Archives for : January2016

Explosions of anger

DURING OUR WAR on terror in Afghanistan, we saw the effectiveness of some incredibly sophisticated weapons…

It never ceases to amaze me that we can launch a missile from many miles away and stick it right through our enemy’s office window. Yet we still hear reports of collateral damage. Innocent civilians standing nearby may be wounded or killed. Or, in some cases, the wrong building may be targeted. There’s simply no getting around the fact that anytime in explosion happens, you run the risk of doing more damage than you intended.

The same is true with explosions of anger.

Not long ago I was in a department store and witnessed a confrontation that ended with a husband calling his wife and ugly name and storming off. The heartbreaking thing was that their little boy, who appeared to be about four, heard every word. My guess is that someday, twenty or so years from now, he’ll be talking to his wife the same way.

You see, the husband aimed his verbal missile at his wife, but tiny bits of shrapnel pierced the soul of his son. And that’s how it always is with anger. Mark Atteberry, “Strong Men Tend To Use Anger As A Tool,” The Samson Syndrome, 78

“A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention.” Proverbs 15:18Proverbs 15:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 A wrathful man stirreth up contention; But he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

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Mike Benson

BRAND NEW SHOES for just 29 cents!

I just purchased a brand new and very nice pair of tennis shoes for 29 cents.  These shoes rang up on a local store’s cash register with two special and unmarked discounts.  Then the cashier accepted a 15% off coupon which had been given to me by an employee and this dropped the price to less than 15 cents per shoe.  Great shoes, a GREAT price, and a memorable shopping experience.

As great and as desirable as a new pair of 29 cent shoes may be, there is something far, far better.  John spoke of this in Rev 22:1-2Rev 22:1-2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 1 And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2 in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve manner of fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

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:  “And he showed me a river of water of life, bright as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the midst of the street thereof. And on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve (manner of) fruits, yielding its fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

The “healing of the nations” tells us John was speaking of this life and not eternity (there will be no “nations” in eternity).  John knew God offers life.  Everlasting life.  Fellowship with deity and all spiritual blessings in Christ are how Paul described it (Eph. 1:3Eph. 1:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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).  Sadly, most will not accept God’s almost unbelievable offer.  Jesus said, “For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it” (Mt. 7:14Mt. 7:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.

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Dear reader, let me ask one simple question.  Would you pounce on the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes for just 29 cents while neglecting or rejecting the “free gift” of God (Rom. 6:23Rom. 6:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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)?

Make wise choices in the spiritual realm for these will affect you for eternity.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

 

 

A bird on Niagara Falls

Here is a thought provoking account told by Dr. George Sweeting in his book Special Sermons for Special Days). :  “Several years ago our family visited Niagara Falls.  It was spring, and ice was rushing down the river.  As I viewed the large blocks of ice flowing toward the falls, I could see that there were carcasses of dead fish embedded in the ice.  Gulls by the score were riding down the river feeding on the fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, their wings would go out, and they would escape from the falls.  I watched one gull which seemed to delay and wondered when it would leave.  It was engrossed in a fish, and when it finally came to the brink of the falls, out went its powerful wings.  The bird flapped and flapped and even lifted the ice out of the water, and I thought it would escape.  But it had delayed too long so that its claws had frozen into the ice.  The weight of the ice was too great, and the gull plunged into the abyss” (Special Sermons for Special Days).

This bird on Niagara Falls was certainly in a dire situation, but the problem was that he delayed until it was too late.  He literally delayed himself to death.  He might have been able to escape had he flown off earlier.

In Acts 22, Paul was speaking to the Jews about his conversion.  He tells the men about his previous life as a persecutor of Christianity.  He explains what he saw and heard from Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus.  He describes how he came to meet a man named Ananias, who taught him the truth.  Then, as Paul began to see the sinful life he had been living and the great need for a change, Ananias uttered those powerful words, “Now why do you delay?  Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (vs. 16).  In this chapter Ananias helped Paul realize the dire situation he was in and the urgency to change it.

Far too many people get stuck to sin because they do not turn away quickly; they delay.  As we know, we have the Bible to help keep us away from sin and its traps.  Sometimes even when we know of these enticing prisons, we still delay our escape.  No one knows when Christ is coming (1 Thess. 5:2-31 Thess. 5:2-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.

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; Matthew 24:36Matthew 24:36
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36 But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.

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; 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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); therefore, no one knows when it will be too late.

The bird obviously did not realize how much danger he was in until nothing else could be done.  Ananias wanted Paul to see the urgency of his situation and the dire need to change it.  Likewise, there may be sins in our lives that we know we need to escape from before it is too late.  If this is the case, then this begs the same question Ananias asked Paul, “Why do you delay?”

Brett Petrillo

 

Armed guards herded the Jews into the train cars.

A crowd of men, women, and children huddled together at the train station…

Dressed for a long journey and standing with their bags at their sides, they spoke in low tones. Armed men in the grim uniform of the SS, the feared wing of the Nazi army, surrounded the travelers.

The people shivering on the platform were not criminals. They were Jews, French Jews who had been hauled from their homes by the occupying solders and French Nazi sympathizers.

The non-Jewish French watched these events unfold with increasing concern. After all, these people were neighbors and friends. The group included the watchmaker and his family, the lad who sold newspapers, the old lady who made beautiful quilts. Now they were being “relocated.”

The plumes of smoke could be seen even before the train was heard. The townspeople cast a nervous eye toward the train platform as the black, soot-belching locomotive ground to a halt.

Armed guards herded the Jews into the train cars. They went cooperatively, putting up no resistance. Concerned observers wondered why this was taking place; but they told themselves that things would be find, that there was no need to worry about these friends and neighbors. They were in good hands.

How could they believe that? Because neatly printed in French on the door of every box car was the reassuring logo, “Charitable Transport Company…” Wayne Rice

THOUGHT: We can also be deceived today. Though a political ideology can seem harmless — even good — it can represent a value system that undermines the sanctity of marriage, the family, morality, the church, respect for life, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just another innocent looking boxcar…like those that took millions of Jews to the gas chambers.

“And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11.14

Mike Benson

Satan knocked on the door with smooth, flattering words

Adam and Eve found themselves in paradise, the likes of which we cannot imagine. They had everything they could possibly need.

God completed his work and deemed it “very good” (Genesis 1:31Genesis 1:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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, NKJV). He then rested, leaving it up to man to enjoy or corrupt this extraordinary blessing.

Satan knocked on their door with smooth, flattering words and Adam and Eve fell for his lies, allowing evil to enter (Genesis 3:1-19Genesis 3:1-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat: 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the garden. 9 And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13 And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. 14 And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

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). Instead of protecting their house, sin moved in and they were expelled from the Garden (Genesis 3:22-24Genesis 3:22-24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever— 23 therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

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In the 1980 film, “The God’s Must Be Crazy” a peaceful African tribe finds trouble when a Coke bottle falls from a plane. Initially astonished that the “gods” have given them this gift, they soon realize it is a curse as the bottle sparks fights, anger and pain.

The tribal leader throws the bottle away, only to see someone retrieve it. To protect his house, he takes the Coke bottle many miles away, so it will no longer threaten their peace.

Adam and Eve should have chosen the same path, instead of accepting Satan’s lies.

What will we do to protect our house, our spiritual abode? Will we accept the lies and bring evil into our midst? Paul wrote, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” (Ephesians 5:3Ephesians 5:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints;

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). In other words, we say no to Satan’s sales pitch and slam the door in his sneering face.

We teach our children that sin is not welcome in our lives. We protect our hearts with the pure gospel of Christ. “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8Galatians 1:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.

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We do not allow the sins of the flesh to enter our homes (Galatians 5:16-21Galatians 5:16-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousies, wraths, factions, divisions, parties, 21 envyings, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of which I forewarn you, even as I did forewarn you, that they who practise such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

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). We do not slip them in and hide them in a corner so no one will see them (Ephesians 4:1Ephesians 4:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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How much sin is acceptable in our lives? A woman puts a glass in front of her beloved child. Someone asks her how much poison she will allow in her child’s glass. She will shout none!

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7James 4:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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). God provides all that we need, so we must fill our homes with his bountiful blessings.

–by Richard Mansel

Knowing the cost

SUPPOSE I’M VISITING in your home and I notice a lovely vase on the coffee table…

I pick it up and admire it, but suddenly, it slips from my hand, falls to the floor, and breaks! “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I say, and I offer to pay for it. I know I have a fifty-dollar bill in my wallet, so I think I’m safe.

But you tell me there are only two such vases in the world, and the other one is valued at $2,000! Am I any sorrier now than I was a few moments ago? Yes. I am $2,000 sorrier! What made the difference? Knowing the cost.

THOUGHT: Many people look carelessly upon Christianity, thinking it’s just another of the world’s great religions. But when we look at the Cross of Calvary and realize what our salvation cost, suddenly Christianity and the One whose life it represents take on a whole new meaning.

So, then, what value do you place on Jesus? George Vandeman

18 “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-191 Peter 1:18-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things, with silver or gold, from your vain manner of life handed down from your fathers; 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb without spot, even the blood of Christ:

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Mike Benson

When we worry, we are not trusting in the providence of God.

DANIEL WAS A man of integrity with no weak spots, no scandals, and no sins that his enemies could identify…

And when King Darius came into power during Israel’s 70-year captivity, he relied on Daniel’s wise, insightful counsel. Yet there were others who didn’t like this Hebrew prophet.

Because Daniel had a habit of praying openly every day, his enemies convinced King Darius to foolishly sign a law that would prohibit prayer to anyone except the king. The penalty for breaking this law was being thrown into a den of lions. Sure enough, Daniel prayed as he always had, and it was reported to Darius. The frustration for the king was that as powerful as he was, he couldn’t change a law that he himself had set into motion. So Daniel was sent to die in a den of lions. Yet the Bible tells us that Daniel slept while the king was up all night. I find it interesting that the child of God in the den of lions slept peacefully, while the faithless man in the palace with all its luxuries was up and worried and stressed out. As Solomon wrote, “For God gives rest to his loved ones” (Psalm 127:2Psalm 127:2
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2 It is vain for you to rise up early, To take rest late, To eat the bread of toil; For so he giveth unto his beloved sleep.

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And so it is for the person who puts his or her trust in God. When we are worrying, we are really saying that God isn’t in control, that God is not paying attention. When we worry, we are not trusting in the providence of God.

And what is the providence of God? It is the belief that God is in control of the universe. Greg Laurie

“Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalm 56:3Psalm 56:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in thee.

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Mike Benson

All Sin Is Not Equal!

We understand that there is not a ‘ranking system’ for sins. By this we mean that no sin is worse than another in regards to the damning effect on the soul. One sin, any sin, for which there is no repentance/forgiveness leads to eternal loss. So, in this sense, all sins are equal.

However, this view of things is too simplistic. Some sins are worse than others in regards to the progression that follows. Some types of sin are likely to lead to other sins, and – while noting the eternal consequences of all sins – there are immediate ‘this world’ costs associated with particular sins. For instance, theft often leads to the sin of lying to cover up the initial wrong. Or, for example, viewing pornography almost always results in an addiction that leads to more immorality. Horrible and devastating things can result from these sorts of sin.

We grow weary of some (including some of our own brethren) who attempt to make arguments of ‘moral equivalence’ relative to some sins. We’ve heard them say: “Drinking alcohol is no different than overeating.” Really!?! Have you known of anyone who abused or neglected their family, lost their job, or fell under the influence of evil people because they ate one too many donuts?

We offer no justification here for overeating. We understand that it is an issue that affects many of us. Certainly lots of Christians have health issues associated with this problem. But, seriously, if the best argument that can be offered in defense of drinking alcohol is: “I may drink a little, but you eat too much” – then we conclude that the drinking folks have no solid ground to stand on.

Bottom line, we should never try to justify one fault by pointing to a different fault in others. Paul said it this way: “We dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Cor. 10:122 Cor. 10:12
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12 For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves: but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding.

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– by Greg Gwin

His sweet deal had turned into rocks!

Sweet to the Taste

“‘Bad, bad,’ says the buyer, but when he goes away then he boasts” (Proverbs 20:14Proverbs 20:14
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14 It is bad, it is bad, saith the buyer; But when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.

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ESV).

“Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17Proverbs 20:17
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17 Bread of falsehood is sweet to a man; But afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.

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ESV).

John had just pulled a fast deal over an unsuspecting customer. The other man seemed naive and new to the game, and John walked out with a contract that would net him a handsome profit. He was pleased with himself until, annoyingly, his wife pointed out the flaw in his dealing.

“But what if the customer brings the defective merchandise back?”

“Oh, that’s simple,” John answered. “Buyer, beware!”

She looked dubious as a member of the White House Press Corps, but said nothing.

“What a sweet deal,” he thought. “I haven’t lost my touch!”

The next day he went to church. Dressed in his best suit, and still feeling pleased with himself, he walked into the auditorium where one of the church elders called him over. “John,” the elder said, “I would like you to meet our new preacher.”

Standing next to him, in a Sunday suit, was the customer he had cheated the day before.

Gravel is not an ingredient in most gourmet meals, but John’s mouth was full of gravel now! His sweet deal had turned into rocks!

by Stan Mitchell

Amazing!

This one will test your memory.

Do you remember way back in 1984 that according to NASA scientists, a piece of Martian meteorite found in Antarctica exhibited telltale evidence of organic molecules? In essence, life.

Now, apart from the issue of life on other planets, consider this strange irony. Isn’t it interesting that scientists will believe that this organic compound found on a rock allegedly originating from Mars should be considered “proof of Life,” while a fully developed, heart-beating, thumb-sucking baby in a mother’s womb should not.

Amazing!

Steve Higginbotham

Old postal workers never die — they just lose their zip

“‘Truly, truly I say to you,’ the Teacher declared, ‘a time is coming…when the dead will hear the voice of the son of God and those who hear will live’” (John 5:25John 5:25
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25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.

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, ESV).

I have just one question for you: Since when do the dead hear anything? Go out to the cemetery sometime and make an unearthly racket. I can assure you, you won’t wake the dead. But there will come a day when deaf ears will hear the Lord!

Remember Douglas MacArthur’s remark that “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away?” Well, five-star generals aren’t the only ones who never die!

* Old plumbers never die — they just go down the drain.
* Old mediums never die — they just give up the ghost.
* Old postal workers never die — they just lose their zip.
* Old lawyers never die — they just lose their appeal.
* Old cartoonists never die — they just draw their last breath.
* Old ranchers never die — they just breed their last.
* Old Australians never die — they just end up down under.
* Old teachers never die — they just lose their class.
* Oh, and by the way, do you know who else doesn’t die?
We don’t.

“Just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
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27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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). While we may die physically, the soul never dies!

Children of God never die–they live in paradise forever. While that’s not much of a pun, it is a dead- certain, count-on-it truth!

The opposite form of existence — for the soul that is lost, too, never dies — is such a forbidding, fearful place that the Bible refers to it as “death.”

You know the old song:

“To Canaan’s land I’m on my way
Where the soul of man never dies”?

In one sense, you will never die. The real question is, when you die, where will you live?

by Stan Mitchell

Not our son! Our son would never do a thing like this

Not So Quickly

“A man of great wrath will pay the penalty, for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again,” (Proverbs 19:19Proverbs 19:19
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19 A man of great wrath shall bear the penalty; For if thou deliver him, thou must do it yet again.

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, ESV).

When I lived in California, I knew of some teenagers who were caught in possession of drugs. It was, you can imagine, a traumatic time for their parents. How should they handle the situation?

Some parents were apt to defend their boys. One parent, in deep denial, kept repeating the words: “Not our son! Our son would never do a thing like this.” One parent turned to another with an accusation: “If he hadn’t been with your kid, he wouldn’t have done this!”

But one father made a difficult and memorable decision. He asked the police to hold his son in jail that night. It may have been the most difficult decision of that father’s life. However, what may have seemed a severe punishment, was in fact a valuable lesson for the young man. He never took drugs again.

Sometimes people have to “pay the penalty” for their mistakes; that’s the only way they will learn! Children — and adults — who never suffer the consequences of their actions will become convinced that they are entitled to do whatever they want, to break any rules, for they have never suffered for their mistakes.

Sometimes it’s best not to rescue them too quickly; you will only have to do it again.

–by Stan Mitchell

Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices.

When a couple gets married, they form a new person that enters the world fresh and vulnerable. It must be cared for, if it will survive. From the wobbly first steps to the sturdy paths of the mature, it must be nurtured and protected from predators.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and
mother and be joined to his wife, and they
shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24Genesis 2:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

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,
NKJV).

They unite to form a being that has never before existed. The cruel world will be determined to destroy it, as soon as possible. The couple must develop strategies to fortify the walls, so the attacks can be repelled.

“So then, they are no longer two but one
flesh. Therefore what God has joined
together, let not man separate” (Matthew
19:6).

Divorce is an act of violence that destroys the lives of everyone involved. The shrapnel of the bomb creates permanent scars (Malachi 2:16Malachi 2:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 For I hate putting away, saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, and him that covereth his garment with violence, saith Jehovah of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

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). The new creation can thrive and persevere. It will just require hard work and an indefatigable eye on the big picture of commitment.

How will they remain married for life?

First, be stubborn. Refusing to break up is a great start. When we resolve to stand firm, we find it easier to withstand attacks. We build our fortifications and man the walls together, not allowing anyone to come between us.

Second, be separate. Entering a place of their own design, they retreat there for safety and sanity.
United as one, they protect and cultivate their special place, so it will always be their haven of peace.

Third, be a student. We must learn as much as we can about one another, so we can strive to bring fulfillment and happiness into our lives. We cannot do this for our spouse, but we can sow the seed. We learn all we can because knowledge is power.

Fourth, be substantive. Spend quality time together in play, pleasure, communication and in service to God.
Don’t waste days. We must ensure that intimacy and affection are pervasive in our marriage.

Marriage is an extraordinary blessing if we will do the work and make the proper choices. If we do, we will have joy all of our days. If not, we will either break apart or live the remainder of our days stuck in a nightmare.

Sounds like an easy decision.

by Richard Mansel

GETTING RID OF CALLUSES

“A callus is an area of skin on the body that has become hard due to constant pressure or rubbing. The callus is formed over time as the skin begins to toughen up to handle the repeated irritation. Because calluses are toughened skin, they have no feeling and do not hurt” (ehow.com). It is interesting that some people are embarrassed of their calluses, while others are indifferent to them if not even proud of them.

The writer of Hebrews pleads with his readers not to be like the Israelites in the wilderness, to not “harden their hearts” (3:8). The word translated “do not harden” is from a compound Greek word, a medical or technical term, meaning to “harden, become thick” (Friberg, Analytical Lexicon of the Greek N.T., 351). In its figurative use, the word means to “act stubbornly, refuse to change one’s attitude” (as in Heb. 3:8Heb. 3:8
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8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, Like as in the day of the trial in the wilderness,

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) or “be or become stubborn, refuse to yield” (as in Heb. 3:13Heb. 3:13
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13 but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin:

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) (ibid.). It is possible, then, to become spiritually callused. The Hebrews writer says that sin is the culprit that causes spiritual calluses. Unlike calluses on the hands and feet, spiritual calluses on the heart are fatal! What can be done to treat and prevent a callused heart?

Protection. Gloves and proper foot wear can prevent blisters and calluses from forming on the body. Likewise, God has given us protection to prevent spiritual calluses from forming within us. The whole armor of God, mentioned in Ephesians 6, equips us with protection for the mind, the heart, and the soul. We must keep our hearts soft to the gospel, the will of God, our spiritual obligations, and the like.

Treatment. Creams, moisturizers, ointments, and such are often applied once a callus has formed. Sometimes a pumice stone may be used. In cases of severe and continuously painful calluses, one needs to see a physician. Just so, a callused heart must be treated by the Great Physician. He cannot help if we do not go to Him. He has the balm that can soften and transform our hearts, but we must go to Him for it.

Change Of Practice. If one’s goal is to be rid of calluses, one must stop doing what brings on the calluses in the first place. We cannot hope for the callus to disappear if we intend to keep doing what formed it. Certainly, this is true in the spiritual sense. Until one is through serving sin, the callusing process will persist. If anything, it will only get worse. It certainly will not get better. If one’s heart is hardened to stay away from the assemblies, the only hope is to begin assembling with the saints again. If one’s heart is hardened in being in a sinful relationship, the way to overcome that is to leave. Whatever sin hardens the heart, overcoming requires changing the practice.

Time. Calluses do not magically disappear the instant one treats them or changes the practice. It takes time, which implies patience and perseverance. That is certainly true with spiritually calluses! While the adage, “time heals all wounds,” is not always right, time is a necessary part of becoming spiritual whole. It takes time to form the right spiritual habits and to produce fruits of repentance.
Spiritual calluses are more than unattractive; they are a sign of grave danger. They are a warning sign of something deeper that has gone wrong. May we do whatever it takes to prevent them and may we have the humility to do what we need to do to treat them if they are already there!

Neal Pollard

IS SATAN ALL-KNOWING?

Omniscience, knowing all things, is something the Bible only attributes to God (1 Cor. 4:51 Cor. 4:5
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5 Wherefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall each man have his praise from God.

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; Heb. 4:13Heb. 4:13
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13 And there is no creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

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). Since the Bible says that all things that exist were created by God (Col. 1:16-17Col. 1:16-17
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16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; 17 and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.

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), it follows that Satan is a created being. God cannot sin or cause to sin, so it is implied that Satan was created good and chose to do evil. Many have defined evil as simply the absence or opposite of good.

The Bible says nothing specifically about how Satan became evil, but it must have happened at some point. Throughout the whole Bible, Satan is depicted as one who tempts man to sin. If Satan is not omniscient and cannot tell what we are thinking, how does he know how to operate in our individual lives?

Matthew four proves that he knows the Bible, and the Bible tells us the three major avenues of sin (1 John 2:15-171 John 2:15-17
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15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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). He has had the advantage of thousands of years of observation of human behavior. He knows mankind’s basic weaknesses. He also has angels (Matt. 25:41Matt. 25:41
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41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels:

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; Rev. 12:9Rev. 12:9
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9 And the great dragon was cast down, the old serpent, he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world; he was cast down to the earth, and his angels were cast down with him.

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), and who knows what role they play in his having privy to our personal lives and in observing what we are each prone to do?

Yet, Satan does not ever make us sin, despite what the old comic, Flip Wilson, jokingly contended. We choose to sin based on our own fleshly desires (Jas. 1:13-15Jas. 1:13-15
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13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man: 14 but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin: and the sin, when it is fullgrown, bringeth forth death.

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). We sin, not as the result of Satan manipulating the mind, but as the result of giving in to sinful lusts. Satan can no more make us do wrong than God will make us do right. We should simply remember that we never have to sin (1 Cor. 10:131 Cor. 10:13
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13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.

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).

Satan does not whisper in our ears or play with our minds. However, he is actively seeking souls to devour (1 Pet. 5:81 Pet. 5:8
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8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,

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). The good news is that he cannot do anything unless we allow him. James says we can make him flee from us by resisting him (Jas. 4:7Jas. 4:7
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7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

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). Satan can not read your mind. He cannot manipulate your mind. He can only see what you reveal. Let us be careful to reveal the right sorts of things and thereby protect ourselves from this roaring lion.

Neal Pollard

It is so sad to see people blame, curse, and turn away from God in the midst of tough situations and tragedies.

TRIALS INTO TESTIMONY

Several years ago a young man by the name of Bruce Goodrich was being initiated into the cadet corps at Texas A & M University.  One night, Bruce was forced to run until he dropped…and he never got up.  Bruce Goodrich died before he even entered college.  A short time after the tragedy, Bruce’s father wrote a letter to the administration, faculty, student body, and the corps of cadets.  One part of Mr. Goodrich’s letter really stood out, “I hope it will be some comfort to know that we harbor no ill will in the matter.  We know our God makes no mistakes.  Bruce had an appointment with his Lord and is now secure in his celestial home.  When the question is asked, ‘Why did this happen?’ perhaps one answer will be, ‘So that many will consider where they will spend eternity.'”

What an exceptional attitude!  Their son has just died because he was forced to run far beyond the limits of his body.  The Goodrich family very easily could have caused serious problems for the cadet corps, but they chose not to.  Instead, the Goodrich family took a step back, trusted in the Lord, and pointed others to Him as well.

It is so sad to see people blame, curse, and turn away from God in the midst of tough situations and tragedies. Certainly the Goodrich family’s attitude was the right one.  We will be faced with tragedies and calamities in life as well.  In reality, we do not know why such horrific things happen to people, but we certainly should not blame, curse, and turn away from God.  Let’s keep in mind Isaiah 55:9Isaiah 55:9
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9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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, where God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thought than your thoughts.”

When we are faced with the death of a loved one and people begin to ask, “Why did this happen?” hopefully we too can answer as Mr. Goodrich did, “So that people might consider where they will spend eternity.”   If we have everything taken away from us and people begin to ask, “Why did this happen?” hopefully we can answer as Job did, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:12Job 1:12
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12 And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thy hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of Jehovah.

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).  If we are persecuted or even killed in the name of Christ, hopefully we can have Paul’s attitude, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21Philippians 1:21
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21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

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).  When we are faced with any difficult issue in this life, hopefully our answers will be ones that give glory to God, and never bring dishonor His name.

In all of the troubles we face in this life, let’s take our trials and turn them into a testimony for God.

–Brett Petrillo

He was not the birth son of the man and woman who raised him

A Brazilian named Dimas Aliprandi always wondered why he had blonde hair and blue eyes while his sisters had dark hair and eyes. His suspicions grew when, at age 14, he saw a news report about babies getting switched at birth at the hospital. He asked his father about a DNA test, but was told it was too expensive. In December 2008, at age 24, he decided to pay for one himself. The results? He was not the birth son of the man and woman who raised him.

His shocked parents at first refused to believe it, but eventually decided to help him look for his biological parents. The search began at Madre Regina Protmann Hospital, where he was born. The hospital searched its records and found that Elton Plaster had been born there the same day.

Dimas found Elton Plaster on a 35-acre coffee and vegetable farm, where he lived and worked with his parents. The Plasters agreed to the DNA tests. The findings: the two boys had been switched at birth.

What could have been a traumatic situation turned out to be a blessing to both families. Dimas and his parents accepted an offer from the Plasters to move to their farm, where they built a home. Now they live and work on the farm together. Both of the young men feel blessed by the new circumstances. The discovery that they had been switched at birth “sparked a desire” to join their families together.

Adelson Plaster told Globo TV, “This is the way it should be! We are ALL TOGETHER and I now have TWO sons living and working here.” *

It is God’s desire that each and every person born into the world also be born of “water and the Spirit” into ONE family, to become one of His children (John 3:5John 3:5
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5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!

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). But our sins separate us from God….. (see Isaiah 59:1-2Isaiah 59:1-2
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59 1 Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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).

But because of His great love for us, God gave Jesus His Son to die on the cross for our sins (1 Peter 1:241 Peter 1:24
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24 For, All flesh is as grass, And all the glory thereof as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower falleth:

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). Through His atoning sacrifice, we may have forgiveness of our sins and become part of the Family of God – the Church (Eph 1:7Eph 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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; Acts 2:38, 41-47Acts 2:38, 41-47
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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. 41 They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added unto them in that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, according as any man had need. 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, 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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).

It does not matter as to the color of one’s hair, one’s eyes, or one’s skin, “whosoever will” may be joined TOGETHER in God’s “forever” family – the family for which Christ will come one day and take home to heaven (see 1 Corinthians 15:241 Corinthians 15:24
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24 Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power.

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).

YOU can be a part of God’s family if you will accept His invitation through your trusting obedience: Place your faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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), turn from your 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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), and be baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (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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). THEN you will be added to God’s family, TOGETHER with ALL those who have submitted to His will.

Won’t YOU?

David A. Sargent

I love you, I love you, I love you

ROBERT THORTON RELATED the following incident from his childhood…

“In the middle of one of my parents’ more memorable disagreements, my father jumped up from the table, grabbed two sheets of paper, and said to my mother, ‘Let’s make a list of everything we don’t like about each other.’

Mom started writing. Dad glowered at her for a few minutes, and then wrote on his paper. She wrote again. He watched her, and every time she stopped, he would start writing again. They finally finished. ‘Lets exchange complaints,’ dad said. They gave each other their lists. ‘Give mine back,’
mom pleaded when she glanced at his sheet. All down the page dad had written: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.'”

In the the long ago, Peter prayed,

7 “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”] 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:7-111 Peter 4:7-11
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7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore of sound mind, and be sober unto prayer: 8 above all things being fervent in your love among yourselves; for love covereth a multitude of sins: 9 using hospitality one to another without murmuring: 10 according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God; 11 if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; is any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

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Please pay special attention to what Peter said about love. We are to have love above all things. It is to be first. Furthermore, please note that it is to be fervent. It is not to be lukewarm. Finally, please note that it is to be flourishing. It must cover a multitude of sins. Perhaps, it must cover them on many occasions.

How easy it would be to make a list of things that we do not like about one another. However, what we really need is to give love its proper place in our relationships one with another. Wade Webster, “I Love You, I Love You, I Love You,” The Searcher, August 15, 2010, 1st 15, 2010, 1
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-71 Corinthians 13:4-7
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4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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Honk if you love Jesus; text and drive if you want to go meet Him

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

I was driving by a church building the other day and saw an interesting statement on their marquee. It said, “Honk if you love Jesus; text and drive if you want to go meet Him.” I found this statement somewhat funny, but I also knew how true it is. According to statistics, texting and driving accounted for about 16,000 deaths from 2001-2007 (Yahoo News). Deaths involving phones went up 28% between 2005-2008 (ibid.), and I am sure these percentages have gone up even more. While this is not a soapbox of mine, I definitely see the importance of it.

While we are all probably very aware of the dangers of texting and cell phone use while driving, but why is this so dangerous? The problem is, the person texting while driving is not watching the road and definitely cannot react as fast. According to statistics, a person texting reacted about a second slower than even an intoxicated person. Compared to normal reaction time, for a person traveling 35 mph, this would mean traveling an extra 41 feet before reacting and stopping (MSN Auto). There is no telling what may happen in that distance, and that is only at 35 mph. For many people, that has been the difference between safety and a very serious car accident. So why is it so dangerous? It’s a distraction.

Distractions are incredibly dangerous. They cause us to not pay attention. They cause us to lose our focus. They can bring down our guard. They can result in serious disaster. This not only happens physically, it also happens spiritually. As we are traveling along as Christians, there are so many distractions. Just like driving, these distractions can cause us to lose our focus on Christ, to bring down our guard against sin, and most certainly will end in disaster if not corrected.

Back during the time of Jesus, Martha was dealing with distractions in her life as well. Luke 10:40-41Luke 10:40-41
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40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving; and she came up to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 But the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things:

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states, “But Martha was distracted with all her preparations…But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things.'” Martha was distracted by her worries. She should have been focusing on Christ, but she was too worried and bothered about so many other insignificant things.

Like Martha, we too can be distracted by our worries and many other insignificant details. It is important to remember that, compared to Christ, any of these distractions are simply insignificant. If we are not careful, we too can be distracted and ultimately choked out by the worries, riches, and other distractions of the world (Matthew 13:19Matthew 13:19
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19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the evil one, and snatcheth away that which hath been sown in his heart. This is he that was sown by the way side.

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). Texting while driving is not only dangerous, but it is now against the law. However, something that is far more serious is getting distracted spiritually, and this is against God’s law. Let’s not only stay focused while we are driving, but more importantly let’s make sure we stay focused spiritually. Rephrasing the beginning quote, “Say ‘Amen’ if you love Jesus; get distracted by the world if you don’t want to meet Him.”

–Brett Petrillo

What if Jesus should stand at the back door of the auditorium after services, shake your hand as you left, and asked you, “Do you love Me?”

“DO YOU LOVE ME?”

Peter was a red-hot disciple. Only he had the faith to jump out of the boat and walk toward Jesus on the water (Matthew 14:29Matthew 14:29
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29 And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus.

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). Only Peter, single handedly, challenged the mob who came to arrest Jesus (John 18:10John 18:10
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10 Simon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant's name was Malchus.

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). Peter was the first to go into the empty tomb (John 20:6John 20:6
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6 Simon Peter therefore also cometh, following him, and entered into the tomb; and he beholdeth the linen cloths lying,

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). Peter could not even wait for the boat to get to shore when he realized that Jesus was on the shore, so he jumped into the water and swims! (John 21:7John 21:7
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7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his coat about him , and cast himself into the sea.

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). We think, “What faith! What zeal! What daring! What energy he had for Jesus!” But, when Peter got to shore Jesus asked him, “Do you love Me?” In fact, Jesus asked the question three times! (John 21:15-17John 21:15-17
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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. 16 He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

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). Peter was grieved. Jesus could have patted Peter on the shoulder and said, “You’re OK, everything is going to be alright, just hang in there and you’ll make it to Heaven.” But the truth was, Peter was not OK — everything was not alright, and Jesus knew it.

What if Jesus should stand at the back door of the auditorium after services, shake your hand as you left, and asked you, “Do you love Me?” How would you respond? Would you say something like, “Hey, I come to church about every Sunday!” You start to leave but He hangs on to your hand and asks a second time, “Do you love Me?” You don’t look Him in the eye, but say, “Of course I do, but there are times when other things are more important than meeting with you and my eternal family.” You try once again to leave, but He holds on to your hand and asks a third time, “Do your love Me?” Would you be a little grieved? Would you wonder why He kept asking that question, or would you already know?

There are thousands of people who enter all kinds of church buildings every week and go through precise, designated forms of worship services, but have no real love for Christ. If what they see and hear pleases them, they are satisfied and content, but love for the person of Jesus, the Son of God, does not occur to them. “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Matthew 15:8Matthew 15:8
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8 This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me.

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). Such results in “vain worship” (verse 9). Does not Jesus teach us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10Matthew 6:10
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10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.

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)? Do you think God would tolerate “vain worship” in Heaven?

You cannot love Jesus if you don’t know Him. You can’t know Him apart from the pages of the New Testament. Many know about Jesus, but don’t truly know Him. They hear a multitude of contradicting voices from which they form their own ideas, set them in concrete, and consider themselves to be saved without ever opening the New Testament. Have you ever wondered why the Holy Spirit had Paul to write: “Study to show thyself approved unto God…rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:152 Timothy 2:15
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15 Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth.

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)?

–by Toby Miller