fit into his schedule rather than trying to crush him into ours?

“The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear” (Mark 4:28Mark 4:28
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28 The earth beareth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.

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, ESV).

God has an eternity in which to do his work. Then again, we’re eternal beings, too. How much better it would be to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27:4Psalm 27:4
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4 One thing have I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after; That I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of Jehovah, And to inquire in his temple.

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— by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net