Archives for : August2015

What does being a “Friend of Jesus” mean?

Well, even though the next election is over a year away, the election season is in full swing, isn’t it? I don’t know how you feel, but it seems to me that it starts earlier and earlier every time anymore. It’s a phrase heard, not only during election cycles, but also in reference to most politicians anytime and will serve as my lead-in to today’s thoughts. That phrase is: “Friend(s) of _________.”

I’m going to take that phrase and attempt to derive a spiritual lesson from it for today’s editorial. If you think about it, it really has a deep meaning. A deep connotation to it. Both politically and spiritually. Let’s just think for a few minutes on the implications of that phrase.

Political-wise, what’s meant by being a “Friend of ______?” Well, usually it means the receipt of some future reward. In other words, I supported you, I’m in your group of “friends,” what will I get in return from you? Of course, that return depends upon how much money you gave or raised for you “Friend.”

It could amount to some high office in the administration or, in the case of many examples, accessibility to the regime and thus, some lucrative monetary benefit. Whatever it might turn out to be, you can be assured that at some level, you will receive a return on your “friendship.”

Let’s switch to the spiritual side of this little lesson. We sing an old song entitled “I’ll Be A Friend To Jesus.” Well, I’ll ask the same question: What does being a “Friend of Jesus” mean? Or: What does being a “Friend of Jesus” entail?

it’s obviously not the giving of some amount of temporal treasure. As opposed to the politicians, Jesus’ friendship cannot be bought. So then, how do we get to be a “Friend of Jesus?” Or, as we’ve seen in the parable ot the ten virgins (John 3:29John 3:29
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29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is made full.

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), with the “Bridegroom” being Christ, allegorically speaking, how do we become a “Friend of the Bridegroom?”

The answer is astonishingly simple. He tells us Himself the qualifications for His “friendship.” In John 15:14John 15:14
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14 Ye are my friends, if ye do the things which I command you.

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Jesus says: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” How much more simple can you get?

However, there is one inferred codicil to that statement. One that speaks directly to the “deep meaning” of being a “Friend of Jesus.” And that is: doing what Jesus says means doing “all” that He commands. Doing everything He tells us to do. The necessary implication of that is, anything less takes us out of His circle of “friends.”

What I’m getting at here is, that we don’t get to set the parameters of His friendship. We don’t get to pick and choose “some” of His commands and ignore others. Like choosing to follow the ones we like, or don’t mind keeping, and skipping over the ones not convenient to our lifestyle.

And that leads me to another thought in this area. The selective choosing of which commands of Jesus we’d like to obey and which ones we’ll skip over, is exactly the way many in the world who claim to be religious, or claim “friendship” with Christ, operates.

I’m not the one condemning that practice, but the word of God certainly does and I can only refer you to something God said on this subject through the hand of James. If one believes that they can selectively obey the commands of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and still be a “Friend of Jesus” they’d best read with me the words of James 4:4James 4:4
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4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.

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. “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

Yes, being a “Friend of Jesus” has a great meaning. And in the realm of receiving a reward for being His “friend” we get the most wonderful return possible on our investment. We will live eternally with Him in glory. We’ll be a child of God, thus “joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17Rom. 8:17
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17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.

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) in heaven. Which we’ll share with all of His “friends” from all ages and times.

And not will we just “be there.” We’ll receive a high office because of our “friendship” with Jesus. As evidence of what I just said, read with me the words of 2Tim. 11-12.

“The saying is trustworthy, for: if we have died with him, we will
also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.”

Respectfully submitted,
Ron Covey

Do we really try to live a blameless life?

NOAH WAS “RIGHTEOUS in his moral relations to God…”

He did what was right. This passage even says he was “perfect” (NASV–“blameless”). This cannot mean he was sinless (remember Genesis 9:20-21Genesis 9:20-21
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20 And Noah began to be a husbandman, and planted a vineyard: 21 and he drank of the wine, and was drunken. And he was uncovered within his tent.

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). Elders, too, are expected to be “blameless” (1 Timothy 3:21 Timothy 3:2
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2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

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KJV), but that certainly does not require sinless perfection (cf. 1 John 1:81 John 1:8
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8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

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). It does however, in both cases, indicate a comparative maturity that causes one to turn away from sin as soon as it is pointed out to him. Noah was this type of person; in fact, he “walked with God.” He accepted God’s will as his standard. He was not part of the corrupt society of that day (Genesis 6:12Genesis 6:12
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12 And God saw the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.

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). Rather, he did “according to all that God commanded him” (Genesis 6:22Genesis 6:22
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22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

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) with reference to the building of the ark and preaching to the sinful society of his day.

The sixty-four dollar question for all Christians today is: do we really try to live a blameless life? Do we study God’s standard and listen carefully when it is preached and turn away from sin when it is pointed out? That is what it meant to “walk with God” like Noah did. Earl Edwards, “Noah, Who Preached Righteousness, ” The Book of Genesis: Foundational Truth and Unfolding of God’s Plan of Redemption, Curtis Cates, Editor, 881-882

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.” 2 Peter 3:142 Peter 3:14
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14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, give diligence that ye may be found in peace, without spot and blameless in his sight.

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Mike Benson

Poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man” (Proverbs 24:33-34Proverbs 24:33-34
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33  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep; 34 So shall thy poverty come as a robber, And thy want as an armed man.

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NASB).

These verses show the lesson the wise man gained from examining the sluggard’s field (cf. Proverbs 24:30-32Proverbs 24:30-32
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30 I went by the field of the sluggard, And by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; 31 And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, The face thereof was covered with nettles, And the stone wall thereof was broken down. 32 Then I beheld, and considered well; I saw, and received instruction:

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): Giving in to a little wasting of time usually leads to a lot of wasting time. This is especially true on the computer. A minute checking Facebook here and a minute checking email there begins to add up. Then there’s those short video clips, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, MySpace, games, and who knows what all else that vies for our attention. Before we know it, all these “minutes” of rest and relaxation begin adding up to hours of wasted time. Time needs to be scheduled and watched so that we will not succumb to laziness and will fulfill our responsibilities instead.

by Jeremy Sprouse

Don’t follow Satan. He doesn’t know where he is going!

Judas Iscariot, the Suicide of Satan & the Salvation of the World
Luke 22:1-6Luke 22:1-6
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22 1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put him to death; for they feared the people. 3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4 And he went away, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might deliver him unto them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he consented, and sought opportunity to deliver him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

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During the final Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called the “Passover,” the chief priests and scribes were seeking how they could put Jesus to death but they feared the people.

Judas was one of the twelve. This is only the second time in Luke that Judas is mentioned. The first time was in 6:16 in the list of apostles, the “twelve.” “Iscariot” may mean “man of “ Kerioth, a city in the south of Judaea.

It is during the institution of the Lord’s Supper, during this Passover Feast, that Jesus points out to the apostles that one of them would betray Him and they all said, “Lord, is it I?” But He said, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I dipped it.” He dipped the morsel and gave it to Judas. Satan entered into him. Jesus told him to proceed with what he had planned to do – “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Judas left the Lord’s presence, His Savior’s presence, and went out to do just that.

Being influenced by Satan, Judas went out and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Jesus into their hands. But when Satan motivated Judas to betray Jesus, it was his own downfall. It was his own suicide.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:81 Corinthians 2:8
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8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory:

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that the rulers of this age did not understand the wisdom of God. If they had understood, Paul writes, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory! If Satan had known the betrayal was in God’s plans to send Jesus to the cross, he would not have motivated Judas to betray Jesus. He would have allowed Jesus to die a natural death at a good old age.

While we need to take Satan seriously, perhaps we give Satan far too much credit than he deserves. Satan is limited. Satan does not know the Bible like we think he does. If he did, he would have known that the crucifixion of Christ was prophesied there and the resurrection was prophesied there! He would not have crucified the Lord of glory. He would have known that the betrayal of Jesus was predicted there as well.

Satan did not know Judas betraying Jesus fit into God’s plans – Psa. 41:9Psa. 41:9
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9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, Who did eat of my bread, Hath lifted up his heel against me.

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(cf. John 13:18John 13:18
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18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled: He that eateth my bread lifted up his heel against me.

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). He did not know the betrayal was predicted in Psa. 55:12-14Psa. 55:12-14
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12 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; Then I could have borne it: Neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; Then I would have hid myself from him: 13 But it was thou, a man mine equal, My companion, and my familiar friend. 14 We took sweet counsel together; We walked in the house of God with the throng.

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. He did not know the cross was in God’s plans all along (Gal. 3:13Gal. 3:13
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13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

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; Deut. 21:23Deut. 21:23
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23 his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

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). He did not even know that Jesus was going to be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13Zech. 11:12-13
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12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my hire; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my hire thirty pieces of silver. 13 And Jehovah said unto me, Cast it unto the potter, the goodly price that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter, in the house of Jehovah.

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). Satan does not know everything!

Don’t follow Satan. He doesn’t know where he is going!

–Paul Holland

Like those Kitkat bars, we give ourselves a break on the most astonishing things.

Self-Deception

“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord,” (Proverbs 16:2Proverbs 16:2
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2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; But Jehovah weigheth the spirits.

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, ESV).

I’m sure that O.J. Simpson has actually convinced himself that he didn’t kill Nicole. No doubt, there is a former president who said so many times that he really didn’t think he had sex with “that woman,” that he actually convinced himself it was true.

Richard Milhous Nixon probably went to his grave believing that Watergate was nothing more than a Motel in Washington DC, and Saddam Hussein probably talked himself into believing that all his victims deserved their fate because he, and only he, was good for his country.

Like those Kitkat bars, we give ourselves a break on the most astonishing things.

A man cheats on his wife, convincing himself that God “wants me to be happy,” and of course his happiness depends on his continued relationship with his mistress.

An embezzler recalls his years of faithful service to his corporation and says he’s “earned” this money. A gossip assures himself that what he has just repeated is “really the truth,” and “I would say it to his face if he was in front of me right now.”

Like Pharaoh, we become kings of … Denial! But we don’t fool our friends, we don’t fool our kids, and we don’t fool God. We fool ourselves and ourselves alone.

God weighs motives. Though we may be “pure in our own eyes,” though we may be blinded by our excuses and selfishness, the Lord sees us for who we really are.

In the end, the saddest, and most effective form of deception is self-deception!

by Stan Mitchell @ www.forthright.net

The greatest memorial of all time is NOT found in a monument

Towering 5,725 feet above sea level, Mount Rushmore memorializes four of our American Presidents – Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln. It covers over 1,000 acres. The heads of these four presidents are each sixty-feet high.

Rushmore was the child of a Danish-American immigrant who was so thankful for his adopted country. His name was Gutzon Borglum. The challenge for Borglum was that he wanted to begin Mount Rushmore during the presidency of Calvin Coolidge. Among the items Coolidge is most famous is cutting the federal budget. But Borglum would need federal support to pull off this memorial.

The summer before Coolidge’s final year in office, Borglum was able to persuade him to spend a summer vacation there. He had Coolidge give a dedication speech, having been able to persuade Coolidge to agree to the federal funding. Borglum even suggested that he would put an image of Coolidge up among the other presidents.

Amity Shlaes finishes her chapter on this event in the presidency of Coolidge with this sentence: “There was a case for monuments to other presidents. But the best monument to his kind of presidency was no monument at all” (386).

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20Luke 22:19-20
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19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.

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).

For someone who also eschewed material things, it is appropriate, is it not, that Jesus also chose for a monument – no monument at all. Bread and fruit from the vine. We are amazed at the simplicity of Christianity as Jesus designed it. Elements that are available all over the world that can be consumed – at least in minute amounts – by nearly everyone.

To memorialize the Son of God. The greatest gift ever given. The most astounding blessing ever visualized by man. Bread and fruit from the vine. Let us serve Him with the same simplicity and singleness of heart (Rom. 12:8Rom. 12:8
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8 or he that exhorteth, to his exhorting: he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

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; 2 Cor. 1:12; 11:32 Cor. 1:12; 11:3
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12 For our glorifying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity and the purity that is toward Christ.

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; Acts 2:46Acts 2:46
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46 And day by day, continuing stedfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart,

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; Eph. 6:5Eph. 6:5
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5 Servants, be obedient unto them that according to the flesh are your masters, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;

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; Col. 3:22Col. 3:22
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22 Servants, obey in all things them that are your masters according to the flesh; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord:

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).

–Paul Holland

Someone killed God?

While attending a devotional at Hillbrook Christian Camp a speaker made reference to Jesus being betrayed, arrested, hung, and ultimately dying on the cross. As he moved on from that point, he was interrupted by a little boy in the assembly. His sweet little voice had a worried tone to it as he asked the speaker, “Someone killed God?”

The little boy was reassured and the speaker moved on with his lesson.
However, I haven’t been able to shake that little boy’s question, and the way that he asked it.

I honor this little boy’s boldness and inquisitiveness to speak up and seek clarification about something so important. If only adults had the same courage to question.

I also honor this little boy’s concern. The thought that God might be dead was of great concern to him. You could hear it in his voice. If only adults had the same level of concern. Maybe not as to whether God is dead or not, but as to whether we are dead to Him. What else matters if God is dead or if we are dead to Him?

I want to thank Donovan Scott for his question, his concern, and for reminding me of how much we can learn from the innocence of youth.

“…and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 6:11Isaiah 6:11
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11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until cities be waste without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste,

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)

Steve Higginbotham

Seven separate thoughts for today

Seven separate thoughts for today.

• Jesus was “sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24Matthew 15:24
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24 But he answered and said, I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

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NET). During his ministry he forbade his disciples to go to any Gentile regions or enter any Samaritan towns, but sent them instead “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6Matthew 10:5-6
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5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and charged them, saying, Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans: 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

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). He narrowed his focus so that, later, “many” could be reached. Perhaps we often need to do like our Lord.

• Jesus disappointed people. Many of his disciples “quit following him and did not accompany him any longer” (John 6:66John 6:66
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66 Upon this many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

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). He said things they thought were difficult. He offended others. All because he spoke the truth and did not hold back when the truth might distance himself from people. One of his favorite words is, “truly.” The NET Bible translates it, “I tell you the solemn truth” (see John 6:32John 6:32
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32 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, It was not Moses that gave you the bread out of heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread out of heaven.

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, for example). Paul thought we should be like Jesus in this respect also, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15Ephesians 4:15
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15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ;

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ESV).

• The NET Bible make use of the word “energize,” which brings quite a fresh take on some old verses. It renders Psalm 138:3Psalm 138:3
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3 In the day that I called thou answeredst me, Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul.

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, “When I cried out for help, you answered me. You made me bold and energized me.” I sure could use some energizing.

• Thoughts during the Lord’s Supper: The wicked say, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we will die” (Isaiah 22:13Isaiah 22:13
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13 and behold, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die.

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). The righteous say, “Let us eat and drink, for yesterday we died in Christ.” Because we eat and drink at the table of the Lord.

• We all suffer many things: bodily ailments, mental anguish, grief, disappointments, financial straits, to name a few. Some suffering we bring upon ourselves, some is hoisted upon us. I’m not telling you anything new. But Jesus came and made suffering the stuff of divine work material. Suffering can be redemptive, instructive, progressive. That, in the eyes of the world, is new.

• In Arkansas recently, a 20-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman died when a deer jumped in front of their vehicle and the driver swerved, hit the animal and rolled the truck. Their deaths seem senseless, like so many others. At every point, we find opportunity to confess our ignorance and finite understanding and to trust in the over-arching plan of God, who is, as Judge of all the Earth, just and righteous and good.

• The words, “Jesus entered Peter’s house” (Matthew 8:14Matthew 8:14
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14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother lying sick of a fever.

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), warm my soul. (We started by mentioned a “house,” we’ll end with the mention of several.) The Lord entered many a house, ate many a meal, slept in many a bed offered him by disciples, well-wishers and even the curious. He apparently was often in Mary, Martha, and Lazarus’ home. He ate at Simon’s, invited himself into Zacchaeus’s, stayed somewhere those two days in Sychar of Samaria. And I suspect he was never a guest, but made himself at home, brought peace, joy, healing, and love. And redemption. Which is what I want him to do in mine. Has he entered yours?

by J. Randal Matheny, www.forthright.net

The Greek word translated “imitate” means to mimic.

“IMITATE ME, JUST as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:11 Corinthians 11:1
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11 1 Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.

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)…

The Greek word translated “imitate” means to mimic. When we think of a mimic, we often think of a child who emulates and copys his parent’s adult behavior.

But just to what extent are we to mimic Christ? If you reply, “Well Mike, in ALL ways,” (and I hope you do), then allow me to stimulate your thinking a bit further.

Did Jesus experience the full range of human emotions? Yes (Hebrews 4:15Hebrews 4:15
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15 For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

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). Did Jesus ever feel sad and weep? Check your Bible carefully. There are at least three passages in Scripture which reveal the real heart of Christ:

1. “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it” (Luke 19:41Luke 19:41
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41 And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it,

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). Jesus felt sorrow over the fact that Jerusalem had rejected Him as the Messiah and that she would ultimately suffer judgment (cf., Matthew 24) for doing so. He hurt over lost people.

2. “Who, in the days of His flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard becuase of His godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7Hebrews 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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; cf., Luke 22:44Luke 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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). Jesus felt sorrow over the sins of humanity and that those transgressions would separate Him–in all eternity–from his Father in heaven while He hung on the cross. But watch the text! Jesus didn’t just hurt internally, He cried out loudly as He poured out His heart. Jesus experienced strong, overt emotions. He was an emotional man, and hurt as He pondered Calvary.

3. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35John 11:35
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35 Jesus wept.

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). Jesus felt sorrow over the reality of death, over little faith, and over the fact that His friends were grieving the passing of a loved one. Those two little words tell us volumes about Christ. He hurt when others hurt.

I find it interesting that we never find a single passage about the laughter of our Lord, but we do find these insightful passages about His tears and emotional pain. Jesus cried. Isaiah looked through the long lens of Bible prophecy and described Him as, “…A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (v. 3b).

May I ask a few hard questions? When was the last time you cried over lost souls? When was the last time you cried (Matthew 5:4Matthew 5:4
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4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

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) over the fact that your sins separate you from the Father in heaven? And when was the last time you wept and mourned with those whose hearts are heavy (Romans 12:15Romans 12:15
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15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

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b) and burdened?

Paul said we ought to mimic Jesus.

Jesus wept, cried, and mourned.

Grab your tissues and inimitate the Savior. (Mike Benson)

“He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:3Isaiah 53:3
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3 He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.

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An Imperishable Crown

An Imperishable Crown

A recent radio program carried the story of a man who was walking behind the campus of a nearby State College when, in the distance, he saw what looked like a HUGE “treasure chest” filled with gold and silver, shimmering in the sunlight. Upon closer inspection however, he discovered that the “treasure” was actually a collection of “trophies” of every shape and size that had been piled high in a dumpster!

The college was simply repeating a ritual of clearing their shelves and cabinets of all the old trophies, plaques and awards received over the years in order to make room for the next generation of college students.

As he gazed upon the glittering spectacle, he realized how these trophies in the dumpster might accurately represent all the worldly achievements, ideals and struggles of man such as fame, popularity, wealth, and power. And he could see their ultimate end – to eventually be discarded as “worthless” and then crushed and ground to dust!

Gleaning a lesson from a sporting event with application to living the Christian life, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last;
But we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”

1 Corinthians 9:251 Corinthians 9:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 And every man that striveth in the games exerciseth self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

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The trophies of the world will not last (see 2 Peter 3:102 Peter 3:10
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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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), but Christ offers to us an “Imperishable Crown” – the crown of LIFE (James 1:12James 1:12
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12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love him.

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One day, each of us will stand before the Judgment seat of Christ…

On that day ALL will recognize that the GREATEST accomplishment was what Jesus did for us on the cross: He died for our sins so that we might receive the crown of eternal life!

Jesus has promised to give the crown of life to those who: place their faith and trust in Him (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 their sins 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 Jesus 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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), are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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), and live faithfully to Him for the rest of their lives (Revelation 2:10Revelation 2:10
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10 Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

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The glory of the crown made possible through the cross of Christ motivated George Bennard to pen the following words:

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.

Won’t YOU lay down your worldly, perishing trophies TODAY and submit your life to the Savior so that you may on THAT DAY, receive the “Imperishable Crown”?

David A. Sargent

 

Why is it that today sin is so seldom written or preached about?

CHARLES COLSON, In his book of essays Who Speaks for God?, tells of watching a segment of television’s 60 minutes in which host Mike Wallace interviewed Auschwitz survivor Yehiel Dinur, a principal witness at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials…

During the interview, a film clip from Adolf Eichmann’s 1961 trial was viewed that showed Dinur entering the courtroom and coming face to face with Eichmann for the first time since being sent to Auschwitz almost twenty years earlier. Stopped cold, Dinur began to sob uncontrollably and then fainted while the presiding judge pounded his gavel for order.

“Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories?” asks Colson, who then answers:

No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at
once he realized Eichmann was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur. “I saw that I am capable to do this. I am …exactly like he.”

Colson follows his penetrating observation with this question: Why is it that today sin is so seldom written or preached about? The answer is in Dinur’s dramatic collapse, for to truly confront our sins is a devastating experience. If preachers talked about sin, says Colson, many people would flee their church pews never to return. R. Kent Hughes, “The Comfort of Mourning,” The Sermon on The Mount — The Message of the Kingdom, 25-26

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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; cf., v. 10

Mike Benson

Did Methuselah converse with his great grandpa, Adam, in the two and a half centuries of time they shared?

Our Savior walked the earth 2000 years ago. To comprehend such a length of time and the changes that have occurred since then, the change in world powers, the civilizations that have risen and fallen, and the things invented and destroyed, one needs a giant imagination. Entire libraries could be filled with the books which have been written about that span of time. Languages have been invented. Whole peoples have come into existence.

One of the most fascinating side lines of Bible history concerns the contemporaries of Shem. Kevin Bacon has nothing of this son of Noah In the January 9, 1884, edition of Gospel Advocate, B.W. Lauderdale, made a very interesting observation:

Methuselah was contemporary with Adam 243 years, and could learn from him history of the world for over 900 years. Methuselah was also contemporary with Shem 98 years and could transmit to him the history of the world for 1656 years. Further, Shem lived 502 years after the flood, and was contemporary with Abraham 149 years. (Abraham was born 352 years after the flood.) (Lipscomb 20). That means that Shem, being contemporary with Abraham as well as with a man who was contemporary with Adam, had access to 2000 years of history.

Did Methuselah converse with his great grandpa, Adam, in the two and a half centuries of time they shared? Did Adam recount the fall, the walking, talking serpent, and the angels guarding the garden? Did he talk about attending the first funeral? What tales of creatures and civilization did Methuselah have for Shem? Did Abraham sit at grandpa Shem’s knee and hear him talk to the man who talked to the man who lived alongside the first man? Shem could touch two millenia of time by his contact with just two individuals–Methuselah and Abraham.

Foremost, the Bible contains the mind and will of God and is full of teaching and instruction concerning everything we need for life and godliness. It contains that which will some day be used to judge mankind. This fact concerns heaven and hell matters. Yet, in addition to that, it contains truths and facts that fascinate to no end.

I have known some interesting characters in my life, including a man who conversed with several presidents, war heroes, and movie stars. That man, an elder in the Lord’s church for many years (and still alive today), worked as a young man interviewing Civil War veterans’ widows and spent time excavating fascinating archaeological finds. He is a reservoir of history and interesting information, but what must Shem have been like as a conversationalist? He had firsthand exposure to living history from the first man at the beginning of time to the man who was the father of the Jewish nation.

–Neal Pollard

His name is the epitome of the word, unique.

Jesus–Oh what a name!
There is none other who has such fame.

This is more than just a title we speak.
His name is the epitome of the word, unique.

Throughout history, no one so wonderful can we find.
He is truly one-of-a-kind.

Because of Him God’s beautiful love was revealed (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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).  In His name people were even healed (Acts 3:6Acts 3:6
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6 But Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.

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Above all, eternal life through Him came (1 John 2:251 John 2:25
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25 And this is the promise which he promised us, even the life eternal.

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No wonder God gave Jesus the name above every name (Philippians 2:9Philippians 2:9
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9 Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name;

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Sadly, many in this life deny Him, living for the hear and now, But whether it’s today or soon after, every knee to Jesus will bow (Philippians 2:10Philippians 2:10
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10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth,

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Peter and John said, “We cannot stop speaking” about His name (Acts 4:17-20Acts 4:17-20
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17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: 20 for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard.

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Since there is no name like Jesus Christ, let’s also have the boldness to do the same.

–Brett Petrillo

The pebble toad knows exactly what to do to escape and is able to do so without injury.

PEBBLE TOAD

You never know what you are going to get with animals. Each animal is so unique and specialized that they are full of surprises. We are all very aware of the claims of evolution and the attraction it has on many people. However, with so many variations and extraordinary abilities animals have, it puts evolution in an impossible situation. One such animal is the pebble toad.

When a predator comes near, animals all react in different ways. Some chose to fight, some hide, and others try to escape. Since the pebble toad is only about an inch long, fighting is not exactly its forte. However, it is an escape specialist. In fact, when faced with predators like tarantulas, very few animals would be able to escape the same way this toad does. So, how does it escape? I’m glad you asked!

Its habitat is usually found around rocky cliffs in Venezuela. As it climbs up these rocks, occasionally it will come upon a predator. Since it is hanging on to the rock, there is really only one way out of the situation without getting eaten; let go. I think we all know what would happen if we jumped off of a cliff, but God has given this toad a special ability. Combined with its size, the pebble toad folds in its arms and legs into a ball type position. As he is falling, this position absorbs the impact, and he is basically able to roll down the cliff far away from any predators. This little guy gets his name because he looks like a pebble as he is falling down the cliff.

God obviously had His hand in the making of this toad. The pebble toad knows exactly what to do to escape and is able to do so without injury. God made this toad just right in order to endure such a fall. How could an animal evolve such an ability? Seems like there would be a lot of dead frogs at the bottom of cliffs as they evolved these characteristics. How would the toad know that it needed to be small? How would the toad know it needed to stiffen up and make a ball-type shape to survive? Evolution does not have fitting answers.

While this toad may be as small as a pebble, it is definitely a solid rock of evidence in God’s favor. God is truly seen through His creation (Romans 1:20Romans 1:20
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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:

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; Psalm 19:1-6Psalm 19:1-6
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For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. 19 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament showeth his handiwork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoiceth as a strong man to run his course. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heavens, And his circuit unto the ends of it; And there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

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). Let’s continue to remember and be amazed at the creation God has surrounded us with.

Brett Petrillo

Satan’s goal is to decimate, destroy, and kill.

THERE ARE TWO distinct ways of seeing a person’s faults: conviction and condemnation…

God convicts of sin, whereas Satan condemns. The divine purpose in addressing sin is to call us to repent so that we will become the people He created us to be. God’s motive in correcting us is pure love. But Satan’s motive in addressing our flaws is pure hate. The demonic intent is to produce despair, self-condemnation, and self-hatred because Satan’s goal is to decimate, destroy, and kill.

When we’re trying to persuade a person who is sinning to do what is right, our purpose must be like God’s. We must never correct in a way that reflects judgmental harshness, leading to despair and discouragement of condemnation. The motive of the heart must be: “I love you too much to see you do this. I want God’s best for you. Please repent before it’s too late.” Rebecca Manley Pippert, “Meekness: The Remedy for Anger,” A Heart for God, 185

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1
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6 1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

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Mike Benson

Why would we involve ourselves in this ritual?

In Remembrance of Jesus

“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:19-20Luke 22:19-20
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19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.

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On Christmas Eve four years ago we buried my Mother. It was the most difficult Christmas our family has ever had. It changed forever the way I will view Christmas.

For the first two or three years after my Mother’s passing the whole family would gather at her grave during the Christmas holidays to remember her. We would circle her resting place; join hands, sing, pray, and cry together.

One year that stands out in my mind was a cold, rainy, dreary winter evening. We made our circle, sang a couple of songs and prayed. The older generations went to our vehicles, but the grandchildren stood in the rain for what must have been an hour.

They sang more songs and started telling Maw-maw stories. One moment they were laughing, the next moment they were crying. Why would they do this? Why would they put themselves through this discomfort? Why would we involve ourselves in this ritual?

It was our love for Mom. We remember her because of all she did for us while she was alive. We sang songs she liked, we told stories about her and we prayed because we want to keep her memory alive in our hearts.

Not one of us has ever thought we should rush through this ritual. We have never thought it lasted too long. We have never thought it is too cold or damp or anything else to take the time to remember Mom.

Isn’t this how it should be when we gather to remember our Lord? Shouldn’t we sing songs about him, tell stories that remind us of him, and give thanks to God for what he did for us while he was on earth?

May I encourage you as you gather with the people of God this week not to rush through this beautiful remembrance. Please don’t complain about the length of time you are there. Leave the cares of life behind for just a few moments.

Drink in the fact that Jesus loved you so much that he gave his life for you. Remember how he continues to bless your life everyday. Thank God for the blessing of being with the family during this inspiring moment.

Dear Father, when we are gathered as Your family help us to cherish the opportunity to remember our Savior. Help us, dear God not to rush through this meaningful time. Help us to focus our hearts and our minds on Jesus as we dine together during this precious feast.

by Jeff A. Jenkins via www.forthright.net

May your health prosper as your soul

The apostle John begins the letter of 3 John by saying, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2). With those kind of prayers, do you suppose there might have been some who wished John would quit praying for them if he was going to pray that way?

Just what would happen if our health prospered “as” our soul prospered? Would people suddenly find their aches and pains suddenly gone? Would they find new strength and lift in their step? Or would they suddenly fall ill, maybe even to the point of being on their death bed?

Hmm. “May your health prosper as your soul.” Would you be good with someone praying that prayer for you? Give it some thought.

Steve Higginbotham

 

Steve Higginbotham

Five packages of overripe hamburger

SUPPOSE A GROCER takes inventory of his store…

Buried in the bottom of his meat section he finds five packages of overripe hamburger. They have somehow sat there for two weeks, turning green.

What should the grocer do with this rotting meat? No one could argue the answer. He should get rid of it, immediately! Furthermore, he should make certain that he never again neglects his meat section. He may have a beautiful store stocked with gorgeous produce, but rotten meat will spoil his business. Any customer who spots that greening goop will want to walk out of the store and never return.

It’s the same with talk. Less than one percent of a person’s word inventory can ruin the effect of all the rest. I’ve known people whose words could charm a snake out of its hole, people who are gracious in ninety-nine percent of what they say. But there is a toxic streak in their words that spoils the rest.

…Almost everybody can recall words that stung, words that crushed the spirit, words that left them feeling hopeless and desolate for days. How many people remember being told as children that they were stupid? How many people remember being told as adults that they were overweight? That it is their fault their children have problems?

It’s amazing how often people remember having such words said to them, and yet how seldom people remember saying such words to others. We usually don’t mean to hurt people. The words just pop out without our planning. We forget them. But those who hear them don’t.

Sometimes words have to hurt. When you confront real problems, you must face painful realities. That’s far different, however, from toxic talk. Toxic talk doesn’t lead to dialogue–it stops it. Toxic talk is usually spoken in haste or in anger. The poison lingers on long after the emotions are gone.

The first task is to identify the toxic words in your speech and get rid of them. Tim Stafford, “Toxic Talk: Harsh Words and Lies,” That’s Not What I Meant!, 40-41

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1Proverbs 15:1
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15 1 A soft answer turneth away wrath; But a grievous word stirreth up anger.

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Mike Benson

What makes a nation great?

Exalted Nation

What makes a nation great? What factors led the United States to become, unquestionably, the greatest nation in history?

Was it our superior architecture or powerful armies with their smart weapons? Was God’s blessing of this nation automatic? Was it a manifest destiny?

I do not believe that our nation’s glory was an accident. We did not rise to power, we were raised. We did not become powerful, we were given power.

But that power is conditional.

The wise man of Proverbs reminds us that “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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, ESV).

This nation grew strong by means of its high moral character, hard work and respect for God. We were blessed as a consequence.

If our nation falls into decline, you can count on it, the causes will be the same. We will fail because we were immoral, became lazy and despised God.

And God will abandon us.

By this definition, is America “exalted” today or a disgrace? You decide!

by Stan Mitchell

Why is it hard to grant to children the same forgiveness we adults so desperately desire when we make mistakes?

A TEN-YEAR-OLD who is playing in a living room inadvertently knocks over a lamp and cracks its ceramic base…

He knows that the lamp is highly treasured by his parents, and–based upon past performance–he knows they will fly into a rage when the crack is discovered. He realizes this in an instant as he surveys the damage. As he plots his next move, he can have no thought of confession. He notices that the lamp can be turned that the crack faces the wall and cannot easily be seen. Rather than face the issue head-on with his unapproachable parents, he elects to cover up the problem.

For weeks, however, the guilty child lives in fear of the day when someone will find the crack. Every time he sees his father or mother go near the lamp to turn it on or off, his body tenses–has the moment of truth arrived? The longer the secret is undisclosed, the more it drives a quiet wedge between him and his parents. He doesn’t enjoy the living room, especially when his parents are in it. Even the objects in the room become his enemies because they are identified with the lamp whose crack is going to betray him one of these days. The anticipated response to the crack has become more significant than the original problem. But unapproachability in bad moments–“when the heart is faint”–has quenched all possibility of keep short accounts.

Why is it hard to grant to children the same forgiveness we adults so desperately desire when we make mistakes? Must there be punishment for something which was done unintentionally–even if the initial act was actual disobedience?

The approachability of fathers in the early years of their children’s lives will reduce the number of defense mechanisms their children will erect. If they experience sledge-hammer reactions in their sour moments, children will create a remarkable facility for passing responsibility, making excuses, or perhaps taking no risks at all. What father wants that? Much better that they find in their fathers–effective fathers–tender responses when their child-sized hearts are faint. Gordon MacDonald, “No Busy Signals Here,” The Effective Father, 132-133

“…Indeed we do come to you. For You are the LORD our God.” Jeremiah 3:22Jeremiah 3:22
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22 Return, ye backsliding children, I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we are come unto thee; for thou art Jehovah our God.

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Mike Benson